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Alicia Sanchez

Year 11 Pre-Diploma Biology

BIODIVERSITY HOTSPOTS
We tried to define biodiversity write down here what you now understand by the word
BIODIVERSITY.
Biodiversity means biological diversity and it is commonly used to describe the variety in
living organisms and the variation among the ecosystems they live in. Biodiversity can be
separated into three main components; genetic diversity, species diversity and ecosystem
diversity; these are the three main levels of biological organisation.
Around the world are various biodiversity HOTSPOTS. What do you understand by this
term, hotspot?
A hotspot is a natural environment with high levels of biodiversity and a high number of
endemic and endangered species. To qualify a place as a biological hotspot it must have at
least 1,500 vascular plants, high level of endemism and it must have 30% or less than its
original population. Around the world, only 35 areas qualify as hotspots.
List some of the more famous biodiversity hotspots, and beside each, very briefly say what
makes it a hotspot or why it is determined or conserved as a hotspot.
1. Southern Africa: This region is home to the endangered black rhinoceros and to almost

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80% of all African elephants. It is necessary to care for it in order to balance the needs
of the people who live there with the conservation efforts.
North American deserts: They contain 6,000 vascular plant species as well as many
animals which have adapted to the climate such as desert tortoises, jackrabbits,
roadrunners and wild horses.
New Guinea: It contains incredibly high levels of biodiversity; since the island was
discovered in 1998, a total of 1000 species have been discovered including orchids,
reptiles, birds, sharks, etc.
Congo Basin: It is home to large mammal species such as antelopes, elephants and
gorillas, as well as human communities.
Amazon rainforest: It is home to 40,000 plant species, the majority of which are not
found anywhere else on the planet. It is also home to more insects and primate species
than anywhere else in the world.
Madagascar: Due to the fact it is an island, it is an example of species evolution in
isolation. It has evolved unique combinations of genome and a high number of
endemic species. More than 300 species of birds are regularly found in the hotspot, of
which more than 60% cant be found anywhere else on the planet.
Atlantic Forest in Brazil: It contains 20, 000 vascular plants, of which 8,000 are
endemic. It contains two very rare trees which are extremely useful for the timber
industry: the Brazil-wood and the Brazilian-rosewood.
Japan: It is home to about 5,600 species of vascular plants of which one third are
endemic. It is also home to the Okinawa woodpecker which was close to extinction in
the 1930s.

Alicia Sanchez
9. Caucasus Mountains: The flora of this region includes many ancient species such as
the Persian Ironwood. There are about 130 mammal species and about 20 of them are
endemic and in a terrible danger of extinction.
10. Mountains of central Asia: The flora of these mountains is a unique combination of
Boreal, Siberian, Mongolian, Indo-Himalayan and Iranian elements. There are 5,500
species of vascular plants and about 1,500 of them are endemic.

Now go to www.biodiversityhotspots.org. Here you will find some useful definitions and some
quite detailed descriptions of the worlds hotspots. Select any one of the hotspots from the
drop-down menu and make a written summary with the following information:
Where is the hotspot?
Why is it especially important?
What important species are present?
Who looks after or is responsible for the conservation of this hotspot?

Guinean Forests of West Africa


The Guinean Forests of West Africa is a hotspot
located in the lowland forests of political West Africa;
it stretches from Guinea and Sierra Leon eastward to
Cameroon. It encompasses fragments of Liberia,
Ghana, Togo, Benin, Nigeria and Cote d Ivoire. It
also includes the island of Bioko, Sao Tome and
Principe. The map shows its location:
This hotspot is especially important due to its unique
biodiversity and endemism. The Guinean forests
contain an estimated 9,000 vascular plant species, of
which 20% are endemic. Furthermore, the forests are
home to 785 bird species, of which 75 are endemic. In
addition, it contains 320 mammal species (60%
endemic), which represent one quarter of the total
number of mammal species in the African Continent.
This hotspot is globally recognized as one of the most
critical primate conservation areas due to the fact it is
home to 30 species of primate, 18 of which are
endemic. The hotspot also contains more than 200
species of reptiles, 225 species of amphibians and more than 510 freshwater fishes; all of
them with high levels of endemism. This hotspot is also important due to the fact it is
threatened by commercial agriculture, large-scale mining, hunting and population demand
for resources. Currently, only 15% of the original forest cover remains, mainly due to
exploitation for timber and oil.
Many important species are present in this region including
economically important plants such as the Oil palm which is used for oil
production and many valuable timber species such as the African Ebony
and Iroko. The Guinean Forests also contain bird species which are at
the border of extinction, for instance, the Banded Wattle-eye, the Giant
Weaver and the Giant Sunbird. In addition, it is the home to very rare
and unique primate species, for example, the Diana monkey, which is an

Alicia Sanchez
important indicator of forest health and the Olive Colobus, which is the worlds smallest
colobine monkey. There are also rare species of endemic mammals such as the Pygmy
Hippotamus, the Zebra Duikier and the Liberian Mongoose. Finally, it contains all three
species of African crocodile, the endangered Goliath Frog and many species of killifish.
This hotspot is under the responsibility of all the countries in the region (Liberia, Ghana,
Togo, Benin, Nigeria and Cote d Ivoire), however due to the lack of money and education, no
major projects have been done to conserve it and only about 17.4 % of the remaining forest is
under some kind of protection.
Bibliography:
http://www.cepf.net/resources/hotspots/africa/Pages/Guinean-Forests-of-West-Africa.aspx
John Osborne
February 2015