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New faunal records from a World Heritage Site in danger: Rennell Island, Solomon Islands

April 19, 2021

Remote oceanic islands have high potential to harbor unique fauna and flora, but opportunities to conduct in-depth biotic surveys are often limited. Furthermore, underrepresentation of existing biodiversity in the literature has the potential to detract from conservation planning and action. Between 18 and 29 October 2018, we surveyed the terrestrial vertebrates of East Rennell, a UNESCO World Heritage Site in Solomon Islands. We documented 56 species, including 15 squamates, 13 mammals, and 38 birds, and present four new vertebrate records for the island: Stephan's emerald dove (Chalcophaps stephani), Maluku myotis (Myotis moluccarum), littoral skink (Emoia atrocostata) and brahminy blindsnake (Indotyphlops braminus). East Rennell was designated a World Heritage site for its significant on-going ecological and biological processes, and importance for the study of island biogeography. The new records presented here provide evidence that continued field studies combined with DNA analysis will continue to uncover even greater endemic biodiversity. Rennell is currently experiencing major habitat destruction in parts of the island that are not under World Heritage protection, and we anticipate collateral damage will likely extend into protected areas. Our survey also underscores the incredible vertebrate biodiversity that stands to be lost unless conservation actions and local community needs are intertwined to promote beneficial outcomes on both fronts.

Publication Year 2021
Title New faunal records from a World Heritage Site in danger: Rennell Island, Solomon Islands
DOI 10.2984/75.3.8
Authors Tyrone H Laverty, Lucas H. DeCicco, Jonathan Q. Richmond, Ikuo G Tigulu, Michael J. Anderson, David Boseto, Robert G Moyle
Publication Type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Series Title Pacific Science
Index ID 70242809
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse
USGS Organization Western Ecological Research Center