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Endemic definition

Endemic definition: a hood lava lizard (Microlophus delanonis), an endemic species on Punta Suarez, Española Island Galapagos

Endemic Definition

Endemic (adj.) means native to a particular area or region or an exclusive characteristic of a thing, place, or concept. The word is used to describe a species, for instance, that thrives in a particular place and not usually found in other places. A related word is endemism (n., def: the state of being endemic). Another is endemicity, which is defined as the quality of being endemic.

Etymology: from Greek “endemos”, meaning “dwelling in a place”. Synonyms: endemial; indigenous; native. Compare: epidemic.

Definition Endemic Species

In biology, the term endemic can be used to describe a species (ecology)  or a disease (medicine).  In ecology, an endemic species refers to a species that is native to where it is found. A species can be endemic to a particular small geographical area, such as a single island, or to a larger area, such as a continent. If it is found elsewhere, then, endemic is not the word to describe it. If the species is found in a wide range of habitats and geographic locations, then, it would be the opposite of endemism, i.e. cosmopolitan distribution.

How do Species Become Endemic

Various factors lead to speciation. Examples of these factors are environmental pressure and geographical restrictions. The environmental conditions that the species are exposed to, coupled with the restrictions set by the geographical location of the species habitat (e.g. a landmass surrounded by a vast body of water), help determine the kinds of animals and plants that can thrive and propagate at a particular area. Giant tortoises (large land tortoises), for example, can be found in the islands of Ecuador. The seas surrounding the island restricted them to migrate to far islands. Thus, their population became limited to the two remote groups of tropical islands in Ecuador: the Aldabra Atoll and Fregate Island in Seychelles and the Galápagos Islands.

Endemic species examples

Endemic species are exemplified by animal and plant species that are unique to a defined geographical location.

Endemic animals

Endemic animals are animals found in a specific limited area. Examples are as follows. (Ref.1)

  • Hood Lava Lizard (Microlophus delanonis) endemic to Punta Suarez, Española Island Galapagos
  • Red squirrel population which is endemic to the North of Scotland
  • Manx cat found only in the Isle of Man
  • Lemur in Madagascar
  • Sinarapan fish in the Philippines
  • Tokoeka kiwi in New Zealand
  • Thorny devil lizard in Australia
  • Tarsier of the South East Asia
  • Tasmanian devil in Tasmania
  • Hawaiian hoary bat in Hawaii

Endemic plants

Endemic plants are those found in a certain limited area. Examples are as follows.

  • Nevada primrose (Primula nevadensis) endemic to the Great Basin Region in eastern Nevada
  • Aglaia ceramica endemic to the Maluku Islands in Indonesia
  • Cassine koordersii endemic to Java in Indonesia
  • Melica penicillaris, a grass species endemic to Inner Anatolia, Turkey
  • Crocus aleppicus, a flowering plant species of the family Iridaceae, endemic to Israel
  • Hawaiian hibiscus, native to Hawaii

Endemic Disease

An endemic disease is one that is constantly present to a greater or lesser degree in people of a certain class or in people living in a particular location. For example, malaria is a disease endemic to the tropics.

See Also


  1. Melissa Breyer. (2018). TreeHugger. https://www.treehugger.com/animals/21-animals-only-found-one-place-world.html

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