Endemic species - Definition and examples

Around the world there are millions of species that are distributed following a series of climatic and ecological factors that allows them to be able to develop successfully in each place. In turn, there are areas that are characterized by the presence of a greater number of species, as well as a large number of these species are under some criterion of threat. These regions of the world are called "hot spots " (from the English hotspots) and another factor that defines them is the presence of species that are unique to that place and that we will not find elsewhere..

In this AnimalWised article, we'll tell you about the endemic species, the characteristics that define them and we will show you examples of them.

You may also be interested in: Invasive species - Definition, examples and consequences Index
  1. What are endemic species?
  2. Importance of endemic species
  3. Examples of endemic species
  4. Other types of animal species

What are endemic species?

We speak of an endemic species when it found only in a limited geographic area and we will not find it in another region (at least naturally, since it can be introduced). Endemism can occur at different biogeographic scales, since it can be present in microclimates and be the endemism of an island, or we can also speak of mountain endemism, a lake or a reduced environment, but it can also be on a larger scale and treat of endemic species of a country and even a continent. Everything will depend on what type of organism it is and on the physical and climatic conditions. On the other hand, endemic to a site can be a particular species or it can be a taxon (a group of organisms that have been grouped following a hierarchy).

The word endemic (endēmios = native) is often confused with autochthonous or native. These, although they are typical of a region or a particular ecosystem, are not necessarily endemic, since this term denotes a strict geographical restriction and native species can occur in more than one locality, in addition to being species that characterize a region geographic location and determine its landscape.

An endemic species arises as a result of speciation in a geographic area limited by barriers of natural origin that do not allow genetic exchange to occur, and in this way, distinct species occur restricted to those specific geographic areas. In many cases they are small populations, so they run the risk of becoming extinct more easily. In addition, endemism can occur at the evolutionary level within the same species, that when being isolated for long periods of time, morphological changes occur due to environmental factors for example, and these changes will be transmitted to future generations. So, in the end, individuals totally different from their predecessors develop who will be exclusive to that site, which we call a endemic species.

Importance of endemic species

Currently, there are many plans for the biodiversity conservation, where many of them assess the species richness of a particular site, as well as which species are threatened or endangered, which are characteristics of that environment, and which are endemic.

The most biodiverse places in the world, as we mentioned before, are called "Hotspot ", and most of them are declared that way because of the presence of a large number of endemic species. Therefore, the importance of conserving these places often lies in the fact that in the case of not taking action, these species, as well as many others, could disappear..

Therefore, if habitats where endemic species exist disappear, unique and unrepeatable species would be lost, which in many cases are also important by providing a ecosystem service.

Thus, areas such as islands become so rich biologically and ecologically because many of them are home to a large number of endemic species. This is due to degree of isolation that these environments have, that sometimes it can even be islands such as rocky outcrops or mountains in the middle of a totally different environmental matrix. Examples of these places are Australia, New Guinea, Madagascar or Galapagos, among others, which have been separated from the continent for millions of years and have allowed them to develop a great endemic biodiversity.

Examples of endemic species

There are a large number of endemic species in the world and, as we mentioned, they can be endemic at different geographical scales. Next, we will name some examples of them to learn more about animal endemism.

Taragui geko (Homonota taragui)

It is a lizard (family Phyllodactylidae) endemic to the northeast of Argentina. It is considered a microendemism, since it lives in rocky islands within the plain that makes up the entire environment where it is found. Thanks to this species, action plans were developed to conserve this area, which also has other endemic flora species.

Image: Unne Media

Iberian imperial eagle (Aquila adalberti)

This species of bird (order Accipitriformes) is an endemism of the Iberian Peninsula that a few decades ago was in a serious decline in its populations. Today, there are action plans to conserve this species at the national level in Spain and, in turn, each Community where this species lives has its own conservation plans.

Black snub-nosed langur (Rhinopithecus bieti)

Also called Yunnan snub-nosed monkey, it is a species of primate (family Cercopithecidae) inhabitant endemic to China, whose distribution is limited to the Hengduan Mountains, acmountainous adena bordering the Himalayas.

It lives in coniferous forests where there are extreme conditions, so this species was unknown until the 1990s. As this species is also found in Danger of extinction, there is a wide protection network for this primate.

You may also be interested in this other article on The 11 Most Dangerous Animals in Asia.

Kakapo (Strigops habroptilus)

This is a species of bird (order Psittaciformes) endemic to New Zealand which is characterized by being the only species of parrot that He can not fly due to the little development of its wings and its large body mass. Currently there are small populations that are protected and monitored by recovery programs for this species, which is also categorized as in Danger of extinction.

Pygmy Raccoon (Procyon pygmaeus)

This species of mammal is endemic to Mexico, restricted to the Island of Cozumel, and is in danger of extinction in the country and critically endangered internationally. It represents an island-level dwarfism, since it is a species that developed thanks to a long period of isolation.

You may also be interested in this other AnimalWised article about 24 endangered animals in Mexico.

Other types of animal species

Now that you know what an endemic species is and you've seen some examples of endemic animals, you may also be interested in some of these AnimalWised articles:

  • Invasive Species - Definition, Examples and Consequences.
  • Key species - Definition and examples.
  • Umbrella Species - Definition and Examples.

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