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Polynesia Micronesia Hotspot

The Polynesia Micronesia islands clusters are spread over a distance of 40 million sq km in the Pacific Ocean. Politically, the region is shared between 11 countries in three continents. The hotspot covers an area of just 47,239 sq km making it one of the smallest hotpots' in the world. The region has one of the highest rates of species extinction. Within the island groups, can be seen a wide variation in vegetation types ranging from strand vegetation, mangroves, tropical rainforests and cloud forests to savannas, open woodlands and shrublands.

This hotspot has 5,330 plant, 16 mammal, 292 bird, 64 reptile, three amphibian and 96 freshwater fish species. Hawaiian silverswords (Argyroxiphium spp.), found only on the slopes of Hawaii's highest volcanoes are a noteworthy plant species. Birds are the dominant terrestrial species found with a high level of endemism. The Hawaii honeycreepers belonging to the finch subfamily are the best known birds in the region. Bats are the only terrestrial mammals and the Fijian monkey-faced flying fox (Pteralopex acrodonta), one of the most primitive species in the world, is found in the island of Fiji. Another mammal that breeds here is the Hawaiian monk seal (Monachus schauinslandi). Reptilian inhabitants include saltwater crocodiles (Crocodylus porosus), Fiji banded iguanas (Brachylophus fasciatus), venomous bola or Fiji snake (Ogmodon vitianus) and parthenogenic Lepidodactylus geckos. Three amphibians all endemic are native to the hotspot-Fiji tree frog (Platymantis vitiensis), Fiji ground frog (P. vitiana) and the Palau frog (P. pelewensis). Brightly coloured snails on trees are conspicuous in these islands.

Introduction of invasive, non-native plant and animal species over the years have wrecked havoc on the biodiversity of these islands. These animal invasives include snakes, birds, snails, ants, rats, pigs, goats, feral cats and mongoose. Other threats include hunting and trapping of wildlife, pressure on ecosystems from agriculture, logging and urbanisation, and fire.

The Polynesia Micronesia islands have 356 protected areas spread across an area of 18,722 sq km of land and sea. Conservation efforts have been going on only in a small scale and include donors like the Asian Development Bank, United Nations agencies and grants from countries like New Zealand, Japan, France, Australia and the United States of America.

[The information has been sourced from the Conservation International website on biodiversity hotspots ( Accessed in February 2008.]

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