I’ve always known that the South Atlantic was a major hotspot for endemic species. Just the aquatic endemism alone is amazing. I’d never looked too deeply into the data, though. When I was at the Appalachian LCC Steering Commitee Meeting last week, folks in that LCC were doing some serious bragging about the Appalachians as the major hotspot for aquatic endemism. Alright…bring it on!
I did a little looking into some data sets and found some layers summarizing the number of endemic aquatic and terrestrial species by ecoregions. They were used in a 2010 book call the Atlas of Global Conservation.
First up, aquatic endemism by freshwater ecoregion. The ecoregion with the highest endemism (at least according to Hoekstra et al. 2010) is basically the top 2/3s of the South Atlantic LCC. If you want to learn more about the data behind this assessment and explore the map, go here.
Now on to the number of endemic terrestrial species by terrestrial ecoregion. Okay, there’s a chunk of the Southwest that wins here, but the bottom 1/3 of the South Atlantic LCC covers a major part of one of the top areas in the nation for terrestrial endemics. If you want to learn more about the data behind this assessment and explore the map, go here.
Alright Appalachian LCC…your move!
UPDATE: Only a few days after posting this, there’s already some lively discussion. To clarify, the question at hand is related to species that are only found within one LCC. Yes, the Southern Appalachians in isolation has exceptionally high aquatic endemism but the Northern Appalachians are a different story. Do these maps fully answer the question about species only found with each LCC? No. Are the species lists coming out and being more precisely mapped to LCC boundaries? You bet.