A new golden era in island biogeography
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For two centuries, islands have served as rich sources of inspiration and data for biogeogra-phers, thus gaining renown as ideal natural laboratories. Their research potential continues to expand today thanks to the combined application of recent advances in several scientific fields. First, increas-ingly detailed geological and palaeoecological data are extending our understanding of the history of development of island biotas. At the same time, rapid methodological advances in molecular evolution-ary biology and systematics are revealing the pathways by which species colonized islands, evolved, and formed communities. Third, basic data on species distributions are being collected from increasing num-bers of islands and taxa, distributed widely through electronic resources, and analyzed with powerful software to reveal macroecological patterns. The pace and quality of recent advances signal a promising future in which islands will continue to play key roles in revealing how biodiversity is produced and maintained.