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What is mega-diversity: meaning and examples

In order to understand what mega-diversity is, we must first understand that, although we can find life in almost any corner of the planet, it is not distributed equally in all parts of the world. There are areas that have special ecosystems that make them host a unique and highly varied biodiversity. These wonderful territories full of life do not exceed 10% of the total geography of our planet, but surprisingly they are home to up to 70% of all the biodiversity of this.

From AgroCorrn we want you to understand this term and all that it entails, such as the need to conserve it. Keep reading this AgroCorrn article to learn what mega-diversity is, its meaning and examples and, thus, learn the places where this phenomenon can be appreciated.

You may also be interested in: What is a megadiverse country and examples
Index
  1. Megadiversity: definition
  2. Characteristics of the mega-diversity
  3. Continents and megadiverse countries

Megadiversity: definition

Megadiversity was born as a concept from the environmental organization Conversation International (CI) in order to designate those countries or regions that have an enormous diversity of ecosystems and species , whether animals or plants, in their territory. These regions comprise around 70% of the planet’s diversity in just 10% of the total Earth’s surface, which makes them key points for life on Earth.

Given the uniqueness and enormous wealth of these natural paradises , it is of great importance to conserve and care for mega-diverse regions for the health of the planet. However, there are numerous threats that threaten their persistence, such as climate change, pollution, overexploitation of natural resources , human occupation, illegal hunting of threatened species, deforestation , invasive species , etc.

With the intention of curbing these threats, conservation coalitions, programs and initiatives have been created, such as the Group of Related Megadiverse Countries , created in Mexico in 2002 and made up of the following countries:

  • Australia
  • Brazil
  • Mexico
  • China
  • Colombia
  • Indonesia
  • Philippines
  • Kenya
  • South Africa
  • Venezuela
  • Costa Rica
  • Ecuador
  • India
  • Peru
  • Argentina
  • Bolivia
  • Indonesia
  • Malaysia

Characteristics of the mega-diversity

These regions have particular characteristics or traits that allow them to become megadiverse countries. The main characteristics of the megadiversity and the megadiverse countries are:

  • Geographic Location: Megadiverse countries are found in or near tropical regions.
  • Large sizes: the size of these countries allows them to host large areas of territory and, consequently, enormous biodiversity.
  • Wealth in the islands or peninsulas: some of these territories have islands far from other places with endemic and unique plant and animal species. Also, the isolation of certain territories, such as South America and North America, favors the appearance of specific species from each territory.
  • Great variety of landscapes: within these territories there are mountainous areas, forests, jungles, islands, seas, lakes, deserts, etc.
  • Evolutionary and cultural history: the mixture of species of different origins and the domestication of native animals and plants has favored the enormous natural wealth of these places over time.

An example of a megadiverse place could be Mexico. The largest number of reptile species on the planet is concentrated in this country, the second is for mammals, the fourth for amphibians and the fifth for varieties of plant species. In addition, a large part of all the species that inhabit here are endemic to Mexico, which makes it a unique and special place due to its enormous biodiversity and its wealth of ecosystems. Learn more about what endemic species are in Mexico with examples and photos in this other article.

Continents and megadiverse countries

According to the Center for Environmental Conservation Monitoring , there is a list with a total of 17 countries that have been described as megadiverse and that coincide in having a geographical location close to the tropics and a great diversity of soils, environments and climates, aspects very important for the development of the great variety and richness of species that exist in these places. Distributed among the continents of America, Asia, Africa and Oceania, the countries are as follows:

America

  • Brazil
  • Colombia
  • Ecuador
  • USA
  • Mexico
  • Peru
  • Venezuela

Asia

  • China
  • Philippines
  • Indonesia
  • India
  • Malaysia

Africa

  • South Africa
  • Madagascar
  • Democratic Republic of Congo

Oceania

  • Australia
  • Papua New Guinea

America is the winning continent in terms of megadiverse countries, followed by Asia. These two continents are where the countries with the greatest biodiversity, Brazil, Colombia, Mexico and China are found.

Brazil is the territory with the highest percentage of Amazon rainforest , which makes it directly a megadiverse place, since the Amazon is known for being the most biodiverse tropical forest on Earth. In fact, this country is where we can find the largest number of species of amphibians, primates, plants and even some insects, such as butterflies. In this way, Brazil encompasses approximately 20% of the planet’s total biodiversity. If you want to know more about the biodiversity of the Amazon, we recommend reading our articles on Animals in danger of extinction in the Amazon and Plants of the Amazon: characteristics, names and photos .

Followed by the Rio de Janeiro country, Colombia, China and Mexico each comprise about 10% of the total species on Earth in their territories. In these paradises full of life we ​​can find a huge variety of ecosystems , such as tropical forests, deserts, wetlands, Andean slopes, plains, moors, etc., and, with it, a gigantic diversity of species .

Any of the 17 countries is special for some characteristic. Many, in addition to being megadiverse, are examples of species conservation, such as Ecuador; Others stand out for their enormous diversity both for their fauna and for their terrestrial and marine animals, such as Australia, where most of the species are endemic given their island character; and others stand out for their large number of species per square meter, such as Colombia, where we can find approximately 19% of all animal life on the planet. Each mega-diverse territory is unique and teeming with life, so its conservation becomes a high priority to preserve the health of our planet.

In this other post on AgroCorrn you can further expand this information on What is a megadiverse country and examples .

If you want to read more articles similar to What is mega-diversity: meaning and examples , we recommend that you enter our Biodiversity category .

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