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Wednesday, 18-Oct-2017 20:21:03 GMT
Ecosystems of Marshall Islands

Contents:
  bulletMIXED FOREST COMMUNITY
    bulletScaevola-Guettarda, "kõnnat"-"utilomar" community
    bulletPisonia grandis, "kañal" forest
    bulletTournefortia argentea, "kiden" forest
    bulletPisonia-Tournefortia "kañal"-"kiden" community
    bulletSuriana "kalañe" society
    bulletNeisosperma oppositifolia "kõjbar" forest
    bulletPandanus "bõb" forest
    bulletScaevola servicea "kõnnat" forest
    bulletSida fallax "kio" scrub or scrub forest
    bulletPemphis acidula "kõñe" scrub or scrub forest
    bulletCordia subcordata, "kõno" community
    bulletBarringtonia asiatica, "wõp" forest
    bulletDodonea viscosa "kamen" stands
    bulletSandy beach, high tide area
    bulletCoconut "ni" groves and plantations
    bulletBreadfruit "mã" forest and community
    bulletLepturus, "ujoij" grasslands and savannahs
    bulletUrban forests and environments
  bulletHomesteads
  bulletFRESHWATER AND BRACKISH
    bulletInland lakes
    bulletTree holes and other small freshwater reservoirs
    bulletTaro, "iaraj" pits
    bulletLarge artificial reservoirs
    bulletBruguiera "joñ" community and basins
    bulletSonneratia "bulabol" community
  bulletMARINE
    bulletSeagrass community and meadows
    bulletSupratidal and intertidal
    bulletSandy areas of the intertidal and subtidal zones
    bulletCoral reefs
    bulletReef holes, artificially quarried and bombed
    bulletSea surface; lagoon water column, open water
    bulletDeep water
  bulletREFERENCES

None of ecosystems listed below will be identical in any two locations. Furthermore, since humans have had such a strong impact on local biota of the Marshalls, it is not really possible to separate natural ecosystems from artificial ones, although extreme examples of both should be self-evident. And in the Marshall Islands, it is not even possible to have a sharp demarcation between terrestrial and marine ecosystems.

The following list outlines the major ecosystems of the Marshall Islands. Of course, any division and figure is by nature arbitratry and should not be taken as the final word on the subject.


Ecosystem: MIXED FOREST COMMUNITY
Mixed forest drawing ©Nancy Vander Velde
Location: most uncultivated islands
Importance: heterogeneous mixture of many species; Neisosperma does not commonly occur; one of richest zones; pandanus trees source of food and nesting sites for reef heron, brown noddy; homefor land snails, possibly including endemics; forage grounds for birds and skinks
Status: reduced from original range by human clearing
Threats: land clearing; development; invasive exotics

Ecosystem: Scaevola-Guettarda, "kõnnat"-"utilomar" community
Scaevola guetarda drawing ©Nancy Vander Velde
Location: location; most islands, along beaches
Importance: holds beach together; halophytic properties of major species helps protect inland species
Threats: land clearing; invasive exotics

Ecosystem: Pisonia grandis, "kañal" forest
Pisonia grandis drawing ©Nancy Vander Velde
Location: now often found only on "mo" islands
Importance: favorite roost of gregarious seabirds; birds and leaves produce rich humus; only place where jemo soil is produced; one of the most characteristic and originally widespread coral island forests
Status: first forest to be cleared when planting coconuts
Threats: threats; land clearing; development

Ecosystem: Tournefortia argentea, "kiden" forest
Tournefortia argentea drawing © Nancy Vander Velde
Location: all atolls
Importance: one of the most successful colonists; habitat for nesting seabirds; stabilizes soil so small islands can enlarge and other species can become established
Threats: tends to be invaded by other species

Ecosystem: Pisonia-Tournefortia "kañal"-"kiden" community
Location: most atolls with islands undisturbed by humans
Importance: dense canopy forest; old, natural; roosts and nesting sites for many birds, (fairy terns, noddies); some of the richest soil on atolls
Threats: land clearing, development

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Ecosystem: Suriana "kalañe" society
Suriana drawing © Nancy Vander Velde
Location: northern atolls and islands only
Importance: binds windblown sand along windward beaches
Threats: use for firewood

Ecosystem: Neisosperma oppositifolia "kõjbar" forest
Neisosperma oppositifolia drawing © Nancy Vander Velde
Location: most atolls with undisturbed islets
Importance: climax forest; may invade and replace mixed broadleaf forests and Pisonia forests; only pure forests found in Marshalls, although species grows throughout Pacific
Threats: land clearing and development

