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Biodiversity hotspot

Biodiversity hotspot

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Encyclopedia
A biodiversity hotspot is a biogeographic region with a significant reservoir of biodiversity
Biodiversity
Biodiversity is the degree of variation of life forms within a given ecosystem, biome, or an entire planet. Biodiversity is a measure of the health of ecosystems. Biodiversity is in part a function of climate. In terrestrial habitats, tropical regions are typically rich whereas polar regions...

 that is under threat from humans.

The concept of biodiversity hotspots was originated by Norman Myers
Norman Myers
Norman Myers BA PhD , is a British environmentalist specialisting in biodiversity. He is an influential figure among policy and institutional circles, although much of his more prominent work - such as on environmental refugees' - is widely viewed as lacking academic credibility...

 in two articles in “The Environmentalist” (1988 & 1990), revised after thorough analysis by Myers and others in “Hotspots: Earth’s Biologically Richest and Most Endangered Terrestrial Ecoregions”.

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 0.5% or 1,500 species of vascular plant
Vascular plant
Vascular plants are those plants that have lignified tissues for conducting water, minerals, and photosynthetic products through the plant. Vascular plants include the clubmosses, Equisetum, ferns, gymnosperms and angiosperms...

s as endemics, and it has to have lost at least 70% of its primary vegetation. Around the world, at least 25 areas qualify under this definition, with nine others possible candidates. These sites support nearly 60% of the world's plant, bird, mammal, reptile, and amphibian species
Species
In biology, a species is one of the basic units of biological classification and a taxonomic rank. A species is often defined as a group of organisms capable of interbreeding and producing fertile offspring. While in many cases this definition is adequate, more precise or differing measures are...

, with a very high share of endemic species.

Hotspot conservation initiatives


Only a small percentage of the total land area within biodiversity hotspots is now protected. Several international organizations are working in many ways to conserve biodiversity hotspots.
  • Critical Ecosystem Partnership Fund
    Critical Ecosystem Partnership Fund
    Critical Ecosystem Partnership Fund is a global program that provides provides funding and technical assistance to nongovernmental organizations and other private sector partners to protect critical ecosystems. They focus on biodiversity hotspots, the Earth's biologically richest yet most...

     (CEPF) is a global program that provides funding and technical assistance to nongovernmental organizations and other private sector partners to protect biodiversity hotspots. CEPF has provided support to more than 1,000 civil society groups working locally to conserve hotspots in Africa, Asia, and Latin America. CEPF is a joint initiative of The Global Environment Facility
    Global Environment Facility
    The Global Environment Facility unites 182 member governments — in partnership with international institutions, nongovernmental organizations, and the private sector — to address global environmental issues....

    , The John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, L'Agence Française de Développement
    French Development Agency
    French Development Agency is the French international development agency.The Agence Française de Développement is a public institution providing development financing...

    , The Ministry of Finance of the Government of Japan
    Government of Japan
    The government of Japan is a constitutional monarchy where the power of the Emperor is very limited. As a ceremonial figurehead, he is defined by the 1947 constitution as "the symbol of the state and of the unity of the people". Power is held chiefly by the Prime Minister of Japan and other elected...

    , Conservation International
    Conservation International
    Conservation International is a nonprofit organization headquartered in Arlington, Virginia, which seeks to ensure the health of humanity by protecting Earth's ecosystems and biodiversity. CI’s work focuses on six key initiatives that affect human well-being: climate, food security, freshwater...

     and The World Bank
    World Bank
    The World Bank is an international financial institution that provides loans to developing countries for capital programmes.The World Bank's official goal is the reduction of poverty...

    .

  • Conservation International
    Conservation International
    Conservation International is a nonprofit organization headquartered in Arlington, Virginia, which seeks to ensure the health of humanity by protecting Earth's ecosystems and biodiversity. CI’s work focuses on six key initiatives that affect human well-being: climate, food security, freshwater...

     applies innovations in science, economics, policy and community participation to protect the Earth's richest regions of plant and animal diversity including: biodiversity hotspots, high-biodiversity wilderness areas and important marine regions. CI works in more than 40 countries on four continents, with headquarters near Washington, D.C.

