Population and Environment

, Volume 34, Issue 4, pp 510–523 | Cite as

Humans and biodiversity: population and demographic trends in the hotspots

Original Paper


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 

Supplementary material

11111_2012_175_MOESM1_ESM.docx (15 kb)
Supplementary material 1 (DOCX 15 kb)


  1. Adams, W. M., Aveling, R., Brockington, D., Dickson, B., Elliott, J., Hutton, J., et al. (2004). Biodiversity conservation and the eradication of poverty. Science, 306(5699), 1146–1149. doi:10.1126/science.1097920.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Balk, D., Brickman, M., Anderson, B., Pozzi, F., & Yetman, G. (2005). Mapping global urban and rural population distributions: estimates of future global population distribution to 2015, Annex. FAO Environmental and Natural Resource Working Paper, 24, 55–73.Google Scholar
  3. Bremner, J., Bilsborrow, R., Feldacker, C., & Holt, F. L. (2009). Fertility beyond the frontier: indigenous women, fertility, and reproductive practices in the Ecuadorian Amazon. Population and Environment, 30(3), 93–113. doi:10.1007/s11111-009-0078-0.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Brooks, T. M., Mittermeier, R. A., da Fonseca, G. A. B., Gerlach, J., Hoffmann, M., Lamoreux, J. F., et al. (2006). Global biodiversity conservation priorities. Science, 313(5783), 58–61. doi:10.1126/science.1127609.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Brooks, T. M., Wright, S. J., & Sheil, D. (2009). Evaluating the success of conservation actions in safeguarding tropical forest biodiversity. Conservation Biology, 23(6), 1448–1457. doi:10.1111/j.1523-1739.2009.01334.x.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Bruner, A. G., Gullison, R. E., Rice, R. E., & da Fonseca, G. A. B. (2001). Effectiveness of parks in protecting tropical biodiversity. Science, 291(5501), 125–128.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Burgess, N. D., Hales, J. D., Ricketts, T. H., & Dinerstein, E. (2006). Factoring species, non-species values and threats into biodiversity prioritisation across the ecoregions of Africa and its islands. Biological Conservation, 127(4), 383–401. doi:10.1016/j.biocon.2005.08.018.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Carr, D. L. (2004). Proximate population factors and deforestation in tropical agricultural frontiers. Population and Environment, 25(6), 585–612.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Carr, D. L., Lopez, A. C., & Bilsborrow, R. E. (2009). The population, agriculture, and environment nexus in Latin America: country-level evidence from the latter half of the twentieth century. Population and Environment, 30(6), 222–246. doi:10.1007/s11111-009-0090-4.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Carr, D. L., Pan, W. K. Y., & Bilsborrow, R. E. (2006). Declining fertility on the frontier: the Ecuadorian Amazon. Population and Environment, 28(1), 17–39. doi:10.1007/s11111-007-0032-y.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. CIESIN. (2005). Gridded population of the world, version 3 (GPWv3) Center for International Earth Science Information Network & Centro Internacional de Agricultura Tropical (CIAT). Palisades, NY: Columbia University.Google Scholar
  12. Cincotta, R. P., Wisnewski, J., & Engelman, R. (2000). Human population in the biodiversity hotspots. Nature, 404(6781), 990–992.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. de Merode, E., & Cowlishaw, G. (2006). Species protection, the changing informal economy, and the politics of access to the bushmeat trade in the Democratic Republic of Congo. Conservation Biology, 20(4), 1262–1271. doi:10.1111/j.1523-1739.2006.00425.x.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. de Merode, E., Smith, K. H., Homewood, K., Pettifor, R., Rowcliffe, M., & Cowlishaw, G. (2007). The impact of armed conflict on protected-area efficacy in Central Africa. Biology Letters, 3(3), 299–301. doi:10.1098/rsbl.2007.0010.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. DeFries, R. S., Rudel, T., Uriarte, M., & Hansen, M. (2010). Deforestation driven by urban population growth and agricultural trade in the twenty-first century. Nature Geoscience, 3(3), 178–181. doi:10.1038/ngeo756.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. ESRI (2005) ArcMap 9.1. Redlands, CA.Google Scholar
