Our newest paper is out in Science Advances – the culmination of 3 years of hard work on our biodiversity hotspots project.
The idea of biodiversity hotspots (you can see ours mapped below) came into the mainstream with Norman Myers’ now classic paper published in 2000. He reported that nearly half of all vascular plant species and a little more than one-third of all mammals, birds, reptiles, and amphibians are confined to 25 “regions” that comprise only 1.4% of the Earth’s land surface. Recent estimates have raised this number to about 20% of the Earth’s land surface holding more than 50% of all vertebrate species. While Myers’ paper has been tremendously influential for conservationists in guiding their interventions, much less thought has been given to how this remarkable pattern came to be in the first place.
Biodiversity hotspots for mammals estimated in 100 km by 100 km grid cells. Red cells are hotspots.
Protected areas deliver enormous benefits inside of their boundaries, but what is their contribution to the biodiversity of broader landscapes? This is a really important question to answer because there are limits to how much land conservation can meaningfully protect. Moreover, the 196 governments parties that have signed onto the Convention on Biological Diversity are aiming to protect 17% of the world’s land surface by 2020, but what about the other 83%? Conservation outside of protected areas is critical to ensure that the spaces between parks aren’t devoid of life.
How do we get species from one side of the fence to the other?
In a new study, we provide among the first empirical evidence that protected areas may disperse biodiversity and ecosystem services into surrounding landscapes. Continue reading