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What are Biological Hot Spots?

written by: JenniferB•edited by: Niki Fears•updated: 10/21/2008

In an effort to save what is left of the Earth’s biodiversity, conservation biologists have identified biodiversity hot spots, or areas that are especially rich in plant and animal species that are found no where else on the planet.

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    Unbelievable Biodiversity

    It’s important to realize that not all of the Earth’s species of plants and animals are distributed equally. In fact, much of the diversity is concentrated into a small percentage of countries, most of which have large amounts of tropical forests. The country with the highest diversity is Indonesia followed by Colombia, Mexico, Brazil and Ecuador. And unfortunately, economic prosperity is not associated with high biodiversity. In fact, generally speaking, the better off a country is financially, the lower the diversity it has.

    In an effort to save what is left of the Earth’s biodiversity, conservation biologists have identified biodiversity hot spots, or areas that are especially rich in plant and animal species that are found no where else on the planet. Often these species are in critical danger of extinction or ecological disruption due to population growth, human development and habitat loss. And because they occur in countries stricken with few financial resources, it can be difficult to establish protected areas and enforce conservation measures. However, considering the wealth of biodiversity at risk in these area, it is essential to find strategies for successful management and protection. These hot spots cover 2% of the Earth’s surface, but up to 50 % of all species of plants and terrestrial organisms including birds, mammals, reptiles and amphibians. According to the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN), they are also home for a large majority of the world’s endangered or threatened species of organisms.

    While identifying and protecting biodiversity hot spots is a very important aspect of conservation, experts warn that it isn’t enough. All of the world’s ecosystems – regardless of species counts – must be sustained and protected since they are all interconnected.

    To learn more about the biological hot spots all around the globe, check out Conservation International’s Biodiversity Hotspot Web site that’s dedicated to educating and informing about these critical habitats. You’ll find information on all the hot spots across all seven continents– and even those that are closer to your own backyard. So explore this site and discover all the amazing diversity from around the world.

    Conservation International's Biodiversity Hot Spot Site: http://www.biodiversityhotspots.org