Print A biodiversity hotspot is a region with a high amount of biodiversity that experiences habitat loss by human activity. To get a better understanding of the distribution of biodiversity hotspots around the world, please view the following biodiversity hotspots map produced by Conservation International.
But what actually is a hotspot? The simple answer is that Biodiversity hotspots are geographic areas that contain high levels of species diversity but are threatened with extinction. To qualify as a hotspot, a region must meet two strict criteria: Three factors that usually determine hotspots The number of total species species richness The number of unique species endemism The number of species at risk threat of extinction.
Some interesting hotspot facts: They once covered The intact remnants of the hotspots now cover only 2. Terrestrial vertebrates endemic to the hotspots: Reptiles and amphibians, are more prone to hotspot endemism than are the more wide-ranging mammals and birds, but the overall similarity between taxonomic groups is remarkable.
Delineating hotspots is by no means an exact science. It requires that a line, that might be easily discernible or rather vague on the ground, must be drawn to represent a transition between two habitats.
Less than a decade ago, the islands of eastern Melanesia, while known to be extremely endemic-rich, still held largely intact habitat. The problem of stemming the extinction crisis can best be framed by a question: In which areas would a given dollar contribute the most towards slowing the current rate of extinction?
This requires that we measure endemism: This can be thought of as a measure of irreplaceability. Since endemic species cannot be found anywhere else, the area where an endemic species Threats to biodiversity hotspots is wholly irreplaceable.
We also need to decide which species we should consider. Practically, vascular plants and vertebrate animals are the best candidates, because these are the only species for which we currently have sufficient data. Whether the distributions of plants and vertebrates are mirrored by terrestrial invertebrate species remains an open question, although some evidence suggests that they may be.
It is less likely that the distributions of aquatic species will parallel these patterns, and so these represent an urgent research priority. The more threatened an area is, the more it will cost to conserve. However, because economic opportunity costs vary dramatically, there do still exist areas of relatively low cost in all hotspots.
Intuitively, we want to conserve the most threatened areas first, but we also want to get the greatest return for our conservation dollar. This paradox can best be resolved by identifying areas that hold species found nowhere else and that are guaranteed to lose species if the areas are not conserved.
Hotspots are not the only system devised for assessing global conservation priorities: The World Wildlife Fund-U. They are chosen for their species richness, endemism, taxonomic uniqueness, unusual ecological or evolutionary phenomena, and global rarity.
All hotspots contain at least one Global Ecoregion and all but three contain at least one EBA; 60 percent of Global terrestrial Ecoregions and 78 percent of EBAs overlap with hotspots. Accelerating anthropogenic climate change will undoubtedly magnify the effects of habitat destruction and fragmentation.
Predatory invasive species have already had a devastating impact on the island hotspots, where species evolved in the absence of animals such as cats and rats.
Introduction of exotic plant species into hotspots, particularly those of Mediterranean-type vegetation, is also having massive ecosystem effects. Direct exploitation of species for food, medicine, and the pet trade is a serious threat to all hotspots, particularly in the Guinean Forests of West Africa and several Asian hotspots.
Another grave concern is the severe decline of amphibians worldwide, the cause of which remains unknown. The most direct measure of this threat can be derived from assessments of conservation status of species.
For mammals, birds, and amphibians, the three groups of species for which assessments of distribution and conservation status have been conducted, we can measure these proportions with a high level of accuracy.
Researchers have also found that the hotspots hold more people than expected.
But the relationship between people and biodiversity is not simply one where more people lead to greater impacts on biodiversity. Hotspots are also notable centers of violent conflict.
One of the more unique plant species is an Andean bromeliad that require years to mature. The threatened yellow-eared parrot, yellow-tailed woolly monkey and spectacled bear are all endemic to the Tropical Andes.
This hotspot also maintains the largest variety of amphibians in the world, with distinct species.The identification of biodiversity hotspots was a two-stage process. The experts first identified areas with many endemic species.
They then assessed each of these areas for current conservation pressures and the possibility of future threats to biodiversity. An elevation map showing bird diversity in South America. Red areas are biodiversity hotspots. The identification of biodiversity hotspots was a two-stage process.
The experts first identified areas with many endemic species. They then assessed each of these areas for current conservation pressures and the possibility of future threats to biodiversity. A biodiversity hotspot is a region with a high amount of biodiversity that experiences habitat loss by human activity.
In order to qualify as a biodiversity hotspot, according to Conservation International, “a region must contain at least 1, species of vascular plants (>% of the world’s total) as endemics, and it has to have lost at least 70% of . Biodiversity hotspots face numerous threats from human activities.
In many parts of the world, the population is on the rise leading people to clear natural habitats for agricultural development and settlement. The degradation of vegetation and habitat, predation by foxes and cats, changing fire patterns, weed invasion and the total grazing pressure of domestic stock, kangaroos and feral rabbits all pose major threats to this region's biodiversity.