Ecosystem: Pandanus "bõb" forest
Location: location; northern atolls
Status: source of food and building materials
Threats: uncommon in Marshalls
development

Ecosystem: Scaevola servicea "kõnnat" forest
Scaevola servicea drawing © Nancy Vander Velde
Location: most atolls, even northern
Importance: early colonizer; stabilizes beach areas; habitat for nesting seabirds (black-footed albatross, red-footed booby, frigatebirds); nesting area and food for green turtle; home to endemic bug Camphlomma; hiding spot for young black-naped terns before they can fly
Status: potentially threatened
Threats: threats; land clearing, establishment of Casuarina on beach zones; roof rat Rattus rattus chewing on stems

Ecosystem: Sida fallax "kio" scrub or scrub forest
Sida fallax drawing © Nancy Vander Velde
Location: Bokak
Importance: low in stature, pure stands, but sometimes with other low herbaceaus plants, nesting site for sea birds
Threats: human activities

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Ecosystem: Pemphis acidula "kõñe" scrub or scrub forest
Pemphis acidula drawing ©Nancy Vander Velde
Location: intertidal rocky areas of most atolls
Importance: one of the most extreme halophytes, survives submergence by seawater; inhabits limestone with no soil at all; survives typhoons; no insects in ecosystem; extremely hard wood; aberrant form reported on Likiep and in Arno salt swamps; large specimens, 5 feet in circumference or more; very old (hundred of years), possible use in arbochronology; no undergrowth, not succeeded by any other species; habitat of long-tailed cuckoo
Status: on less inhabited islands, often by inland waterways
Threats: popularly exploited for firewood

Ecosystem: Cordia subcordata, "kõno" community
Cordia subcordata drawing © Nancy Vander Velde
Location: boulder areas, drier areas
Importance: tangled branches form rugged beach barrier; no ground cover
Threats: shore clearing

Ecosystem: Barringtonia asiatica, "wõp" forest
Barringtonia asiatica drawing © Nancy Vander Velde
Location: rare, only a few islands, Lae, Lae; Namu, Namu striking in appearance; trees of enormous diameter; amidst large boulders along rugged beach; natural forests recorded only on Marshalls' atolls

Ecosystem: Dodonea viscosa "kamen" stands
Dodonea viscosa drawing ©Nancy Vander Velde
Location: northern atolls
Importance: related to Hawaiian "aalii" which has useful hard wood, unusually large and developed on Bikini

Ecosystem: Sandy beach, high tide area
Location: all atolls
Importance: limited vegetation, just a few grasses and pioneer scrubs; sand bound together with Nostac (nitrogenating blue-green bacteria); nesting site for endangered sea turtles; hunting ground for migratory shore birds beach development
Threats: beach development; as regards green turtles, beach armoring, beach nourishment, beach lighting, beach clearing, people walking on beach, vehicles driving on beach, beach erosion, beach accretion, exotic plants such as Casuarina, exotic predators, rats - all can reduce the survival rates of eggs and hatchlings

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Ecosystem: Coconut "ni" groves and plantations
Location: all inhabited and frequented islands
Importance: agricultural lands; undergrowth often cleared
Threats: imported pests; development

Ecosystem: Breadfruit "mã" forest and community
Ducula oceanica ©photo by Beth Flint, provided by Michael N Trevor
Location: all cultivated islands
Importance: major source of food for humans and animals; nesting site of endangered Micronesian pigeon
Threats: urbanization; pest insects and agricultural diseases

Ecosystem: Lepturus, "ujoij" grasslands and savannahs
Location: location; Bokak and drier atolls
Importance: importance; nesting site of wedge-tailed shearwater; one of earliest pioneers of bare sand and gravel
Status: stabile if left undisturbed
Threats: any human activity; importation of aggressive rat species

Ecosystem: Urban forests and environments
Location: urban environments; downtown Majuro, Ebeye
Importance: large proportion of native/traditional vegetation; breadfruit, pandanus, other food crops to a minor degree; low natural biodiversity but often high numbers of introduced species; lizards, insects,domestic animals; frequented by some migratory birds;
Status: in constant transition
Threats: further urbanization; invasive exotics

Ecosystem: Homesteads
Homestead drawing © Nancy Vander Velde
Location: all inhabited islands
Importance: houses kept clear of vegetation aside from some food plants and ornamentals; domestic animals, lizards, insects; low ; natural biodiversity; no humus on ground; coral gravel brought from beaches stabile under culture and tradition
Threats: further urbanization; invasive exotics

