Biodiversity and Conservation

, Volume 16, Issue 10, pp 2739–2751

The relationship between biodiversity and population centres: the high Andes region as an example

Original Paper


Several coarse-scale studies have demonstrated a positive correlation between biodiversity and human population density. In this paper this relationship is studied for part of the Andean highland, on a finer spatial scale than in earlier studies, and comparing bird distribution data with pre-Columbian as well as contemporary population centres. A particularly close correspondence was found between ancient population centres and high numbers of species with small distributions. This suggests that the growth of resident human cultures was related, in some way, to local factors which—over a much longer time-scale—stimulated the process of evolution of new species. This correspondence may be a consequence of climate moderation in the mountain areas leading to local persistence, of wild species as well as human communities. However, the result also suggests that we need to study to what extent high biodiversity as such, under certain conditions, yields environmental services which were important for people. It also suggests that traditional efforts to preserve biodiversity in wilderness areas with few people should be supplemented with efforts to promote a more sustainable development in the populated areas, allowing cloud forest and other biologically rich habitats to persist in suitable places near population centres.


Biodiversity Human population Andes Species richness Endemism Ecosystem functions Conservation 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Zoological MuseumUniversity of CopenhagenCopenhagenDenmark

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