  • The World Wildlife Fund has derived a system called the “Global 200 Ecoregions
    Global 200
    The Global 200 is the list of ecoregions identified by the World Wildlife Fund as priorities for conservation. According to the WWF, an ecoregion is defined as a "relatively large unit of land or water containing a characteristic set of natural communities that share a large majority of their...

    ”, the aim of which is to select priority Ecoregions for conservation within each of 14 terrestrial, 3 freshwater, and 4 marine habitat types. They are chosen for their species richness, endemism, taxonomic uniqueness, unusual ecological or evolutionary phenomena, and global rarity. All biodiversity hotspots contain at least one Global 200 Ecoregion.

  • Birdlife International
    BirdLife International
    BirdLife International is a global Partnership of conservation organisations that strives to conserve birds, their habitats and global biodiversity, working with people towards sustainability in the use of natural resources...

     has identified 218 “Endemic Bird Areas” (EBAs) each of which hold two or more bird species found nowhere else. Birdlife International has identified more than 11,000 Important Bird Areas all over the world.

  • Plantlife International coordinates several projects around the world aiming to identify Important Plant Areas
    Important Plant Areas
    Important Plant Areas provide a framework for identifying and maintaining the richest sites for plantlife, possibly within an existing protected area, though the protection of the IPA itself is not legally enforced. The term plantlife in this case refers to any number of species, encompassing...

    .

  • Alliance for Zero Extinction
    Alliance for Zero Extinction
    The Alliance for Zero Extinction is a global alliance of membership organisations created in 2003 to prevent the extinction of species and the destruction of natural habitats....

     is an initiative of a large number of scientific organizations and conservation groups who co-operate to focus on the most threatened endemic species of the world. They have identified 595 sites, including a large number of Birdlife’ s Important Bird Areas.



These initiatives are all based on scientific criteria and quantitative thresholds.

The biodiversity hotspots by region



North and Central America
Central America
Central America is the central geographic region of the Americas. It is the southernmost, isthmian portion of the North American continent, which connects with South America on the southeast. When considered part of the unified continental model, it is considered a subcontinent...

  • California Floristic Province
    California Floristic Province
    The California Floristic Province is a floristic province with a Mediterranean climate located on the Pacific Coast of North America with a distinctive flora that bears similarities to floras found in other regions experiencing a winter rainfall, summer drought climate like the Mediterranean...

  • Caribbean Islands
  • Madrean pine-oak woodlands
    Madrean pine-oak woodlands
    The Madrean pine-oak woodlands are subtropical woodlands found in the mountains of Mexico and the southwestern United States.The Madrean pine-oak woodlands are found at higher elevations in Mexico's major mountain ranges, the Sierra Madre Occidental, the Sierra Madre Oriental, the Trans-Mexican...

  • Mesoamerica
    Mesoamerica
    Mesoamerica is a region and culture area in the Americas, extending approximately from central Mexico to Belize, Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras, Nicaragua, and Costa Rica, within which a number of pre-Columbian societies flourished before the Spanish colonization of the Americas in the 15th and...



South America
South America
South America is a continent situated in the Western Hemisphere, mostly in the Southern Hemisphere, with a relatively small portion in the Northern Hemisphere. The continent is also considered a subcontinent of the Americas. It is bordered on the west by the Pacific Ocean and on the north and east...

  • Atlantic Forest
  • Cerrado
    Cerrado
    The Cerrado, is a vast tropical savanna ecoregion of Brazil, particularly in the states of Gioas and Minas Gerais...

  • Chilean Winter Rainfall-Valdivian Forests
    Valdivian temperate rain forests
    The Valdivian temperate rain forests are a temperate broadleaf and mixed-forest ecoregion located on the west coast of southern South America, lying mostly in Chile and extending into a small part of Argentina. It is part of the Neotropic ecozone. The forests are named after the city of Valdivia...

  • Tumbes-Chocó-Magdalena
    Tumbes-Chocó-Magdalena
    Tumbes-Chocó-Magdalena is a biodiversity hotspot, which includes the tropical moist forests and tropical dry forests of the Pacific coast of South America and the Galapagos Islands. The region extends from easternmost Panama to the lower Magdalena Valley of Colombia, and along the Pacific coast of...