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FRESHWATER AND BRACKISH

Ecosystem: Inland lakes
Lake drawing ©Nancy Vander Velde
Location: non-mangrove areas, Wotje, Wotje; Lekan, Kwajelein
Importance: stopover for migratory waterfowl; soft mud provided protection during World War II when bombs dropped on Wotje did not explode
Threats: drainage for use of freshwater; pollution; waste oil; pesticides; invasive exotics

Ecosystem: Tree holes and other small freshwater reservoirs
Tree hole drawing ©Nancy Vander Velde
Location: most islands
Importance: indicate colonization patterns and patterns of dispersal of species between atolls; breeding grounds of Micronesian endemic Aedes and other insects
Status: seasonal

Ecosystem: Taro, "iaraj" pits
Taro pit drawing © Nancy Vander Velde
Location: inhabited islands
Importance: surrounded by lush vegetation; almost devoid of insects; freshwater snails common, possibly endemics; blood worms, freshwater shrimp
Status: in constant change if maintained
Threats: droughts; land development; invasive exotics

Ecosystem: Large artificial reservoirs
Location: urban areas; Majuro airport area
Importance: stopover for migratory waterfowl

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Ecosystem: Bruguiera "joñ" community and basins
Bruguiera drawing © Nancy Vander Velde
Location: wetland depressions without outlets; many atolls with large islands
Importance: likely planted by early inhabitants; provide building material; cannot spread naturally since no outlet to the sea
Status: very stressed or wiped out in urban areas, Majuro; protection of some recommended
Threats: filling of wetlands; urbanization; invasive exotics

Ecosystem: Sonneratia "bulabol" community
Sonneratia drawing ©Nancy Vander Velde
Location: only Lib; Airok, Ailinglaplap; Jaluit, Jaluit; Madmid, Namdrik; Birarij, Arno, Nallo, Mili
Importance: likely planted by man; habitat of "kirenbo" fish, Ophieleotris; timber
Status: protection of some recommended
Threats: filling of wetlands; introduced mosquitofish; other invasive exotics

MARINE

Ecosystem: Seagrass community and meadows
Seegrass drawing © Nancy Vander Velde
Location: Thalassia hemprichii -Ailinglaplap, Ujelang, other atolls; Cymodocea rotandata -Majuro; Halophila minor -Kwajelein
Importance: provides protection against currents in quiet water, sandy shore, nursery grounds for many fishes
Threats: urbanization; pollution; filling with land or trash

Ecosystem: Supratidal and intertidal
Supratidal area drawing ©Nancy Vander Velde
Location: all atolls
Importance: feeding grounds for migratory birds; home to many animals which help clean up beach
Threats: pollution; urbanization; seawalls; armorment; potentially lethal physical events - desiccation, osmotic stress, strong waves, thermal stress, high light intensity

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Ecosystem: Sandy areas of the intertidal and subtidal zones
Crab drawing © Nancy Vander Velde
Location: all atolls
Importance: feeding grounds for migratory birds; habitat for many food fishes and valuable seashells; forming grounds of many components of atoll land
Threats: pollution; urbanization; armorment; seawalls; dredging

Ecosystem: Coral reefs
Coral reef drawing © Nancy Vander Velde
Location: all atolls (subdivided in the Marshalls into lagoon reefs - slopes and flats - ocean reefs - slopes and flats - pinnacle reefs, interisland reef flats, urban reefs, reef passes, mid-ocean pinnacles, etc.)
Importance: highest diversity of shallow benthic species in the world is in tropical Indo-Pacific; small outcropping home to endemic three-banded anemonefish; home to most other endemic fishes
Status: stressed near urban areas
Threats: pollution; anchor damage; overfishing; careless collecting; reef walking; careless divers; dredging

Ecosystem: Reef holes, artificially quarried and bombed
Location: urbanized atolls; Enewetak, Mili
Status: abundant fishes; home of banded pipefish; mariculture and fisheries potentials
Threats: pollution; filling; over-exploitation

Ecosystem: Sea surface; lagoon water column, open water
Location: more than 99.99% of surface area of the Marshall Islands
Importance: plankton is extremely important to existence of the earth, more so than any other particular group of fishes or other animals or organisms; more abundant source of food than the most luxuriant forest; bacterial and organic material important many food webs; fisheries of the world bound up with plankton; decapods, euphausids, mysids, amphipods, chaetognaths
Threats: over-exploitation; pollution and biological magnification

