At the beginning of my career I was very focused on the science behind conservation efforts. Ideas like the Hotspots are interesting because they give us a blueprint for where to best invest limited resources to protect biodiversity.
Nature; International Weekly Journal of Science
Norman Myers, Russell A. Mittermeier, Cristina G. Mittermeier, Gustavo A. B. da Fonseca & Jennifer Kent
Journal of Science
Callum M. Roberts, Colin J. McClean, John E. N. Vernon, Julie P. Hawkins, Gerald R. Allen, Don E. McAllister, Cristina G. Mittermeier, Frederick W. Schueler, Mark Spalding, Fred Wells, Carly Vynne & Timothy B. Werner
Biodiversity hotspots for conservation priorities
Conservationists are far from able to assist all species under threat, if only for lack of funding. This places a premium on priorities: how can we support the most species at the least cost? One way is to identify 'biodiversity hotspots' where exceptional concentrations of endemic species are undergoing exceptional loss of habitat. As many as 44% of all species of vascular plants and 35% of all species in four vertebrate groups are confined to 25 hotspots comprising only 1.4% of the land surface of the Earth. This opens the way for a 'silver bullet' strategy on the part of conservation planners, focusing on these hotspots in proportion to their share of the world's species at risk.
Coral reefs are the most biologically diverse of shallow water marine ecosystemsbut are being degraded worldwide by human activities and climate warming. Analyses of the geographic ranges of 3235 species of reef fish, corals, snails, and lobsters revealed that between 7.2% and 53.6% of each taxon have highly restricted ranges, rendering them vulnerable to extinction. Restricted-range species are clustered into centers of endemism, like those described for terrestrial taxa. The 10 richest centers of endemism cover 15.8% of the world’s coral reefs (0.012% of the oceans) but include between 44.8 and 54.2% of the restricted-range species. Many occur in regions where reefs are being severely affected by people, potentially leading to numerous extinctions. Threatened centers of endemism are major biodiversity hotspots, and conservation efforts targeted toward them could help avert the loss of tropical reef biodiversity.
Warfare in Biodiversity Hotspots
Conservation efforts are only as sustainable as the social and political context within which they take place. The weakening or collapse of sociopolitical frameworks during wartime can lead to habitat destruction and the erosion of conservation policies, but in some cases, may also confer ecological benefits through altered settlement patterns and reduced resource exploitation. Over 90% of the major armed conflicts between 1950 and 2000 occurred within countries containing biodiversity hotspots, and more than 80% took place directly within hotspot areas. Less than one-third of the 34 recognized hotspots escaped significant conflict during this period, and most suffered repeated episodes of violence. This pattern was remarkably consistent over these 5 decades. Evidence from the war-torn Eastern Afromontane hotspot suggests that biodiversity conservation is improved when international nongovernmental organizations support local protected area staff and remain engaged throughout the conflict. With biodiversity hotspots concentrated in politically volatile regions, the conservation community must maintain continuous involvement during periods of war, and biodiversity conservation should be incorporated into military, reconstruction, and humanitarian programs in the world's conflict zones.