We explain what an endemic species is and describe some examples. In addition, invasive, native and endangered species.
What is an endemic species?
When talking about an endemic species, reference is made to those species of animals, plants or other organisms that are characteristic of a specific geographical region and cannot be found naturally anywhere in the world outside of it. This applies both to specific places, as well as to certain types of weather or relief , thus being able to talk about endemic species of a particular country or continent, but also of a tropical climate or a mountainous relief, for example.
In this type of relationship between the species and its unique environment is known as endemism , and can also be applied to higher or lower taxa as genera , families or subspecies. It should not, however, be confused with native species .
The endemism is fundamental in the composition of the planet’s biodiversity , since it allows the variety of species and the proliferation of life , and is also key to the process of speciation, that is, of evolution and origin of the different species, such as consequence of its geographical separation and adaptation to specific places and conditions.
Examples of endemic species
Some examples of known endemic species are:
- The dragon tree ( Dracaena draco ). a high-rise tree and rugged bark endemic to the Canary Islands (particularly Tenerife) and considered a threatened species. There is a subspecies of this endemic tree of Morocco.
- The Iberian lynx ( Lynx pardinus ). species of endemic carnivorous mammal of the Iberian Peninsula, and the most threatened feline species in the world.
- The blue finch of Gran Canaria ( Fringila polatzeki ). a bird of the family of the fringílidos, endemic of the island of Gran Canaria, in the coast of Africa.
- The giant sequoia ( Sequoia sempervirens ). also called red sequoia, it is a species of gigantic trees, capable of living a really long life (between 2,000 and 3,000 years). It is endemic to the Sierra Nevada californiana, in the United States.
The death of an entire species is called extinction , that is, the disappearance of all the individuals that compose it . Therefore, endangered species are those that are at risk of disappearing in the near future, and are often protected by environmental organizations and international treaties.
Extinction has occurred massively on our planet , in what is known as mass extinctions, evidenced in the geological fossil record. They can occur for various reasons: drastic changes in the ecosystem (climatic, chemical, geological, cataclysms, etc.), emergence (natural or artificial) of a new more successful species or human activity ( pollution , hunting or indiscriminate logging, etc.).