Abstract Areas of endemism have been recognized as important units in historical biogeography, and much attention has been given to methods of identifying these units operationally. Interestingly, little has been written about the philosophical nature of areas of endemism. The purpose
of this essay is to make an ontological argument for areas of endemism as individuals and to discuss the consequences of such a conclusion. The recognition of species as individuals is crucial to the argument. Several criteria are identified for entities to be considered individuals, all of
which are shown for areas of endemism. An ontological concept of an area of endemism is presented. Two of the consequences of regarding areas of endemism as individuals are that areas of endemism should be the preferred units of biogeography over the units used in event-based methods and that
parsimony analysis of endemism and similar methods may be operational tools for the discovery of areas of endemism.