Étudiant-chercheur étoile April 2013



Jean-Philippe Lessard

Postdoctoral researcher in Biology
McGill University


Award-winning publication: An update of Wallace's zoogeographic regions of the world

Published in: Science, 339, 74-78
 

Abstract

"Our study provides an up-to-date version of one of the most important maps in the natural sciences: Alfred Russell Wallace's map of biogeographic regions. For the very first time since Wallace's own work in 1876, we were able to advance a complete description of the natural world based on remarkably detailed data compiled over the past 20 years on hundreds of vertebrates. Our new map of animal diversity divides the world into 11 kingdoms. Ours is the first study to combine evolutionary and geographic information on all known mammals, birds and amphibia. Our map could yield the keys to many unanswered questions on the origins and preservation of biodiversity."

Our knowledge of life on earth is based on the fundamental notion of species distribution. Jean-Philippe Lessard's research helps to synthesize new knowledge in the field and is of great importance to conservation given the current biodiversity crisis and global environmental changes. While, up until now, conservationists identified priority areas based on the unique character of the species living in a given region, the map makes it possible to set priority conservation objectives based on millions of years of knowledge on the history of evolution.