Terzopoulou, S., Rigal, F., Whittaker, R.J., Borges, P.A.V. & Triantis, K.A. (2015) Drivers of extinction: the case of Azorean beetles.Biology Letters, 11, 1-4. DOI:10.1098/rsbl.2015.0273 (IF2015 2,823; Q1 Ecology)
Oceanic islands host a disproportionately high fraction of endangered or recently extinct endemic species. We report on species extinctions among endemic Azorean beetles following 97% habitat loss since AD 1440. We infer extinctions from historical and contemporary records and examine the influence of three predictors: geographical range, habitat specialization and body size. Of 55 endemic beetle species investigated (out of 63), seven can be considered extinct. Single-island endemics (SIEs) were more prone to extinction than multi-island endemics. Within SIEs restricted to native habitat, larger species were more extinction-prone. We thus show a hierarchical path to extinction in Azorean beetles: species with small geographical range face extinction first, with the larger bodied ones being the most threatened. Our study provides a clear warning of the impact of habitat loss on island endemic biotas.