Global Mountain Biodiversity Assessment (GMBA)

Schreckhorn and Lauteraahorn (copyright and credits: Laurent Willenegger)

New GMBA publication: Endemism in island-like systems – Are true islands and sky islands alike?

São Jorge island, Azores. Credits and copyright: Kenneth Rijsdijk

Mountains and islands both host a high number of ´endemic species´ (species limited to only few locations in the world). To explain this similarity, parallels have been drawn between the insularity of ‘true islands’ (land surrounded by water) and the isolation of habitats within mountains (so-called ‘mountain islands’). But is this analogy supported by data and evidence?

‘To answer that question, we reviewed the theoretical concept of isolation and asked ourselves what it means "to be isolated” and what relevance it has for species in mountains and islands,’ explains Suzette Flantua, first author of the study and researcher at the Institute for Biodiversity and Ecosystem Dynamics (University of Amsterdam, the Netherlands) and the Department of Biological Sciences, University of Bergen (Norway).‘

By conceptually comparing different types of true islands and mountains, the study concludes that much insight can be gained by integrating knowledge from these two systems, but that their dynamic isolation history, rather than the present day isolation, influences evolution and holds the key to understand present-day endemism in these seemingly isolated systems.

This collaborative effort was supported by the Global Mountain Biodiversity Assessment

Access the full publication "Snapshot isolation and isolation history challenge the analogy between mountains and islands used to understand endemism".