Ecosystem: Deep water
Location: below 200 meters
Importance: deep water shrimp and other commercial species; three-quarters of ocean bottom below 3,000 meters but home to less than one percent of life in sea; one of most rigorous and constant environments; "rain" of detrital particles and fecal material from upper levels supports life; biomass declines with depth; faunal diversity is extraordinarily high
Status: debated
Threats: pollution drifting down from above

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REFERENCES


Drawings by Nancy Vander Velde

National Biodiversity Team of the RMI, 2000. The Marshall Islands - Living Atols Amidst the Living Sea/ The National Biodiversity Report of the Republic of the Marshall Islands. © RMI Biodiversity Project. ISBN 982-9045-02-1, St. Hildegard Publishing Company, Santa Clarita, CA, USA.

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Anderson, Donald, 1950. The Plants of Arno Atoll, Marshall Islands. Atoll Research Bulletin, No. 7, pp. 1~4

Apfelbaum, Steven I., James P. Ludwig and Catherine E. Ludwig, 1983. Ecological Problems Associated with Disruption of Dune Vegetation by Casuarina equisetiforlia L. at Sand Island, Midway Atoll. Atoll Research Bulletin, No. 261, pp. 1-19

Barnes, R. S. K. and R. N. Hughes, 1988. An Introduction to Marine Ecology, second edition. Blackwell Scientific Publications, Oxford, England

Carpenter Michael L., William B. Jackson and Michael W. Fall, 1968. Bird Populations at Eniwetok Atoll. Micronesica, Vol. 4 (2), pp.295-307

Clapp, R. B., 1990. Notes on the Birds of Kwajelein Atoll, Marshall Islands. Atoll Research Bulletin, No. 342, pp. 1-94

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Dakin, William J., 1966. Australian Seashore. Angus and Robertson, Sydney, Australia

DeLuca, Charles J. and Diana Maclntyre DeLuca, 1976. Pacific Marine Life. Charles E. Tuttle Company, Rutland, Vermont

Fosberg, F. R(aymond), 1953. Vegetation of Central Pacific Atolls, A Brief Summary. Atoll Research Bulletin, No. 23, pp. 1-26

_________, 1955a. Vegetation of Central Pacific Atolls, A Brief Summary. Atoll Research Bulletin, No. 23, pp. 1-26

_________, 1988. Vegetation of Bikini Atoll, 1985. Atoll Research Bulletin, No. 315, pp. 1-28

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_________, 1990. A Review of the Natural History of the Marshall Islands. Atoll Research Bulletin, No. 330, pp. 1-100

_________, 1992. The Coral Island Environment and its Relevance to Atoll Agriculture, pp. 45-53. in Chase, Robert. Review of Agricultural Development in the Atolls. University of the South Pacific, Apia, Western Samoa

Garrett, Kimball L., and Ralph E. Schreiber, 1988. The Birds of Bikini Atoll, Marshall Islands: May 1986. Atoll Research Bulletin, No.314, pp. 1-45

Gessel, S. P. and R. B. Walker,1992. Studies of Soils and Plants in the Northern Marshall Islands. Atoll Research Bulletin, No.359, pp.1-70

Harris, Larry G., Steven Searcy, Gregg Stevens and Michele Sleeter, 1994. A Comparison of Fish Populations and Reef Structure in Majuro Atoll Lagoon, Republic of the Marshall Islands. University of New Hampshire, Durham, New Hampshire

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Hatheway, William H., 1953. The Land Vegetation of Arno Atoll, Marshall Islands. Atoll Research Bulletin, No. 16, pp. 1-67

Ladd, Harry S., 1992. Cenozoic Fossils from Western Pacific Islands, Gastropods (Eulimidae and Volutidae Through Terebridae). U. S. Government Printing Office, Washington, D.C.

Likiep Biodiversity Workshop

Maguire Bassett Jr., 1967. Small Freshwater Organisms on Eniwetok Atoll. Micronesica, Vol. 3 (2), pp. 151-157

Marshall Islands Guidebook, 1996. Micronitor Printing, Majuro, Marshall Islands

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Marshall Joe T. Jr., 1950. Vertebrate Ecology of Arno Atoll. Atoll Research Bulletin, No. 3, pp. 1-38

Merlin Mark, Alfred Capelle, Thomas Keene, James Juvik and James Maragos, 1994. Keinikkan im Melan Aelon Kein; Plants and Environments of the Marshall Island. East-West Center, Honolulu, Hawaii

Miller, Alan C., 1986. Long-term Fluctuations in Algal Cover and Populations of Hermit Crabs and Gastropods at Enewetak Atoll. Bulletin of Marine Science, Vol. 38 (1), pp. 12-18

Milone, Peter, Gerald Posner, Richard Shomura and Robin Tuttle, 1985. Potential for Fisheries Development in the Marshall Islands. Trade and Development Program, Washington D.C.

