Island Hot Spots: The Challenge of Climate Change

David Bramwell

in Beyond Cladistics

Published by University of California Press

Published in print October 2010 | ISBN: 9780520267725
Published online March 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780520947993 | DOI:
Island Hot Spots: The Challenge of Climate Change

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More than 50 percent of the world's plant species and 42 percent of all terrestrial vertebrate species are endemic to the thirty-four biodiversity hot spots. Islands are of particular importance in a biodiversity conservation context as they cover about 5 percent of the Earth's land surface but have more than 35 percent of the world's vascular plants including about 50,000 endemics. Island organisms have always been especially vulnerable to human activities. Because of human-induced climate change, native species face further threatening challenges including a rise in sea level of, according to recent estimates, between 2 and 15 meters in the next 100 years. Over 35 years ago, Sherwin Carlquist, in his book Island Biology (1974), defined a series of characteristics common to many organisms from islands throughout the world as the island syndrome. From a conservation point of view, it is informative to consider some of the island syndrome characteristics in the context of climate change. The characteristics of Carlquist's island syndrome do not seem to help either adaptation or migration.

Keywords: Sherwin Carlquist; biodiversity hot spots; islands; island organisms; climate change; island syndrome; conservation; adaptation; migration

Chapter.  3703 words. 

Subjects: Evolutionary Biology

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