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Answers to the exploration questions: biodiversity hotspots

If you are wondering where the suggested answers came from, you can review the videos and the article in the biodiversity hotspots tutorial.
  1. In your own words, define what the term “endemic” means, in a few sentences. Give one example of an endemic species.
Answer: A complete explanation would mention that an endemic species is found in only one particular area of the world, and nowhere else. An endemic species has a very restricted distribution; it is not widespread. A particularly well-known example of an endemic species is the Galápagos tortoise. These tortoises occur naturally nowhere else in the world other than the Galápagos Islands, and some of them are restricted to just one of the islands there. There are many other examples of endemic species, too, from plants to insects to fish, birds and mammals.
2.     After watching the three Biodiversity Hotspots case study videos, explain in a few sentences how the three areas are similar in terms of the threats that they face?
Answer: A complete explanation would mention that all three sites (California, Galápagos, and Madagascar) are highly threatened by human activities. The specific details and level of technology differ between the three sites, but the fundamental threats are the same: humans are converting the natural ecosystem to agricultural fields, houses, other buildings and roads; they are bringing in species that don’t belong there (introduced species); they are harvesting the plants and wildlife at unsustainable rates; and they are creating pollution that damages the ecosystem.
3.     Your friend comments that hotspots are not that important because hotspots only focus on plants, not animals, and it’s most important to save the animals. Explain in a few sentences why you agree or disagree with your friend’s statement.
Answer: While everyone is entitled to their own opinion, scientists and conservationists would not agree with your friend’s statement. Without plants, there would be no animals. All animals depend on plants, either directly or indirectly, as their source of food. It would not be possible to save threatened animal species in the wild without making sure that their necessary plants are saved, too. Plants were chosen as a criterion for designating an area as a biodiversity hotspot because they are good indicators of what else is in the area – the greater the diversity of plants, the greater the diversity of animals. Also, from a practical point of view, while it can be very difficult to survey all the plants in remote and rough terrain, at least they don’t move around the way most animals do!

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