| || || Pikacha, Patrick G.|
| || || The conservation status and ethnobiology of small mammals and amphibians in Solomon Islands : a case study of Sene village, southeast Choiseul Island, Solomon Islands |
Author:Pikacha, Patrick G.
Institution: University of the South Pacific.
Subject: Mammals -- Conservation -- Solomon Islands -- Choiseul, Wildlife conservation -- Solomon Islands -- Choiseul
Call No.: pac QL 735 .S6 P55 2005
Copyright:60-80% of this thesis may be copied without the authors written permission
Abstract: Forest habitat loss caused primarily by industrial logging, has generated much interest in the last decade in the Solomon Islands. With the loss of primary forest habitats throughout the archipelago there have also been key losses of many forest vertebrate species. The Solomon Islands compared to other oceanic islands in the South Pacific has very high vertebrate diversity. Yet the terrestrial biodiversity of these islands, in particular of small mammal and amphibian vertebrate diversity, is essentially understudied. Owing to this realization has been the foremost motivation for this ethnobiological study, which was undertaken principally at Sene Village, Southeast Choiseul, Solomon Islands. Although opportunistic community based surveys and field work were also carried out within the greater Southeast Choiseul area, as well as on nearby Vangunu Island, Solomon Islands. This study assesses the abundance and diversity of small mammals and amphibians in Southeast Choiseul, examines and records the various habitats these species occupy and rely upon, the important roles these vertebrates play in the interrelationship between humans and these forest species. The survey also considers the environmental impacts industrial logging has had on the terrestrial biodiversity. The specific focus is on it’s impact on certain forest dependent species of small mammals and amphibians of Southeast Choiseul Island; the native arboreal giant rats, Solomys ponceleti, S. salebrosus, and frogs, Ceratobatrachus guentheri, Brachylodes vertebralis, B. elegans, B. gigas, Discodeles guppyi, and Platymantis spp. Additionally, the study attempts to draft a workable conservation plan that is relevant to forest reliant communities and resource owners of Southeast Choiseul. This research reveals that Southeast Choiseul Island is an area of high small mammal and frog diversity compared to other islands within the Solomon Islands, and oceanic islands of the South Pacific. It shows that, the habitats that support this diversity are under considerable risk due to increasing large–scale logging concessions. The results also showed that there has been a decline in native species of small mammals and some frog species in disturbed and degraded forest areas. It demonstrates that the traditional knowledge possessed by indigenous people of their terrestrial environment, vertebrate diversity, and the sustainable use of forest biodiversity is only held by a few elderly people, and is rapidly eroding. The study revealed an urgent need to record this indigenous knowledge for later generations. The survey also revealed a need to carry out further extended long-term taxonomic and ecological work on small mammals and frogs in the area. This study also showed that the villagers of Sene Village remain highly reliant on the health of the forests for forest products and other resources relevant to their economic and cultural survival. Based on the investigation of these issues, suggestions are made on potential methods of conserving and promoting on Southeast Choiseul Island the creation of effective wildlife management areas to protect and preserve forested areas, and protect and conserve threatened vertebrate species, such as small mammals and frogs and associated diversity within the area. To achieve this conservation goal alternative development initiatives must be promoted by national and provincial government, and local entrepreneurs to provide a substitute for the mass deforestation caused by logging.