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Krakatau Island Biological Research :

Krakatoa, or Krakatau, is a volcanic island situated in the Sunda Strait between the islands of Java and Sumatra in the Indonesian province of Lampung. The name is also used for the surrounding island group comprising the remnants of a much larger island of three volcanic peaks which was obliterated in a cataclysmic 1883 eruption.

The islands have become a major case study of island biogeography and founder populations in an ecosystem being built from the ground up in an environment virtually cleaned.

The islands had been little studied or biologically surveyed before the 1883 catastrophe, only two pre 1883 biological collections are known: one of plant specimens and the other part of a shell collection. From descriptions and drawings made by HMS Discovery, the flora appears to have been representative of a typical Javan tropical climax forest. The pre 1883 fauna is virtually unknown but was probably typical of the smaller islands in the area.

From a biological perspective, the Krakatau problem refers to the question of whether the islands were completely sterilized by the 1883 eruption or whether some indigenous life survived. When the first researchers reached the islands in May 1884, the only living thing they found was a spider in a crevice on the south side of Rakata. Life quickly recolonized the islands, however, Verbeek's visit in October 1884 found grass shoots already growing. The eastern side of the island has been extensively vegetated by trees and shrubs, presumably brought there as seeds washed up by ocean currents or carried in birds' droppings (or brought by natives and scientific investigators). It is, however, in a somewhat fragile position, and the vegetated area has been badly damaged by recent eruptions.

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