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Life on Earth faces a crisis of historical and planetary proportions. Unsustainable consumption in many northern countries and crushing poverty in the tropics are destroying wild nature. Biodiversity is besieged.Extinction is the gravest aspect of the biodiversity crisis: it is irreversible. While extinction is a natural process, human impacts have elevated the rate of extinction by at least a thousand, possibly several thousand, times the natural rate. Mass extinctions of this magnitude have only occurred five times in the history of our planet; the last brought the end of the dinosaur age. In a world where conservation budgets are insufficient given the number of species threatened with extinction, identifying conservation priorities is crucial. British ecologist Norman Myers defined the biodiversity hotspot concept in 1988 to address the dilemma that conservationists face: what areas are the most immediately important for conserving biodiversity?The biodiversity hotspots hold especially high numbers of endemic species, yet their combined area of remaining habitat covers only 2.3 percent of the Earth's land surface. Each hotspot faces extreme threats and has already lost at least 70 percent of its original natural vegetation. Over 50 percent of the world’s plant species and 42 percent of all terrestrial vertebrate species are endemic to the 34 biodiversity hotspots. A biodiversity hotspot is a biogeographic region with a significant reservoir of biodiversity that is under threat from humans. The concept of biodiversity hotspots was originated by Norman Myers 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 plants 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, with a very high share of endemic species.
There are 25 areas in the world that correspond to this definition of biodiversity hotspots. 4 in Europe and Central Asia. meaning that most of the living species disappeared. since there is no possibility of reproduction in case of extinction. Those spots also contained 35 percent of all land vertebrate species. They have vascular tissues that allow them to reach larger size. mineral and photosynthetic product. . 5 in South America. Secondly. such as an island. In this way. and end up in transpiration. 9 others could possibly be add to the list. The term endemics mean that the species is unique to the ecological area and it won’t be found elsewhere due to geographical isolation.What are vascular plants? They are a category of high plant that assures the circulation of nutrients such as water. 9 in Africa and 13 in Asia-Pacific. The lost of species comes frequently from overconsumption and from the destruction of natural forest for agriculture.8 percent of the planet’s surface and they have lost more then 87 percent of their original habitat. Overall. 70 percent of the habitat in the spotted area must be lost. to be considered as a hotspot. which bring the repartition to 4 areas in North and Central America. the hotpots gather the most important population that faces extinction on the planet. They conduct the water and nutrients from bottom to top. absorption or conduction. vascular plants assure great productivity to the ecosystem. All together. The isolated situation makes it very vulnerable. they possess 44 percent of the Earth’s high plants on only 11.
North and Central America California Floristic Province Caribbean Islands Madrean pine-oak woodlands Mesoamerica South America Atlantic Forest Cerrado Chilean Winter Rainfall-Valdivian Forests Tumbes-Chocó-Magdalena Tropical Andes Europe and Central Asia Caucasus Irano-Anatolian Mediterranean Basin Mountains of Central Asia .The biodiversity hotspots by region Biodiversity hotspots.
Africa Cape Floristic Region Coastal Forests of Eastern Africa Eastern Afromontane Guinean Forests of West Africa Horn of Africa Madagascar and the Indian Ocean Islands Maputaland-Pondoland-Albany Succulent Karoo South Asia Eastern Himalaya. India and Myanmar Western Ghats. India Indo-Burma. India Sri Lanka East Asia and Asia-Pacific East Melanesian Islands Japan Mountains of Southwest China New Caledonia New Zealand Philippines Polynesia-Micronesia Southwest Australia Sundaland Wallacea .
The Western Ghats and Sri Lanka The Lion tailed macaque is a flagship species of the Western Ghats About the region: The Western Ghats are a chain of hills that run along the western edge of peninsular India. the Purple Frog and Sri Lankan lizard genus Nessia which appears similar to the Madagascan genusAcontias. An alternate hypothesis that these taxa may have originally evolved out-of-India has also been suggested. The region shows high species diversity as well as high levels of endemism. How the biodiversity of Western Ghats originated is a still a puzzle. which lies to the south of India. These include insects groups such as the zoraptera and plants such as those of the genus Nepenthes. Sri Lanka. Biogeographical quirks exist with some taxa of Malayan origin occurring in Sri Lanka but absent in the Western Ghats. Their proximity to the ocean and through orographic effect. . they receive high rainfall.  Along with Sri Lanka. There are also differences in taxa which are dependent on time of divergence and geological history. Numerous floral links to the Madagascan region also exist. More recent phylogeographic studies have attempted to study the origin of Western Ghats using molecular approaches. Nearly 77% of the amphibians and 62% of the reptile species found here are found nowhere else. It has been connected with India through several past glaciation events by a land bridge almost 140km wide.. this region also shows some faunal similarities with the Madagascan region especially in the reptiles and amphibians. These regions have moist deciduous forest and rain forest. Examples include the Sibynophis snakes. The region shows biogeographical affinities to the Malayan region. is also a country rich in species diversity.
