, Volume 61, Issue 1, pp 11–17 | Cite as

Mammalian species richness on islands on the Sunda Shelf, Southeast Asia

  • Lawrence R. Heaney
Original Papers


A rich mammalian fauna is found on islands that lie on the Sunda Shelf, a continental shelf extending from Vietnam to Borneo and Java that was periodically exposed as dry land during the Pleistocene. The correlation between log of island area and number of species is high (r2=0.94); the slope of the curve is moderate (z=0.235). Distance from small islands to “source areas” (=Borneo, Sumatra, and the Malay Peninsula) does not appear to affect species richness, nor does depth of water to source area (a measure of isolation time). A species-area curve for forest reserves of varying sizes on the Malay Peninsula has a low slope (z=0.104); comparison of the mainlaind and island curves indicates that decreasing island area is strongly correlated with increased extinction. Extinction has left reduced but ecologically balanced sets of species on all islands, except that carnivores are under-represented on all but the largest islands. Initial body size and rarity appear to play a significant role in determining the probability of extinction of individual species.


Species Richness Pleistocene Source Area Continental Shelf Mammalian Species 
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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 1984

Authors and Affiliations

  • Lawrence R. Heaney
    • 1
  1. 1.Museum of Zoology and Division of Biological SciencesUniversity of MichiganAnn ArborUSA

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