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December 17, 2005

Islands as gene banks

Grrlscientist - who was supposed to send me some writing to look at (poke poke) - has a fascinating post up this week describing a significant undermining of established wisdom in the field of island biogeography.

The common assumption has been that islands - especially remote oceanic ones - are places on which mainland species are marooned, to evolve in isolation, occasionally providing colorful examples of speciation (cf. Darwin's finches) and then, inevitably, to go extinct.

Grrlscientist cites the work of some friends - published in Nature - that indicates islands may actually serve as reservoirs of avian biodiversity: that some island birds may actually re-colonize the continents from which their ancestors came, potentially reintroducing a species, more often introducing a daughter species to compete with its mainland cousins.

It's a fascinating article, and thanks to grrlscientist for bringing it to my attention.

Posted by Chris Clarke at December 17, 2005 10:51 AM TrackBack URL for this entry:
http://www.faultline.org/cgi-bin/mt-tb.cgi/1486

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Comments

thanks so much for the link, chris. i have to warn you that i cannot afford to pay you for your kind notice here, especially since i am (once again) unemployed.

Posted by: GrrlScientist at December 17, 2005 12:29 PM
decorative line of bighorn petroglyphs

You have to pay for links?

I must owe PZ eight hundred bucks by now.

Posted by: Chris Clarke at December 17, 2005 01:57 PM
decorative line of bighorn petroglyphs

I'm sorry, but I honestly didn't know that the idea that islands sometimes serve as "reservoirs for avain biodiversity" or for the developement of daughter species that re-colonize mainland environments was something that wasn't already accepted. I always figured islands were great places for speciation to take place and considering how often winged vagrants show up in places where they "aren't supposed to be"...

Posted by: OGeorge at December 17, 2005 02:57 PM
decorative line of bighorn petroglyphs