Endemism in Sardinia

  • Andrea Grill
  • Paolo Casula
  • Roberta Lecis
  • Steph Menken


The Tyrrhenian islands are known for their highly relictual fauna and flora and are one of the ten Mediterranean hotspots of plant diversity and endemism. There is little detailed information available on species’biogeography, and new species are still being discovered. This chapter is the first to put together information from several groups of organisms endemic to Sardinia (viz. plants, butterflies, amphibians, lizards, and beetles), with a particular focus on butterflies and amphibians. Reviewing recent literature, we describe distributional patterns and point to centers of endemicity, which we compare with the location and extent of existing protected areas in Sardinia, in order to assess their usefulness in protecting endemic species. Further, we discuss the geological history of the Mediterranean basin and relate geophysical events to molecular-based estimates of species’ divergence times to investigate when and how Sardinian endemics came to the island and describe scenarios of speciation that might have resulted from vicariance, dispersion, and human transportation. The divergence time estimates we summarize here support that the cladogenetic events leading to the Sardinian lineages of various taxa have occurred after the separation of the Sardo-Corsican microplate from the continental landmass and after the rotation of the Corso-Sardinian plate. Furthermore, there is evidence that the split of many Sardinian taxa has occurred after the marine regressions (± 5 mya). Areas of high endemism generally coincide with mountainous areas. The main centers of endemism in Sardinia are already included in a network of natural parks but these areas have not yet been officially accepted as protected areas by the Sardinian authorities. Giving them official status would be a step towards safeguarding the unique nature of Sardinia.


endemism diversity butterflies amphibians lizards beetles plants evolution conservation 


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Authors and Affiliations

  • Andrea Grill
  • Paolo Casula
  • Roberta Lecis
  • Steph Menken

There are no affiliations available

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