Indomalaya ecozone

Indomalaya ecozone

The Indomalaya ecozone is one of the eight ecozones that cover the planet's land surface. It extends across most of South and Southeast Asia and into the southern parts of East Asia.

The Indomalaya Ecozone

Also called the Oriental Realm by biogeographers, Indomalaya extends from Afghanistan and Pakistan through the Indian subcontinent and Southeast Asia to lowland southern China, and through Indonesia as far as Java, Bali, and Borneo, east of which lies the Wallace line, the ecozone boundary named after Alfred Russel Wallace which separates Indomalaya from Australasia. Indomalaya also includes the Philippines, lowland Taiwan, and Japan's Ryukyu Islands.

Most of Indomalaya was originally covered by forest, mostly tropical and subtropical moist broadleaf forests, with tropical and subtropical dry broadleaf forests predominant in much of India and parts of Southeast Asia. The tropical moist forests of Indomalaya are dominated by trees of the dipterocarp family (Dipterocarpaceae).


Major ecological regions

The World Wildlife Fund (WWF) divides Indomalaya into three bioregions, which it defines as "geographic clusters of ecoregions that may span several habitat types, but have strong biogeographic affinities, particularly at taxonomic levels higher than the species level (genus, family)."

Indian Subcontinent

The Indian Subcontinent bioregion covers most of India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Nepal, Bhutan, and Sri Lanka. The Hindu Kush, Karakoram, Himalaya, and Patkai ranges bound the bioregion on the northwest, north, and northeast; these ranges were formed by the collision of the northward-drifting Indian subcontinent with Asia beginning 45 million years ago. The Hindu Kush, Karakoram, and Himalaya are a major biogeographic boundary between the subtropical and tropical flora and fauna of the Indian subcontinent and the temperate-climate Palearctic ecozone.


The Indochina bioregion includes most of mainland Southeast Asia, including Myanmar, Thailand, Laos, Vietnam, and Cambodia, as well as the subtropical forests of southern China.

Sunda shelf and the Philippines

Malesia is a botanical province which straddles the boundary between Indomalaya and Australasia. It includes the Malay Peninsula and the western Indonesian islands (known as Sundaland), the Philippines, the eastern Indonesian islands, and New Guinea. While the Malesia has much in common botanically, the portions east and west of the Wallace Line differ greatly in land animal species; Sundaland shares its fauna with mainland Asia, while terrestrial fauna on the islands east of the Wallace line are derived at least in part from species of Australian origin, such as marsupial mammals and ratite birds.


The flora of Indomalaya blends elements from the ancient supercontinents of Laurasia and Gondwana. Gondwanian elements were first introduced by India, which detached from Gondwana approximately 90 MYA, carrying its Gondwana-derived flora and fauna northward, which included cichlid fish and the flowering plant families Crypteroniaceae and possibly Dipterocarpaceae. India collided with Asia 30-45 MYA, and exchanged species. Later, as Australia-New Guinea drifted north, the collision of the Australian and Asian plates pushed up the islands of Wallacea, which were separated from one another by narrow straits, allowing a botanic exchange between Indomalaya and Australasia. Asian rainforest flora, including the dipterocarps, island-hopped across Wallacea to New Guinea, and several Gondwanian plant families, including podocarps and araucarias, moved westward from Australia-New Guinea into western Malesia and Southeast Asia.

Flora and fauna

Two orders of mammals, the colugos (Dermoptera) and treeshrews (Scandentia), are endemic to the ecozone, as are families Craseonycteridae (Kitti's Hog-nosed Bat), Diatomyidae, Platacanthomyidae, Tarsiidae (tarsiers) and Hylobatidae (gibbons). Large mammals characteristic of Indomalaya include the leopard, tigers, water buffalos, Asian Elephant, Indian Rhinoceros, Javan Rhinoceros, Malayan Tapir, orangutans, and gibbons.

Indomalaya has three endemic bird families, the Irenidae (leafbirds and fairy bluebirds), Megalaimidae and Rhabdornithidae (Philippine creepers). Also characteristic are pheasants, pittas, Old World babblers, and flowerpeckers.

