1 Tahrcountry Musings: New technique to pinpoint key biodiversity hotspots

Saturday, April 12, 2008

New technique to pinpoint key biodiversity hotspots

Scientists have developed a new technique that pinpoints key biodiversity hotspots. The methodology identifies exact areas that support a wide variety of organisms. Scientists tested the new system to identify vital habitats in Madagascar. Claire Kremen, a conservation biologist from the University of California, Berkeley, US headed the project. Scientists gathered existing data from Madagascan scientists on more than 2,300 species. Once they gathered the data they put it through an optimisation analysis. Data was added on habitat suitability from remote sensing images from satellites, and several layers of climatic information including average monthly temperature and rainfall. What they were looking for was 10% of the country that could include all of those species. A computer programme was developed which allows scientists to find a solution that not only includes all the species, but also includes as much as possible of the habitats that they need. The program was also able to pinpoint what species were at a greater risk of extinction. Even though the programme was developed for Madagascar it could be put to use in other areas also. This is expected to give a new impetus to conservation especially in rain forest areas rich in biodiversity. Details appear in Science magazine.

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