Indigenous (ecology)

In biogeography, a species is indigenous to a given region or ecosystem if its presence in that region is the result of only natural processes, with no human intervention.[1] The term is equivalent to the concept of native or autochthonous species.[2][3] Every wild organism (as opposed to a domesticated organism) has its own natural range of distribution in which it is regarded as indigenous. Outside this native range, a species may be introduced by human activity, either intentionally or unintentionally; it is then referred to as an introduced species within the regions where it was anthropogenically introduced.[4]

The notion of indigeneity is often a blurred concept, as is a function of both time and political boundaries.[5][6] Seen over long periods of time, plants and animals take part in the constant movement of tectonic plates—species appear and may flourish, endure, or become extinct, and their distribution is rarely static or confined to a particular geographic location.

An indigenous species in a location is not necessarily also endemic to that location. Endemic species are exclusively found in a particular place.[7] An indigenous species may occur in areas other than the one under consideration. The terms endemic and indigenous also do not imply that an organism necessarily first originated or evolved where it is currently found.[8]

See also


  1. CEQ (1999). Executive Order 13112
  2. "What are native plants?". University of Rhode Island. Retrieved 16 January 2019.
  3. "Autochthonous". Merriam-Webster Dictionary. Retrieved 16 January 2019.
  4. "Introduced species". Science Daily. Retrieved 26 December 2017.
  5. Levin, Phillip S; Poe, Melissa R. (2017). Conservation for the Anthropocene Ocean: Interdisciplinary Science in Support of Nature and People. Academic Press. ISBN 9780128092989.
  6. Aitken, Gill (2018). A New Approach to Conservation: The Importance of the Individual through Wildlife Rehabilitation. Routledge. ISBN 9781351163545.
  7. "Endemic". Oxford English Dictionary (3rd ed.). Oxford University Press. September 2005. (Subscription or UK public library membership required.)
  8. Indigenous, Aliens and Invasives Envirofacts

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