A high-resolution bioclimate map of the world: a unifying framework for global biodiversity research and monitoring

Marc J. Metzger, Robert G. H. Bunce, Rob H. G. Jongman, Roger Sayre, Antonio Trabucco, Robert Zomer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


To develop a novel global spatial framework for the integration and analysis of ecological and environmental data.

The global land surface excluding Antarctica.

A broad set of climate-related variables were considered for inclusion in a quantitative model, which partitions geographic space into bioclimate regions. Statistical screening produced a subset of relevant bioclimate variables, which were further compacted into fewer independent dimensions using principal components analysis (PCA). An ISODATA clustering routine was then used to classify the principal components into relatively homogeneous environmental strata. The strata were aggregated into global environmental zones based on the attribute distances between strata to provide structure and support a consistent nomenclature.

The global environmental stratification (GEnS) consists of 125 strata, which have been aggregated into 18 global environmental zones. The stratification has a 30 arcsec resolution (equivalent to 0.86 km2 at the equator). Aggregations of the strata were compared with nine existing global, continental and national bioclimate and ecosystem classifications using the Kappa statistic. Values range between 0.54 and 0.72, indicating good agreement in bioclimate and ecosystem patterns between existing maps and the GEnS.

Main conclusions
The GEnS provides a robust spatial analytical framework for the aggregation of local observations, identification of gaps in current monitoring efforts and systematic design of complementary and new monitoring and research. The dataset is available for non-commercial use through the GEO portal (http://www.geoportal.org).
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)630-638
Number of pages9
JournalGlobal Ecology and Biogeography
Issue number5
Early online date20 Dec 2012
Publication statusPublished - 1 May 2013


  • Bioclimate indicators
  • biodiversity monitoring
  • climate
  • environmental stratification
  • global climate classification


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