By Elaine Vaina
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| July 31, 2015
Findings from the 2014 expedition on PNG’s remote northern most islands of Manus and Mussau have been published.
The project was funded by the Critical Ecosystem Partnership Fund as part of a programme integrating biodiversity and community needs within the region.
Presented recently to officials and stakeholders in Kavieng, New Ireland Province, the 85 page book documents a total of 440 species of which 13 are new or undescribed species.
Included amongst the new species are four frog species, a large gecko, six plant species, a damselfly, and a fruit bat.
The discoveries on Manus Island included the capture of a woolly bat – a species which hadn’t been seen on the island for over a century.
Mussau Island, perhaps the least known of PNG’s larger islands, held the most surprises including new species of frog, bat, lizard and plants.
Expedition leader Nathan Whitmore said that the value of the book is in permanently documenting the biodiversity of the islands.
“Sadly, knowledge of the life which exists in PNG’s forest isn’t well recorded. Often when animals and plants disappear the knowledge that they were ever there is forgotten within a generation,” said Whitmore. “This book is our chance to make sure that these species are properly recorded.”
Whitmore adds, “However, the real role of WCS, as a conservation organisation, is to work with the communities and stakeholders of Manus and Mussau to ensure that the wildlife of the islands remains a living, breathing entity – not just words on a page.”
The book also indicates that there may be a number of other species new to science within the specimens they found (in particular two bats from Mussau) and that these will require further investigation before a conclusion can be made.
Participating communities of the survey will receive copies of the book including PNG universities, government departments and agencies, libraries and museums, NGO's and research institutions, and other organisations within the Pacific region who have a focus on biodiversity and conservation.
A pdf version of the full report, “A Rapid Biodiversity Survey of Papua New Guinea’s Manus and Mussau Islands” is freely available for download under the publications section of this site.