Yapen rain forests
The Yapen Rain Forests are important for their two restricted-range bird species and unique limestone and ultramafic floras. Although almost one-third of the ecoregion is under some form of protection, the island is subject to population pressure.
Location and General Description
This small ecoregion represents the lowland and montane rain forests of Yapen Island, off the northwestern coast of Irian Jaya, Indonesia, on the island of New Guinea. The climate of the ecoregion is tropical wet, which is characteristic of this part of Melanesia, located in the western Pacific Ocean north of Australia. The surface geology of this ecoregion consists of low mountains of plutonic rock and limestone. The island extends to an elevation 1,430 meters (m) and is a land bridge island that was part of the New Guinea mainland during recent glacial periods.
The vegetation of Yapen Island is tropical lowland (alluvial and hill type) and montane forest.
The mammal fauna consists of thirty-seven species, including a near endemic that Yapen shares with Biak and Numfoor islands (Yapen rat, Rattus jobiensis) (Table 1).
|Table 1. Endemic and Near-Endemic Mammal Species|
Yapen is home to approximately 147 bird species, including two restricted-range species that qualify it as a Secondary Endemic Bird Area (EBA). These two near-endemic species (Table 2), the spice imperial-pigeon (Ducula myristicivora) and the green-backed robin (Pachycephalopsis hattamensis), are also found on the mainland.
|Table 2. Endemic and Near Endemic Bird Species|
|Columbidae||Spice imperial-pigeon||Ducula myristicivora|
|Eopsaltriidae||Green-backed robin||Pachycephalopsis hattamensis|
The island constitutes the Yapen Island Nature Reserve Centre of Plant Diversity. Several endemic plants have been collected, but the flora of the island is poorly known. The island contains significant limestone and ultramafic floras.
Two protected areas, covering 790 km2, protect 32 percent of the island's ecosystems (Table 3).
|Table 3. WCMC (1997) Protected Areas That Overlap with the Ecoregion|
|Protected Area||Area (km2)||IUCN Category|
|Ecoregion numbers of protected areas that overlap with additional ecoregions are listed in brackets|
Types and Severity of Threats
The island is subject to population pressure, agricultural development, local sawmilling operations, and human-made fire. Only small, low-grade mineral deposits are present.
Justification of Ecoregion Delineation
Using Whitmore's map of the vegetation of Malesia and MacKinnon's reconstruction of the original vegetation, we delineated the large areas of distinct habitat types as ecoregions. Yapen and Biak islands, which MacKinnon combined within biounit P3c, were delineated as separate ecoregions; Yapen Rain Forests and Biak-Numfoor Rain Forests, respectively, were based on recommendations by Bob Johns (vegetation) and the patterns of mammal distribution. Udvardy placed these ecoregions in the Papuan biogeographic province of the Oceanian Realm.
Additional information on this ecoregion
- For a shorter summary of this entry, see the WWF WildWorld profile of this ecoregion.
- To see the species that live in this ecoregion, including images and threat levels, see the WWF Wildfinder description of this ecoregion.
- World Wildlife Fund Homepage
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