ReviewECOLOGY

The distribution of biodiversity richness in the tropics

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Science Advances  09 Sep 2020:
Vol. 6, no. 37, eabc6228
DOI: 10.1126/sciadv.abc6228

Figures

  • Fig. 1 Map of the world showing the three tropical major regions with a summary of the biodiversity richness for each, with the three floristically distinctive subunits of the Afrotropical Region: Tropical Africa (dark blue), Southern Africa (pale blue), and Madagascar (green).

  • Fig. 2 Plant species from the Andes Mountains, East Africa, Madagascar, and Malaysia.

    (A) Chuquiraga jussieui at the base of volcano Chimborazo, Ecuador. Photo credit: Flora of The World. (B) Vachellia tortilis (Acacia tortilis), grazed by giraffes at the foot of Mt. Kilimanjaro. Photo credit: David C. Western. (C) Alluaudia procera spiny thicket, Berenty, Madagascar. The family Didieriaceae is highly characteristic of Madagascar. Moringa drouhardii on the left, and noxious introduced Opuntia stricta in the foreground. Photo credit: Flora of the World. (D) Rafflesia cantleyi, a unique parasitic plant, northern Malaysia rainforest. Photo credit: Charles Davis.

Tables

  • Table 1 Estimated total numbers of described species for main taxonomic groups across selected tropical regions (1, 3, 519).

    Taxonomic groupLatin America*Afrotropical RegionAfrotrop spp. only in
    Madagascar
    Percentage
    Mad/Afrotrop
    Southeast Asia
    Vascular plants118,30856,451958217%50,000
    Butterflies900044263207%4000
    Breeding birds4626213426312%2660
    Ants3917334386726%3663
    Amphibians3398117834129%1085
    Lizards2225140933724%1129
    Mammals1793142124617%1305
    Snakes157368110916%751

    *Mexico southward through all of South America, including the West Indies.

    †That is, including Madagascar.

    ‡Percentage contribution of Madagascar to Afrotropical Region species total, rounded to the nearest percentage.

    • Table 2 Number of newly described species of vascular plants for Latin America, Southeast Asia, and specified portions of Africa, by year, 2008–2019 (13, 7, 23, 24).

      YearLatin AmericaSoutheast AsiaAfrotropical
      Region
      Tropical AfricaSouthern AfricaMadagascar
      2008697298190944650
      20097042912231165453
      20108072911721033831
      2011647246155636527
      2012633401134652742
      2013729317166774445
      2014707374153404172
      2015873453212884777
      2016833404178712285
      2017917448152423179
      2018728450126563455
      20197143951691222136
      12-year mean749364173784154

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