at 6962 metres is the highest peak outside Asia. The region also harbors over 450 bird species. whereas the Himalayan system includes over 100 mountains exceeding 7200 metres. central. . northeastern India. Together.Biodiversity: There are over 6000 vascular plants belonging to over 2500 genera in this hotspot. and their combined drainage basin is home to some 3 billion people (almost half of Earth's population) in 18 countries. which include Mount Everest and K2. The highest concentration of species in the Western Ghats is believed to be the Agasthyamalai Hills in the extreme south. Buddhism and Sikhism.000 square kms. the Himalayan mountain system is the world's highest. only 1. of which over 3000 are endemic. km. The vegetation in this hotspot originally extended over 190. about 140 mammalian species.000 sq. and home to the world's highest peaks.5% of the original forest cover still remains. Today. Remarkable as this diversity is. Over 60% of the reptiles and amphibians are completely endemic to the hotspot. 260 reptiles and 175 amphibians. and southern. consider that Aconcagua. About the region: The Eastern Himalayas is the region encompassing Bhutan. many Himalayan peaks are sacred in Hinduism. it is severely threatened today. To comprehend the enormous scale of this mountain range. in the Andes. In Sri Lanka. Much of the world's spices such as black pepper and cardamom have their origins in the Western Ghats. The Himalayas have profoundly shaped the cultures ofSouth Asia. and eastern Nepal. The region is geologically young and shows high altitudinal variation. The Eastern Himalayas The Indian Rhinoceros is one of the 45 species of globally threatened mammals found in the Eastern Himalayas. Some of the world's major river systems arise in the Himalayas. its been reduced to just 43.
sloth bears. Sambar. Mammals like the Golden langur. Butomaceae and Stachyuraceae . a dozen of which are endemic. Circaesteraceae. is one of the world's rarest mammals. the origin of the Himalayas is the impact of the Indian tectonic platetraveling northward at 15cm per year to impact the Eurasian continent. The formation of the Himalayan arc resulted since the lighter rock of the seabeds of that time were easily uplifted into mountains. Snow leopard. Blue sheep. Five families . alongwith some of Asia's largest and most endangered birds such as the Himalayan vulture and White-bellied heron. Cheer pheasant. Langurs. An often-cited fact used to illustrate this process is that the summit of Mount Everest is made of marine limestone. For example. Biodiversity: The Eastern Himalayan hotspot has nearly 163 globally threatened species including the One-horned Rhinoceros (Rhinoceros unicornis). Western tragopan are found here.Geologically. The region is also home to the Himalayan Newt (Tylototriton verrucosus). a plant species Ermania himalayensis was found at an altitude of 6300 metres in northwestern Himalayas!. Many plant species are found even in the highest reaches of the Himalayan mountains.000 species of plants in the Himalayas. Hamamelidaceae. Black bear. 17 reptiles.Gaurs.are completely endemic to this region. 3 invertebrate and 36 plant species The Relict Dragonfly (Epiophlebia laidlawi) is an endangered species found here with the only other species in the genus being found in Japan. a bovine. Takin. 50 birds. It was discovered in Vietnam only in 1992 The Himalayas are home to over 300 species of mammals. about 40-50 million years ago. of which one-third are endemic and found nowhere else in the world. The Saola. A few threatened endemic bird species such as theHimalayan Quail. the Wild Asian Water buffalo (Bubalus bubalis (Arnee)) and in all 45 mammals. 12 amphibians. There are an estimated 10. Asiatic wild dogs. The Himalayan tahr. the pygmy hog. Muntjac. . the only salamander species found within Indian limits.Tetracentraceae.
Biodiversity: Much of this region is still a wilderness. The Indo-Burma region is spread over 2 million sq. These factors are causing species ranges to reduce and habitats to become choppy. Since this hotspot is spread over such a large area and across several major landforms. are endemic. wild water buffalo. Habitat destruction: As recently as 30 years ago. and the Saola. the southern part of China's Yunnan province. the grey-crowned crocias. with over half of them endemic. six species of large mammals have been discovered here: Large-antlered muntjac. This region is home to several primate species such as monkeys . is native to this region. increased agriculture. increased human habitation has led to destruction of forests and pollution of rivers. Annamite striped rabbit. The only endemic genus in the hotspot is the Namadapha flying squirrel which is critically endangered and is described only from a single specimen from Namdapha National Park. contact of these areas with humans has increased. It is estimated that there are about 13.the Gangetic dolphin. for example. It is spread out from Eastern Bangladesh to Malaysia and includes North-Eastern India south of Brahmaputra river. In recent times. Now.500 plant species in this hotspot. Myanmar. Ginger. km of tropical Asia.] Reasons for biodiversity loss in hotspots There are four main reasons why species are being threatened in these biodiversity hotspots 1. The government planned to establish habitat corridors. Activities such as logging of wood. there is a wide diversity of climate and habitat patterns in this region. swamp deer call the Himalayan ranged their home.Cambodia.300 bird species exist in this region including the threatened white-eared night-heron. but these plans . most of the regions in these biodiversity hotspots were inaccessible and remote. Indo-Burma About the region: The Indo-Burma region encompasses several countries. Annamite muntjac. Almost 1. due to better infrastructure. Lao People’s Democratic Republic. langurs and gibbons with populations numbering only in the hundreds. but has been deteriorating rapidly in the past few decades. Grey-shanked douc. and the orangenecked partridge. especially some freshwater turtle species. Leaf deer. Many of the species. Vietnam and Thailand.
