• Breakpoint analysis;
  • cluster analysis;
  • island biogeography;
  • isopods;
  • Mediterranean;
  • Oniscidea;
  • similarity index;
  • small island effect;
  • species–area relationship


Aim  We looked at the biogeographical patterns of Oniscidean fauna from the small islands of the Mediterranean Sea in order to investigate the species–area relationship and to test for area-range effects.

Location  The Mediterranean Sea.

Methods  We compiled from the literature a data set of 176 species of Oniscidea (terrestrial isopods) distributed over 124 Mediterranean islands. Jaccard's index was used as input for a UPGMA cluster analysis. The species–area relationship was investigated by applying linear, semi-logarithmic, logarithmic and sigmoid models. We also investigated a possible ‘small island effect’ (SIE) by performing breakpoint regression. We used a cumulative and a sliding-window approach to evaluate scale-dependent area-range effects on the log S/log A regression parameters.

Results  Based on similarity indexes, results indicated that small islands of the Mediterranean Sea can be divided into two major groups: eastern and western. In general, islands from eastern archipelagos were linked together at similarity values higher than those observed for western Mediterranean islands. This is consistent with a more even distribution of species in the eastern Mediterranean islands. Separate archipelagos in the western Mediterranean could be discriminated, with the exception of islets, which tended to group together at the lowest similarity values regardless of the archipelago to which they belong. Islets were characterized by a few common species with large ranges. The species–area logarithmic model did not always provide the best fit. Most continental archipelagos showed very similar intercepts, higher than the intercept for the Canary island oceanic archipelago. Sigmoid regression returned convex curves. Evidence for a SIE was found, whereas area-range effects that are dependent on larger scale analyses were not unambiguously supported.

Main conclusions  The Oniscidea fauna from small islands of the Mediterranean Sea is highly structured, with major and minor geographical patterns being identifiable. Some but not all of the biogeographical complexity can be explained by interpreting the different shapes of species–area curves. Despite its flexibility, the sigmoid model tested did not always provide the best fit. Moreover, when the model did provide a good fit the curves looked convex, not sigmoid. We found evidence for a SIE, and minor support for scale-dependent area-range effects.