Santos, M.D. (2017) What can we learn from islands? The perspectives of eight researchers. Centre for Ecology, Evolution and Environmental Changes. Faculdade de Ciências da Universidade de Lisboa. Lisboa. 60 pp. ISBN: 978-989-99697-7-3.
Between July 18th and 22nd, 2016, over four hundred researchers met on Terceira Island (Azores) with a purpose: to participate in the international conference Island Biology 2016 - II International Conference on Island Evolution, Ecology and Conservation. Islands represent just a small proportion of the Earth’s surface - yet, at the same time, they hold a very high proportion of biodiversity. How are islands formed and how do they evolve, from the point of view of geology? How does its geological evolution, over thousands of years, affects the evolution of the species that inhabit it? What can happen when new species are introduced into a system with these reduced dimensions? Throughout the five days of the conference, these were just a few of the many issues on which researchers have debated and presented the latest advances in their work. My challenge was ambitious: to interview the eight plenary speakers, for the conference’s future memory. What started as just another task framed in the communication strategy of the conference, rapidly grew into a memorable experience. I learned a lot about island biology and science communication while working on these interviews. And this was only possible because the conference organizers trusted me for this work, and the interviewees trusted me not only to talk about their research but also about what drove them to choose their research areas. Thank you all for your trust and sharing. In these interviews I always tried to keep the public in mind. I have tried to conduct the conversations in such a way that anyone, even without training in these areas, can follow and be curious about these topics. I might have not always been successful: the art of interviewing is complex and is learned with time and practice. But I hope that the conversations here reproduced spark your curiosity about these areas and about the fascination for islands.