  • Tropical Andes
    Tropical Andes
    The Tropical Andes is a subregion of the Andes spanning all of the Andes except the southern mediterranean and temperate zones. The Tropical Andes is an biodiversity hotspot named the “global epicenter of biodiversity” according to the Critical Ecosystem Partnership Fund.The Tropical Andes area is...

     


Europe
Europe
Europe is, by convention, one of the world's seven continents. Comprising the westernmost peninsula of Eurasia, Europe is generally 'divided' from Asia to its east by the watershed divides of the Ural and Caucasus Mountains, the Ural River, the Caspian and Black Seas, and the waterways connecting...

 and Central Asia
Central Asia
Central Asia is a core region of the Asian continent from the Caspian Sea in the west, China in the east, Afghanistan in the south, and Russia in the north...

  • Caucasus
    Caucasus
    The Caucasus, also Caucas or Caucasia , is a geopolitical region at the border of Europe and Asia, and situated between the Black and the Caspian sea...

  • Irano-Anatolian
    Irano-Anatolian
    The Irano-Anatolian region is a biodiversity hotspot designated by Conservation International, extending across portions of Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia, Iraq, Iran, Turkey, and Turkmenistan...

  • Mediterranean Basin
    Mediterranean Basin
    In biogeography, the Mediterranean Basin refers to the lands around the Mediterranean Sea that have a Mediterranean climate, with mild, rainy winters and hot, dry summers, which supports characteristic Mediterranean forests, woodlands, and scrub vegetation...

  • Mountains of Central Asia
    Mountains of Central Asia
    South of the northern low lands is a great belt of mountains and plateaus. The Pamir plateau in central Asia forms mountainous chains running out in different directions. The mountain chains of the Himalayas, Karakoram and Kunlun run towards the east. The plateau of Tibet, enclosed by the...



Africa
Africa
Africa is the world's second largest and second most populous continent, after Asia. At about 30.2 million km² including adjacent islands, it covers 6% of the Earth's total surface area and 20.4% of the total land area...

  • Cape Floristic Region
    Cape floristic region
    The Cape Floristic Region is a floristic region located near the southern tip of South Africa. It is the only floristic region of the Cape Floristic Kingdom, and includes only one floristic province, known as the Cape Floristic Province.The Cape Floristic Region, the smallest of the six recognised...

  • Coastal Forests of Eastern Africa
    Coastal forests of eastern Africa
    The Coastal forests of eastern Africa is a tropical moist forest region along the east coast of Africa. The region was designated a biodiversity hotspot by Conservation International....

  • Eastern Afromontane
  • Guinean Forests of West Africa
    Guinean Forests of West Africa
    The Guinean forests of West Africa is a biodiversity hotspot designated by Conservation International, which includes the belt of tropical moist broadleaf forests along the coast of West Africa, running from Sierra Leone and Guinea in the west to the Sanaga River of Cameroon in the east...

  • Horn of Africa
    Horn of Africa
    The Horn of Africa is a peninsula in East Africa that juts hundreds of kilometers into the Arabian Sea and lies along the southern side of the Gulf of Aden. It is the easternmost projection of the African continent...

  • Madagascar and the Indian Ocean Islands
    Ecoregions of Madagascar
    Madagascar island, located in the Indian Ocean off the east coast of Africa, is the fourth largest island in the world. Its long isolation from neighbouring continents allowed the evolution of distinct communities of plants and animals. It is home to five percent of the world's plant and animal...

  • Maputaland-Pondoland-Albany
  • Succulent Karoo
    Succulent Karoo
    The Succulent Karoo is a desert ecoregion of South Africa and Namibia.-Setting:The Succulent Karoo stretches along the coastal strip of southwestern Namibia and South Africa's Northern Cape Province, where the cold Benguela Current offshore creates frequent fogs. The ecoregion extends inland into...



South Asia
South Asia
South Asia, also known as Southern Asia, is the southern region of the Asian continent, which comprises the sub-Himalayan countries and, for some authorities , also includes the adjoining countries to the west and the east...

  • Eastern Himalaya
    Eastern Himalaya
    Eastern Himalaya is situated between Central Nepal in the west to Myanmar in the east, occupying southeast Tibet in China, Sikkim, North Bengal, Bhutan and North-East India. The area has been declared a biodiversity hotspot by Conservation International....

