The notable biodiversity within the United States–Mexican border region is driven by the wide variety of natural landscapes in the area and its biologically unique transition zone of habitats for xeric, temperate, and subtropical species. Six diverse ecoregions cover the length of the border (fig. 3–1): California Coastal Sage, Chaparral, and Oak Woodlands; Sonoran Desert; Madrean Archipelago; Chihuahuan Desert; Southern
Texas Plains; and Western Gulf Coastal Plain. The unique geology and many of the distinctive geographic features and climatic conditions that have given rise to the diverse populations of plants and animals found in the Borderlands also attract human populations. The number of people living in the Borderlands has increased dramatically over recent years, from about 7 million in 1980 to almost 12 million in 2003; the population is estimated to be more than 18 million by 2020 (Peach and Williams, 2003). The human population increase and associated change in land use have contributed to habitat fragmentation and habitat loss for native species, thus threatening their survival. Some ways in which humans negatively affect plants and animals in the Borderlands include dewatering of aquatic ecosystems, water pollution, introduction and spread of invasive species, outdoor lighting, military and border enforcement activity, and energy development and transmission.