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A Biodiversity Hotspot = an area containing a wide range of species, a large % which are endemic.

These areas are some of the most remarkable on the planet and are most threatened.

Madagascar and the Indian Ocean Islands


Madagascar is the 4th largest island on earth, found just off the South East coast of Africa. The hotspot also includes the Seychelles, the Comoros, Mauritius, Runion, Mayotte and the Iles Esparses around Madagascar. Despite their close proximity to Africa, the biodiversity on these islands do not share any of the typical animal groups. Instead, they have evolved an exquisitely collection of species, with high levels of genus- and family-level endemism. The natural vegetation in Madagascar is varied, and it includes tropical rainforests, dry deciduous forests, a desert and several high mountain ecosystems. The Indian Ocean Islands are composed of a range of recently volcanic islands, and share a similar topography and environment as Madagascar
Hotspot Original Extent (km 2) Hotspot Vegetation Remaining (km ) Endemic Plant Species Endemic Threatened Birds Endemic Threatened Mammals Endemic Threatened Amphibians Extinct Species Human Population Density (people/km ) Area Protected (km ) Area Protected (km ) in Categories I-IV*
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The biodiversity on these islands is so unique, not necessarily because of the diversity but rather because of the endemism. The islands have an astounding eight plant families, five bird families, and five primate families that live nowhere else on Earth. Birds More than 300 bird species are regularly found in the hotspot, nearly 60 percent of which are found nowhere else on the planet; additionally, 42 genera and four families are endemic. Runion has witnessed the extinction of at least 10 bird species since the 1500s and all the endemic birds of Mauritius are threatened. The dodo was native to Mauritius and became extinct in the 1600s after the island was colonized by humans

600,461 60,046 11,600 57 51 61 45 32 18,482 14,664

Plants Vascular plants total at least 13,000 species, of which about 90 percent are found nowhere else in the world. Incredibly, eight of at least 160 plant families found here are endemic, a level unmatched by any other hotspot.

Mammals As with birds, the diversity of the hotspot's mammals is relatively low, but the level of endemism is exceptional. About 90 percent of the more than 150 mammal species that live on the islands are endemic. This biodiversity hotspot is the world leader in primate endemism and the single highest priority for the conservation of primates
The Madame Berthe's mouse is the world's smallest primate.

The most well known endemic species on the island of Madagascar are lemurs. It is home to 72 kinds of lemurs. 17 are on the endangered species list The aye-aye lemur has huge ears, shaggy fur, continuously growing incisors (like a rodent), and a very Habitat loss is the main threat to lemurs today, as thin middle finger on each hand, people clear their native forests for farm land. Lemurs play an important role in the ecology of Madagascar, because they disperse seeds from the fruit they eat. These seeds can then grow into new plants, which is important because the forests of Madagascar are being destroyed at a fast rate. Threats Ironically, the isolation that allowed Madagascar and its neighboring islands to evolve a diverse and unique fauna and flora also contributed to its environmental degradation. Mauritius has one of the highest human population densities in the world at 538 persons per square kilometer. Humans did not inhabit these islands until fairly recently and when they did, they hunted all of these animals for food and clothing, not giving them any time to adapt. 80% of the lemur's original habitat in Madagascar has been destroyed. The principle threats to Madagascar's biodiversity come from the small-scale but widespread clearance of habitats, primarily for firewood and charcoal production. Other threats include subsistence agriculture, overfishing and the effects of climate change on marine ecosystems. Conservation Today, only about 2.7% of Madagascars land area is officially protected but the government is beginning the third phase of its national Environmental Action Plan, with an ambitious five-year program of conservation and sustainable management activities. In September 2003, the president of Madagascar, announced plans to triple protected area coverage over the next five years and asked for $50 million in assistance from the international community to do so.

The Atlantic Forest


The Atlantic Forest is located on the Eastern coast of South America, mainly in Brazil. Stretches along Brazil's Atlantic coast, from the northern state of Rio Grande do Norte south to Rio Grande do Sul. Extends inland to eastern Paraguay and the province of Misiones in northeastern Argentina, and narrowly along the coast into Uruguay. Home to 20,000 plant species, 40 percent of which are endemic.
Hotspot Original Extent (km 2) Hotspot Vegetation Remaining (km ) Endemic Plant Species Endemic Threatened Birds Endemic Threatened Mammals Endemic Threatened Amphibians Extinct Species Human Population Density (people/km ) Area Protected (km ) Area Protected (km ) in Categories I-IV*
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1,233,875 99,944 8,000 55 21 14 1 87 50,370 22,782

It is isolated from the other main rainforest blocks in South America and as a result of this; the Atlantic Forest has an extremely diverse and unique mix of vegetation and forest types. There are two main types of landscape here; the coastal Atlantic forest and the interior Atlantic Forest. Although not much of the forest remains, it still maintains extremely high levels of diversity and endemism.

