Original Paper

Population and Environment

, Volume 34, Issue 4, pp 510-523

First online:

Humans and biodiversity: population and demographic trends in the hotspots

  • John N. WilliamsAffiliated withEnvironmental Science & Policy, University of California Email author 

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An analysis of human population trends from 2000 to 2010 shows that of the roughly one billion additional people on the planet today, a disproportionate number live in the biodiversity hotspots and tropical wilderness areas (TWAs). Although the annual population growth rate in the hotspots declined from 1.6 to 1.3 %, the total population increased by 187 million people. While less densely populated, the TWAs grew at roughly twice the rate of the hotspots. Overall, slower growth rates are indicative of longer-term global trends in decreasing fertility, aging populations, and increased urbanization. The hotspots, however, are largely inhabited by people who have yet to enter their reproductive years or are in the early stages therein. The young age structure means that populations in these priority conservation areas will grow even as fertility rates fall further, and biodiversity will be forced to share dwindling natural habitat with ever more people.


Age structure Conservation Demography Fertility rate Global assessment, Habitat, Population density, Protected area, Urbanization