AMURGA International Conferences on Island Biodiversity

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Under the overarching idea that preserving biodiversity is only possible through its scientific understanding, the Fundación Canaria Amurga Maspalomas and the Jardín Botánico Canario “Viera y Clavijo-Unidad Asociada CSIC of the Cabildo Insular de Gran Canaria organised on March 2011 the first edition of the “Fundación Amurga International Conferences on Island Biodiversity”.

The objective of this unprecedented meeting was to bring together some of the internationally most renowned researchers from around the world to share existing and developing knowledge on the evolution, diversity and conservation of the lush and unique (but also extremely fragile, and increasingly threatened) biota of oceanic islands.

As a consequence of the keen acceptance to attend of most selected scientists, a wide number of diverse topics was covered, ranging from classical and molecular taxonomy to reproductive biology, phylogenetic and genetic diversity, phylogeny, biogeography, cytogenetics, and the applications of all these fields to understand evolution on islands, or to design informed conservation and management strategies.

Sharing diverse worldviews of the past, present and future of insular plant biodiversity throughout a week inevitably triggered new and productive multi-disciplinary interaction, so we believe that the meeting’s purpose was largely overachieved thanks to the general enthusiasm that it created.

The objective of this proceedings volume is simply to gather the ideas that were discussed during that week just as they were transmitted by the speakers, so we explicitly discouraged the authors from attempting to update the contents of the discussions in 2011. For similar reasons (and because of multiple heterogeneous commitments in our respective institutions), we have not reviewed the idiomatic contents of the contributions. As the scientific editors of this volume, our mission has restrained to make a consistent whole out of all the submitted texts, to oversee their scientific contents and, in some cases, to suggest a minimum number of formal changes. In all probability, this book will not have a high SCI impact factor, so that the fact that most such distinguished scientists made an effort to submit their full papers in time is perhaps another indicator of the meeting’s success.

The specialist reader will notice that some contributions are slightly outdated, because their authors have already published refined versions of these ideas, in some cases thanks to the open and friendly discussions that all the attendees (speakers or not) furnished. For the nonspecialists, this volume is a rare opportunity to catch up with ongoing progresses on the investigation of oceanic island floras, in some cases hand in hand with top-notch researchers in different fields of expertise.

It is thus with sheer pleasure that we thank the support of the Fundación Canaria Amurga Maspalomas and the Cabildo Insular de Gran Canaria in the organisation of this meeting. We hope that these two institutions from Gran Canaria continue showing that Macaronesia is today a remarkable hotspot of ideas about the evolution of life on islands, and a land of opportunity for new research endeavors.