The extent of extinctions of mammals on islands

Authors

  • Josep Antoni Alcover,

    1. Institut Mediterrani d’Estudis Avançats (CSIC), Cta de Valldemossa km 7,5, 07071 Ciutat de Mallorca, Balears, Spain, Societat d’Història Natural de les Balears, Estudi General Lul.lià, Sant Roc 4, 07001 Ciutat de Mallorca, Balears, Spain and Laboratoire d’Entomologie, Muséum National d’Histoire Naturelle, 45 Rue Buffon, 75005 Paris, France
    Search for more papers by this author
  • Antònia Sans,

    1. Institut Mediterrani d’Estudis Avançats (CSIC), Cta de Valldemossa km 7,5, 07071 Ciutat de Mallorca, Balears, Spain, Societat d’Història Natural de les Balears, Estudi General Lul.lià, Sant Roc 4, 07001 Ciutat de Mallorca, Balears, Spain and Laboratoire d’Entomologie, Muséum National d’Histoire Naturelle, 45 Rue Buffon, 75005 Paris, France
    Search for more papers by this author
  • Miquel Palmer

    1. Institut Mediterrani d’Estudis Avançats (CSIC), Cta de Valldemossa km 7,5, 07071 Ciutat de Mallorca, Balears, Spain, Societat d’Història Natural de les Balears, Estudi General Lul.lià, Sant Roc 4, 07001 Ciutat de Mallorca, Balears, Spain and Laboratoire d’Entomologie, Muséum National d’Histoire Naturelle, 45 Rue Buffon, 75005 Paris, France
    Search for more papers by this author

Abstract

Many of the world's oceanic and oceanic-like islands possessed endemic mammal faunas before they were colonized by humans. These faunas, unbalanced and impoverished compared to continental faunas, usually lacked large mammalian carnivores. In virtually all cases, the arrival of humans and their domesticants and commensals on these islands is related to the extirpation of large numbers of endemic insular mammals. These extinction events affected at least 27% of autochthonous mammal species on the world's oceanic and oceanic-like islands. This percentage rises the 35% when volant mammals are excluded. This reduction in the natural biodiversity brought about the disappearance of several unique biological types that apparently never existed on the continents.

Ancillary