With no obvious place for humans to go, the world is left without a clear definition of what a “species” is.
Some have a lot of trouble describing their appearance or behavior, and some are simply too difficult to define.
A new database has the answer.
The National Wildlife Federation has developed a website to help people decide what a species is, with help from the Canadian Museum of Nature.
The organization wants the new website to serve as a resource for researchers, policymakers and the public.
“This website will help guide us as we build a new definition of a species and make sure that people understand what a new species is and how it works, to help us build better policy and better management of wildlife,” said Marc-André Léger, the group’s executive director.
In the US, the Department of Fish and Wildlife (USFWS) has long provided the definition, which it says is “essential” to protect animals and the natural world.
It lists 13 different types of mammals and 13 different kinds of birds, reptiles and amphibians, including bears, turtles and sea turtles.
In Europe, there is a list of seven different species, including a “fossil mammal,” and five different types “of birds.”
In North America, it’s listed as “feral, amphibian, terrestrial, terrestrial-based and aquatic.”
In Asia, there are five different kinds, including “bait fish,” “penguin,” “seabird,” “lizard,” “shark” and “fish.”
The Canadian Museum Of Nature says it is working with the USFWS to develop a new database, which will be open to the public as soon as possible.
It’s unclear whether this will be an entirely new database or just a set of more established ones.