Biodiversity hotspot

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A biodiversity hotspot is a biogeographic region with significant levels of biodiversity that is threatened by human habitation. [1] [2] Norman Myers wrote about the concept in two articles in The Environmentalist in 1988 [3] and 1990, [4] after which the concept was revised following thorough analysis by Myers and others into “Hotspots: Earth’s Biologically Richest and Most Endangered Terrestrial Ecoregions” [5] and a paper published in the journal Nature, both in 2000. [6]


To qualify as a biodiversity hotspot on Myers' 2000 edition of the hotspot map, a region must meet two strict criteria: it must contain at least 1,500 species of vascular plants (more than 0.5% of the world's total) as endemics, and it has to have lost at least 70% of its primary vegetation. [6] Globally, 36 zones qualify under this definition. [7] These sites support nearly 60% of the world's plant, bird, mammal, reptile, and amphibian species, with a high share of those species as endemics. Some of these hotspots support up to 15,000 endemic plant species, and some have lost up to 95% of their natural habitat. [7]

Biodiversity hotspots host their diverse ecosystems on just 2.4% of the planet's surface. [2] Ten hotspots were originally identified by Myer; [1] the current 36 used to cover more than 15.7% of all the land but have lost around 85% of their area. [8] This loss of habitat is why approximately 60% of the world's terrestrial life lives on only 2.4% of the land surface area. Caribbean Islands like Haiti and Jamaica are facing serious pressures on the populations of endemic plants and vertebrates as a result of rapid deforestation. Other areas include the Tropical Andes, Philippines, Mesoamerica, and Sundaland, which, under the current levels at which deforestation is occurring, will likely lose most of their plant and vertebrate species. [9]

Hotspot conservation initiatives

Only a small percentage of the total land area within biodiversity hotspots is now protected. Several international organizations are working to conserve biodiversity hotspots.

Distribution by region

Biodiversity hotspots. Original proposal in green, and added regions in blue. Biodiversity Hotspots.svg
Biodiversity hotspots. Original proposal in green, and added regions in blue.

North and Central America

The Caribbean

South America



Central Asia

South Asia

Southeast Asia and Asia-Pacific

East Asia

West Asia

Critiques of "Hotspots"

The high profile of the biodiversity hotspots approach has resulted in some criticism. Papers such as Kareiva & Marvier (2003) [17] have argued that the biodiversity hotspots:

A recent series of papers has pointed out that biodiversity hotspots (and many other priority region sets) do not address the concept of cost. [19] The purpose of biodiversity hotspots is not simply to identify regions that are of high biodiversity value, but to prioritize conservation spending. The regions identified include some in the developed world (e.g. the California Floristic Province), alongside others in the developing world (e.g. Madagascar). The cost of land is likely to vary between these regions by an order of magnitude or more, but the biodiversity hotspot designations do not consider the conservation importance of this difference. However, the available resources for conservation also tend to vary in this way.

See also

Related Research Articles

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Biodiversity</span> Variety and variability of life forms

Biodiversity or biological diversity is the variety and variability of life on Earth. Biodiversity is a measure of variation at the genetic, species, and ecosystem level.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Ecoregion</span> Ecologically and geographically defined area that is smaller than a bioregion

An ecoregion or ecozone is an ecologically and geographically defined area that is smaller than a bioregion, which in turn is smaller than a biogeographic realm. Ecoregions cover relatively large areas of land or water, and contain characteristic, geographically distinct assemblages of natural communities and species. The biodiversity of flora, fauna and ecosystems that characterise an ecoregion tends to be distinct from that of other ecoregions. In theory, biodiversity or conservation ecoregions are relatively large areas of land or water where the probability of encountering different species and communities at any given point remains relatively constant, within an acceptable range of variation.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Protected area</span> Areas protected for having ecological or cultural importance

Protected areas or conservation areas are locations which receive protection because of their recognized natural, ecological or cultural values. There are several kinds of protected areas, which vary by level of protection depending on the enabling laws of each country or the regulations of the international organizations involved. Generally speaking though, protected areas are understood to be those in which human presence or at least the exploitation of natural resources is limited.

This is an index of conservation topics. It is an alphabetical index of articles relating to conservation biology and conservation of the natural environment.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Atlantic Forest</span> South American forest

The Atlantic Forest is a South American forest that extends along the Atlantic coast of Brazil from Rio Grande do Norte state in the northeast to Rio Grande do Sul state in the south and inland as far as Paraguay and the Misiones Province of Argentina, where the region is known as Selva Misionera.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Endemism</span> Species unique to a location or habitat

Endemism is the state of a species being found in a single defined geographic location, such as an island, state, nation, country or other defined zone; organisms that are indigenous to a place are not endemic to it if they are also found elsewhere. For example, the Cape sugarbird is found exclusively in southwestern South Africa and is therefore said to be endemic to that particular part of the world.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Biodiversity of New Caledonia</span> Variety of life in the New Caledonia archipelago and its seas

