The conservation problem
Islands are critically important for biodiversity conservation. Relative to their collective area, they support a far higher proportion of the world’s biodiversity than do continents. However, plant and animal species restricted to islands also have a disproportionately high rate of extinctions and population declines.
Oceanic islands (those that have never been connected to a continental landmass) are particular priorities for conservation attention, as they tend to have higher rates of both endemism and extinctions than do islands that have previously had a mainland connection. Australia has three oceanic islands with many endemic species: Lord Howe, Norfolk and Christmas. All have experienced high rates of extinction, with some species undergoing continuing decline.
Christmas Island is particularly notable because two of its endemic species became extinct in the past decade, and many other species are very close to extinction. This project will provide evidence to help conservation managers seeking to prevent extinctions and support the recovery of the island’s many threatened species.
How this research is addressing the problem
The project works closely with Parks Australia, the agency responsible for managing biodiversity on the island, especially in Christmas Island National Park which covers approximately 65% of the island. The project focuses on a number of research areas that each addresses a particular conservation management priority recognised by Parks Australia. These subprojects focus on: