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Biodiversity hotspot case study: Madagascar

Created by California Academy of Sciences.

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Video transcript

- My name is Brian Fisher. They call me the Ant Man. I'm the Curator of Entomology at the California Academy of Sciences. Madagascar's not just a hotspot, it's the hottest of hotspots. Madagascar's special because of its geological history and its geographic placement. Madagascar separated from Africa about 120 million years ago. The end result, Madagascar's been isolated for 80 million years, and that means everything in Madagascar is unique. Everything in Madagascar evolved there. That means all 103 primates, the lemurs, are only found in Madagascar. All 500 species of reptiles, amphibians, only in Madagascar. 98% of the 1,500 ant species, only in Madagascar. This unique piece of this evolutionary puzzle. But that alone doesn't make it a hotspot. We have unique species there, everything is only found there, but also it's under extreme threat. Massive land transformation, huge impacts from climate change, and a high risk for species extinction. With species extinction, the threat, our only thing we can do is right now make decisions to either save these remaining patches or to let them go. We have to make that decision as a society. We have to now go out and work with the governments to try to preserve, to develop a system to capture in a conservation framework, the most diversity.