Endemic Maltese wildlife

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An endemic organism is said to be found only in certain areas of the world. This makes the organism in some cases endangered. The Maltese Islands, although small in area (316 km²), host a large number of endemic species, some of which are unique and unusual. These endemic species are important to the Maltese Islands because they form part of Maltese national heritage and are topics of scientific research.[1]

Introduction[edit]

Of the 10,000 estimated terrestrial and freshwater specimens in the Maltese archipelago,[2] 78 species are endemic,[1] a very good number considering the country's area. Only 4,500 species have so far been recorded, and others still await correct taxonomic classification,[2] which means that there may be several more endemic species yet to be discovered.

Twenty-three of the endemic species are vascular plants and plants such as bryophytes, while the remaining 55 species are animals.[1]

Plants[edit]

Maltese plants are many and varied. For example, most algae are found in Maltese waters, approximately 300 are not microscopic.[2]

Some plants on the Maltese Islands are referred to as endemic which means they have no relatives elsewhere in the world.[1]

Below is a list of some endemic plants (together with their classification) which can be found throughout the Maltese Islands:

  • Maltese Cliff-orache Atriplex lanfrancoi (previously known as Cremnophyton lanfrancoi)
  • Zerafa's Sea-lavender Limonium zeraphae
  • Maltese Everlasting Helichrysum melitense
  • Maltese Rock-centaury Cheirolophus crassifolius (previously known as Palaeocyanus crassifolius, Centaurea crassifolia and Centaurea spathulata)
  • Maltese Hyoseris/Gozo Hyoseris Hyoseris frutescens

Animals[edit]

There are more endemic animals than plants in the Maltese Islands. Many a time, the animal in question has been confused with a different species from a close country e.g. the Sicilian shrew in Gozo which has been defined as a subspecies of its own.

Below is a list of some endemic animals (together with their classification):

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d Schembri, Patrick. "The Ecology of the Maltese Islands". Environmental Themes in the Mediterranean: A Case Study of the Maltese Islands [1]. Archived from the original on September 28, 2007.  External link in |website= (help)[unreliable source?]
  2. ^ a b c Wildlife of the Maltese Islands, BirdLife Malte and Nature Trust, 1995.