Nov 23, 2017 | Updated: 09:54 AM EDT

Hawaii's Shrinking Islands Threaten Endemic Flora, Fauna

Mar 18, 2017 01:27 PM EDT

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Hawaii is known as one of the most diverse in terms of flora and fauna, but scientists stressed that its vast array of endemic species has been in decline for several million years. All of eight main Hawaiian Islands are susceptible to decline, apart from Big Island. Scientists used a cutting-edge biodiversity analysis method and found traces of 14 different groups of birds, spiders, insects and plants currently being threatened with extinction.

A University of California, Berkeley research published in Nature Ecology and Evolution, explained that much of the blame rests on Hawaii's shrinking size. The islands are continually being eroded into the ocean and species are competing against each other in their reduced environment. Older islands like Kauai, Oahu and others who were previously part of bigger ecosystem called Maui Nui are struggling to accommodate the overcrowded flora and fauna.

There are hypotheses that Hawaii's flora and fauna have declined since millions of years ago. As an aftermath, the species are gradually impacted over the course of time. Berkeley's affirmation backed this previous hypothesis, according to integrative biology professor Charles Marshall. He suggests that the environment itself is contracting to a point where animals and plants have nowhere to go. The study simply created an explanation behind these diversity dynamics, UPI Science said.

Hawaii is isolated from the southwest United States by at least 2,000 miles. Thanks to volcanic activities that spawned the islands, its unique topography housed some of the most fantastic arrays of flora and fauna. However, Hawaii is also known to possess the highest number of endangered species among all American states.

Marshall said that his findings aim to quantify the carrying capacity of Hawaii in housing its flora and fauna. If possible, mitigating efforts could be made to save its declining species. While shrinking land mass is a part of natural geological evolution, experts agree that humans have already developed the technology and innovation to positively react to its adverse effects.

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