Cocos Island BioProvince

This BioProvince (as proposed by Peter Martin Rhind) comprising Cocos Island situated in the central eastern Pacific about 523 km southwest of Costa Rica. It is the largest uninhabited island in the World with a surface area of 46.6 square kms. This UNESCO World Heritage Site was called ‘the most beautiful island in the World’ by Jacques Cousteau and served as inspiration for Robert Louis Stevenson’s Treasure Island. It was also the film location for Michael Crichton’s Jurassic Park. Owned by Costa Rica it is the only island in the eastern Pacific to support moist tropical flora. The bedrock is of volcanic origin including agglomerates, tuffs and andesitic lava flows and has extremely irregular topography with abundant waterfalls, cliffs, cataracts and caves. Its maximum altitude is 634 m (Cerro Iglesias). The island is thought to have formed about 2 million years ago during the late Pliocene. The climate is warm and extremely wet with an average annual rainfall of 6000 mm, and is strongly influenced by the equatorial counter-current, which flows in an easterly direction. There are approximately 235 known flowering plant species and 70 of these (about 30%) are endemic. In addition there are about 74 species of ferns and other cryptophytes (of which six are endemic), 128 species of bryophytes and 85 species of fungi. Most genera on the island also occur on the mainland of tropical and subtropical America except for Rooseveltia (a palm) which is thought to be related to the ‘royal palms (Roystonea) of Florida and the mountain palms (Acrista) of Puerta Rica. Some plants have undergone adaptation to the lack of certain animal species. For example, Mucuna urens differs from its continental counterpart in that it has adapted to being pollinated by an endemic finch rather than bats.

The following accounts for this BioProvince have been written or will be written with particular reference to endemic and locally important species. Accounts available are displayed in green or yellow. Those displayed in red are either in the pipeline or awaiting expert contributions.


Major Ecosystems
Vascular Plant Flora
Bryophyte Flora
Fungus Flora
Lichen Flora
Invertebrate Fauna
Amphibian Fauna
Reptile Fauna
Bird Fauna
Mammal Fauna
Conservation Status