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Title: The Maltese archipelago
Authors: Cassar, Louis F.
Conrad, Elisabeth
Schembri, Patrick J.
Keywords: Coastal ecology -- Malta
Geomorphology -- Malta
Geology -- Malta
Plants -- Malta
Animals -- Malta
Cultural landscapes -- Malta
Ecology -- Malta
Issue Date: 2008
Publisher: Springer Berlin Heidelberg
Citation: Cassar, L. F., Conrad, E., & Schembri, P. J. (2008) The Maltese archipelago. In I. N. Vogiatzakis, G. Pungetti, & A. M. Mannion (Eds.), Mediterranean island landscapes: natural and cultural approaches (pp.297-322). Heidelberg: Springer.
Abstract: The Maltese Islands are a group of small, relatively low islands situated in the central Mediterranean some 96 km south of Sicily and 290 km north of the coast of Libya. Their total land area is c.316 km2. This island group consists of three inhabited islands: Malta (246.5 km2), Gozo (65.8 km2) and Comino (2.9 km2) together with a number of small, uninhabited islets each less than 10 ha. Collectively, the islands have a coastline of 189.6 km. Amongst the Mediterranean Islands, the Maltese archipelago has received least attention, possibly because it is so close to Sicily and the Italian mainland, and because it has a limited habitat diversity. There are no mountains on any of the Maltese Islands and therefore none of the climatic, edaphic or biotic phenomena associated with such landforms. However, the biogeography of the Maltese Islands is interesting, not least as a case study of how the present day biota has been assembled and has changed as a result of climatic and edaphic changes, and particularly as a consequence of human-induced perturbations to the local environment. The islands also support a number of endemic forms which are of intrinsic scientific interest for the light they throw on the phylogeny and biogeography of their group, and for the wider evolutionary processes they reflect. Such forms are also important culturally since they are unique to the Maltese archipelago and therefore form a valuable part of local, regional and global natural heritage.
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