Endemism is the ecological state of being unique to a place. Endemic species are not naturally found elsewhere. The place must be a discrete geographical unit, such as an island, habitat type, nation, or other defined area or zone. 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:

* Fynbos (South Africa)
* Hawaii dry forests (United States)
* Hawaii tropical moist forests (United States)
* Kwongan heathlands (Australia)
* Madagascar dry deciduous forests (Madagascar)
* Madagascar lowland forests (Madagascar)
* New Caledonia dry forests (New Caledonia)
* New Caledonia rain forests (New Caledonia)
* Sierra Madre de Oaxaca and Sierra Madre del Sur pine-oak forests (Mexico, Guatemala)
* Greater Luzon, Mindanao, Palawan (Philippines)

Threats to highly endemistic regions

Some of the principal threats to these special ecosystems are:

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

See also

* Biodiversity hotspot
* Endemism in birds
* Endemic Maltese wildlife
* Floristic province
* Refugium

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  • endemism — ENDEMÍSM s.n. (biol.) Particularitate a unor specii biologice de a trăi pe o anumită arie geografică. ♦ Caracter endemic; endemicitate. – Din fr. endémisme, engl. endemism. Trimis de romac, 12.06.2008. Sursa: DEX 98  endemísm s. n. Trimis de… …   Dicționar Român

  • endemism — endemism. См. эндемичность. (Источник: «Англо русский толковый словарь генетических терминов». Арефьев В.А., Лисовенко Л.А., Москва: Изд во ВНИРО, 1995 г.) …   Молекулярная биология и генетика. Толковый словарь.

  • endemism — endemizmas statusas T sritis ekologija ir aplinkotyra apibrėžtis Atskirų rūšių ar kitų taksonominių vienetų paplitimas nedidelėje, aiškias ribas turinčioje teritorijoje. atitikmenys: angl. endemism vok. Endemismus, m rus. эндемизм, m …   Ekologijos terminų aiškinamasis žodynas

  • endemism — endemic ► ADJECTIVE 1) (of a disease or condition) regularly found among particular people or in a certain area. 2) (of a plant or animal) native or restricted to a certain area. DERIVATIVES endemicity noun endemism noun. ORIGIN Greek end mios… …   English terms dictionary

  • Endemism in birds — NOTOC This article is a parent page for a series of articles providing information about endemism among birds in the World s various zoogeographic zones.The term endemic, in the context of bird endemism, refers to any species found only in a… …   Wikipedia

  • endemism — noun see endemic I …   New Collegiate Dictionary

  • endemism — Confined in occurrence to a local region …   Fisheries — dictionary

  • endemism — See endemically. * * * …   Universalium

  • endemism — noun The state of being endemic …   Wiktionary

  • endemism — en·de·mism en də .miz əm n ENDEMICITY …   Medical dictionary

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