Using bioquality for prioritizing conservation efforts

Presenting a novel framework based on species-level conservation assessments using simple, but useful star ratings

GBIF-mediated data resources used : 1,970,142 species occurrences
Aloe eminens

Aloe eminens, endemic to Somalia. Photo by Faisal Hawar Al-Maakhiri, licensed under CC BY-NC 4.0.

Species richness is often used to identify biodiversity hotspots and to prioritize areas for conservation. This approach, however, does not consider the individual conservation status of species in assemblages and isn’t very suitable for local management.

In this study, researchers suggest a new conservation framework for tropical Africa. Using mainly GBIF-mediated occurrences of African vascular plants, they summarized the global range of each species and assigned a simple star rating based on the number of degree squares occupied by a species. Plants were given either a black (fewest squares), yellow, blue or green (most squares) star rating according to distribution patterns.

Combining conservation ratings, the researchers then identified bioquality hotspots in areas with the highest proportion of globally rarer species, i.e. black stars. Previously underestimated, the highest bioquality is identified in the Horn of Africa.

The framework suggested is based on the argument that areas of high bioquality is more important than areas with high species richness alone.

Marshall CAM, Wieringa JJ and Hawthorne WD (2016) Bioquality Hotspots in the Tropical African Flora. Current Biology. Elsevier BV 26(23): 3214–3219. Available at: