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The Orange-breasted Sunbird (Nectarinia violacea) is exclusively found in Fynbos vegetation.

Endemism is the ecological state of being unique to a particular geographic location, such as a specific island, habitat type, nation or other defined zone. To be endemic to a place or area means that it is found only in that part of the world and nowhere else. For example, many species of lemur are endemic to the island of Madagascar. Physical, climatic and biological factors can contribute to endemism. For example, the Orange-breasted Sunbird is endemic to Fynbos, meaning it is exclusively found in the Fynbos vegetation type of southwestern South Africa.

There are two subcategories of endemism - paleoendemism and neoendemism. Paleoendemism refers to a species that was formerly widespread but is now restricted to a smaller area. Neoendemism refers to a species that has recently arisen such as a species that has diverged and become reproductively isolated, or one that has formed following hybridization and is now classified as a separate species. This is a common process in plants especially those which exhibit polyploidy.

An opposite notion is cosmopolitan distribution.

Endemic types or species are especially likely to develop on islands because of their geographical isolation. This includes remote island groups, such as Hawaii, the Galápagos Islands, and Socotra. Endemism can also occur in biologically isolated areas such as the highlands of Ethiopia, or large bodies of water like Lake Baikal.

Endemics can easily become endangered or extinct because of their restricted habitat and vulnerability to the actions of man, including the introduction of new organisms. There were millions of both Bermuda Petrels and "Bermuda cedars" (actually junipers) in Bermuda when it was settled at the start of the 17th century. By the end of the century, the petrels were thought to be extinct. Cedars, decimated by centuries of shipbuilding, were driven nearly to extinction in the 20th Century by the introduction of a parasite. Both petrels and cedars are very rare today, as are other species endemic or native to Bermuda.

Endemic organisms are not the same as indigenous organisms — a species that is indigenous to somewhere may be native to other locations as well. An introduced species, also known as a naturalized or exotic species, is an organism that is not indigenous to a given place or area.

Ecoregions with high endemism

According to the World Wildlife Fund, the following ecoregions have the highest percentage of endemic plants:

Threats to highly endemistic regions

Some of the principal threats to these special ecosystems are:

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Simple English

File:Orange-breasted Sunbird (Nectarinia violacea).jpg
The Orange-breasted Sunbird (Nectarinia violacea) is exclusively found in Fynbos vegetation.

Endemism is an ecological word meaning that a plant or animal is only found in a particular location, such as a specific island, habitat type, nation or other defined zone. For example, many species of lemur are endemic to the island of Madagascar.

There are two types of endemism - paleoendemism and neoendemism. Paleoendemism means that a species used to be found in a large area but now it is only found in a smaller area. Neoendemism means that a species has recently appeared which is closely related to the main species or one that has formed following hybridization and is now classified as a separate species. This is a common process in plants especially those which exhibit polyploidy.

The opposite of endemism is cosmopolitan distribution.

Endemic types are most likely to develop on islands because they are isolated. This includes remote island groups, like the Hawaiian Islands, the Galápagos Islands, and Socotra. Endemism can also occur in areas which are separated from other similar areas like the highlands of Ethiopia, or large bodies of water like Lake Baikal.

Endemics can easily become endangered or extinct because of only living in a small area. They are also vulnerable to the actions of man, including the introduction of new organisms. There were millions of both Bermuda Petrels and "Bermuda cedars" (actually junipers) in Bermuda when it was settled at the start of the 17th century. By the end of the century, the petrels were thought to be extinct. Cedars, whose numbers were low as a result of centuries of shipbuilding, were nearly made extinction in the 20th Century by the introduction of a parasite. Both petrels and cedars are very rare today, as are other species endemic or native to Bermuda.

Endemic organisms are not the same as indigenous organisms — a species that is indigenous to somewhere may be native to other locations as well. An introduced species, also known as a naturalized or exotic species, is an organism that is not indigenous to a given place or area.

Ecoregions with high endemism

According to the World Wildlife Fund, the following ecoregions have the highest percentage of endemic plants:

Threats to highly endemistic regions

Some of the principal threats to these special ecosystems are:

  • Large scale logging operations
  • Slash-and-burn techniques (which are sometimes a part of shifting cultivation)
  • Destruction of habital or vegetation leads to endangering of the endemic species

References

  1. "Afrotropics > Mediterranean Forests, Woodlands, and Scrub > Lowland fynbos and renosterveld (AT1202)". Gland, Switzerland: World Wide Fund for Nature. 2001. http://www.worldwildlife.org/wildworld/profiles/terrestrial/at/at1202_full.html. Retrieved 26 January 2010. 
  2. "Oceania > Tropical and Subtropical Dry Broadleaf Forests > Hawaii tropical dry forests (OC0202)". Gland, Switzerland: World Wide Fund for Nature. 2001. http://www.worldwildlife.org/wildworld/profiles/terrestrial/oc/oc0202_full.html. Retrieved 26 January 2010. 
  3. "Oceania > Tropical and Subtropical Moist Broadleaf Forests > Hawaii tropical moist forests (OC0106)". Gland, Switzerland: World Wide Fund for Nature. 2001. http://www.worldwildlife.org/wildworld/profiles/terrestrial/oc/oc0106_full.html. Retrieved 26 January 2010. 
  4. "Australasia > Mediterranean Forests, Woodlands, and Scrub > Swan Coastal Plain Scrub and Woodlands (AA1205)". Gland, Switzerland: World Wide Fund for Nature. 2001. http://www.worldwildlife.org/wildworld/profiles/terrestrial/aa/aa1205_full.html. Retrieved 26 January 2010. 
  5. "Afrotropics > Tropical and Subtropical Dry Broadleaf Forests > Madagascar dry deciduous forests (AT0202)". Gland, Switzerland: World Wide Fund for Nature. 2001. http://www.worldwildlife.org/wildworld/profiles/terrestrial/at/at0202_full.html. Retrieved 26 January 2010. 
  6. "Afrotropics > Tropical and Subtropical Moist Broadleaf Forests > Madagascar lowland forests (AT0117)". Gland, Switzerland: World Wide Fund for Nature. 2001. http://www.worldwildlife.org/wildworld/profiles/terrestrial/at/at0117_full.html. Retrieved 26 January 2010. 
  7. "Australasia > Tropical and Subtropical Dry Broadleaf Forests > New Caledonia dry forests (AA0202)". Gland, Switzerland: World Wide Fund for Nature. 2001. http://www.worldwildlife.org/wildworld/profiles/terrestrial/aa/aa0202_full.html. Retrieved 26 January 2010. 
  8. "Australasia > Tropical and Subtropical Moist Broadleaf Forests > New Caledonia rain forests (AA0113)". Gland, Switzerland: World Wide Fund for Nature. 2001. http://www.worldwildlife.org/wildworld/profiles/terrestrial/aa/aa0113_full.html. Retrieved 26 January 2010. 
  9. "Neotropical > Tropical and Subtropical Coniferous Forests > Sierra Madre de Oaxaca pine-oak forests (NT0308)". Gland, Switzerland: World Wide Fund for Nature. 2001. http://www.worldwildlife.org/wildworld/profiles/terrestrial/nt/nt0308_full.html. Retrieved 26 January 2010. 
  10. "Neotropical > Tropical and Subtropical Coniferous Forests > Sierra Madre del Sur pine-oak forests (NT0309)". Gland, Switzerland: World Wide Fund for Nature. 2001. http://www.worldwildlife.org/wildworld/profiles/terrestrial/nt/nt0309_full.html. Retrieved 26 January 2010. 
  11. "Indo-Malay > Tropical and Subtropical Moist Broadleaf Forests > Luzon montane rain forests (IM0122)". Gland, Switzerland: World Wide Fund for Nature. 2001. http://www.worldwildlife.org/wildworld/profiles/terrestrial/im/im0122_full.html. Retrieved 26 January 2010. 
  12. "Indo-Malay > Tropical and Subtropical Moist Broadleaf Forests > Luzon rain forests (IM0123)". Gland, Switzerland: World Wide Fund for Nature. 2001. http://www.worldwildlife.org/wildworld/profiles/terrestrial/im/im0123_full.html. Retrieved 26 January 2010. 
  13. "Indo-Malay > Tropical and Subtropical Coniferous Forests > Luzon tropical pine forests (IM0302)". Gland, Switzerland: World Wide Fund for Nature. 2001. http://www.worldwildlife.org/wildworld/profiles/terrestrial/im/im0302_full.html. Retrieved 26 January 2010. 
  14. "Indo-Malay > Tropical and Subtropical Moist Broadleaf Forests > Mindanao montane rain forests (IM0128)". Gland, Switzerland: World Wide Fund for Nature. 2001. http://www.worldwildlife.org/wildworld/profiles/terrestrial/im/im0128_full.html. Retrieved 26 January 2010. 
  15. "Indo-Malay > Tropical and Subtropical Moist Broadleaf Forests > Mindanao-Eastern Visayas rain forests (IM0129)". Gland, Switzerland: World Wide Fund for Nature. 2001. http://www.worldwildlife.org/wildworld/profiles/terrestrial/im/im0129_full.html. Retrieved 26 January 2010. 
  16. "Indo-Malay > Tropical and Subtropical Moist Broadleaf Forests > Palawan rain forests (IM0143)". Gland, Switzerland: World Wide Fund for Nature. 2001. http://www.worldwildlife.org/wildworld/profiles/terrestrial/im/im0143_full.html. Retrieved 26 January 2010. 


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