    , India
    Wildlife of India
    The wildlife of India is a mix of species of number of different types of organism. The region's rich and diverse wildlife is preserved in 89 national parks, 13 Bio reserves and 400+ wildlife sanctuaries across the country. Since India is home to a number of rare and threatened animal species,...

  • Indo-Burma
    Indo-Burma
    Indo-Burma is a biodiversity hotspot designated by Conservation International, which extends from eastern India and southern China across Southeast Asia, and includes Australia, but excluding the Malay Peninsula...

    , India
    Wildlife of India
    The wildlife of India is a mix of species of number of different types of organism. The region's rich and diverse wildlife is preserved in 89 national parks, 13 Bio reserves and 400+ wildlife sanctuaries across the country. Since India is home to a number of rare and threatened animal species,...

     and Myanmar
    Myanmar
    Burma , officially the Republic of the Union of Myanmar , is a country in Southeast Asia. Burma is bordered by China on the northeast, Laos on the east, Thailand on the southeast, Bangladesh on the west, India on the northwest, the Bay of Bengal to the southwest, and the Andaman Sea on the south....

  • Western Ghats
    Western Ghats
    The Western Ghats, Western Ghauts or the Sahyādri is a mountain range along the western side of India. It runs north to south along the western edge of the Deccan Plateau, and separates the plateau from a narrow coastal plain along the Arabian Sea. The Western Ghats block rainfall to the Deccan...

    , India
    Wildlife of India
    The wildlife of India is a mix of species of number of different types of organism. The region's rich and diverse wildlife is preserved in 89 national parks, 13 Bio reserves and 400+ wildlife sanctuaries across the country. Since India is home to a number of rare and threatened animal species,...

  • Sri Lanka
    Sri Lanka
    Sri Lanka, officially the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka is a country off the southern coast of the Indian subcontinent. Known until 1972 as Ceylon , Sri Lanka is an island surrounded by the Indian Ocean, the Gulf of Mannar and the Palk Strait, and lies in the vicinity of India and the...



East Asia
East Asia
East Asia or Eastern Asia is a subregion of Asia that can be defined in either geographical or cultural terms...

 and Asia-Pacific
Asia-Pacific
Asia-Pacific or Asia Pacific is the part of the world in or near the Western Pacific Ocean...

  • East Melanesian Islands
    East Melanesian Islands
    The East Melanesian Islands, also known as the Solomons-Vanuatu-Bismarck moist forests, is a biogeographic region notable for its unique flora and fauna and species richness. The region is designated a biodiversity hotspot by Conservation International , and one of the outstanding Global 200...

  • Japan
    Ecoregions of Japan
    Japan is home to a nine forest ecoregions, which reflect its climate and geography. The islands that constitute Japan generally have a humid climate, which ranges from warm subtropical in the southern islands to cool temperate on the northern island of Hokkaidō....

  • Mountains of Southwest China
    Mountains of Southwest China
    The Mountains of Southwest China is a biodiversity hotspot designated by Conservation International which includes several temperate coniferous forests in southwestern China, which lie in the river valleys on the southeastern corner of the Tibetan plateau, between the alpine scrublands and steppes...

  • New Caledonia
    Biodiversity of New Caledonia
    The Biodiversity of New Caledonia is considered to be one of the most important in the world. New Caledonia, a large south Pacific island group about 1,200 km east of Australia, supports high levels of endemism, with many unique plants, insects, reptiles and birds...

  • New Zealand
    Biodiversity of New Zealand
    The biodiversity of New Zealand, a large Pacific archipelago, is one of the most unusual on Earth, due to its long isolation from other continental landmasses. Its affinities are derived from Gondwana, from which it separated 82 million years ago, New Caledonia and Lord Howe Island, both of which...

  • Philippines
  • Polynesia-Micronesia
    Oceania ecozone
    Oceania is one of the WWF ecozones, and unique in not including any continental land mass. The ecozone includes the Pacific Ocean islands of Micronesia, the Fijian Islands, and most of Polynesia...

  • Southwest Australia
    Southwest Australia
    Southwest Australia is a biodiversity hotspot that includes the Mediterranean forests, woodlands, and scrub ecoregions of Western Australia. The region has a wet-winter, dry-summer Mediterranean climate, one of five such regions in the world...

