Essay about The Vulnerability of Islands to Animal Extinction

Essay about The Vulnerability of Islands to Animal Extinction

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Presently, the rate of species extinction is occurring several thousand times faster than has been observed over geologic time. (Purvis, E., & Mace, 2000) Though they represent a minority of all species, island species make up 75% of animal extinctions since the 16 000's. Because of traits inherent to islands, including isolation and small geographic range (Purvis, E., & Mace, 2000), islands are more susceptible to extinction than the continents. This results in a disproportionate ratio of island to continental extinctions. For example, 20% of the world's bird species inhabit islands, but of historical bird extinctions, about 90% were islanders (Frankham, 1997). With the endemicity that follows island isolation (particularly oceanic islands) often comes a direct correlation between local and global extinction. Low population numbers add to the threat of extinction. Generally, the more endemic a population, the greater the extinction rate (Purvis, E., & Mace, 2000). In the absence of mammalian or reptilian predators, unique island species do not develop the evolutionary experience required to cope with alien species upon their introduction. In New Zealand, the extinction rate of bird species is positively correlated to its level of endemicity (Duncan & Blackburn, 2007). This endemicity lends itself to the development of traits which increase their susceptibility to predation, especially large size, flightlessness and prey naiveté. Of island extinctions over the past 50 000 years, human activities (eg. invasion, alteration of environment, over-exploitation, etc.) have been the primary cause (Duncan & Blackburn, 2007). Also cited as attributing to the extinction of island species is inbreeding depression (Frankham, 1997).

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Frankham, R. (1997). Inbreeding and Extinction:Island Populations. 665-675.
Hockey, P. A., Wanless, R. M., & Brandis, R. v. (2011). Demographic resilience of territorial island birds to extinction: the flightless Aldabra Rail Dryolimnas (cuvieri) aldabranus as an example. In Ostrich (pp. 1-9). Pretoria: Taylor & Francis.

Jamison, I. G. (2007). Has the debate over genetics and extinction of island endemics truly been resolved? In Animal Conservation (pp. 139-144).

Purvis, A., E., J. K., & Mace, G. M. (2000). Extinction. In BioEssays (pp. 1123-1133). Berkshire: John Wiley & Sons, Inc.

Smith, K. F., Sax, D. F., & Lafferty, K. D. (2006). Evidence for the Role of Infectious Disease in Species Extinction and Endangerment. In Conservation Biology (pp. 1349-1357).

Ward, P. (2002). Lost Islands. In Rivers in Time (pp. 229-260). Columbia University Press.

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