Schouten Islands

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This article is about island group in Indonesia. For other islands with same name, see Schouten (disambiguation).
Location of Schouten Islands
Schouten Islands in Cenderawasih Bay.

The Schouten Islands (Kepulauan Biak, also Biak Islands or Geelvink Islands) are an island group of Papua province, eastern Indonesia in the Cenderawasih Bay (or Geelvink Bay) 50 km off the north-western coast of the island of New Guinea. The group consists of the main islands of Biak, Supiori and Numfor, and numerous smaller islands, mostly covered in rain forest.

History[edit]

The Schouten Islands are named after Dutch explorer Willem Schouten.

Ecology[edit]

These small islands have been designated the Biak–Numfoor rain forests as having the most highly endemic avifauna of any single area in the New Guinea region. The forest consists of similar types of trees to that on mainland New Guinea.

There are over 100 different birds on the islands, of which 11 to 16 bird species entirely restricted in their range to this small island group, including: Black-winged Lory (Eos cyanogenia); the small tree-climbing Geelvink Pygmy Parrot (Micropsitta geelvinkiana); Biak Scrubfowl (Megapodius geelvinkianus); Spice Imperial-pigeon (Ducula myristicivora); Yellow-bibbed Fruit-dove (Ptilinopus solomonensis); Biak Coucal (Centropus chalybeus); two tree kingfishers, Biak Paradise Kingfisher (Tanysiptera riedelii) and Numfor Paradise Kingfisher (Tanysiptera carolinae); Biak Gerygone (Gerygone hypoxantha) (a subspecies of the Large-billed Gerygone; Biak Monarch (Monarcha brehmii); Biak Flycatcher (Myiagra atra); Long-tailed Starling (Aplonis magna); and Biak White-eye (Zosterops mysorensis).[1][2] As well as the birds there are a number of endemic mammals, although there are only 29 mammals in total on the islands. The endemics include: Biak Naked-backed Fruit Bat (Dobsonia emersaa) a species of barebacked fruit bat (so-called because their wings are attached to the back rather than the sides, giving this type of bat a different appearance to most species; a marsupial Biak Glider (Petaurus biacensis); Japen Rat (Rattus jobiensis); and two species of Giant naked-tailed rat Uromys boeadii and Uromys emmae . The islands also have a number of endemic butterflies and one endemic spider Diolenius angustipes|W.[3]

Much of the forest has been cut down for logging or to clear land for planting especially on Biak Island, which is the most populous in the area, although logging has slowed down now. There are two protected areas, which are close to each other: Pulau Supiori Nature Reserve, which is most of Supiori Island; and Biak Utara Nature Reserve which is an area on Biak Island just across the bridge from Supiori. However the logging industry may return, while birds are vulnerable to collectors and just because they have such a limited range of habitat on these small islands. The area needs more study.[4] Diving in the waters off Biak is a popular activity for tourists.

Coordinates: 1°00′S 136°00′E / 1.000°S 136.000°E / -1.000; 136.000

References[edit]

  1. ^ Geelvink Islands (Endemic Bird Areas of the world)
  2. ^ Biak-Numfor Birding, Geelvink Islands Bird-watching, Geelvink Endemic Birds
  3. ^ Platnick, Norman I. (2009): The world spider catalog, version 9.5. American Museum of Natural History.
  4. ^ "Biak-Numfoor rain forests". Terrestrial Ecoregions. World Wildlife Fund.