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Regional representativeness hotspots for world's tetrapod vertebrate genera.

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As anthropogenic stress and resulting habitat degradation put pressure on biodiversity, there is a need for urgent and innovative conservation strategies. The integration of the biogeographical concept of bioregionalisation into conservation planning is critical for the successful protection of biodiversity on a global scale. This study looked at zoogeographic regions taken one by one, and combined based on their evolutionary histories, climate, and overall spatial interactions. Representative genera were selected, and their richness calculated for these single and combined regions. Representative genera for a region include genera which exhibit high levels of endemism and regional filling of that region. Regional representativeness hotspots were combined to produce a global hotspot scheme. Combinations of regions such as the Neo-Caribbean, Holarctic and Neotropic-Nearctic included significant numbers of ecoregions with hotspot status. Combinations including the Australian Zoogeographic Region and gradually larger numbers of neighbouring regions resulted in varying spatial hotspot patterns relevant to global regionalisation attempts. Theories and hypotheses, including continental drift, vicariance and dispersal events, and the influence of paleoclimates all contribute important explanations towards shaping the distribution of genera and the delineation of zoogeographic regions. Regional representativeness hotspots can be biogeographical units for robust conservation strategies, representing a proactive approach to the conservation of representative genera and co-occurring taxa worldwide.


Masters Degree. University of KwaZulu-Natal, Durban.