Terrestrial (2), Nusa Tenggara and Maluku

Biodiversity and Tropical Forests in Indonesia.

The recorded species of mammals, birds, reptiles and frogs in Nusa Tenggara and Maluku have recently been dramatically revised. Surveys between 1987 and 1996 by the Western Australian Museum and LIPI of some 32 islands in these regions have described numerous new species (Kitchener and Suyanto, eds 1996; Kitchener pers. comm.). Possibly the most surprising result was that these surveys almost doubled the known species of frogs in the region and mammal species recorded from most islands. Synoptic accounts for most of these recently surveyed vertebrate faunal groups have not been produced save for the bats. As is the case with plant species, these faunal surveys revealed that for the vertebrate groups, except for birds, Wallace’s Line was not the most significant biogeographic boundary.


In fact the brief survey of Lombok Island increased the known mammal fauna there from 22 to 54 species- with all the additional species being of Asian origin. The survey of the other entire island in Nusa Tenggara similarly added large numbers of mammal species of Asian origin to their inventories. It was only when the Tanimbar Islands were reached that a significant Australasian mammal element appeared, including several un-described species of Mosaic-tailed Rats. The Tanimbar Island group, and not the boundary between Bali and Lombok, appears to be the major interface between the Oriental and Australasian regions for mammals, and other terrestrial vertebrate groups (D. Kitchener pers. comm). Thus, for many invertebrates, and birds and butterflies, this interface is better represented by Weber’s Line than Wallace’s Line (see also MacKinnon and MacKinnon 1986; Vane Wright and Peggie 1994; Whitmore 1981b).

Monk et al. (1997) review the recent literature and conclude that in the general area of Wallacea, Nusa Tenggara, except for Tanimbar, which has a mixture of Indo-Malay and Australian elements, is dominated by Indo-Malay forms to the west. The Sula islands are part of Sulawesi; Central and South Maluku, including Seram and Buru, are more closely related to Australia than to Papua; and North Maluku centered on Halmahera, including Bacan, the Sula Islands and Obi have greater affinities with Papua.

The bat fauna of the Inner Banda arc is greatly influenced by the Sundaic elements which diminish evenly from the Javan sources area. But there is a rapid increase in the proportion of endemics in the inner Banda Arc from west to east for bats but no such trend for the Outer Banda Arc islands. For bats, the islands of the Inner and Outer Banda Arcs are not clearly characterized as either continental or oceanic islands. Perhaps this is because these islands straddle the region between two large source areas to the west (Sunda) and east Sahul). There has, however, been considerable speciation in this region and endemic bat species have become widely distributed in both Banda Arcs. These bat endemics are presumably adapted to insular environments which may explain their ability to persist on even small Outer Banda Arc islands. Frequent volcanic eruptions in the inner Banda Arc islands (which have among others included in the 20th century Gunung Agung, Bali; Gunung Rinjani, Lombok; Gunung Ranaka, Flores; and Gunung Api, Banda Neira) may have offered opportunities for invasion of both Sundaic and Lesser Sunda elements into the Banda Islands, a situation presumably to the competitive advantage of the endemics that may be expected to be adapted to small island ecosystems. Other eruptions in this region have included the largest volcanic eruption in recorded history, namely, Mt. Tamora on Sumbawa in 1815. Moyo Island, only 3 km from the foothill of Tambora, was directly in the path of the eruption column and was covered to a depth of some 0.9 m of ash (Self et al. 1984). Despite this, Moyo Island now has a richer bat fauna than would be predicted from either its area or distance from the Java source area. Moyo also has a relatively rich non migratory passerine bird, snake and frog fauna in relation to its area. Clearly recovery and re-invasion by vertebrate of areas in Nusa Tenggara and Maluku devastated by these volcanic explosions fauna can be relatively rapid and complete. Of the various biogeographic hypothesis, the ‘constant perturbations’ model seems to best fit the dynamics of bat species richness in the Inner and Banda Arc islands (Kitchener 1998).