The biodiversity of New Caledonia is of exceptional biological and paleoecological interest. It is frequently referred to as a biodiversity hotspot. The country is a large South Pacific archipelago with a total land area of more than 18,000 square kilometres (6,900 sq mi). The terrain includes a variety of reefs, atolls, small islands, and a variety of topographical and edaphic regions on the largest island, all of which promote the development of unusually concentrated biodiversity. The region's climate is oceanic and tropical.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Southwest Australia</span> Biogeographic region of Western Australia

Southwest Australia is a biogeographic region in Western Australia. It includes the Mediterranean-climate area of southwestern Australia, which is home to a diverse and distinctive flora and fauna.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Cerrado</span> Tropical savanna ecoregion of Brazil

The Cerrado is a vast ecoregion of tropical savanna in eastern Brazil, particularly in the states of Goiás, Mato Grosso do Sul, Mato Grosso, Tocantins, Minas Gerais, and the Federal District. The core areas of the Cerrado biome are the Brazilian highlands – the Planalto. The main habitat types of the Cerrado consist of forest savanna, wooded savanna, park savanna and gramineous-woody savanna. The Cerrado also includes savanna wetlands and gallery forests. The second largest of Brazil's major habitat types, after the Amazonian rainforest, the Cerrado accounts for a full 21 percent of the country's land area.

An Endemic Bird Area (EBA) is an area of land identified by BirdLife International as being important for habitat-based bird conservation because it contains the habitats of restricted-range bird species, which are thereby endemic to them. An EBA is formed where the distributions of two or more such restricted-range species overlap. Using this guideline, 218 EBAs were identified when Birdlife International established their Biodiversity project in 1987. A secondary EBA comprises the range of only one restricted-range species, or an area which is only the partial breeding range of a range-restricted species.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Meghalaya subtropical forests</span> Ecoregion of India

The Meghalaya subtropical forests is an ecoregion of Northeast India. The ecoregion covers an area of 41,700 square kilometers (16,100 sq mi), and despite its name, comprise not only the state of Meghalaya, but also parts of southern Assam, and a tiny bit of Nagaland around Dimapur. It also contains many other habitats than subtropical forests, but the montane subtropical forests found in Meghalaya is an important biome, and was once much more widespread in the region, and for these reasons chosen as the most suitable name. The scientific designation is IM0126.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">California Floristic Province</span> Region of uniform plant variety in the western United States and Mexico

The California Floristic Province (CFP) is a floristic province with a Mediterranean-type climate located on the Pacific Coast of North America with a distinctive flora similar to other regions with a winter rainfall and summer drought climate like the Mediterranean Basin. This biodiversity hotspot is known for being the home of the Sierran giant sequoia tree and its close relative the coast redwood. In 1996, the Province was designated as a biodiversity hotspot allowing it to join ranks among 33 other areas in the world with many endemic species. To be named a biodiversity hotspot, an area has to contain species and plant life that cannot be found anywhere else in the world. The California Floristic Province is home to over 3,000 species of vascular plants, 60% of which are endemic to the province.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Tropical Andes</span>

The Tropical Andes is northern of the three climate-delineated parts of the Andes, the others being the Dry Andes and the Wet Andes. The Tropical Andes' area spans 1,542,644 km2 (595,618 sq mi).

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Succulent Karoo</span> Desert ecoregion of South Africa and Namibia

The Succulent Karoo is a ecoregion defined by the World Wide Fund for Nature to include regions of desert in South Africa and Namibia, and a biodiversity hotspot. The geographic area chosen by the WWF for what they call 'Succulent Karoo' does not correspond to the actual Karoo.

<i>Campos rupestres</i>

The campo rupestre is a discontinuous montane subtropical ecoregion occurring across three different biomes in Brazil: Cerrado, Atlantic Forest and Caatinga. Originally, campo rupestre was used to characterize the montane vegetation of the Espinhaço Range, but recently this term has been broadly applied by the scientific community to define high altitudinal fire-prone areas dominated by grasslands and rocky outcrops.

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The Maputaland-Pondoland-Albany Hotspot (MPA) is a biodiversity hotspot, a biogeographic region with significant levels of biodiversity, in Southern Africa. It is situated near the south-eastern coast of Africa, occupying an area between the Great Escarpment and the Indian Ocean. The area is named after Maputaland, Pondoland and Albany. It stretches from the Albany Centre of Plant Endemism in the Eastern Cape Province of South Africa, through the Pondoland Centre of Plant Endemism and KwaZulu-Natal Province, the eastern side of Eswatini and into southern Mozambique and Mpumalanga. The Maputaland Centre of Plant Endemism is contained in northern KwaZulu-Natal and southern Mozambique.

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<span class="mw-page-title-main">Ecuadorian dry forests</span>

The Ecuadorian dry forests (NT0214) is an ecoregion near the Pacific coast of the Ecuador. The habitat has been occupied by people for centuries and has been severely damaged by deforestation, overgrazing and hillside erosion due to unsustainable agriculture. Only 1% of the original forest remains. The patches of forest, mostly secondary growth, are fragmented. They are home to many endemic species at risk of extinction.

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