J. Hales



Major Habitat Type

Tropical and subtropical coastal rivers

Drainages flowing into

Molucca Sea, Halmahera Sea, Ceram Sea, Banda Sea, Timor Sea, Arafura Sea (Pacific Ocean)

Main rivers to other water bodies

Salawai (Seram), Wae Apu and Wae Mala (Baru) 



The Malukku Islands are a group of Indonesian islands located west of New Guinea, South of Philippines, and east of Sulawesi (Celebes). They are nestled between the Molucca Sea and Halmahera Sea in the north, the Ceram Sea and Banda Sea in the central part of the archipelago, and the Timor Sea and Arafura Sea in the south. 


Most of the islands in this ecoregion are mountainous, with the the highest peaks including Mount Binaiya (3027 m asl) on the island of Seram and Mount Kapalatmada (2700 m asl) on the island of Buru.

Terrestrial habitats

These islands span several terrestrial ecoregions. The Halmahera rain forests terrestrial ecoregion [AA0106] cover the northern Malukka Islands (including Morotai, Halmahera, Bacan Islands, and Obi Islands). The Sulawesi lowland rain forests ecoregion [AA0123] cover the Sulu Islands. Buru Island occupies its own terrestrial ecoregion: the Buru rain forests [AA0104].  Seram Island, Lease Islands, and Gorong Archipelago all fall within the Seram rain forests [A0118]. The remaining southern islands (including the Kai Islands, Tanimbar Islands, and Barat Daya Islands) comprise the Banda Sea Islands moist deciduous forests [AA0102] (Wikramanayake et al. 2002).

Description of endemic fishes

The three recorded endemics include Schismatogobius bruynisi, Sicyopterus brevis, and Stiphodon zebrinus.

Justification for delineation

For Southeast Asia, delineations were determined using a bottom-up approach that employed both published and unpublished field data and expert assessment (Abell et al. 2008; De Beaufort 1913; Kottelat et al. 1993; Kottelat & Whitten 1993); Koumans 1953; Watson et al. 1998). The ecoregion is characterized by the absence of primary division freshwater families and the presence of several endemic species of marine origin (M. Kottelat pers. comm. 2006).

Level of taxonomic exploration

There is little to no data for most of the islands in this ecoregion (unpublished data for Halmahera) and it is possible that when data become available several ecoregions will need to be recognized (M. Kottelat pers. comm. 2006).


  • Abell, Robin,M.L. Thieme,C. Revenga,M. Bryer,M. Kottelat,N. Bogutskaya,B. Coad,N. Mandrak,S.C. Balderas,W. Bussing,M.L.J. Stiassny,P. Skelton,G.R. Allen,P. Unmack,A. Naseka,R. Ng,N. Sindorf,J. Robertson,E. Armijo,J.V. Higgins,T.J. Heibel,E. Wikramanayake, (2008). "Freshwater Ecoregions of the World: A New Map of Biogeographic Units for Freshwater Biodiversity Conservation" BioScience 58 (5) pp. 403-414.
  • Kottelat, M.;Whitten, A. J. (1993). "Freshwater fishes of Western Indonesia and Sulawesi: additions and corrections" Hong Kong: Periplus.
  • Wikramanayake, Eric,Dinerstein, Eric,Loucks, C.,Olson, D.M.,Morrison, J.,Lamoreux, J. L.,McKnight, M.;Hedao, P. (2002). "Terrestrial ecoregions of the Indo-Pacific: A conservation assessment" Washington, DC: Island Press.
  • De Beaufort, L.F. (1913). "Fishes of the eastern part of the Indo-Australian archipelago with remarks on its zoogeography" Bijd. Nederl. Dierk. Ver. Amst. 19 pp. 95-163.
  • Kottelat, M.,Whitten, A. J.,Kartikasari, S. N.;Wirjoatmodjo, S. (1993). "Freshwater fishes of Western Indonesia and Sulawesi" Hong Kong: Periplus.
  • Koumans, F. P. (1953). "Gobioidea" Weber, M. ;L. F. de Beaufort (Ed.) Fishes of the Indo-Australian Archipelago ( (Vol. 10, pp. 1-423 ) Leiden: E. J. Brill,.
  • Watson, R.E.,G.R. Allen;M. Kottelat (1998). "A review of Stiphodon from Halmahera and Irian Jaya, Indonesia, with descriptions of two new species (Teleostei: Gobiidae)." Ichthyol. Explor. Freshwat. 9 (3) pp. 293-304.