Mammals of the Maluku include marsupials (six species of Cuscus, Phalangeridae, including endemic species Strigocuscus pelengensis in the Sulu islands; Phalanger ornatus in the Halmahera group; Phalanger rothschildi in the Obi Islands and Phalanger sp on Gebe Island (an undescribed Cuscus is also recorded from Timor Island far to the south-fide΄ D. Kitchener; Sugar Glider, Petaurus breviceps, and the Seram Bandicoot (Rhynchomeles prattorum)). The bats are the most common mammals encountered in the Maluku but there appears to be no endemic genera there, although there are a few endemic species (Corbet and Hill 1992).

Pattern of bird colonization in the region are complex and far from being understood. The large number of endemic species (144 species or 39%), high overall species richness (672 species) results from the fact that most of the islands with birds are oceanic and that these have been variably colonized from the Sunda and Sahul regions. The region is characterized by high levels of endemism at subspecies and species levels but not at generic levels (seven genera). The Central and Northern Maluku have patchy distribution of many birds. For example, Verditer Flycatcher (Eumyias panayensis) on Seram and Obi; Mountain tailorbird (Orthotomus cuculatus) on Buru; Seram and Bacan; Tyto owls (Tytonidae) on Taliabu and Buru; and the Black-eared Oriole (Oriolidae) on Buru and Tanimbar (P. Jepson in Monk et al. 1997).

The most commonly accepted biogeographic boundaries for birds in Nusa Tenggara are those of MacKinnon and Wind (1980) (see fig. 3.10). Although there remains contention as to whether the island of Obi should be included with north or central Maluku (Monk et al. 1998). Monk et al. (1997) note that the butterflies of north and central Maluku have the same boundaries (Vane –Wright and Peggie 1994) as the birds of MacKinnon and Artha (1981).

Amphibians and reptiles of Nusa Tenggara and Maluku total at least 45 species of frog species, mostly Rana, Litoria and Rhacophorus (L. Smith pers. comm.), which is about twice the number generally reported from the region.

Freshwater fish are largely unrecorded and unreported in Nusa Tenggara and Maluku (Kottelat 1994), except for Komodo Island where some 14 species are known (R. Lillee in Monk et al. 1997).

Biodiversity and Tropical
Forests in Indonesia
Biodiversity and Tropical Forests in Indonesia
Indonesian Biodiversity Patterns
Indonesia’s Marine Environment and
Region Specific Biodiversity
Legislative and Institutional Structure
Affecting Biological Resources
Legislative Basis for Protection and Management of Biodiversity and Forest Resources
Biodiversity Sumatra and Associated Islands
Biodiversity Kalimantan
Biodiversity Java and Associated Islands
Biodiversity Sulawesi
Biodiversity Nusa Tenggara and Maluku
Biodiversity Papua

The fauna in caves is generally unreported in Nusa Tenggara and Maluku. However, Batu Tering cave on Sumbawa have an extremely large bat fauna involving large fruit eating species (Pteropus, Dobsonia and Eonycteris) and a representative of local insect eating bats including Miniopterus, Myotis, Hipposideros and Rhinolophus (Kitchener pers. comm.).
There is a good deal of information on the butterflies of Nusa Tenggara and Maluku (Monk et al. 1997). Information from Seram Island, Maluku, indicates that moth diversity peaks at about 600-1000 m above sea level in the upper levels of the lowland forests; it is lowest in disturbed habitats. Species diversity is lower than for Sulawesi but higher than for similar sized Pacific islands (Holloway 1993).

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Source : Report on Biodiversity and Tropical Forests in Indonesia, USAID/Indonesia, 2004. Prepared by : (1) Steve Rhee, M.E.Sc. (2) Darrell Kitchener, Ph.D. (3) Tim Brown, Ph.D. (4) Reed Merrill, M.Sc. (5) Russ Dilts, Ph.D. (6) Stacey Tighe, Ph.D.

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