An endemic is an animal or plant that is found nowhere else.
Islands are famous for their endemics because the animals and plants found
there evolve in isolation, a process that is often accelerated by the
'founder effect' whereby any unusual characteristics of the original
founders become widespread in the resultant population.
Endemism in Shetland is relatively rare because the plants
and animals found here have all colonised the islands in the last 12,000
years, since the end of the last ice age. This is a relatively short length
of time compared to, for example, the Canary Islands or the Galapagos
Islands, both of which can boast dozens of endemic species.
The following pages highlight some of the more notable
endemics or semi-endemics found in Shetland.