Island biodiversity conservation needs palaeoecology
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The discovery and colonization of islands by humans has invariably resulted in their widespread ecological transformation. The small and isolated populations of many island taxa, and their evolution in the absence of humans and their introduced taxa, mean that they are particularly vulnerable to human activities. Consequently, even the most degraded islands are a focus for restoration, eradication, and monitoring programmes to protect the remaining endemic and/or relict populations. Here, we build a framework that incorporates an assessment of the degree of change from multiple baseline reference periods using long-term ecological data. The use of multiple reference points may provide information on both the variability of natural systems and responses to successive waves of cultural transformation of island ecosystems, involving, for example, the alteration of fire and grazing regimes and the introduction of non-native species. We provide exemplification of how such approaches can provide valuable information for biodiversity conservation managers of island ecosystems.