There is no escaping the fact that the island biogeography of the North Atlantic Region is singularly peculiar. Sitting in the north of the Atlantic Ocean, these islands have been subjected to large-scale shifts in climate over the last few million years, unlike the other island groups further south which were likely more buffered from the vicissitudes of Quaternary climate changes. Uniquely for a group of islands, there is only one documented extinction in the North Atlantic (the Great Auk), and those in the insects are local events relating to species that are distributed throughout the Palaearctic region. Over half the insect species in Iceland and Greenland are introduced. The faunas, excluding Greenland, are predominantly of Palaearctic origin and have close affinities with the faunas of Scandinavia and the British Isles and. These unique physical and biological characteristics have interested biologists and biogeographers for centuries.
The key debates concerning the biogeography of the North Atlantic islands still rumble on: Do the biota reflect cryptic refugia or otherwise, or tabula rasa and recolonization? How important were human communities in shaping the existing biota and biogeographical patterns? Throw into this mix current concerns over global warming, and we can now ask, how resilient is the biota to change, either natural or anthropogenic? Biogeography in the Sub-Arctic draws together a range of researchers with longstanding research interests in the region, from diverse academic backgrounds, to evaluate some of these questions.
List of Contributors vii
Introduction xi / Jon P. Sadler and Eva Panagiotakopulu
Section I: Remote Origins 1
1 The Opening of the North Atlantic 3 / Brian G. J. Upton
2 Cenozoic Vegetation and Phytogeography of the Sub-arctic North Atlantic 29 / Friðgeir Grímsson, Thomas Denk and Reinhard Zetter
3 Interglacial Biotas from the North Atlantic Islands 51 / Ole Bennike and Jens Böcher
Section II: Origins of the Present Biota 83
4 Origin and Dispersal of the North Atlantic Vascular Plant Floras 85 / Christian Brochmann and Inger G. Alsos
5 The Aquatic Fauna of the North Atlantic Islands with Emphasis on Iceland 103 / Gísli Már Gíslason
6 The Vascular Floras of High-Latitude Islands with Special Reference to Iceland 113 / Thóra Ellen Thórhallsdóttir
7 Quaternary Vertebrates from the North Atlantic Islands 147 / Ole Bennike and Bernd Wagner
8 North Atlantic Insect Faunas, Fossils and Pitfalls 161 / Eva Panagiotakopulu
Section III: Human Impact 185
9 Landnám and the North Atlantic Flora 187 / Kevin J. Edwards, Egill Erlendsson and J. Edward Schofield
10 Origin of the Northeast Atlantic Islands Bird Fauna: Scenarios of Ecosystem Development 215 / Aevar Petersen and Bergur Olsen
11 Human Impact on North Atlantic Biota: Farming and Farm Animals, Fishing, Sealing and Whaling 251 / Ingrid Mainland and Jennifer Harland
Section IV: Conservation in a Warming World 273
12 A Fleet of Silver: Local Knowledge Perceptions of Sea Ice from Iceland and Labrador/Nunatsiavut 275 / Astrid E. J. Ogilvie, Brian T. Hill and Gaston R. Demarée
13 Biodiversity Conservation in the Faroe Islands Under Changing Climate and Land Use 293 / Anna Maria Fosaa
14 Biodiversity Conservation in Iceland Under Changing Climate 303 / Erlingur Hauksson
15 The Natural Environment and Its Biodiversity in Greenland During the Present Climate Change 339 / Ib Johnsen and Henning Heide-Jørgensen
Eva Panagiotakopulu is a palaeoecologist who specialises in Quaternary fossil insects and has worked on biogeography, climate change and human impact from sites ranging from the North Atlantic to North Africa. She has a particular interest in islands and human impact.
Jon P. Sadler is a biogeographer and ecologist whose research focuses on species population and assemblage dynamics in animals (sometimes plants). His work is highly interdisciplinary, bisecting biogeography, ecology, urban design, riparian management and island biogeography.