Charles Darwin's travels on HMS Beagle taught him that islands are an important source of evidence for evolution. Because many islands are young and have relatively few species, evolutionary adaptation and species proliferation are obvious and easy to study. In addition, the geographical isolation of many islands has allowed evolution to take its own course, free of influence from other areas, resulting in unusual faunas and floras, often unlike those found anywhere else. For these reasons, island research provides valuable insights into speciation and adaptive radiation, and into the relative importance of contingency and determinism in evolutionary diversification.
Losos, Jonathan BRicklefs, Robert EengResearch Support, Non-U.S. Gov'tResearch Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.England2009/02/13 09:00Nature. 2009 Feb 12;457(7231):830-6. doi: 10.1038/nature07893.