Plants The region has a remarkably high plant endemism due to the fact that it has been floristically isolated from other South American tropical forests by the savannas and woodlands of the Cerrado for thousands of years. Of the 20,000 vascular plant species occurring there, about 8,000 are endemic. Endemism in trees is particularly high, with more than half the species found nowhere else. Birds Over 930 species, about 15 percent of which are found nowhere else. There are 23 endemic species types.

Alagoa Curassow Bird

Because most of the region's forests have been cleared during 500 years of exploitation, many species are now threatened, and at least one is extinct in the wild, the Alagoas curassow. Unusual birds include; the red-billed curassow, the rare Brazilian merganser and a number of threatened parrots, such as the red-tailed Amazon and the red-browed Amazon

Mammals Twelve mammals are endemic, including primates such as the Lion Tamarins and the Muriqui. The Brazilian arboreal mouse is one of the rarest of the South American mammals. Originally described from a single specimen collected in the state of Rio de Janeiro in the 19th century, a second specimen was only recently discovered in Viosa in Minas Gerais.
Lion Tamarin

Threats Yet, less than 10 percent of the forest remains. More than two dozen Critically Endangered vertebrate species are clinging to survival in the region, including three species of lion tamarins and six bird species that are restricted to the small patch of forest near the Murici Ecological Station in northeastern Brazil.
Maned sloth

The rapid of growth of the population in the region led to urbanization, an increased demand for charcoal and firewood, and further forest clearing. Rapid economic development in Brazil during the economic miracle from 1960 to 1984 brought heavy industry to southeast Brazil, adding insult to injury with severe air and water pollution and its damaging effects on biodiversity and forests around the cities. Conservation About 23,800 km of the remaining Atlantic Forest in Brazil is officially under strict protection. The Atlantic Forest region has been the cradle of the Brazilian environmental movement, with the growth of NGO capacity there over the past 30 years being among the most impressive in the tropical world. Conservation corridors link key sites by means of a matrix of biodiversity-friendly land use and reforestation.

The East Melanesian Islands


The East Melanesian Islands lie northeast and east of New Guinea and includes the Bismarck and Admiralty Islands, the Solomon Islands, and the islands of Vanuatu. In total, this hotspot includes some 1,600 islands, encompassing a land area of nearly 100,000 km more than double that of the Polynesia-Micronesia Hotspot. The two main islands are mountainous and several of the smaller islands in the archipelago are recent volcanoes, some still active. The largest island in the Solomon
99,384
2

Hotspot Original Extent (km 2) Hotspot Vegetation Remaining (km ) Endemic Plant Species Endemic Threatened Birds Endemic Threatened Mammals Endemic Threatened Amphibians Extinct Species Human Population Density (people/km ) Area Protected (km ) Area Protected (km ) in Categories I-IV*
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29,815 3,000 33 20 5 6 13 5,677 0

chain has several high massifs. Habitats in the hotspot include coastal vegetation, mangrove forests, freshwater swamp forests, lowland rainforests, seasonally dry forests and grasslands, and rainforests. Most of the habitats are species poor by comparison to New Guinea, though rich when compared to Polynesia-Micronesia, with several tree species dominating.

Plants There are an estimated 8,000 species of vascular plants in the East Melanesian Islands, about half of which are thought to be endemic to the region. Animals Most of the islands of this hotspot have Kauri pine never been in land contact with New Guinea and as a result their fauna and flora are a mix of recent long-distance immigrants and indigenous lineages derived from ancient PacificGondwanaland species. Animals include the giant prehensile-tailed skink, whose closest living relatives are the blue-tongued skinks of Australia, New Guinea, and Indonesia Nearly half of the regions more than 85 mammal species are endemic. The richest diversity of mammals in East Melanesia is among the bats.
The giant prehensile-tailed skink

The most remarkable of the bats are the flying foxes, which play an important role in pollination and seed dispersal.

Threats In just the last three decades, rapid forest clearance and degradation has left only about 25 percent of the regions lowland forests in pristine, old growth condition. This is the main reason for the reclassification of this region from a wilderness area to a biodiversity hotspot. Extensive logging of lowland and hill forests and subsequent land clearing for copra and oil palm plantations The Admiralties have been most affected by agricultural expansion. Invasive alien species, especially pigs, cats, rats and little red fire ants. Mining

Flying Fox

Conservation Overall, protected area coverage in the East Melanesian Islands is almost non-existent. Although there are officially 24 protected areas covering six percent of the land area of the hotspot, the eight protected areas (none of which are in the higher protection categories) cover just one percent of the land. Formal land protection is limited in the hotspot principally because the three nations respect local customary land tenure. Developing a network of locally managed marine protected areas, encouraging community-based conservation and resource management, and helping to establish a locally managed research and conservation center. Because of the current lack of large-scale conservation action in the East Melanesian Islands, the region is in urgent need of increased conservation attention and investment. They need to address the difficulties of conservation on land that is not run by the law, to develop successful and mutually beneficial partnerships with local communities, to address the threat of alien invasive species, and to promote the establishment of healthy and secure protected areas.