Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:


Characterizing the world’s islands for biodiversity research

Scientists from Göttingen study climate and physical characteristics of islands

A team of researchers from the University of Göttingen in Germany and Yale University (USA) has presented the most comprehensive description and characterization so far of bioclimatic and physical characteristics of the world’s islands.

Tropical island of volcanic origin: Îles de Salut, off the coast of French-Guayana.
Photo: Patrick Weigelt, Goettingen University

Global map of physical-geographical and climatic characteristics of the world’s islands. Similar colors indicate similar characteristics.
Picture: Patrick Weigelt, Goettingen University

Islands make up only five percent of the land surface of the Earth, but they are home to a disproportionately high number of plant and animal species and provide ecosystem functions and services to more than 500 million people.

However, a quantitative description of the ecological conditions on islands had been lacking so far. The study published this week in the prestigious scientific journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences now closes this gap.

The researchers investigated almost 18,000 marine islands with areas greater than one square kilometer. They also compiled ecologically important climate data and precise information about physical factors such as area, distance to the next continent and the proportion of landmass in the surroundings of each island. “The data that have been available so far have been woefully incomplete, imprecise – and often just wrong,” Patrick Weigelt from the University of Göttingen, first author of the study, explained.

The researchers employed modern statistical approaches to describe, classify and map the islands based on differences in their environments. This allows the identification of islands with similar environmental settings and will facilitate further island biogeographical studies and biodiversity conservation.

“These new results provide a novel perspective on thousands of our planet’s islands,” said Prof. Dr. Holger Kreft from the University of Göttingen, leader of the study. For instance, 65 percent of all islands are located in the tropics, but compared to mainlands, island climates are on average cooler and more humid. “An interesting finding of our study is that there are many more islands with a temperate rainforest climate, one of the rarest ecosystems on Earth, than expected by chance,” said Prof. Kreft.

The new insights may play an important role in understanding the evolution of biological diversity on islands. “Islands are microcosms where the evolution of biological diversity can be studied. Now, for the first time, we have a standardized global data set as a starting point for further global studies on island biodiversity,” Kreft added.

Original publication:
Patrick Weigelt et al. Bioclimatic and physical characterization of the world’s islands. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the USA. August 2013.
Prof. Dr. Holger Kreft
Georg-August-Universität Göttingen
Free Floater Research Group “Biodiversity, Macroecology and Conservation Biogeography“
Büsgenweg 1, 37077 Göttingen, Germany, Phone +49 (0)551 39-10727
Weitere Informationen: more photos research group

Thomas Richter | Uni Göttingen
Further information:

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht Novel mechanisms of action discovered for the skin cancer medication Imiquimod
21.10.2016 | Technische Universität München

nachricht Second research flight into zero gravity
21.10.2016 | Universität Zürich

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: New 3-D wiring technique brings scalable quantum computers closer to reality

Researchers from the Institute for Quantum Computing (IQC) at the University of Waterloo led the development of a new extensible wiring technique capable of controlling superconducting quantum bits, representing a significant step towards to the realization of a scalable quantum computer.

"The quantum socket is a wiring method that uses three-dimensional wires based on spring-loaded pins to address individual qubits," said Jeremy Béjanin, a PhD...

Im Focus: Scientists develop a semiconductor nanocomposite material that moves in response to light

In a paper in Scientific Reports, a research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute describes a novel light-activated phenomenon that could become the basis for applications as diverse as microscopic robotic grippers and more efficient solar cells.

A research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) has developed a revolutionary, light-activated semiconductor nanocomposite material that can be used...

Im Focus: Diamonds aren't forever: Sandia, Harvard team create first quantum computer bridge

By forcefully embedding two silicon atoms in a diamond matrix, Sandia researchers have demonstrated for the first time on a single chip all the components needed to create a quantum bridge to link quantum computers together.

"People have already built small quantum computers," says Sandia researcher Ryan Camacho. "Maybe the first useful one won't be a single giant quantum computer...

Im Focus: New Products - Highlights of COMPAMED 2016

COMPAMED has become the leading international marketplace for suppliers of medical manufacturing. The trade fair, which takes place every November and is co-located to MEDICA in Dusseldorf, has been steadily growing over the past years and shows that medical technology remains a rapidly growing market.

In 2016, the joint pavilion by the IVAM Microtechnology Network, the Product Market “High-tech for Medical Devices”, will be located in Hall 8a again and will...

Im Focus: Ultra-thin ferroelectric material for next-generation electronics

'Ferroelectric' materials can switch between different states of electrical polarization in response to an external electric field. This flexibility means they show promise for many applications, for example in electronic devices and computer memory. Current ferroelectric materials are highly valued for their thermal and chemical stability and rapid electro-mechanical responses, but creating a material that is scalable down to the tiny sizes needed for technologies like silicon-based semiconductors (Si-based CMOS) has proven challenging.

Now, Hiroshi Funakubo and co-workers at the Tokyo Institute of Technology, in collaboration with researchers across Japan, have conducted experiments to...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>



Event News

#IC2S2: When Social Science meets Computer Science - GESIS will host the IC2S2 conference 2017

14.10.2016 | Event News

Agricultural Trade Developments and Potentials in Central Asia and the South Caucasus

14.10.2016 | Event News

World Health Summit – Day Three: A Call to Action

12.10.2016 | Event News

Latest News

Resolving the mystery of preeclampsia

21.10.2016 | Health and Medicine

Stanford researchers create new special-purpose computer that may someday save us billions

21.10.2016 | Information Technology

From ancient fossils to future cars

21.10.2016 | Materials Sciences

More VideoLinks >>>