Aim A large number of studies have analysed the distribution of mammals within archipelagos, yet few have focused on islands that were heavily glaciated and subsequently colonized following deglaciation.
Location We explored the relative effects of island area and isolation on faunal composition based on twenty-three mammalian taxa of twenty-four islands of the Alexander Archipelago, Southeast Alaska.
Methods We used regression of log-transformed variables and several indices of nestedness.
Results These faunas showed significant nested structure using tests of nestedness and regression models. Unlike most landbridge and mainland archipelagos studied previously, isolation appears to be the primary factor determining patterns of species richness.
Main conclusions Colonization ability of particular taxa, rather than extinction, has determined this nested structure. We suggest that other higher latitude archipelagos may show similar historical patterns.