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Insular biogeography

Insular biogeography or island biogeography is a field within biogeography that examines the factors that affect the species richness of isolated natural communities. The theory was originally developed to explain species richness of actual islands, principally oceanic. Under either name it is now used in reference to any ecosystem that is isolated due to being surrounded by unlike ecosystems, and has been extended to mountain peaks, oases, fragmented forest, and even natural habitats isolated by human land development. The field was started in the 1960s by the ecologists Robert H. MacArthur and E. O. Wilson, who coined the term island biogeography in their theory, which attempted to predict the number of species that would exist on a newly created island. The theory of insular biogeography proposes that the number of species found in an undisturbed insular environment ("island") is determined by immigration and extinction. And further, that the isolated populations may follow different evolutionary routes, as shown by Darwin's observation of finches in the Galapagos Islands. Immigration and emigration are affected by the distance of an island from a source of colonists (distance effect). Usually this source is the mainland, but it can also be other islands. Islands that are more isolated are less likely to receive immigrants than islands that are less isolated.