The islands boast some of the most diverse collections of plants and animals on Earth. With a unique set of influences and conditions, life on islands has evolved very differently from life on larger land masses.
The islands preserve habitats for a large number of unique and endemic plants and animals, both on land and in the water.
Here are some islands that offer a living definition of biological diversity.
Galapagos Islands, Ecuador
The Galapagos Islands are a group of volcanic islands located in the Pacific Ocean off the coast of Ecuador. These islands are famous for their unique biodiversity, with many species found nowhere else on Earth.
The Galapagos Islands are known for their diverse range of wildlife, including the Galapagos tortoise, marine iguana, and blue-footed booby.
Charles Darwin visited the Galapagos Islands in 1835 and used his observations of the unique species found on the islands to develop his theory of evolution by natural selection.
Madagascar is an island nation located off the east coast of Africa. It has a high level of biodiversity, with over 90% of its wildlife found nowhere else on the planet.
The Madagascar is known for its unique flora and fauna, including lemurs, chameleons, and numerous species of birds and reptiles. Many of these species are threatened due to habitat destruction and hunting.
Borneo is the third largest island in the world and is located in Southeast Asia. The island is known for its lush rainforests and diverse wildlife, including orangutans, pygmy elephants, and the Borneo rhinoceros.
Borneo is also home to numerous species of birds, reptiles, and insects. However, the rainforests of Borneo are threatened due to deforestation for palm oil plantations.
Tasmania is an island state located south of mainland Australia. It has a unique flora and fauna, including marsupials like the Tasmanian devil and wallaby, and endemic species such as the Tasmanian tiger and the King Island emu.
Tasmania also has a diverse range of marine life, including seals, dolphins, and whales.
Socotra is an isolated island located in the Indian Ocean. It has a high level of endemism, with over 700 species of plants found only on the island.
The landscape is also home to unique animals such as the Socotra desert warbler and the Socotra cormorant. Socotra has been designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site due to its unique biodiversity.
Komodo Island, Indonesia
Komodo Island is part of the Lesser Sunda Islands in Indonesia. It is home to the world’s largest lizard, the Komodo dragon, as well as numerous other species of reptiles, mammals, and birds.
Komodo Island is a popular destination for tourists who come to see the unique wildlife.
Papua New Guinea
Papua New Guinea is an island nation located in the southwestern Pacific Ocean. It has one of the most diverse bird populations in the world, with over 700 species, including the Birds of Paradise.
Papua New Guinea is also home to many unique mammals and reptiles, including tree kangaroos and crocodiles.
Vancouver Island, Canada
Vancouver Island is a large island off the coast of British Columbia in Canada. It is home to diverse marine life, including orcas, humpback whales, and sea otters.
The island is also home to numerous species of bears, wolves, and other mammals. Vancouver Island has a unique temperate rainforest ecosystem that supports a diverse range of plant and animal life.
Hokkaido is the northernmost prefecture of Japan, located in the northern part of the country’s main island. It is separated from the mainland by the Tsugaru Strait to the south and from Russia’s Sakhalin Island to the north by the Soya Strait.
Hokkaido is known for its natural beauty, including its snowy landscapes, hot springs, and national parks. It is also famous for its agricultural and dairy products, such as fresh seafood, dairy products, and fruits.
The largest city and capital of Hokkaido is Sapporo, which is known for its beer, ramen, and annual snow festival.
Cuba is the largest island in the Caribbean and is known for its unique flora and fauna, including the Cuban crocodile, Cuban solenodon (a nocturnal insectivore), and numerous species of hummingbirds.
In addition to the main island of Cuba, the country also includes several smaller islands and archipelagos. The most notable of these are the Isla de la Juventud, which is the largest of the Cuban archipelagos, and the Jardines de la Reina, which is a protected marine reserve known for its coral reefs and diverse marine life.
Why it matters?
The islands are often considered critical biodiversity points due to the variety of species that have evolved to prosper in these remote lands.
- Unique species: Islands often have unique species that are found nowhere else in the world. These species have evolved in isolation, and their survival is dependent on the health of the ecosystem.
- Ecological balance: Biodiversity is essential for maintaining the ecological balance of an ecosystem. Islands with high levels of biodiversity have complex food webs and nutrient cycles, which are essential for the health of the ecosystem. Without biodiversity, ecosystems can become imbalanced, leading to the loss of species and habitat degradation.
- Climate regulation: Islands with high levels of biodiversity can help regulate the Earth’s climate. Trees and other plants absorb carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and store it in their biomass, helping to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
- Economic benefits: Islands with high levels of biodiversity can also provide economic benefits to local communities through tourism and ecosystem services.
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