The dynamic landscape of Robinson Crusoe Island • Earth.com

The dynamic landscape of Robinson Crusoe Island

The dynamic landscape of Robinson Crusoe Island. Today’s Image of the Day from NASA Earth Observatory features Robinson Crusoe Island in the remote Juan Fernández Archipelago and national park located off the coast of Chile.

The island is known for its unique native animals, such as firecrown hummingbirds and fur seals, and also for an abundance of endemic plant species. 

“The Robinson Crusoe and Santa Clara islands have a special beauty due to their rugged geography, their cliffs, their rock formations, and their unique native flora and fauna,” said Javiera Meza, a biodiversity expert at Chile’s National Forest Corporation (CONAF) . The dynamic landscape of Robinson Crusoe Island

According to Meza, the island supports 149 recognized plant taxa of which 61 percent are native. The recent invasion of non-native species – such as maqui, mora, and murta – are now threatening the island’s endemic plants. 

In the image, the darkest green colors at high elevations mostly represent luma, a flowering evergreen tree endemic to the island. The dark green areas at lower elevations are forest plantations with non-native trees such as radiata pine, eucalyptus, and macrocarpa cypress. The lighter green shades are aggressive invasive shrubs known as maqui that grow in dense thickets.

Humans have also brought animals to Robinson Crusoe Island that have changed the landscape. In the 1930s, rabbits were introduced. They competed for food and habitat, contributing to the loss of native plants.

Image Credit: NASA Earth Observatory 

By Chrissy Sexton, Earth.com Staff Writer

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