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Hotspots and Diversity

Patterns of biological diversity are formed by a complex combination of geologic, climatic, and geographic circumstances.  The myriad environmental conditions produced over millennia along with ecological and evolutionary influences have resulted in an astounding array of organisms in Florida:  about 700 vertebrates, more than 30,000 invertebrates and more than 4,000 native plant species. Florida hosts the greatest diversity of plant families of all U.S. states, and as many as 300 plants, 40 vertebrates and 400 invertebrates are found nowhere else in the world.  

Because the conditions that shaped biological diversity varied across the landscape, so does the resulting pattern of biological diversity.  Areas of locally high diversity, or hotspots, often include species with limited ranges that are inherently susceptible to extinction, making hotspots of diversity important to identify and conserve.  The FNAI Rare Species Habitat Conservation Priorities data layer identifies priorities for both species richness and rarity in Florida.  View this layer in the Map Viewer.

Featured Biodiversity Hotspots

Apalachicola River Basin

The bluffs and ravines of the Upper Apalachicola River Basin support an extraordinary number of reptile and amphibian species.  The cool ravines provide a haven for many southern Appalachian plant species that are found nowhere else in Florida.  The many endemic plants of the Lower Apalachicola River Basin add to this regional treasure. 

Click here for more on the Apalachicola River Basin


Lake Wales Ridge

The Lake Wales Ridge was a high water refuge during interglacial periods.  Repeated isolation and reconnection with the continent was a recipe for speciation and colonization, which has resulted in an archipelago of high diversity in the highlands of central Florida. 


Click here for more on the Lake Wales Ridge

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