“Results indicate that these regions (hot spots and highbiodiversity wilderness areas) often contain considerablelinguistic diversity, accounting for 70 percent of all languages onEarth,” the researchers report in this the May 7 early onlineedition of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. “Moreover, the languages involved frequently are unique toparticular regions, with many facing extinction.” Currently, biologists estimate yearly losses of species at a rate1,000 times higher than historic rates. Linguists predict that bythe end of the 21st century, 50 to 90 percent of the world’slanguages will disappear. “Paul Ehrlich likened the loss of species to removing therivets in a plane’s wings,” said Larry J. Gorenflo, associateprofessor of landscape architecture, Penn State.
“How manyrivets can you remove before the wing falls off and the plane fallsout of the sky? Similarly, how many species can you lose before anecosystem fails? Unfortunately, stopping species loss in a world of7 billion people is extremely challenging. “We conducted this study to understand more about the peopleliving in areas important for biodiversity conservation.” Previous research indicated a connection between language diversityand biodiversity, but the datasets were geographically imprecise.Now, Gorenflo, working with Suzanne Romaine, Merton Professor ofEnglish Language, Merton College, Oxford University, U.K.; RussellA. Mittermeier, president, and Kristen Walker-Painemilla, vicepresident, social policy and practice, Conservation International,used recently compiled global data showing the geographic locationsof more than 6,900 languages compiled for geographic informationsystem (GIS) applications by Global Mapping International. Theyused the locations of hot spots and high biodiversity wildernessareas compiled in GIS form by Conservation International.
“We looked at regions important for biodiversity conservationand measured their linguistic diversity in an effort to understandan important part of the human dimension of these regions,”said Gorenflo. The researchers first looked at diversity on a regional level.Locations with an exceptionally high number of species unique tothat location that also has a loss of habitat of 70 percent or more– hot spots. Comprising only 2.3 percent of Earth’s surface,intact habitat in the 35 hotspots contain more than half theworld’s vascular plants and 43 percent of terrestrial vertebratespecies. In these 35 hotspots, the researchers found 3,202 languages –nearly half of all languages spoken on Earth. These hotspots arespread throughout the world’s continents with the exception ofAntarctica. Industrial Keyboard With Touchpad
They also examined linguistic diversity in five high biodiversitywilderness areas, whose remaining habitat covers about 6.1 percentof Earth’s surface and contains about 17 percent of the vascularplant species and 6 percent of the terrestrial vertebrate species.These regions contained another 1,622 languages. As in the case ofthe hotspots, many languages are unique to particular areas and arespoken by relatively few people, making them susceptible toextinction. “What ends up happening when we lose linguistic diversity iswe lose a bunch of small groups with traditional economics,”said Gorenflo. “Indigenous languages tend to be replaced bythose associated with a modern industrial economy accompanied byother changes such as the introduction of chain saws. In terms ofbiodiversity conservation, all bets are off.” If losing species biodiversity is like losing rivets from anairplane, losing languages can also have a profound effect.According to Gorenflo, losing these languages can lead to the lossof a lot of environmental information that becomes inaccessible asthe words, culture and language disappear. China Metal Numeric Keypad
“I think it argues for concerted conservation efforts that areintegrated and try to maintain biodiversity and culturaldiversity,” said Gorenflo. He suggests that without cultural and linguistic diversity, whichis increasingly appears to be tied to biological diversity,biodiversity loss likely will continue at alarming rates. “In many cases it appears that conditions that wipe outspecies wipe out languages,” said Gorenflo. The researchers do not know why areas of endangered speciesconcentration and endangered languages coexist. Possibly indigenouscultures, supported by their languages, create the conditions tomaintain species and keep the ecosystems working. POS Touch Screen Monitors
“I think basically this study helps to establish these areasof high biodiversity as the world’s most importantlandscapes,” said Gorenflo. The researchers believe their study is a starting point to explorethe relationship between biological and linguistic-culturaldiversity. This will also help develop strategies for conservingspecies and languages in areas where rich diversity of both exists. “We want to being to look at selected places with highbiological and linguistic diversity to begin to explore theconnections between the two, such as Tanzania, where there are130-plus languages,” said Gorenflo.
“Also, the Indo-Burmahotspot in Southeast Asia, where there are nearly 400 languages,and the island of Vanuatu in the Pacific with 100-pluslanguages.”.