Slides in this set
Madagascar and the Indian Ocean Islands
· Madagascar and its neighbouring island groups have an astounding total of eight plant
families, four bird families, and five primate families that live nowhere else on Earth.
Madagascar's more than 50 lemur species are the island's charismatic worldwide
ambassadors for conservation, although, tragically, 15 more species have been driven to
extinction since humans arrived.
· The Seychelles, Comoros and Mascarene islands in the Indian Ocean between them support
a number of Critically Endangered bird species.
· Because Madagascar and the continental Seychelles broke off from the Gondwanaland
supercontinent more than 160 million years ago, the hotspot is a living example of species
evolution in isolation.
· The island is also host to several high mountain ecosystems such as Tsaratanana and
Andringitra massifs, which are characterized by forest with moss and lichens.
· Because humans did not arrive on the islands until around 1500 to 2000 years ago, native
animals were naïve and easily slaughtered by the colonists.
· Radical farming methods such as `slash-and-burn' has lead to soil degradation overtime.
· Alien species such as rats, cats, and mongooses have devastated populations of birds and
small reptiles, while grazing rabbits, goats, pigs, and deer have denuded many landscapes.…read more
Horn of Africa
· The arid Horn of Africa has been a renowned source of biological resources for thousands of
years. One of only two hotspots that is entirely arid, the area is home to a number of
endemic and threatened antelope, notably threatened species like the beira, the dibatag,
and Speke's gazelle.
· This hotspot also holds more endemic reptiles than any other region in Africa. Other
distinctive endemics include the Somali wild ass and the sacred baboon.
· Of the 697 bird species regularly recorded in the hotspot, 24 are endemic. Seven of these
species are found only in Somalia, including a bushshrike.
· Although research into the flora of the Horn of Africa is still ongoing, the best possible
estimates are that there are about 5,000 species of vascular plants in the region, just over
half of which about 2,750 species are endemic. There are strong concentrations of
endemic species in northern Somalia and in the Socotra Archipelago.
· The Horn of Africa is under heavy pressure from human activity, and is one of the most
degraded hotspots in the world, with only about 5 % of original habitat in relatively pristine
· Overgrazing and subsequent land degradation is a problem in large areas of the hotspot,
particularly near watering points.
· he greatest threat to vegetation and biodiversity in Somalia is the uncontrolled production
of charcoal, to cover both domestic needs and for export to countries in the Arabian Gulf
· Encompassing more than 2 million km² of tropical Asia, Indo-Burma is still revealing its biological
treasures. Six large mammal species have been discovered in the last 12 years: the large-antlered
muntjac, the Annamite muntjac, the grey-shanked douc, the Annamite striped rabbit, the leaf
deer, and the saola.
· This hotspot also holds remarkable endemism in freshwater turtle species, most of which are
threatened with extinction, due to over-harvesting and extensive habitat loss. Bird life in Indo-
Burma is also incredibly diverse, holding almost 1,300 different bird species, including the
threatened white-eared night-heron, the grey-crowned crocias, and the orange-necked partridge.
· A wide diversity of ecosystems is represented in this hotspot, including mixed wet evergreen, dry
evergreen, deciduous, and montane forests.
· In addition, a wide variety of distinctive, localized vegetation formations occur in Indo-Burma,
including lowland floodplain swamps, mangroves, and seasonally inundated grasslands.
· Indo-Burma is one of the most threatened biodiversity hotspots, due to the rate of resource
exploitation and habitat loss. Only about 5% of natural habitats remain in relatively pristine
condition, with another 10-25% of the land in damaged, but ecologically functional, condition.
· tree plantations (teak, rubber, oil palm) have replaced large areas of lowland forest, while coffee,
tea, vegetable crops and sugarcane plantations threaten montane and hill forests. Other threats
to forests include logging, mining for gems and ore, firewood collection, and charcoal production.
· Mangroves have been converted to shrimp aquacultural ponds.…read more
· More than 7,100 islands fall within the borders of the Philippines hotspot, identified as one
of the world's biologically richest countries.
· Many endemic species are confined to forest fragments that cover only 7 % of the original
extent of the hotspot. This includes over 6,000 plant species and many birds species such as
the Cebu flowerpecker, the Philippine cockatoo, the Visayan wrinkled hornbill, and the
enormous Philippine eagle. Amphibian endemism is also unusually high and boosts unique
species like the panther flying frog.
· Hundreds of years ago, most of the Philippine islands were covered in rain forest. The bulk of
the country was blanketed by lowland rainforests dominated by towering dipterocarps
(Dipterocarpaceae), prized for their beautiful and straight hardwood.
· At higher elevations, the lowland forests are replaced by montane and mossy forests that
consist mostly of smaller trees and vegetation. Small regions of seasonal forest, mixed forest
and savanna, and pine-dominated cloud forest covered the remaining land area.
· The Philippines has a population of 80 million people with livelihoods highly dependent on
natural resources. Severe rural poverty and a high population growth rate (2.2%) and density
(273 people per km²) have put enormous pressure on the remaining forests.
· Logging rates have accelerated in recent years meaning forests are being removed at an
· Other imminent threats to Philippine forests include mining and land conversion.
· Introductions of exotic species have also taken a toll, particularly in wetlands.…read more
· The vegetation of the Caucasus is also quite diverse. In the northern part of the hotspot, grassland
steppes in the west transition to semidesert ecosystems, and then to desert in the east. In the
central Transcaucasian Depression, swamp forests, steppes, and arid woodlands are replaced by
semideserts and deserts along the Caspian Sea.
· The Caucasus hotspot is home to about 6,400 plant species, more than 1,600 of which (25%) are
restricted to the region. There are 17 endemic genera of plants here, nine of which are associated
with high mountain ecosystems.
· There are more approximately 380 bird species in the hotspot, though only one is endemic
according to the definition of the region adopted here, namely the Caucasian snowcock.
· Several large threatened mammal species are found in this hotspot, including the Caucasian tur
(Capra caucasica, EN), a member of the goat family.
· Climate throughout the region is variable, with annual rainfall ranging from as little as 150
millimeters in the eastern part of the hotspot on the Caspian Coast to more than 4,000 millimeters
in the coastal mountains along the Black Sea.
· The Caucasus region has been inhabited and affected by human communities for tens of thousands
of years, with on average nearly half of the land in the region already transformed by human
· A lack of fuel and alternate energy sources has doubled and tripled firewood consumption in some
areas, increasing illegal timber cutting.
· Overgrazing by sheep has eroded the natural vegetation in more than 30 % of subalpine and alpine
summer ranges and about 50 % in the winter ranges of the steppe and semidesert areas.…read more
The Mediterranean Basin
· The flora of the Mediterranean Basin is dramatic. Its 22,500 endemic vascular plant species are
more than four times the number found in all the rest of Europe; the hotspot also supports many
endemic reptile species.
· As Europe's vacation destination, populations of threatened species are increasingly fragmented
and isolated to make way for resort development and infrastructure. The Mediterranean monk-seal,
the barbary macaque and the Iberian lynx, which is Critically Endangered, are among the region's
· Like other Mediterranean-type ecosystems, the Mediterranean Basin has high levels of plant
diversity and endemism but relatively poor representation of mammals and birds compared to
· The mammal and bird faunas are largely derived from extra-Mediterranean biogeographical zones,
with Eurasian and African elements dominating the mammal fauna, whereas Eurasian and semi-arid
southern elements dominate the avifauna.
· The Mediterranean Basin has experienced intensive human development and impact on its
ecosystems for thousands of years, significantly longer than any other hotspot. Human settlements
of various forms have existed in the area for at least 8,000 years.
· Historically, Mediterranean forests were burned to create agricultural lands and intensification has
especially affected European countries. The agricultural lands, evergreen woodlands and maquis
habitats that dominate the hotspot today are the result of these anthropogenic disturbances over
· Tourism development has placed significant pressure on the region's coastal ecosystems, with 110
million visitors arriving per year along the shores of the region.…read more