Islands are biodiversity hotspots, but also extinction epicenters. Fortunately, there is a way to protect these vibrant ecosystems.
Islands are home to a great diversity of rare and endemic species. With the advent of global travel, humans have spread around the world, ventured into these sensitive ecosystems, and in many cases, have introduced species that never could have arrived there on their own.
The introduction of invasive species to island ecosystems has become an alarming environmental crisis contributing to the rapidly rising global extinction rate. Although islands represent only 5.3% of the Earth’s landmass, these biodiversity hotspots are the loci of 75% of all recorded bird, amphibian, mammal, and reptile extinctions. Of these recorded extinctions, 86% have been linked to the presence of invasive species. Today, nearly half of Earth’s Critically Endangered and Endangered terrestrial vertebrates live on islands.
There is hope. Although many island species are at risk of extinction today, tools are available to address this crisis. On many islands around the world it is possible to completely remove invasive species such as rats, feral cats, and mice that prey on and outcompete native species. Restoration projects around the world have contributed to steady advances in scientific research and technology, and these improvements are promising for the protection of global biodiversity.
Since our founding in 1994, Island Conservation has successfully undertaken restoration activities on 60 islands worldwide, benefiting 1090 populations of 399 species and subspecies. As technology advances it is becoming even more clear that to prevent extinctions, we can and should focus on islands.
- Study Shows 5000% Increase in Native Trees on Rat-free Palmyra Atoll - July 17, 2018
- WIRED: New Research Finds Invasive Rat Removal on Islands Benefits Coral Reefs - July 11, 2018
- Outcome Monitoring Results from Antipodes Island - July 3, 2018
- Jonathan Franzen features Island Conservation in National Geographic - June 26, 2018
- Getting to Know the Friends of Midway Atoll National Wildlife Refuge - June 21, 2018
- Detection Dogs Deployed to Try and Find Remaining Few Rats on Lehua - June 18, 2018
- The Top 5 Threats to Birds may Surprise You - June 13, 2018
- One Dog that Saved an Island of Penguins - June 11, 2018
- Poor Fliers Reluctant to Cross Water - June 8, 2018
- Con X Tech Competition: Prevent Extinctions, Win $20,000 - June 5, 2018