Map of Life builds on a global scientific effort to help you discover, identify and record species worldwide.

Source: Map of Life Android description / Image: Cristopher Gonzalez CC BY-SA 2.0

Useful information

Download: Android 4.0 (10.69MB) / iOS 7.0 (15.9MB) / web

Price: free

Languages: English/ German / Spanish / Chinese / French / Portuguese

Runs offline: yes

Last update: Android 11/06/2017 (v. 2.0.5) – iOS 09/03/2017 (v. 2.0.7)

Website of the developer: Map of Life Applications LLC

Notes: article updated on 10/07/2017


Map of Life is an application about biodiversity that gathers data from observations and references from numerous databases throughout the world, with information on different animal groups and plants. Some differences were detected between the mobile and the web app version, so they will be described separately.

The mobile app offers a lateral menu with different options:

  • What’s around me, option based on the geolocation of the user, delimiting an area (the radius is unknown) on which the information is extracted.
  • Search the map by entering a place name or clicking on the map.
  • Search for species by common or scientific name.
  • My records, where you can upload your sightings after opening a free account.
  • Settings, section where you can select the language or access to the help (only in English), for example.

The information for each species includes a data sheet with a description taken from Wikipedia (in the selected language for the app), a map of geographical distribution and multiple images, in addition to the classification of the IUCN Red List. Also comment that a recent update enables the download of listings of species for your offline query, although this option is only available for the moment for Denali National Park (they have plans to add more regions for download). This new functionality also allows you to upload offline sightings that they will sync with the database once the connection recovers.

The web app is more complete than the mobile version, since from the “Detailed Map” option you can filter information such as the range of years or the uncertainty, related in this case with geolocation errors (less accurate in old sightings and more detailed in actual observations made with modern devices).

More information

Images: Screenshots 12/01/2016.  ©Map of Life Applications LLC



Map of Life can be seen as a tool that offers general information about different animal and plant species to its users, although also offers detailed data extracted from sources such as eBird.

The application is easy to handle, although it is advisable to use it to record field observations because to do consultations the web version provides more viewing options than the mobile alternative. In fact, consultation through the mobile application can be misleading, since in the information displayed for a species such as the Iberian lynx (Lynx pardinus), you can see that the Pyrenees are designated as distribution range. In this area of Spain, this species became extinct in the 60s, according to the web Life Lynx. However, when you do the same query through the “Detailed map” option of the web version, you can see that these delimited areas estimate the extent of occurrence of a species over an extensive period (e.g. 10-30 years).

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Técnico de medio ambiente, community manager y content curator especializada en temas de medioambiente - Environmental technician, community manager and content curator specialised in environmental issues