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World's Biodiversity Hotspots

A hotspot is a happening place by any standard.  So a species hotspot (also called biodiversity hotspot) is a location that is teeming with different animal and plant species or biodiversity. It must shelter at least 1,500 plant species that have originated there (endemic plants). But this definition is not complete. To qualify as a hotspot, this area must be threatened with destruction and have lost more than half of its original environment.

Now we begin to understand why species hotspots are an integral part of any conservation strategy. This concept is not too old; it was put out in the later 1980’s. Currently, about 25 areas around the world are known to be hotspots (i.e. California Floristic Province, Madrean pine-oak woodlands in Mexico and southwestern United States), but a few more are being considered. The Hawaiian Islands, Florida and southern Appalachia are examples. Unfortunately, all these areas are not within protected lands but in proximity to urban or agricultural areas. This makes protection rather difficult, unless the locals are willing to compromise (or better yet, get actively involved) in some way. These locations collectively contain about 60% of the world’s plant and animal species. Most of these have originated locally and have not been introduced from outside.

Hotspots can be divided based on the type of animals or plants they harbor. For instance, in California, the San Diego County is known for its endangered mammals and fish whereas the wildlife in Santa Cruz County is associated with reptile and amphibian populations. Hawaii on the other hand, has a very high density of bird species.
The good thing about mapping hotspots is that we can focus our energy and effort in a few places that are in desperate need of saving. It is impossible to try to cover all parts of the world equally and it’s difficult not to be distracted in the process. By identifying the areas that needs urgent attention, conservation work will be carried out more efficiently-a higher number of animals and plant species can be restored at a time.

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