Online mountain assessment tool launched


The Global Mountain Biodiversity Assessment (GMBA) Program of Future Earth launched a new version of the GMBA Mountain Portal on 11 December, International Mountain Day, along with the GMBA mountain inventory. The GMBA Mountain Portal is a resource developed by Map of Life that facilitates international and cross-disciplinary collaboration on the assessment, conservation and sustainable use of mountain biodiversity. It is an open source tool for all types of users, including policy makers and stakeholders as well as citizen scientists, researchers and practitioners.

The new version of the GMBA Mountain Portal allows users to explore a variety of biodiversity, topographic and bioclimatic data, and features two main tabs: a mountain explorer and a biodiversity explorer.

In the mountain explorer, users can visualize where mountains are in the world according to the GMBA mountain definition (Körner et al. 2011), which defines 2.5' pixels as rugged (i.e. mountainous) if the elevational difference between the lowest and highest of nine 30" grid points within these pixels exceeds 200 metres. Mountain ranges that are included in the downloadable GMBA mountain inventory (Körner et al. 2016) are individually delineated. Additional data available for visualization via the mountain explorer includes detailed ruggedness information and climatic belts proposed by Körner et al. 2011 as a means to stratify mountain terrain based on climate and identify ecologically comparable land units across the mountains of the world.

In the biodiversity explorer, users can obtain lists of expected species for the over 1 000 mountain ranges included in the GMBA mountain inventory. The species lists are based on the expert range maps available in Map of Life for approximately 60 000 species and currently include birds, mammals, reptiles, amphibians, butterflies and conifers. Additional information about individual species can be accessed via Map of Life.

With just a few clicks, users can explore and download lists of mountain ranges and expected species. Downloaded data can then be used for diverse projects, ranging from mechanistic studies on the evolution and ecological drivers of mountain biodiversity to the development of indicators in sustainability research and in the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) monitoring process. Online tools for exploring trends in biodiversity knowledge, distribution and conservation as available on Map of Life are foreseen for future releases.

The mountain portal is an evolving resource that will utilize the power of the global community to improve mountain biodiversity and inventory information.

View the GMBA Mountain Portal 

News by Davnah Payne, Science Officer of the Global Mountain Biodiversity Assessment Program

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