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The ease of travel by jet aircraft has opened up island areas not only for study but also for introduction of weeds, pests, and pathogens. We are at a critical juncture in the study of island organisms, which have become more accessible at the same time that they are vanishing. With the urgency for study of island organisms, we have many new tools, especially molecular ones, which have validated the existence of long-distance dispersal in unexpected ways. These tools, together with the ease of staying for longer periods on islands, have permitted us to understand many aspects of evolutionary adaptation on islands: thus, knowledge of biology of island organisms has been accelerated. From the beginning of the age of exploration to the mid twentieth century, there was a preponderant interest in floristics and faunistics of island organisms, but most workers are now concerned with evolutionary and biogeographical studies. Interest in mathematical models of island organisms, originally a pure science concern, is now applied to conservation problems on islands and islandlike mainland areas. Each organism, however, presents unique conservation problems, some perhaps insoluble, and we must place a higher priority on studying native island species while they are still with us in reasonable abundance.

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© 1998 Sherwin Carlquist

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