Biodiversity of North American Mammals

Science Center Objects

The Challenge: Despite more than a century and a half of study, accurate understanding of the diversity North American mammalian species and the distribution of those species remains unrefined. Yet this understanding is essential for determining the conservation status of species, for mapping out potential disease reservoirs, and for understanding the response of species to habitat perturbation and climate change. 

The Science: Systematic and taxonomic study of species and subspecies documents morphological, genetic, and geographical aspects of species limits.  Study of historical records and type localities provides insight into genetic and distributional shifts that have already occurred.  

The Future: Comprehensive study of mammalian species and species limits contributes to a better understanding of what aspects of the environment control species interactions, population abundances, and community diversity.