are also hot destinations for medicinal plant trade. Hume's work.have not yet materialized in most areas. Recent extinctions Illustration of a Himalayan Quailfrom A. rhinoceros and the elephant once faced the distinct possibility of complete extinction due to rampant hunting and poaching. Climate change may significantly affect the temperatures. efforts by conservationists since the 1970s has helped stabilize and grow these populations. Poaching: Large mammals such as the tiger. Climate change: Although dire IPCC predictions of Himalayan glaciers melting by 2035 have been retracted. are now dirty commercial destinations. highway construction has also caused significant destruction of habitats. where devotees flock in millions now. These spots. the trade in tiger hide. Resource mismanagement: Increased tourism without proper regulation has led to pollution and environmental degradation. Prime example are pilgrimage destinations like Rishikesh and hill stations like Dehradoon. studies have shown that the deciduous and the evergreen forests of Karnataka are the most at risk. which has threatened plant life in the area. Activities such as mining. according to an assessment by the Government of India. rainfalls and water tables in the Western Ghats. Still. Last seen in 1876 . 4. rhinoceros horn remains profitable and rampant. tiger teeth. elephant tusks. Religious destinations in the Himalayas. 2. O. there is no doubt that several Himalayan glaciers are melting. 3. Places like Dehradoon are even experiencing a construction boom so large that illegal immigrants from Bangladesh are also flocking there. once nestled in the pristine ranges of the Himalayas. However. construction of large dams. In the Western Ghats.
 The World Wildlife Fund has derived a system called the “Global 200 Ecoregions”. These species include mammals such as the Indian / Asiatic Cheetah.The exploitation of land and forest resources by humans along with hunting and trapping for food and sport has led to the extinction of many species in India in recent times. the aim of which is to select priority Ecoregions for conservation within each of 14 terrestrial. Some species of birds have gone extinct in recent times.While some of these large mammal species are confirmed extinct. with headquarters near Washington. high-biodiversity wilderness areas and important marine regions. Hubbardia heptaneuron. D. taxonomic uniqueness.C. including the Pink-headed Duck (Rhodonessa caryophyllacea) and theHimalayan Quail (Ophrysia superciliosa). there have been many smaller animal and plant species whose status is harder to determine. unusual ecological or evolutionary . Javan Rhinoceros and Sumatran Rhinoceros. and 4 marine habitat types. Several international organizations are working in many ways to conserve biodiversity hotspots. A species of warbler. 3 freshwater. a species of grass that grew in the spray zone of the Jog Falls prior to the construction of the Linganamakki reservoir. endemism. Many species have not been seen since their description. They are chosen for their species richness. known earlier from a single specimen collected byAllan Octavian Hume from near Rampur in Himachal Pradesh was rediscovered after 139 years in Thailand Hotspot conservation initiatives Only a small percentage of the total land area within biodiversity hotspots is now protected. Acrocephalus orinus. CI works in more than 40 countries on four continents. Critical Ecosystem Partnership Fund (CEPF) is a global program that provides funding and technical assistance to nongovernmental organizations and participation to protect the Earth's richest regions of plant and animal diversity including: biodiversity hotspots. was thought to be extinct but a few were rediscovered near Kolhapur in Maharashtra.
which is available from Conservation International.000 Important Bird Areas all over the world. Plantlife International coordinates several projects around the world aiming to identify Important Plant Areas. The National Geographic Society has prepared a world map of the hotspots and ArcView shapefile and metadata for the Biodiversity Hotspots including details of the individual endangered fauna in each hotspot. All biodiversity hotspots contain at least one Global 200 Ecoregion. including a large number of Birdlife’ s Important Bird Areas. and global rarity. They have identified 595 sites. Birdlife International has identified more than 11. Alliance for Zero Extinction 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. These initiatives are all based on scientific criteria and quantitative thresholds.phenomena. Birdlife International has identified 218 “Endemic Bird Areas” (EBAs) each of which hold two or more bird species found nowhere else. .