Dividing Species: Wallace Line Map

Dividing Species: Wallace Line Map

Use this infographic to teach students about the Wallace Line, a hypothetical boundary separating the biogeographical regions of Asia and Australia.


5 - 8


Biology, Ecology, Geography, Physical Geography

NGS Resource Carousel Loading Logo
Loading ...

Ideas for Use in the Classroom

Introduce students to the map by having them identify the countries on either side of the line. Use context clues to decide on which side of the line the pictured animals belong. Then have students research and compile a list of mammals native to Asia's Sumatra, Java, and Borneo versus New Guinea and Australia. Ask: How do these lists differ? Have students research the difference between placental mammals, marsupials, and monotremes, and then categorize the mammals on each list accordingly. Prompt students to identify any patterns between the two lists. Students should observe that marsupials and monotremes exist on only one side of the Wallace Line, while most placental mammals are found on the other. Next, have students work in pairs to hypothesize reasons for the distributions they have identified.

After sharing their hypotheses, have students evaluate the map to determine what the different shades of blue represent within the ocean. Ask: How might ocean depth relate to the distribution of mammals? To emphasize this point, have students identify the islands on which rhinoceroses and tigers live, or have lived, and discuss what their distributions imply. Students may deduce that some islands were once connected due to changing sea level, while areas separated by deeper water were not. Contrast these animals with bats, which are found on either side of the Wallace Line, to demonstrate that ocean depth and land connectivity is a barrier to some animals, but not others.

As an extension, students can use the map to predict how flora and fauna on the islands surrounding the Wallace Line might compare to each other, Asia, and Australia based on geography and distance to the mainland.

Media Credits

The audio, illustrations, photos, and videos are credited beneath the media asset, except for promotional images, which generally link to another page that contains the media credit. The Rights Holder for media is the person or group credited.

Tyson Brown, National Geographic Society
National Geographic Society
Production Managers
Gina Borgia, National Geographic Society
Jeanna Sullivan, National Geographic Society
Program Specialists
Sarah Appleton, National Geographic Society, National Geographic Society
Margot Willis, National Geographic Society
Clint Parks
Roza Kavak
Last Updated

October 19, 2023

For information on user permissions, please read our Terms of Service. If you have questions about how to cite anything on our website in your project or classroom presentation, please contact your teacher. They will best know the preferred format. When you reach out to them, you will need the page title, URL, and the date you accessed the resource.


If a media asset is downloadable, a download button appears in the corner of the media viewer. If no button appears, you cannot download or save the media.


Text on this page is printable and can be used according to our Terms of Service.


Any interactives on this page can only be played while you are visiting our website. You cannot download interactives.

Related Resources