An excerpt from Cemex: Islands, lead author Dr. Nick Holmes, Island Conservation’s Director of Science
Islands have long inspired human imagination, evoking images of far-flung landscapes and vast isolation. There are more than 460,000 islands on our planet. They make up only five percent of the land on our planet yet host extraordinary concentrations of endemic (found nowhere else) species—more per unit area than can be found on continents—and evolution on islands has led to truly remarkable ecological outcomes.
Their isolation and the absence of the competition, predation, and herbivory present in mainland habitats allows founding species to evolve diverse and spectacular floras and wildlife. Many island species occur on just a single island—the Juan Fernández Firecrown, the world’s only oceanic hummingbird, is but one example.
At a global scale, conservation has good reason to focus on islands. Islands have seen the highest numbers of extinctions in our modern age, and today are home to almost 40 percent of all animals known to be critically endangered. Invasive species, habitat loss and the imminence of climate change are major threats to native island species.
Yet islands offer hope that we can prevent extinctions and protect biodiversity. Numerous examples of significant conservation successes have been those on islands, leading to the recovery of often desperately threatened species, and even the rediscovery of species long-thought extinct.
The first 10 donors to make a $5,000 gift to Island Conservation in November-December will receive a free Cemex book! This beautiful, coffee-table book explores islands of the world and the landscapes, plants and animals found only in these extraordinary places. Members of Island Conservation’s staff and board were key contributors to this celebration of our world’s islands.