Island Biogeography Theory: Emerging Patterns and Human Effects


Islands are conventionally (and narrowly) referred to as isolated lands in surrounding waters. However, in broad senses and when loosely defined, ‘islands’ also include insular areas or entities such as mountain tops, lakes (e.g., potholes in northern Great Plains in North America), oasis (in deserts), and springs (especially in deserts) that support unique species assemblages relative to surrounding habitats (e.g., Brown, 1978; Lomolino et al., 2006). Mostly because of the insular nature, habitats on oceanic islands are often different from those on the nearest mainland even when latitudes (climates) and the sizes (areas) are the same. For example, islands often support unique species assemblages with proportionally more rare and endemic species with small population sizes (e.g., reduced body size or the so-called insular dwarfism and dispersal). Partly because of their unique features (e.g., isolation) and conservation values, islands are extremely attractive for intensive efforts in exploration, research, and conservation (e.g., Kalmar and Currie, 2006).

  • Citation: Guo, Q.F. 2015. Island biogeography theory: emerging patterns and human effects. Earth Systems and Environmental Sciences. 5 p.
  • Keywords: human activity, isolation, species invasions
  • Posted Date: February 27, 2015
  • Modified Date: March 12, 2015
  • Requesting Print Publications

    Publication requests are subject to availability. Fiscal responsibility limits the hardcopies of publications we produce and distribute. Electronic versions of publications may be downloaded, distributed and printed.

    Please make any requests at

    Publication Notes

    • This article was written and prepared by U.S. Government employees on official time, and is therefore in the public domain.
    • Our online publications are scanned and captured using Adobe Acrobat. During the capture process some typographical errors may occur. Please contact the SRS webmaster if you notice any errors which make this publication unusable.
    • To view this article, download the latest version of Adobe Acrobat Reader.