Researchers from The University of Queensland have added several important new records of mammals from Key Biodiversity Areas across Solomon Islands, as part of work funded by CEPF in the East Melanesian Islands.
Earlier in 2015, the team made the exciting first scientific record of New Georgia monkey-faced bat (Pteralopex taki) from Kolombangara Island. New Georgia monkey-faced bats are listed as Endangered on the IUCN Red List and are believed to be declining throughout their range in the Western Province of Solomon Islands. Information collected in 1992 indicated they were once present on Kolombangara but had become extinct there due to logging of lowland forests. Confirmation of their existence for the first time on Kolombangara is therefore extremely encouraging for the survival of this species.
A visit to East Makira has contributed two new species of mammal previously unrecorded from that island. The large spiny rat (Rattus praetor) is common in New Guinea and has been prehistorically introduced throughout parts of Melanesia. This first ever record of this rat from Makira Island is therefore surprising. The second new mammal record is of a small echolocating bat, Maluku myotis (Myotis moluccarum). This bat is associated with wetlands and waterways. Further examination of this bat might prove it to be a unique species given that Makira has a high proportion of endemic animals.
In September 2015, the team also documented the first scientific record of the Guadalcanal monkey-faced bat (Pteralopex atrata) since 1991. This species is listed as Endangered in the IUCN Red List and has been recorded from sea level to 400m altitude on Guadalcanal. This record is encouraging as the specimen identified was a juvenile and recorded in disturbed habitat on the edge of primary forest close to Honiara.
Related publication: Lavery TH, Olds AD, Seddon JM, Leung LK-P (2016) The mammals of northern Melanesia: speciation, ecology and biogeography. Mammal Review 46: 60–76.