New Guinea Central Mountains




J. Hales


Papua New Guinea

Major Habitat Type

Montane freshwaters

Drainages flowing into

Bismarck Sea, Solomon Sea, Pacific Ocean, Arafura Sea, Coral Sea

Main rivers to other water bodies

Notable lakes include the Paniai Lakes, composed of lakes Paniai, Tage, Tigi, and Kutubu. It also includes headwater areas of the Sepik, Fly, Strickland, Kikori, Purari, Baliem and Wahgi rivers.



This ecoregion lies along the length of New Guinea’s Central Highlands, extending from Cenderwasih Bay in the west to the Huon Gulf and Solomon Sea in the east. It includes headwaters of both northern and southern drainages.


This ecoregion is defined by the Central Highlands, which forms the backbone of New Guinea. It was shaped by vertical uplift, volcanism, and glaciation (Allen 1991). 

Terrestrial habitats

The main terrestrial ecoregions are the Central Range montane rain forests [AA0105] and the Central Range sub-alpine grasslands [AA1002]. It also covers a small portion of the Vogelkop-Aru lowland rain forests [AA0128] in the west and Southeastern Papuan rain forests [AA0120] in the east (WWF 2001).

Description of endemic fishes

This ecoregion contains more than 20 endemic species primarily among the families Eleotrididae and Melanotaeniidae, as well as some endemic gobiids, terapontids, and atherinids. Areas of fish endemism include the Sepik-Ramu Foreland, Paniai Lakes, and especially Lake Kutubu, which is home to half of the endemic species of Mogurnda in New Guinea (Allen 1991).

Justification for delineation

Freshwater biotas in New Guinea center around foci of high endemicity clustered around tectonic provinces. This ecoregion comprises the Central Mountain Ranges region of endemism recognized by Allen (1991) and Polhemus et al. (2004).


  • Allen, G. R. (1991). "Field guide to the freshwater fishes of New Guinea, Publ. 9" Madang, Papua New Guinea: Christensen Research Institute.
  • World Wildlife Fund (WWF) (2001) \Terrestrial Ecoregions of the World\ "<"">"
  • Polhemus, D.A.,England, R.A.;Allen, G.R. (2004) \Freshwater biotas of New Guinea and nearby islands: analysis of endemism, richness, and threats. Bishop Museum Technical Report 31\ Honolulu, HI. Bishop Museum.