Conservationists Name Nine New "Biodiversity Hotspots"

By PSU EcoMerge Capstone - 8:49 PM

What are Biodiversity Hotspots?
The concept of biodiversity hotspots was penned by British ecologist Norman Myers in 1988.        
        • Myers reasoned that a prudent conservation strategy would be to target dollars and research at those
          regions where these threats are greatest to the greatest number of species.

 Due to limited resources and time in the mid 1990s, Meyers with partners at Conservation International worked out a formula that would designate a hotspot and strategize how they would go about tackling the protection of species.
        • The region must support at least 1,500 plant species found nowhere else in the world.
        • It must have lost at least 70 percent of its original habitat.

Conservationists Name Nine New "Biodiversity Hotspots"
  Nine new "biodiversity hotspots” were named by conservationists. These regions are priorities due to their incredible species richness that has been under constant assault from human activity. All nine of these biodiversity hotspots have lost at least 70 percent of their original natural habitat. About half of all the plant and animal species on Earth are found in these hotspots, which originally covered 15.7 percent of the Earth's surface area. Hotspots are home to 24 families of plants and animals that cannot be found anywhere else in the world. Only about a tenth of their original habitat remains. Their ecosystems account for a high percentage of global biodiversity. Scientists say many of these regions face tremendous pressure from logging, agriculture, hunting, and climate change.

One of these hotspots is a crucial stopover for migrating monarch butterflies.
Although in North America the Monarch Butterflies are not considered an
endangered or threatened species, they are highly protected under law,
especially around their wintering roosting sites.
Base map source: USGS National Atlas.
http://www.fs.fed.us/monarchbutterfly/migration/index.shtml
Another Hotspot is the Madrean pine-oak woodlands,
a rugged mountainous area that stretches from Mexico
to the southwestern United States. 
Patricio Robles Gil/Sierra Madre
 Pinyon pine forest in the Chisos Mountains,
Big Bend National Park, Texas.

 A book titled, Hotspot Revisited, details a four year analysis of its global hotspot strategy for biodiversity conservation. It was launched by Conservation International which is based in Washington DC for the purpose of identifying which hotspots are most affected and label them for preserving species threatened by extinction. By focusing attention on these regions, conservationists hope to maximize their efforts at saving as many species as possible from extinction. Michael Hoffmann, a biodiversity analyst with Conservation International and a contributing author to Hotspots Revisited, explained, "We need to have a guideline of where to go, and it helps us focus our attention on areas that are important and disappearing quickly”. He states that about 750 million U.S. dollars has gone into biodiversity hotspot conservation over the past 15 years. However, he noted many hotspots are experiencing low success. According to Conservation International some biodiversity hotspots are deteriorating rapidly and facing vigorous commercial logging and agriculture expansion. Failure to protect hotspots will result in the loss of nearly 50 percent of our Earth's plants and terrestrial vertebrates.

To read more about this article:
http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2005/02/0202_050202_hotspots.html

By Carol Staats

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