Conservationists are far from able to assist all species under threat, if only for lack of funding. This places a premium on priorities: how can we support the most species at the least cost? One way is to identify ‘biodiversity hotspots’ where exceptional concentrations of endemic species are undergoing exceptional loss of habitat. As many as 44% of all species of vascular plants and 35% of all species in four vertebrate groups are confined to 25 hotspots comprising only 1.4% of the land surface of the Earth. This opens the way for a ‘silver bullet’ strategy on the part of conservation planners, focusing on these hotspots in proportion to their share of the world's species at risk.
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We thank P. Robles Gil of Agrupacion Sierra Madre and the scientists listed in Supplementary Information for their help with information and analysis; P. Chambers, S. Norris and M. Prescott for research help; and D. Duthie and J. McNeely for comments on an early draft. We also thank the Mexican company CEMEX for its major financial support, and the MacArthur Foundation and S. Concannon for additional support.
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Myers, N., Mittermeier, R., Mittermeier, C. et al. Biodiversity hotspots for conservation priorities. Nature 403, 853–858 (2000). https://doi.org/10.1038/35002501
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