AoB PLANTS is pleased to announce the publication of a Special Issue titled Island Plant Biology—Celebrating Carlquist’s Legacy, edited by Anna Traveset (Mediterranean Institute for Advanced Studies), Donald Drake (University of Hawaii), Christoph Kueffer (Swiss Federal Institute of Technology), Peter Bellingham (Landcare Research), José Maria Fernández-Palacios (La Laguna University) and Clifford Morden (University of Hawaii).
Sherwin Carlquist’s seminal publications—in particular his classic Island Biology, published in 1974—formulated hypotheses specific to island biology that remain valuable today. The 18 contributions in this special issue present data from multiple archipelagos across the world and from different disciplines within the plant sciences. A first group of papers deals with issues to which Carlquist notably contributed: long-distance dispersal, adaptive radiation, and plant reproductive biology. Most other papers in the issue cover a range of topics related to plant conservation on islands, such as causes and consequences of mutualistic disruptions (e.g. due to pollinator or disperser losses, introduction of alien predators, etc.). Finally, contributions on ecological networks demonstrate the usefulness of this methodological tool to advance in conservation management and better predict the consequences of disturbances on species and interactions in the fragile insular ecosystems. This is important because while island biology might indeed be entering a new golden era of research, we are also at the brink of losing these unique biological systems for research and humanity. Literally thousands of endemic island species survive as only a few individuals or small and fragmented populations—and for most of them very little is known about their basic biology. What is unequivocally clear, however, is that most of these species will disappear from the wild in this century unless we markedly intensify our conservation efforts.