Colonization of an island volcano, Long Island, Papua New Guinea, and an emergent island, Motmot, in its caldera lake. I. General introduction


Ian W. B. Thornton, Department of Zoology, La Trobe University, Bundoora, Victoria, Australia 3086.


Biogeographical context Long Island, in Vitiaz Strait, is 55 km north of New Guinea, 60 km from Umboi Island and 125 km from New Britain. After its explosive caldera-forming eruption in about 1645, Long is being recolonized by animals and plants. Through renewed volcanic activity in the 1950s a new island emerged from Long's caldera lake, 4 km from the nearest lake shore and was recreated by eruptions in 1968. Long Island thus provides the opportunity to study a nested pair of natural colonization sequences.

The geological background, eruptive history, course and results of the seventeenth century eruption, and the geographical features and climate of Long Island are summarized. Existing knowledge of Long's recolonization, confined almost entirely to surveys of its avifauna in 1933 and 1972, is reviewed. The geological history of Motmot is outlined, and published knowledge of its colonization by animals and plants from 1968 to 1988 is summarized.

The 1999 expedition and aims An expedition to Long Island and Motmot in 1999 set out to investigate the hitherto little-known flora and present vertebrate fauna of Long Island and to survey the entire flora and fauna of Motmot for comparison with the results of previous surveys. The methods used in the 1999 survey are described, and the papers setting out the results briefly introduced.