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.
- Albatross-eating Mice Responsible for Two Million Fewer Seabird Chicks on UK Island Each Year - October 19, 2018
- Remembering Bill Wood – A Conservation Hero - October 17, 2018
- Forbes: Does It Really Matter If Just One Species Goes Extinct? - October 17, 2018
- Another Poor Breeding Season for Tristan Albatross on Gough Island - October 5, 2018
- Chilean Navy Collaborates with International NGO Island Conservation to Protect Endangered Species - October 5, 2018
- Rapid Rodent Response on St Paul Island, Alaska - September 26, 2018
- Macquarie Island and the Unintended Spread of Invasive Species - September 26, 2018
- CEMEX Presents 26th Volume of Nature and Conservation Book Series: ‘Islands’ - September 26, 2018
- How You Can Protect Island Wildlife - September 26, 2018
- US Department of the Interior Funds Counter Invasive Species Efforts on Ulithi Atoll - September 19, 2018