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Island area and species diversity in the southwest Pacific Ocean: is the lizard fauna of Vanuatu depauperate?

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One island group suggested to be an exception to the species–area Relationship is the Vanuatu Archipelago, a group of 13 large and 80 small islands in the southwest Pacific Ocean. To test the hypothesis that the lizard fauna of the Vanuatu Archipelago does not meet the predictions of the species-area relationship, and thus is depauperate, we compare diversity among several island groups in the southwest Pacific: Fiji, the Loyalty Islands, New Caledonia, Samoa, the Solomon Islands, Tonga, and Vanuatu. We found that the lizard diversity of Vanuatu meets the pattern of diversity predicted by the species-area relationship. The Solomon Islands, the largest and least isolated oceanic archipelago considered, has the greatest species diversity and endemism of the oceanic islands. Inclusion or exclusion of island groups based on factors such as geologic history or faunal source affects the strength of the relationship between diversity, area, and history of emergence, and influences perceptions of diversity within individual archipelagos. In addition to island size, factors such evolutionary time scale, speciation, and archipelago complexity influence species richness on islands.
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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: April 1, 2009

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