Software Helps Identify Key Areas for Protection

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<strong>Belo Horizonte, Brazil &mdash; Jan. 16</strong><br />A new open-system software package for the analysis of geographic distribution of animals and plants was launched this week by Conservation International (CI) in Brazil. This technology was designed to help the scientific community identify priority areas for environmental conservation based on geographical patterns of species.<br /> <br />Croizat uses a panbiogeographic approach, one of the main areas of research of biogeography, which is the study of the distribution of living creatures on our planet. The panbiogeographic method was created by the Franco-Italian botanist Leon Croizat (1894-1982).<br /> <br />The idea behind panbiogeography is that biotas, or the total of animals and plants in a particular area, evolve through geography barriers. <br /><br />&ldquo;The panbiogeographic method in which this software is based views patterns of distribution of species as a fundamental aspect of biodiversity,&rdquo; said Croizat&rsquo;s main developer, Mauro Cavalcanti, adding that the identification of these patterns help to single out areas that are both highly rich in species and historically important in terms of evolution and distribution of biotas.<br /> <br />The Croizat is based on the same analytical model of many geographic information systems (GIS); but rather than concentrating on database and graphics flexibility, the Croizat is designed to perform specialist biological analyses.<br /> <br />For Jose Maria Cardoso da Silva, Conservation International&rsquo;s vice president for South America, this technological innovation is crucial to the identification and protection of areas rich in biodiversity. <br /><br />&ldquo;By launching the Croizat, CI intends to disseminate scientific knowledge for free and to all the researchers in the field of environmental conservation,&rdquo; he said. &ldquo;This is top-notch software that will contribute greatly to the planning of conservation actions.&rdquo;<br /> <br />The program is written in Python, an interactive, object-oriented programming language. The Croizat is platform-independent, and should run on any PC compatible with x86 architecture, under GNU/Linux, Mac OS X and MS-Windows.<br />

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