Santos, A.M.C., Field, R. & Ricklefs, R.E. (2016) New Directions in island biogeography.Global Ecology and Biogeography, 25(7), 751–768. DOI:10.1111/geb.12477 (IF2016 6,045; Q1 Ecology)
Much of our current understanding of ecological and evolutionary processes comes from island research. With the increasing availability of data on distributions and phylogenetic relationships and new analytical approaches to understanding the processes that shape species distributions and interactions, a re-evaluation of this ever-interesting topic is timely.
We start by arguing that the reasons why island research has achieved so much in the past also apply to the future. We then critically assess the current state of island biogeography, focusing on recent changes in emphasis, including research featured in this special issue of Global Ecology and Biogeography. Finally, we suggest promising themes for the future. We cover both ecological and evolutionary topics, although the greater emphasis on island ecology reflects our own backgrounds and interests.
Much ecological theory has been directly or indirectly influenced by research on island biotas. Currently, island biogeography is renascent, with research focusing on, among other things, patterns and processes underlying species interaction networks, species coexistence and the assembly of island communities through ecological and evolutionary time. Continuing island research should provide additional insight into biological invasions and other impacts of human activities, functional diversity and ecosystem functioning, extinction and diversification, species pools and more. Deeper understanding of the similarities and differences between island and mainland systems will aid transferability of island theory to continental regions.
As research in biogeography and related fields expands in new directions, islands continue to provide opportunities for developing insights, both as natural laboratories for ecology and evolution and because of the exceptions islands often present to the usual ‘rules’ of ecology. New data collection initiatives are needed on islands world-wide and should be directed towards filling gaps in our knowledge of within-island distributions of species, as well as the functional traits and phylogenetic relationships of island species.