Halting the spread of new human settlements is the only way to save the world’s “biodiversity hotspots,” according to a new study published in the journal Nature. Nearly 20 percent of the world’s 6 billion people live in the most species-rich and environmentally threatened areas, says Robert Engelman of Population Action International, one of the study coauthors. Areas of rich biodiversity that are particularly threatened by expanding populations include the Western Ghats/Sri Lanka, the Philippines, the Caribbean, the Tropical Andes, and Madagascar. Engelman: “It clearly signals to conservationists that they should be paying attention to population trends and they might even consider taking actions that might help slow the growth of the human population.”