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Synchorology: Basis of Spatial Distribution of Plants

n Table 4.2.6. The twenty-five hot spots of biodiversity currently known. (After Myers et al. 2000)
Hot spots

Original extent of Remnants of the Protected areas Plant species Number of


endemic plantnatural vegetation natural vegetation (km2) b
(km2) aspecies c(km2)

Tropical Andes1 258 000


Central America1 155 000
Caribbean263 500
Atlantic forests of Brazil1 227 600
West Ecuador260 600
Cerrado of Brazil1 783 200
Central Chile300 000
California324 000
Madagascar d594 150
Forests in Kenya and Tanzania30 000
Forests of West Africa1 265 000
Cape Province74 000
Succulent-rich Karoo112 000
Mediterranean area2 362 000
Caucasus500 000
Sunda Islands1 600 000
Wallacea347 000
Philippines300 800
Indo-Burmese border region2 060 000
Southern-central China800 000
Western Ghats and Sri Lanka182 500
South-western Australia309 850
New Caledonia18 600
New Zealand270 500
Polynesia and Micronesia46 000
Total17 444 300

314 500 (25.0)


231 000 (20.0)
29 840 (11.3)
91 930 (7.5)
63 000 (24.2)
356 630 (20.0)
90 000 (30.0)
80 000 (24.7)
59 038 (9.9)
2 000 (6.7)
126 500 (10.0)
18 000 (24.3)
30 000 (26.8)
110 000 (4.7)
50 000 (10.0)
125 000 (7.8)
52 020 (15.0)
9 023 (3.0)
100 000 (4.9)
64 000 (8.0)
12 450 (6.8)
33 336 (10.8)
5 200 (28.0)
59 400 (22.0)
10 024 (21.8)
2 122 891 (12.2)

79 687
138 437
29 840
33 084
16 471
22 000
9 167
31 443
11 548
2 000
20 324
14 060
2 352
42 123
14 050
90 000
20 415
3 910
100 000
16 562
12 450
33 336
5 267
52 068
4 913
800 767

(25.3)
(59.9)
(100.0)
(35.9)
(26.1)
(6.2)
(10.2)
(39.3)
(19.6)
(100.0)
(16.1)
(78.1)
(7.8)
(38.3)
(28.1)
(72.0)
(39.2)
(43.3)
(100.0)
(25.9)
(100.0)
(100.0)
(10.1)
(87.7)
(49.0)
(37.7)

45 000
24 000
12 000
20 000
9 000
10 000
3 429
4 426
12 000
4 000
9 000
8 200
4 849
25 000
6 300
25 000
10 000
7 620
13 500
12 000
4 780
5 469
3 332
2 300
6 557

20 000
5 000
7 000
8 000
2 250
4 400
1 605
2 125
9 704
1 500
2 250
5 682
1 940
13 000
1 600
15 000
1 500
5 832
7 000
3 500
2 180
4 331
2 551
1 865
3 334
133 149

In parentheses, as % of the original area


In parentheses, as % of the hot-spot area
cIn parentheses, as % of the globally estimated endemic plant species (300,000)
dMadagascar includes the neighbouring island groups
eAs some hot spots overlap, it is not possible to give a sum
b

eral, have only between 200 and 300 species.


Generally, there is a global northsouth gradient
with increasing numbers of species. This has
been often described, however, without giving
conclusive explanations. Interactions between
temperature and number of species are also assumed. Woodward (1987) found a linear relation
between the number of plant families and the absolute minimum temperature (for land surfaces
along 15 8N latitude). In absolutely frost-free
areas, the number of plant families exceeded
250; below a minimum of 10 8C, the number was
less than 100.
So-called hot spots, centres of high diversity,
are of particular scientific (and economic) importance; these have been determined from
knowledge of the number of species and their
distribution. For individual hot spots, information about the area of occurrence, protected
areas, areas with almost natural vegetation, as
well as number of species and endemics, has
been established (Table 4.2.6). The high fre-

quency of centres of diversity in equatorial regions of South America and Oceania is very
striking. Values are also relatively high for the
European Mediterranean region. However, it
cannot be excluded that regional differences are
partly caused by more or less intensive knowledge about these regions.
Barthlott et al. (1996) presented a detailed
world map of phytodiversity (of exclusively vascular plants) in which values from available
floras were re-calculated to a 10,000-km2 grid.
Ten diversity zones are graded according to the
number of species, from fewer than 100 to more
than 5000. Despite the rough resolution, based
only on vascular plants, such hot spots are recognisable: The centres are Costa Rica, tropical
East Andes, Atlantic-Brazil, East Himalayas,
North Borneo and New Guinea. Kleidon and
Mooney (2000) compared the map by Barthlott
et al. (1996) with a map in which the global diversity of vascular plants was constructed on the
basis of a climate model. Despite the different

(6.7%)
(1.7%)
(2.3%)
(2.7%)
(0.8%)
(1.5%)
(0.5%)
(0.7%)
(3.2%)
(0.5%)
(0.8%)
(1.9%)
(0.6%)
(4.3%)
(0.5%)
(5.0%)
(0.5%)
(1.9%)
(2.3%)
(1.2%)
(0.7%)
(1.4%)
(0.9%)
(0.6%)
(1.1%)
(44%)

Biodiversity

90

60

30

30

60

90
180

120

60

60

120

180

Diversity zones (DZ)

n Fig. 4.2.15. Global species diversity. A Species diversity based on empirical data; map (above) from Barthlott et al.
(1996, 1999). B Map from a simulation based on growth-limiting climatic scenarios by Kleidon and Mooney (2000)

resolutions, both maps agree to a large extent


(Fig. 4.2.15). The authors concluded that climatic
conditions explain biodiversity to a large extent.
Precipitation at the time of germination and development of young plants appear decisive factors. The smaller the number of days with fa-

vourable conditions for plant growth, the larger


the stress for growth and the lower the diversity
of species.
Biodiversity not only comprises the number of
species. Nowadays it is also assumed that structures and functions at the different integrational

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