Polynesian Subregion

The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Polynesian Subregion


a subregion of the Australian zoogeographic region of the earth’s dry land. The Polynesian subregion includes all the numerous islands and archipelagos of the Pacific Ocean north of the New Zealand subregion and east of the Australian and Papuan subregions, with the exception of the Hawaiian Islands, which are singled out as the Hawaiian subregion.

The fauna of the Polynesian subregion is a clearly marked island fauna with an abundance of endemic forms. The only land mammals are bats, including Myotis Miniopterus, and Mega-chiroptera, and a few small rodents introduced by man. Birds are well represented. There are many pigeons and numerous waterfowl, including seagulls and albatrosses. Other birds include mound birds, parrots, cuckoos, honeyeaters, kingfishers, hirun-dines, salanganes, limicolines, owls, and falconids. Predominant among the reptiles are the lizards that live on floating tree trunks —gekkonids and skinks. Sea snakes are found near the shores. Among freshwater fish, catadromous fish, including eels, predominate. The purse crab, a land crab that spawns at sea, is characteristic.

In the western part of the Polynesian subregion—the islands of the Melanesian group—the fauna is more varied than in the east. For example, on Tahiti and the Marquesas Islands there are no bats, although birds and lizards are found. The fauna of Easter Island is even more impoverished; in addition to waterfowl, it includes a few species of insects, spiders, and mollusks accidentally introduced by man. The relative wealth of the fauna of the Melanesian Islands is explained by the fact that the islands apparently once belonged to a body of land that at one time extended east to the island of Samoa. Many animals of both European and North American origin, including goats, cats, pigs, and rabbits, have been introduced by man.


Geptner, V. G. Obshchaia zoogeografiia. Moscow-Leningrad, 1936.
Darlington, P. Zoogeografiia. Moscow, 1966. (Translated from English.)


The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.