  17. Fisher, B., & Christopher, T. (2007). Poverty and biodiversity: Measuring the overlap of human poverty and the biodiversity hotspots. Ecological Economics, 62(1), 93–101. doi:10.1016/j.ecolecon.2006.05.020.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Geist, H. J., & Lambin, E. F. (2002). Proximate causes and underlying driving forces of tropical deforestation. BioScience, 52(2), 143–150.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Hanson, T., Brooks, T. M., Da Fonseca, G. A. B., Hoffmann, M., Lamoreux, J. F., Machlis, G., et al. (2009). Warfare in biodiversity hotspots. Conservation Biology, 23(3), 578–587. doi:10.1111/j.1523-1739.2009.01166.x.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Hare, W. L., Cramer, W., Schaeffer, M., Battaglini, A., & Jaeger, C. C. (2011). Climate hotspots: Key vulnerable regions, climate change and limits to warming. Regional Environmental Change, 11, S1–S13. doi:10.1007/s10113-010-0195-4.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Imhoff, M. L., Bounoua, L., Ricketts, T., Loucks, C., Harriss, R., & Lawrence, W. T. (2004). Global patterns in human consumption of net primary production. Nature, 429(6994), 870–873. doi:10.1038/nature02619.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Jha, S., & Bawa, K. S. (2006). Population growth, human development, and deforestation in biodiversity hotspots. Conservation Biology, 20(3), 906–912. doi:10.1111/j.1523-1739.2006-00398.x.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Joppa, L. N., Loarie, S. R., & Pimm, S. L. (2009). On population growth near protected areas. PLoS ONE, 4(1), 5. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0004279.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Kramer, D. B., Urquhart, G., & Schmitt, K. (2009). Globalization and the connection of remote communities: A review of household effects and their biodiversity implications. Ecological Economics, 68(12), 2897–2909. doi:10.1016/j.ecolecon.2009.06.026.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Luck, G. W. (2007). A review of the relationships between human population density and biodiversity. Biological Reviews, 82(4), 607–645. doi:10.1111/j.1469-185X.2007.00028.x.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. McDonald, R. I., Kareiva, P., & Formana, R. T. T. (2008). The implications of current and future urbanization for global protected areas and biodiversity conservation. Biological Conservation, 141(6), 1695–1703. doi:10.1016/j.biocon.2008.04.025.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. McNeely, J. A. (2003). Conserving forest biodiversity in times of violent conflict. Oryx, 37(2), 142–152. doi:10.1017/s0030605303000334.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Meyerson, F. A. B., Merino, L., & Durand, J. (2007). Migration and environment in the context of globalization. Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment, 5(4), 182–190.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Miles, L., Newton, A. C., DeFries, R. S., Ravilious, C., May, I., Blyth, S., et al. (2006). A global overview of the conservation status of tropical dry forests. Journal of Biogeography, 33(3), 491–505. doi:10.1111/j.1365-2699.2005.01424.x.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Mittermeier, R. A., Myers, N., Robles Gil, P., & Mittermeier, C. G. (1999). Hotspots: Earth’s biologically richest and most endangered terrestrial ecoregions. Mexico City: Agrupacion Sierra Madre, S.C.Google Scholar
  31. Mittermeier, R. A., Robles Gil, P., & Mittermeier, C. G. (1997). Megadiversity: Earth’s most biologically wealthy nations. Mexico, DF: Agrupacion Sierra Madre, S.C.Google Scholar
