While many bird species are widespread, over 2,500 are endemic and restricted to an area smaller than 5 million ha (restricted-range species). Endemism is the ecological state of a species being unique to a defined geographic location, such as an island, nation, country or other defined zone, or habitat type. BirdLife International has mapped every restricted-range species using georeferenced locality records. Through this process, it identified 218 regions of the world—known as endemic bird areas (EBAs)—where the distributions of 2 or more of these species overlap. Half of all restricted-range species are globally threatened or near-threatened, and the other half remain vulnerable to loss or degradation of habitat. The majority of EBAs are also important for the conservation of restricted-range species from other animal and plant groups.
The unique landscapes where these bird species occur, amounting to just 4.5% of the Earth's land surface, are high priorities for broad-scale ecosystem conservation. Geographically, EBAs are often islands or mountain ranges and vary considerably in size, from a few hundred ha to more than 10 million ha. EBAs also vary in the number of restricted-range species that they support (from 2 to 80). EBAs are found around the world, but most (77%) of them are located in the tropics and subtropics. Resource Watch shows only a subset of the data set. For access to the full data set and additional information, see the Learn More link.
Endemic Bird Areas of the World: Priorities for Biodiversity Conservation
The number of EBAs having a combination of severe/major habitat loss and a small proportion (0-20%) of threatened/extinct restricted-range species is fewer than would occur by chance. This is perhaps because habitat loss has been used to infer threatened status of some poorly known species in some of these EBAs. Approximately two-thirds of the 218 EBAs are not well-sampled: 50% of EBAs are judged to be incompletely known and 17% are considered to be poorly known.
Ramirez, Francisco, Isabel Afan, Lloyd S. Davis, and Andre Chiaradia. 2017. “Climate Impacts on Global Hotspots of Marine Biodiversity." Science Advances 3(2). http://hdl.handle.net/10261/142056.Accessed through Resource Watch, (date). www.resourcewatch.org.