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Endemic species: definition and examples

We define biodiversity as the variety of all forms of life that inhabit our planet, encompassing the terrestrial and marine ecosystems, as well as the ecological complexes of which they are part. Conserving our biodiversity is essential, as it guarantees the balance of all ecosystems and the survival of different species, including the human species. However, this same human species is the greatest threat to biodiversity, exerted through deforestation, forest fires, climatic changes or changes in the ecosystem.

In AgroCorrn we speak of a very important type of species in the biodiversity of a region, they are endemic species. Read on and discover the definition and examples of endemic species .

You may also be interested in: What is a native or autochthonous species
  1. What are endemic species – definition
  2. How endemic species are classified
  3. Why the islands are special for endemic species
  4. Examples of endemic species – animals and plants of Spain
  5. Difference between endemic species and autochthonous or native species

What are endemic species – definition

¿ What is an endemic species ? ¿ What is the endemic fauna ? What examples are there? These and many other related questions are those that appear around this term when it is heard for the first time or when it is given special attention. Next, we are going to give the definition of endemic species and answer the other questions.

Endemism refers, in the field of Biology, to those living beings that evolve, develop and live throughout their lives, naturally, in a particular place. In this way, endemic species are those that evolved in one place and in a separate way from other species. These places can be regions or countries where certain species develop exclusively, without being in other regions of the world. Endemism occurs in many regions of the planet and affects all kinds of species, from animals to plants.

Endemic species are especially vulnerable to extinction phenomena, since their populations are small, they are confined to a particular site and their genetic exchange is very limited. Reason for which, it should be given a special protection regime for endemic species .

How endemic species are classified

This is the classification of the different types of endemisms that exist:

  • Paleoendemism: species that due to their morphological, chemical or genetic characteristics end up forming isolated groups. An example is the plant called Chaenorhinum tenellum (endemism from the center of the Valencian community).
  • Schizoendemism: species that arise through a process of gradual isolation and reproductive barriers. They are species with very similar chromosomal and morphological characteristics. As an example, Hippocrepis valentina (North of Alicante and South of Valencia), H. balearica (Mallorca) and H. grosii (Ibiza).
  • Patroendemism: species that arise as a consequence of differences in the number of chromosomes.
  • Apoendemism: species that arise from others as a consequence of occupying smaller areas.
  • Cryptoendemism: species that have not yet been described, but are good markers of endemism.

Why the islands are special for endemic species

Although endemism occurs in practically any region of the world, the islands are a special territory for this phenomenon to occur, where it occurs more frequently than in continental regions.

To understand why this happens, it must be understood that many “new” species emerge from others when geographical, ecological, reproductive or genetic barriers are created between them (what is known by the name of speciation) and islands. they represent very favorable environments for the creation of these barriers between species and, therefore, for the phenomenon of endemism.

An example of this are kangaroos in Australia or lemurs in Madagascar . Australia and Madagascar are large islands full of endemic species, as their isolation was a key factor for this. In Spain, we can see this phenomenon in the Canary or Balearic Islands, also rich in endemic species.

Examples of endemic species – animals and plants of Spain

These are some clear examples of endemic species , both animals and plants, that exist in Spain and other parts of the world:

  • Iberian Desman: insectivorous rodent that can be found in rivers and lakes in the north and center of Spain. His overactive metabolism keeps him active during the winter.
  • Iberian lynx: probably the most representative species of the Spanish fauna. It is a lynx with long legs and ears and a short tail. Species in danger of extinction, with around only 300 specimens in the world.
  • Ocellated lizard: the most abundant Iberian reptile. It lives in dry and sunny areas, where it hibernates from November to February.
  • Imperial Eagle: very rare and diurnal bird of prey, with approximately 300 species distributed between Madrid, Castilla La Mancha, Castilla y León, Extremadura and Andalusia.
  • Iberian wolf: it was one of the most representative canid species of the peninsula. During the 70s, it almost disappeared due to hunting. Today, they are recovering little by little.
  • Mountain goats: they are distributed by the South of Spain and Sierra de Gredos.
  • Grouse: very representative of ice ages. They can be found in Sweden, Norway, Russia or Northern Spain.
  • Long-legged frog or Iberian frog: in Spain and Northern Portugal
  • Endemic plant species: flora such as the Teide wallflower, the red tajinaste in Las Palmas, the Malpaís flower, the Teide daisy, the pajonera grass, the laburnum, etc.

In Spain, an estimated 38 species of vertebrates are threatened and one species becomes extinct every 15 minutes . Examples of endangered species are the otter or the Mediterranean monk seal. In addition, there are species of extinct animals in Spain, such as the Canary ostreto or the bucardo. Find out more in this other AgroCorrn article about 21 endangered animals in Spain – list with names and photos .

Apart from knowing some of the endemic plants and animals of Spain, we recommend you to know what endemic species there are in Mexico with examples .

Difference between endemic species and autochthonous or native species

It is quite common to confuse the species that are endemic with the autochthonous or native ones, since in both cases we think that it refers to a specific and nearby area. The truth is that they are two different things and, therefore, here we explain what the difference is between endemic species and autochthonous or native species .

On the one hand, as we have indicated throughout the article, endemic species are those that we find naturally in a single space, so we will not see them in other regions of the planet, even if they are nearby, naturally. This occurs in almost all parts of the world, but the areas where it is most common are islands and peninsulas. On the other hand, native or autochthonous species are those that can be found in various places on the planet and that are also very common in some areas, being able to say that a species is typical of a place but not exclusive. In this other AgroCorrn article we explain more about what is a native or autochthonous species .

Thus, the difference between endemic and autochthonous species is that endemic ones are, at the same time, autochthonous or native species, but these do not have to always be endemic species. The autochthonous species can be in more than one area, so they occupy more area than the endemic ones, which do have a well-defined and exclusive territory.

For example, the Iberian lynx is an endemic species because it is only found on this peninsula and Komodo dragons are endemic to some of the islands in central Indonesia. In contrast, the brown bear is native or indigenous to some parts of Europe and North America, and the griffon vulture is indigenous to parts of Europe, as well as northern Africa and western Asia.

If you want to read more articles similar to Endemic species: definition and examples , we recommend that you enter our Biodiversity category .

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