Island Life/Prefaces

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K.C.S.I., C.B., F.R.S., ETC., ETC.
I Dedicate this Volume;



The first issue of this Edition being exhausted, the opportunity is taken of making a few corrections, the most important of which are here stated:—

Page 163. Statement modified as to supposed glaciation of South Africa.

Pages 174 and 338. Many geologists now hold that there was no great submergence during the glacial epoch. The passages referring to it have therefore been re-written.

Page 182. Colonel Fielden's explanation of the occurrence of large trees on shores and in recent drift in high latitudes, is now added.

    "    272. A species of Carex peculiar to Bermuda is now given.

    "    356. Geomalacus maculosus, as a peculiar British species, is now omitted.

Verbal alterations have also been made at pages 41, 105, 356, and 360.


This edition has been carefully revised throughout, and owing to the great increase to our knowledge of the Natural History of some of the islands during the last twelve years considerable additions or alterations have been required. The more important of these changes are the following:—

Chapter VII. The account of the migrations of animals and plants during and since the Glacial Epoch, has been modified to accord with newer information.

Chapters VIII and IX. The discussion of the causes of Glacial Epochs and Mild Arctic Climates has been somewhat modified in view of the late Dr. Croll's remarks, and the argument rendered clearer.

Chapter XIII. Several additions to the Fauna of the Galapagos have been noted.

Chapter XV. Considerable additions have been made to this chapter embodying the recent discoveries of birds and insects new to the Sandwich Islands, while a much fuller account has been given of its highly peculiar and very interesting flora.

Chapter XVI. Important additions and corrections have been made in the lists of peculiar British animals and plants embodying the most recent information.

Chapter XVII. Very large additions have been made to the mammalia and birds of Borneo, and full lists of the peculiar species are given.

Chapter XVIII. A more accurate account is given of the birds of Japan.

Chapter XIX. The recent additions to the mammals and birds of Madagascar are embodied in this chapter, and a fuller sketch is given of the rich and peculiar flora of the island.

Chapter XXI. and XXII. Some important additions have been made to these chapters owing to more accurate information as to the depth of the sea around New Zealand, and to the discovery of abundant remains of fossil plants of the tertiary and cretaceous periods both in New Zealand and Australia.

In the body of the work I have in each case acknowledged the valuable information given me by naturalists of eminence in their various departments, and I return my best thanks to all who have so kindly assisted me. I am however indebted in a special manner to one gentleman—Mr. Theo. D. A. Cockerell, now Curator of the Museum of the Jamaica Institute—who supplied me with a large amount of information by searching the most recent works in the scientific libraries, by personal inquiries among naturalists, and also by giving me the benefit of his own copious notes and observations. Without his assistance it would have been difficult for me to have made the present edition so full and complete as I hope it now is. In a work of such wide range, and dealing with so large a body of facts some errors will doubtless be detected, though, I trust few of importance.

Parkstone, Dorset, December, 1891.


The present volume is the result of four years' additional thought and research on the lines laid down in my Geographical Distribution of Animals, and may be considered as a popular supplement to and completion of that work.

It is, however, at the same time a complete work in itself: and, from the mode of treatment adopted, it will, I hope, be well calculated to bring before the intelligent reader the wide scope and varied interest of this branch of natural history. Although some of the earlier chapters deal with the same questions as my former volumes, they are here treated from a different point of view; and as the discussion of them is more elementary and at the same time tolerably full, it is hoped that they will prove both instructive and interesting. The plan of my larger work required that genera only should be taken account of; in the present volume I often discuss the distribution of species, and this will help to render the work more intelligible to the unscientific reader.

The full statement of the scope and object of the present essay given in the "Introductory" chapter, together with the "Summary" of the whole work and the general view of the more important arguments given in the "Conclusion," render it unnecessary for me to offer any further remarks on these points. I may, however, state generally that, so far as I am able to judge, a real advance has here been made in the mode of treating problems in Geographical Distribution, owing to the firm establishment of a number of preliminary doctrines or "principles," which in many cases lead to a far simpler and yet more complete solution of such problems than have been hitherto possible. The most important of these doctrines are those which establish and define—(1) The former wide extension of all groups now discontinuous, as being a necessary result of "evolution"; (2) The permanence of the great features of the distribution of land and water on the earth's surface; and, (3) The nature and frequency of climatal changes throughout geological time.


I have now only to thank the many friends and correspondents who have given me information or advice. Besides those whose assistance is acknowledged in the body of the work, I am especially indebted to four gentlemen who have been kind enough to read over the proofs of chapters dealing with questions on which they have special knowledge, giving me the benefit of valuable emendations and suggestions. Mr. Edward R. Alston has looked over those parts of the earlier chapters which relate to the mammals of Europe and the North Temperate zone; Mr. S. B. J. Skertchley, of the Geological Survey, has read the chapters which discuss the glacial epoch and other geological questions; Professor A. Newton has looked over the passages referring to the birds of the Madagascar group; while Sir Joseph D. Hooker has given me the invaluable benefit of his remarks on my two chapters dealing with the New Zealand flora.

Croydon, August, 1880.