This week scientists from around the world are gathering at the University of Hawai’i for the world’s first Island Biology conference. The conference is named after the seminal 1974 book by Sherwin Carlquist, and will open with the Carlquist address. For the rest of the week hundreds of scientists will present their work and share ideas on the theory and conservation of island biology. In the conservation session I’ll be presenting my recent work on over-invasion of islands by functionally similar invasive species, about to be published in Ecology.
Hawaii is also an apt site for this first in a conference series. Most ecology in the United States is dominated by research on continental ecosystems, where top-down structuring forces such as predators are important. On Hawai’i, however, scientists have the opportunity to study how biological processes operate differently on islands, such as evolution and biogeography. In contrast to continents, islands tend to be bottom-up regulated by resource inputs. Overall, islands operate by a completely different set of rules to continents, and this conference will present an opportunity for the world’s experts to try and determine in greater detail what some of those rules might be.