Danes put African fauna on the map

October 29, 1999

Researchers at the University of Copenhagen have drawn the first comprehensive maps of the distribution of more than 3,900 species of birds, mammals, snakes and amphibians in sub-Saharan Africa.

The maps have been prepared using a database developed by Carsten Rahbek and others at the university's zoological museum. In collaboration with scientists at Cambridge University, the Copenhagen team will soon start investigating how Africa's biodiversity can best be preserved with priorities based on scientific principles.

"The database has been compiled from factual research in millions of published and unpublished records and collections held by zoological and natural history museums around the world," Rahbek said. "There is documentation that the individual species are actually found in the areas mapped."

The Copenhagen database shows where biodiversity is greatest in Africa in grid squares measuring 100km square, and it pinpoints where it is most important to preserve wildlife. Distribution maps have never been made for almost half of the species covered.

As the database can show the best way to conserve as many species as possible in any given geographic area, it supports the long-held belief in wildlife preservation circles that conserving each species by itself is inefficient.

The database also makes it possible to balance the demands of humanity with those of the animal kingdom, so humans and animals can continue to coexist in the future without the animals becoming extinct.

"What we will look at in the future is how to make a biodiversity priority that takes scarce resources and human needs into account," Rahbek said. "Making usable priorities that do not take human presence into account is utopian."

You've reached your article limit.

Register to continue

Registration is free and only takes a moment. Once registered you can read a total of 3 articles each month, plus:

  • Sign up for the editor's highlights
  • Receive World University Rankings news first
  • Get job alerts, shortlist jobs and save job searches
  • Participate in reader discussions and post comments

Have your say

Log in or register to post comments

Most Commented

James Fryer illustration (27 July 2017)

It is not Luddism to be cautious about destroying an academic publishing industry that has served us well, says Marilyn Deegan

Jeffrey Beall, associate professor and librarian at the University of Colorado Denver

Creator of controversial predatory journals blacklist says some peers are failing to warn of dangers of disreputable publishers

Hand squeezing stress ball
Working 55 hours per week, the loss of research periods, slashed pensions, increased bureaucracy, tiny budgets and declining standards have finally forced Michael Edwards out
Kayaker and jet skiiers

Nazima Kadir’s social circle reveals a range of alternative careers for would-be scholars, and often with better rewards than academia

hole in ground

‘Drastic action’ required to fix multibillion-pound shortfall in Universities Superannuation Scheme, expert warns