Southeast Asian biodiversity is a global priority for conservation, due to the high levels of diversity and endemism, combined with some of the greatest levels of threat. Conservation planning is essential to ensure that hotspots of biodiversity and endemism have the protection needed to prevent deforestation, hunting and other forms of exploitation in some of the Southeast Asia's most diverse areas, yet this requires data which in many cases does not exist.
Growing volumes of online available data provides the ability to develop accurate models of species distributions, and gain new perspectives on regional diversity patterns and provide essential baseline data for planning and conservation.
Here, using the best available information I develop maps of the ranges of 2471 vertebrate (birds, mammals, reptiles and amphibians) and 1198 plant species, and explore patterns of biodiversity and the adequacy of protection. Each taxon shows different patterns of diversity, and no taxa provided an effective surrogate for diversity patterns in different groups. I show that for the majority of biodiversity hotspots fall outside protected areas, with between 10 and 55% of areas with at least > 75% of the maximum number of species unprotected. The percentage of species ranges protected areas also varies by taxa, from a maximum of 40% to reptiles with a mean of only 13.5% of species ranges protected. Furthermore comparison between my predictions and IUCN maps of diversity differed greatly for all taxa examined, with IUCN hotspots covering a much larger portion of the region and potentially overestimating the ranges of many species. Further efforts are needed to better protect centres of diversity, and the inclusion of these methods into regional conservation planning may greatly assist in increasing the effectiveness of conservation.