The plan here is to provide checklists of endemic vascular plants for all major biogeographic zones. Sites with links to completed or partially completed lists are in blue. Others are either in the pipeline or awaiting further information.
The information is summarized in alphabetical order in Table 1 and in descending order of endemic taxa in Table 2. However, it is not possible to make meaningful comparisons between many of the biozones in their current form but further analysis is planned. Clearly, however, Australia and Atlantic Forests of South America have amazing levels of endemism.
So why the emphasis on endemic species? Endemic simply means confined to a certain geographical area. You could say that human beings are endemic to planet earth. On the other hand, very few if any species have global distributions; most are confined to certain areas, which could be a continent, an island or even a particular mountain top, but many endemics are concentrated into so-called centres of endemism. The biogeographic areas defined in this website, such as the Hawaiian Islands or the Rocky Mountains, are all regarded as centres of endemism. However, the important point is that endemic or geographically restricted species are inherently more vulnerable to extinction than more widespread species, and are especially vulnerable to habitat loss or fragmentation. It is estimated that about three-quarters of the species of plants and animals that are known to have become extinct during the past few centuries were endemic to small areas particularly islands.
Bowen, L. & Vuren, D. V. 1997. Insular endemic plants lack defenses against herbivores. Conservation Biology, 11: 1249-1254.
Isik, K. 2011. Rare and endemic species: why are they prone to extinction? Turkish Journal of Botany, 35: 411-417.