Moore, Hilary B., 1958. Marine Ecology. John Wiley & Sons, New York, New York

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Nafus, Donald M., 1997. An Insect Survey of the Marshall Islands. Technical Paper, No. 208, South Pacific Commission, Noumea, New Caledonia

National Research Council, 1990. Decline of the Sea Turtles, Causes and Prevention. National Academy Press, Washington, D.C.

Nolan, Ron S., Ron R. McConnaughey and Charles R. Sterans, 1975. Fishes Inhabiting two Small Nuclear Test Craters at Enewetak Atoll, Marshall Islands. Micronesica, Vol. 11 (2), pp.205-217

Raynor. B., 1992. Forestry on Atolls—Past, Present, and Future, pp. 157-173 in Chase, Robert G. (ed.) A Review of Agricultural Development in the Atolls. University of the South Pacific, Apia, Western Samoa

Sabath, Michael D., 1977. Vegetation and Urbanization on Majuro Atoll, Marshall Islands. Pacific Science, Vol. 31 (4), pp.321-332

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Scott, Derek A., (ed) 1993. A Directory of Wetlands in Oceania. The International Waterfowl and Wetlands Research Bureau and Asian Wetland Bureau

Strykowski, Joe and Rena Bonem, 1992. Palaces Under the Sea. Star Thrower Foundation, Crystal River, Florida

Sumich, James L, 1980. An Introduction to the Biology of Marine Life, Second Edition. William C. Brown Company Publishers, Dubuque, Iowa

Taylor William Randolph, 1950. Plants of Bikini and other Northern Marshall Islands. University of Michigan Press, Ann Arbor, Michigan

Thomas, P. E. J, (ed.), 1989. Report of the Northern Marshall Islands Natural Diversity and Protected Areas Survey, 7-24

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September 1988. South Pacific Regional Environmental Programme, Noumea, New Caledonia; East West Center, Honolulu, Hawaii

Thorne-Miller, Boyce and John Catena, 1991. The Living Ocean, Understanding and Protecting Marine Biodiversity. Island Press, Washington, D.C.

USAKA, 1995. Environmental Standards and Procedures for United States Army Kwajalein Atoll (USAKA) Activities in the Republic of the Marshall Islands

Usingerr, R. L and Ira La Rivers, 1953. The Insect Life of Arno. Atoll Research Bulletin, No. 15, pp. 1-28

Walker, Richard B., Stanley P. Gessel and Edward E. Held 1997. The Ecosystem Study of Rongelap Atoll. Health Physics, Vol. 73, No. 1, pp. 223-233

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Whistler, W. Arthur, 1992. Flowers of the Pacific Island Seashore. Isle Botanica, Honolulu, Hawaii

 
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bulletHOME bullet NEWSbullet OVERVIEW OF LOCAL BIODIVERSITY bullet NATIONAL IMPLEMENTATION bullet NATIONAL INITIATIVES bullet PUBLICATIONS bullet THREATS TO BIODIVERSITY bullet RMI NATURAL RESOURCES DATABASE:[ Search the database ::: Overview of Atols and Islands ::: Brief Overwiew of Flora ::: Brief Overview of Fauna ::: Native Vascular Plants of the Marshalls ::: Plants of the Marshall Islands ::: Snails of the Marshall Islands ::: Arachnids and Myriapods of the Marshall Islands ::: Insects of the Marshall Islands ::: Fishes of the Marshall Islands ::: Reptiles and Amphibians of the Marshall Islands ::: Birds of the Marshall Islands ::: Mammals of the Marshall Islands ::: you are hereEcosystems of Marshall Islands ::: Species Deemed Worthy for Conservation ::: Protected Species ::: Endemic Species and Subspecies of the Marshalls and Micronesia ::: Endemic Species of the Marshalls ::: Some Pestiferous and Potentially Pestiferous Species ] bullet MISC. DATASETS AND MAPSbullet PARTNERS AND LINKS bullet CONTACTS bullet FEEDBACK bullet COPYRIGHT bullet ACCESSIBILITY bullet DISCLAIMER bullet PRIVACY bullet
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