  32. Myers, N., Mittermeier, R. A., Mittermeier, C. G., da Fonseca, G. A. B., & Kent, J. (2000). Biodiversity hotspots for conservation priorities. Nature, 403(6772), 853–858.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Nel, E., & Hill, T. (2008). Marginalisation and demographic change in the semi-arid Karoo, South Africa. Journal of Arid Environments, 72(12), 2264–2274. doi:10.1016/j.jaridenv.2008.07.015.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Oda, T., & Maksyutov, S. (2011). A very high-resolution (1 km × 1 km) global fossil fuel CO(2) emission inventory derived using a point source database and satellite observations of nighttime lights. Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics, 11(2), 543–556. doi:10.5194/acp-11-543-2011.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. ORNL (2009a) LandScan Documentation. US Dept of Energy. http://www.ornl.gov/sci/landscan/landscan_documentation.shtml. Accessed 1/31/11 2011.
  36. ORNL. (2009b). LandScan global population database. Oak Ridge, TN: Oak Ridge National Laboratory.Google Scholar
  37. Palahi, M., Mavsar, R., Gracia, C., & Birot, Y. (2008). Mediterranean forests under focus. International Forestry Review, 10(4), 676–688.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. Ricketts, T., & Imhoff, M. (2003). Biodiversity, urban areas, and agriculture: Locating priority ecoregions for conservation. Conservation Ecology, 8(2), 1–15.Google Scholar
  39. Roberts, C. M., McClean, C. J., Veron, J. E. N., Hawkins, J. P., Allen, G. R., McAllister, D. E., et al. (2002). Marine biodiversity hotspots and conservation priorities for tropical reefs. Science, 295(5558), 1280–1284.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. Rodriguez, J. P., & Rodriguez-Clark, K. M. (2001). Even ‘paper parks’ are important. Trends in Ecology & Evolution, 16(1), 17.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. Rudel, T. K., Defries, R., Asner, G. P., & Laurance, W. F. (2009). Changing drivers of deforestation and new opportunities for conservation. Conservation Biology, 23(6), 1396–1405. doi:10.1111/j.1523-1739.2009.01332.x.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. Sachs, J. D., Baillie, J. E. M., Sutherland, W. J., Armsworth, P. R., Ash, N., Beddington, J., et al. (2009). Biodiversity conservation and the millennium development goals. Science, 325(5947), 1502–1503. doi:10.1126/science.1175035.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  43. Shi, H., Singh, A., Kant, S., Zhu, Z. L., & Waller, E. (2005). Integrating habitat status, human population pressure, and protection status into biodiversity conservation priority setting. Conservation Biology, 19(4), 1273–1285. doi:10.1111/j.1523-1739.2005.00225.x.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  44. Sodhi, N. S., Posa, M. R. C., Lee, T. M., Bickford, D., Koh, L. P., & Brook, B. W. (2010). The state and conservation of Southeast Asian biodiversity. Biodiversity and Conservation, 19(2), 317–328. doi:10.1007/s10531-009-9607-5.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  45. Tembon, M., & Fort, L. (Eds.). (2008). Girls’ education in the 21st century: Gender equality, empowerment, and economic growth. Washington, DC: The World Bank.Google Scholar
  46. UN. (2010). World Urbanization Prospects: The 2009 Revision. New York: United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs, Population Division.Google Scholar
  47. UN. (2011). World Population Prospects: The 2010 Revision. United Nations, Department of Economic and Social Affairs, Population Division.Google Scholar
  48. UNDP (2001) Road map towards the implementation of the United Nations Millennium Declaration. United Nations Development Programme.Google Scholar
  49. United States Census Bureau (USCB). (2010). International Data Base. http://www.census.gov/population/international/data/idb/informationGateway.php. Accessed 10 April 2010.
  50. United States Census Bureau (USCB). (2008). Annual Estimates of the Resident Population for the United States, Regions, States, and Puerto Rico: 1990–1999; 2000–2008. http://www.census.gov/population/www/projections/summarytables.html. Accessed 9 April 2010.
  51. Wittemyer, G., Elsen, P., Bean, W. T., Burton, A. C. O., & Brashares, J. S. (2008). Accelerated human population growth at protected area edges. Science, 321(5885), 123–126. doi:10.1126/science.1158900.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  52. World Bank (2009) World development indicators. The World Bank, Washington, DC.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Environmental Science & PolicyUniversity of CaliforniaDavisUSA

Personalised recommendations