• invertebrates;
  • island area;
  • island biogeography;
  • island ecology;
  • plants;
  • spatial scale;
  • vertebrates

Scale, the scale dependency of patterns and processes, and the ways that organisms scale their responses to these patterns and processes are central to island and landscape ecology. Here, we take a database of studies in island ecology and investigate how studies have changed over a 40-year period with respect to spatial scale and organisms studied. We demonstrate that there have been changes in the spatial scale of islands studied and that there is taxonomic bias in favour of vertebrates in island ecological studies when compared to scientific publications as a whole. We discuss how such taxonomic bias may have arisen and discuss the implications for ecology and biogeography.