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Word of the Week: Endemism
August 29, 2019 by Khadoni Chambers

Welcome to Word of the Week! Stay tuned for a new word each Friday to amp up your nature vocabulary!

High Park Black Oak Savannah

Endemism [EN-deh-miz-um](noun): A species that is unique to a defined geographic location, such as an island, nation, country or other defined zone. Endemism can also be applied to species that solely live in a single habitat type.

Endemism, and its root word, endemic, come from the Greek word endēmos, which means "native".

Species that are endemic to a certain region are usually adapted for specific physical and climatic factors. Endemic species are more likely to develop in isolated areas such as islands, and biologically isolated areas, such as mountain ranges, highlands and remote lakes. Within larger areas of endemism smaller ones also exist, and within those shrunken areas there exist even smaller ones. Therefore, a species can be endemic to a certain larger geographic area (The Rocky Mountains), but then be further limited to the Canadian Rockies, and even within that could potentially only be found at certain elevations within the Canadian Rockies.

Here in High Park, there are a number of species, like Wild Lupines, New Jersey Tea, and Black Oak, that rely on the endangered ecosystem of the Black Oak savannah to survive.

Fun Fact: Brazil is the country with the highest number of endemic species in the world. 58% of all tree species (around 34,575) are single country endemics, Brazil is home to around 4,333 of them.

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