Macroevolutionary impact of humans on birds and mammals of the Caribbean, Madagascar and New Zealand

  • Lima Valente, L. (Contributor)
  • Nathan M Michielsen (Contributor)
  • Liliana M Dávalos (Contributor)
  • Grace I Saville (Contributor)
  • Voahangy Soarimalala (Contributor)
  • Steven M Goodman (Contributor)
  • Alexandra van der Geer (Contributor)
  • Juan Carlos Garcia Ramirez (Contributor)
  • Nathan Upham (Contributor)
  • Etienne, R. (Contributor)

Activity: Talk and presentationAcademic presentationAcademic


Islands have suffered recent extinctions attributed to human activity and today many of their unique species are threatened. While the number of species lost and threatened is known, how does this translate in terms of evolutionary history? One approach is to measure the island evolutionary return time (ERT), the time it would take to restore an island’s lost and threatened biodiversity under natural rates of colonisation, speciation and extinction. We measured the ERT for the bats of the Caribbean, mammals of Madagascar and birds of New Zealand, using phylogenetic data for the complete assemblages of these taxa on each island group, including extinct and recently discovered species. We find that millions of years of evolutionary history have been lost and several other millions of years are currently under threat on these islands. The ERT does not correlate well with the number of extinct/threatened species, and therefore provides useful additional information and a new perspective on the value of insular biotas for conservation, focusing on evolutionary time rather than solely on the number of species.
Event titleNetherlands Annual Ecology Meeting 2022
Event typeConference
Conference number15
Organiser Netherlands Ecological Research Network (NERN)
LocationLunteren, NetherlandsShow on map
Degree of RecognitionNational


  • macroevolution
  • Madagascar