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Biodiversity Hotspots (version 2016.1)

Michael Hoffman; Kellee Koenig; Gill Bunting; Jennifer Costanza; Williams, Kristen J.

There are currently 36 recognized biodiversity hotspots. These are Earth’s most biologically rich—yet threatened—terrestrial regions.

To qualify as a biodiversity hotspot, an area must meet two strict criteria:

  • Contain at least 1,500 species of vascular plants found nowhere else on Earth (known as "endemic" species).
  • Have lost at least 70 percent of its primary native vegetation.

Many of the biodiversity hotspots exceed the two criteria. For example, both the Sundaland Hotspot in Southeast Asia and the Tropical Andes Hotspot in South America have about 15,000 endemic plant species. The loss of vegetation in some hotspots has reached a startling 95 percent.

Version 2016.1. 25 April 2016. Added North American Coastal Plains hotspot (Noss, R.F., Platt, W.J., Sorrie, B.A., Weakley, A.S., Means, D.B., Costanza, J., and Peet, R.K. (2015). How global biodiversity hotspots may go unrecognized: lessons from the North American Coastal Plain. Diversity and Distributions, 21, 236–244.) Hotspot boundary modified to remove overlap with Mesoamerica and Madrean Pine-Oak Woodlands hotspots. Version 2016. 4 April 2016. Version 2011 with updated Eastern Afromontane hotspot boundary based on improved elevation data (Eastern Afromontane Outcomes profile, BirdLife International, 2016). Version 2011. Added Forests of Eastern Australia hotspot (Full set of 35 hotspots: Mittermeier, R. A., Turner, W. R., Larsen, F. W., Brooks, T. M., & Gascon, C. (2011). Global biodiversity conservation: The critical role of hotspots. In F. E. Zachos & J. C. Habel (Eds.), Biodiversity Hotspots (pp. 3–22). Berlin Heidelberg: Springer. New hotspot: Williams, K. J., Ford, A., Rosauer, D. F., Silva, N., Mittermeier, R. A., Bruce, C., … Margules, C. (2011). Forests of East Australia: The 35th biodiversity hotspot. In F. E. Zachos & J. C. Habel (Eds.), Biodiversity Hotspots (pp. 295–310). Berlin Heidelberg: Springer.). Version 2004. Hotspots Revisited (Mittermeier, R. A., Robles Gil, P., Hoffmann, M., Pilgrim, J., Brooks, T., Mittermeier, C. G., … da Fonseca, G. A. B. (2004). Hotspots Revisited: Earth's Biologically Richest and Most Endangered Ecoregions (p. 390). Mexico City, Mexico: CEMEX.) Version 2000. Hotspots (Myers, N., Mittermeier, R. A., Mittermeier, C. G., da Fonseca, G. A. B., & Kent, J. (2000). Biodiversity hotspots for conservation priorities. Nature, 403, 853–858.)
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  • Mittermeier, R. A., Robles Gil, P., Hoffmann, M., Pilgrim, J., Brooks, T., Mittermeier, C. G., … da Fonseca, G. A. B. (2004). Hotspots Revisited: Earth's Biologically Richest and Most Endangered Ecoregions (p. 390). Mexico City, Mexico: CEMEX.

  • Myers, N., Mittermeier, R. A., Mittermeier, C. G., da Fonseca, G. A. B., & Kent, J. (2000). Biodiversity hotspots for conservation priorities. Nature, 403, 853–858.

  • Noss, R.F., Platt, W.J., Sorrie, B.A., Weakley, A.S., Means, D.B., Costanza, J., and Peet, R.K. (2015). How global biodiversity hotspots may go unrecognized: lessons from the North American Coastal Plain. Diversity and Distributions, 21, 236–244.

  • Williams, K. J., Ford, A., Rosauer, D. F., Silva, N., Mittermeier, R. A., Bruce, C., … Margules, C. (2011). Forests of East Australia: The 35th biodiversity hotspot. In F. E. Zachos & J. C. Habel (Eds.), Biodiversity Hotspots (pp. 295–310). Berlin Heidelberg: Springer.

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