Classics: Biodiversity Hotspots

25 08 2008

‘Classics’ is a category of posts highlighting research that has made a real difference to biodiversity conservation. All posts in this category will be permanently displayed on the Classics page of

info-chap7-slide-pic03Myers, N., Mittermeier, R.A., Mittermeier, C.G., da Fonseca, G.A.B. & Kent, J. (2000). Biodiversity hotspots for conservation priorities. Nature, 403, 853-858

According to Google Scholar, this paper has over 2500 citations. Even though it was published less than a decade ago, already Myers and colleagues’ ‘hotspots’ concept has become the classic lexicon for, as they defined it, areas with high species endemism and degradation by humans. In other words, these are places on the planet (originally only terrestrial, but the concept has been extended to the marine realm) where at the current rates of habitat loss, exploitation, etc., we stand to lose far more irreplaceable species. The concept has been criticised for various incapacities to account for all types of threats – indeed, many other prioritisation criteria have been proposed (assessed nicely by Brooks et al. 2006 and Orme et al. 2005), but it’s the general idea proposed by Myers and colleagues that has set the conservation policy stage for most countries. One little gripe here – although the concept ostensibly means areas of high endemic species richness AND associated threat, people often take the term ‘hotspot’ to mean just a place with lots of species. Not so. Ah, the intangible concept of biodiversity!

CJA Bradshaw

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7 responses

30 11 2016
In conversation with Current Conservation |

[…] In addition, India is one of the most biodiverse parts of the world. You have the Western Ghats Biodiversity Hotspot next door to Bangalore, for example, which has lots of species but is also highly threatened […]


9 08 2016
Keeping India’s forests |

[…] because it holds some of the regions of highest biodiversity, such as the Western Ghats (a Biodiversity Hotspot), and it is the region of the world projected to have one of the highest population densities (> […]


26 06 2015
Moving forward with extinction risk predictions from climate change |

[…] factors that influence the viability of plant species populations in South African fynbos, a global biodiversity hotspot. They discovered that complex interactions between life history, disturbance regimes and […]


26 06 2015
Cost, not biodiversity, dictates decision to conserve |

[…] the hugely influential biodiversity ‘hotspot‘ concept hit the global stage, there was a series of subsequent research papers examining […]


10 07 2014
Biodiversity Hotspots have nearly burnt out |

[…] Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the past 20 years, you’ll have at least heard of the global Biodiversity Hotspots (you can even download GIS layers for them here). From an initial 10, to 25, they increased penultimately to 34; most recently with the addition of the Forests of East Australia, we now have 35 Biodiversity Hotspots across the globe. The idea behind these is to focus conservation attention, investment and intervention in the areas with the most unique species assemblages that are simultaneously experiencing the most …. […]


13 07 2009
Global conservation priorities based on human need «

[…] the first real global conservation prioritisation scheme (Myers and colleagues’ global biodiversity hotspots) was rather subjective in its approach, and many subsequent schemes have failed to reproduce the […]


26 08 2008
Corey Bradshaw

I forgot to mention that Conservation International has a dedicated ‘Biodiversity Hotspots’ site:

CJA Bradshaw


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