Prehistoric species richness of birds on oceanic islands

Janet Franklin, David W. Steadman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Scopus citations


Using data on prehistoric and modern birds from seven islands in the Kingdom of Tonga, we demonstrate that there is no positive relationship between species richness (S) and island area (A) over the observed range of A (1.8-259 km2). The uniform S-values occur across more than three orders of magnitude of A when prehistoric data are included, and the strongest predictor of S on any island is the level of fossil sampling (number of identified bones). Below a minimum value for A (in Tonga < 1.8 km2), S declines to zero as A does the same. Within the ranges of island elevation (E) and inter-island isolation (I) among the seven islands, neither E (11-312 m) nor I (0.6-38 km) has much if any effect on S. Under natural (pre-human) conditions, a positive species-area relationship may not be a valid generalization for birds on oceanic islands.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1885-1891
Number of pages7
Issue number12
StatePublished - Dec 1 2008

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics


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