  • Sundaland
    Sundaland
    Sundaland is a biogeographical region of Southeastern Asia which encompasses the areas of the Asian continental shelf that was exposed during the last ice age. It included the Malay Peninsula on the Asian mainland, as well as the large islands of Borneo, Java, and Sumatra and their surrounding...

  • Wallacea
    Wallacea
    Wallacea is a biogeographical designation for a group of Indonesian islands separated by deep water straits from the Asian and Australian continental shelves. Wallacea includes Sulawesi, the largest island in the group, as well as Lombok, Sumbawa, Flores, Sumba, Timor, Halmahera, Buru, Seram, and...


Critiques of hotspots


The high profile of the biodiversity hotspots approach has resulted in considerable criticism. Papers such as Kareiva & Marvier (2003) have argued that the biodiversity hotspots:
  • Do not adequately represent other forms of species richness (e.g. total species richness or threatened species richness).
  • Do not adequately represent taxa other than vascular plants (e.g. vertebrates, or fungi).
  • Do not protect smaller scale richness hotspots.
  • Do not make allowances for changing land use
    Land use
    Land use is the human use of land. Land use involves the management and modification of natural environment or wilderness into built environment such as fields, pastures, and settlements. It has also been defined as "the arrangements, activities and inputs people undertake in a certain land cover...

     patterns. Hotspots represent regions that have experienced considerable habitat loss, but this does not mean they are experiencing ongoing habitat loss. On the other hand, regions that are relatively intact (e.g. the Amazon Basin
    Amazon Basin
    The Amazon Basin is the part of South America drained by the Amazon River and its tributaries that drains an area of about , or roughly 40 percent of South America. The basin is located in the countries of Bolivia, Brazil, Colombia, Ecuador, Guyana, Peru, and Venezuela...

    ) have experienced relatively little land loss, but are currently losing habitat at tremendous rates.
  • Do not protect ecosystem services
  • Do not consider phylogenetic diversity
    Phylogenetic diversity
    Phylogenetic diversity is a measure of biodiversity which incorporates taxonomic difference between species. It is defined and calculated as "the sum of the lengths of the all the branches that are members of the corresponding minimum spanning path", in which 'branch' is a segment of a cladogram,...

    .


A recent series of papers has pointed out that biodiversity hotspots (and many other priority region sets) do not address the concept of cost. 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 regions in the developed world (e.g. the California Floristic Province
California Floristic Province
The California Floristic Province is a floristic province with a Mediterranean climate located on the Pacific Coast of North America with a distinctive flora that bears similarities to floras found in other regions experiencing a winter rainfall, summer drought climate like the Mediterranean...

), alongside regions in the developing world (e.g. Madagascar
Madagascar
The Republic of Madagascar is an island country located in the Indian Ocean off the southeastern coast of Africa...

). The cost of land is likely to vary between these regions by an order of magnitude or more, but the biodiversity hotspots do not consider the conservation importance of this difference.

See also

  • Wilderness
    Wilderness
    Wilderness or wildland is a natural environment on Earth that has not been significantly modified by human activity. It may also be defined as: "The most intact, undisturbed wild natural areas left on our planet—those last truly wild places that humans do not control and have not developed with...

  • Biodiversity
    Biodiversity
    Biodiversity is the degree of variation of life forms within a given ecosystem, biome, or an entire planet. Biodiversity is a measure of the health of ecosystems. Biodiversity is in part a function of climate. In terrestrial habitats, tropical regions are typically rich whereas polar regions...

  • Conservation biology
    Conservation biology
    Conservation biology is the scientific study of the nature and status of Earth's biodiversity with the aim of protecting species, their habitats, and ecosystems from excessive rates of extinction...

  • Protected Areas
  • Ecoregions
  • Crisis Ecoregions
    Crisis Ecoregions
    Crisis ecoregions are terrestrial biomes facing significant threat to their biodiversity and requiring well directed conservation efforts in order to curb the irreversible loss of plant and animal species and their surrounding habitats...

  • High-Biodiversity Wilderness Areas
    High-Biodiversity Wilderness Areas
    High-Biodiversity Wilderness Areas is an elaboration on the IUCN Protected Area classification of a Wilderness Area , which outlines five vast wilderness areas of particularly dense and important levels of biodiversity...


External links


Further reading