La Graciosa
Na redona
Montaña clara

Determinants of island ecological complexity in the global change

We aim at describing the unique biodiversity found in island ecosystems, understanding the complexity of the ecological interactions in them, and predicting the consequences of their annihilation to avoid or mitigate further losses.


Analyzing ecosystem complexity is challenging but feasible with multilayer networks, allowing the study of intra and inter-layer connectivity. Understanding vulnerability to disturbances is crucial.

However, the lack of empirical studies on network reassembly in altered environments is a limitation. Validating models with data from habitat restoration programs can offer practical insights for environmental managers.

Threats to island biodiversity

Island ecosystems, highly sensitive to human disturbances, face significant extinction risks, with 80% of global extinctions involving island species. Human activities, such as habitat reduction and introduction of alien species, have altered native communities.

With the accelerating global change, documenting unaffected island communities is urgent. Preserving these biodiversity hotspots, rich in evolutionary history, is crucial. Understanding the current biodiversity and vulnerability to ecosystem collapse due to human threats is essential for prioritizing conservation efforts.

Why islands?

Islands, with well-defined borders and simplified biota, serve as natural laboratories for ecological and evolutionary studies. They reveal key concepts like allopatric speciation and species-area relationships.

Despite hosting rich biodiversity, including 20% of terrestrial species, many islands remain unexplored due to remote locations. It is crucial to study island biodiversity, understand global interaction patterns, and assess susceptibility to human impacts for comprehensive ecological insights.

Worldmap image

This project has received funding from the European Research Council (ERC) under the European Union's Horizon 2020 Research and Innovation programme (grant agreement no 101054177)

European research council logoEuropean commission logo
IMEDEA CSIC logoInstituto de Productos Naturales y Agrobiología logoUniversity of Exeter logoBC3 Basque Centre for Climate Change logoFundación Charles Darwin logoUniversidade de Coimbra logoSwedish University of Agricultural Sciences logo