card
339

endemic

OLogy Series
biology
card
339

endemic

OLogy Series
biology

You could travel the globe, but there's only one place you'd find a ruffed lemur: Madagascar. It is an endemic species. In the wild, it lives only in one region and nowhere else on Earth. There are thousands of animal and plant species endemic to Madagascar. Since endemic species are not widespread, they're very vulnerable to threats such as habitat loss. Many endemic species around the world are endangered or already extinct.

Butterflies of Taiwan

Taiwan is often called "Butterfly Kingdom." This small island is home to
about 400 butterfly species, including 55 that are endemic. They live nowhere else in the world.

But as Taiwan's population grows, its butterflies are disappearing. Many species are endangered and at least three have become extinct.

The main reason is habitat loss. Like many endemic species, these butterflies cannot survive outside their habitat--whether it's a tropical
forest or a mountain valley.

Even Taiwan's national butterfly is at risk. The beautiful Broad-tailed Swallowtail is found only in the island's sassafras forests. That's because the larva (caterpillar) eats only sassafras leaves. Unfortunately, the sassafras forests are shrinking. If they disappear, so will the Broad-tailed Swallowtail butterfly.

Endemic plant and animal species are usually found in _____ areas:

isolated

large

urban

Are you right?

Correct!

Many endemic species, like the Galápagos giant tortoise, are found on remote islands. This native of the Galápagos islands can weigh over 600 pounds! It had been endangered from centuries of over-hunting, but is making a comeback thanks to a national park and breeding program.

The rosy periwinkle is endemic to the forests of Madagascar. Learning from native tribes, scientists discovered that the rosy periwinkle:

was a tasty treat

could save lives

was poisonous to touch

Are you right?

Correct!

Chemicals in the rosy periwinkle are used to treat different kinds of cancer like leukemia. It's just one of thousands of plants people can use to treat illnesses. As Madagascar's forests disappear, are there other life-saving plants that might be lost before we know about them?

The kagu bird lives only on New Caledonia, an island east of Australia. This endemic species is endangered because of threats from:

animals brought by people

habitat destruction

both of these

Are you right?

Correct!

People have brought dogs, pigs, cats, and rats to the island. All of these "exotic" species eat kagus or their eggs.

Today, scientists have identified all the endemic species on the planet.

Fact
or
Fiction
?

Fiction

New endemic species are discovered all the time! In the 1990s, scientists discovered the saola, a large ox with curved horns that only lives in a particular region in Vietnam.

All endemic species live on islands.

Fact
or
Fiction
?

Fiction

Some live in remote places on continents and large bodies of water. The mountain gorillas that live only in Africa's Virunga Mountains are threatened by hunting and habitat loss.

Definition: native to and living in only a certain region
Significance: Many endemic species are at risk of becoming endangered or extinct. This is often due to human activities such as habitat loss (clearing of fields to plant crops; build buildings), hunting, and poaching.
Cool Fact: In the United States, endemic species are found in isolated areas from Hawaiian forests to the Chesapeake Bay.