London, May 18 (ANI): The first worldwide analysis of the importance of different regions for maintaining global biodiversity has determined that an island is about nine times as valuable as an equally large piece of mainland, which makes investing in islands crucial for saving most species in the world.
While it is common knowledge that islands generally house a high number of species that live only in that location, the total diversity of life on most islands is relatively low compared with mainland areas.
"As a result, their importance for conservation efforts hasn't been clear," said a team from the Universities of Bonn and Eberswalde, Germany, and the University of California, San Diego.
According to a report in New Scientist, to settle this question, the team calculated a new combined index that takes into account both the number of unique species in a given region and the total number of different species living there.
This "endemism richness" scale measures how much a given area of land contributes to global biodiversity.
The team evaluated the endemism richness of plants and vertebrate land animals for 90 regions covering most of the Earth's surface.
They discovered that values for islands were 9.5 times higher for plants and 8.1 times higher for vertebrates, compared with similarly sized regions of mainland.
Tropical islands scored highest, with New Caledonia topping the list.
"The results should lead to an increased investment in conservation on tropical island biodiversity hotspots," said Thomas Brooks, head of Conservation Priorities and Responses at Conservation International's Center for Applied Biodiversity Science in Arlington, Virginia.
The results should lead to increased investment in conserving tropical island biodiversity hotspots.
According to the researchers, increased investment in islands should be doubly worthwhile because they are likely to lose more habitat from human impact this century than mainland regions. (ANI)