Distribution and abundance of Solomys ponceleti and S. salebrosus in Solomon Islands

Patrick Pikacha

This research project intends to investigate the distribution, habitat preference, and conservation status of two native giant rats Solomys ponceleti and S. salebrosus endemic to Choiseul and Bougainville Islands in the Solomon Islands archipelago. S. salebrosus is the most commonly seen species of the native genus Solomys. Reproductive information for this species is limited. S. ponceleti is the larger of the two. S. ponceleti is the largest native rodent in the South Pacific Islands, excluding New Guinea. Both species are arboreal and make their nests in trees of large girth of which are also the target of logging companies. The objectives are to establish where on Choiseul Island these species are present, and to conduct relative abundance and species richness estimates by live trapping, spotlighting and observation methods. Also to record the habitat type of this species. The information in this project will established the mammal’s conservation status, identify habitats, and provide conservation awareness to indigenous villagers, and suggest mechanisms for establishing areas of conservation value on Choiseul Island.