See also

Ecoregions of India
Ecoregions of the Philippines

Indomalaya terrestrial ecoregions

Indomalaya Tropical and subtropical moist broadleaf forestsv · Andaman Islands rain forests
Borneo lowland rain forests Brunei, Indonesia, Malaysia
Borneo montane rain forests Brunei, Indonesia, Malaysia
Borneo peat swamp forests Brunei, Indonesia, Malaysia
Brahmaputra Valley semi-evergreen forests India
Cardamom Mountains rain forests Cambodia, Thailand, Vietnam
Chao Phraya freshwater swamp forests Thailand
Chao Phraya lowland moist deciduous forests Thailand
Chin Hills-Arakan Yoma montane forests Burma, India
Christmas and Cocos Islands tropical forests Australia
Eastern highlands moist deciduous forests India
Eastern Java-Bali montane rain forests Indonesia
Eastern Java-Bali rain forests Indonesia
Greater Negros-Panay rain forests Philippines
Hainan Island monsoon rain forests China
Himalayan subtropical broadleaf forests Bhutan, India, Nepal
Irrawaddy freshwater swamp forests Burma
Irrawaddy moist deciduous forests Burma
Jian Nan subtropical evergreen forests China
Kayah-Karen montane rain forests Burma, Thailand
Lower Gangetic Plains moist deciduous forests Bangladesh, India
Luang Prabang montane rain forests Laos
Luzon montane rain forests Philippines
Luzon rain forests Philippines
Malabar Coast moist forests India
Maldives-Lakshadweep-Chagos Archipelago tropical moist forests British Indian Ocean Territory, India, Maldives
Meghalaya subtropical forests India
Mentawai Islands rain forests Indonesia
Mindanao montane rain forests Philippines
Mindanao-Eastern Visayas rain forests Philippines
Mindoro rain forests Philippines
Mizoram-Manipur-Kachin rain forests Bangladesh, India, Burma
Myanmar coastal rain forests Burma
Nansei Islands subtropical evergreen forests Japan
Nicobar Islands rain forests India
North Western Ghats moist deciduous forests India
North Western Ghats montane rain forests India
Northern Annamites rain forests Laos, Vietnam
Northern Indochina subtropical forests China, Laos, Burma, Thailand, Vietnam
Northern Khorat Plateau moist deciduous forests Laos, Thailand
Northern Thailand-Laos moist deciduous forests Laos, Thailand
Northern Triangle subtropical forests Burma
Northern Vietnam lowland rain forests Vietnam
Orissa semi-evergreen forests India
Palawan rain forests Philippines
Peninsular Malaysian montane rain forests Malaysia, Thailand
Peninsular Malaysian peat swamp forests Malaysia, Thailand
Peninsular Malaysian rain forests Indonesia, Malaysia
Red River freshwater swamp forests Vietnam
South China Sea Islands disputed between China, Malaysia, Philippines, Taiwan, Vietnam
South China-Vietnam subtropical evergreen forests China, Vietnam
South Taiwan monsoon rain forests Taiwan
South Western Ghats moist deciduous forests India
South Western Ghats montane rain forests India
Southern Annamites montane rain forests Cambodia, Laos, Vietnam
Southwest Borneo freshwater swamp forests Indonesia
Sri Lanka lowland rain forests Sri Lanka
Sri Lanka montane rain forests Sri Lanka
Sulu Archipelago rain forests Philippines
Sumatran freshwater swamp forests Indonesia
Sumatran lowland rain forests Indonesia
Sumatran montane rain forests Indonesia
Sumatran peat swamp forests Indonesia
Sundaland heath forests Indonesia
Sundarbans freshwater swamp forests Bangladesh, India
Taiwan subtropical evergreen forests Taiwan
Tenasserim-South Thailand semi-evergreen rain forests Malaysia, Burma, Thailand
Tonle Sap freshwater swamp forests Cambodia, Vietnam
Tonle Sap-Mekong peat swamp forests Cambodia, Vietnam
Upper Gangetic Plains moist deciduous forests India
Western Java montane rain forests Indonesia
Western Java rain forests Indonesia
Indomalaya Tropical and subtropical dry broadleaf forestsv · Central Deccan Plateau dry deciduous forests
Central Indochina dry forests Cambodia, Laos, Thailand, Vietnam
Chota-Nagpur dry deciduous forests India
East Deccan dry evergreen forests India
Irrawaddy dry forests Burma
Kathiarbar-Gir dry deciduous forests India
Narmada Valley dry deciduous forests India
Northern dry deciduous forests India
South Deccan Plateau dry deciduous forests India
Southeastern Indochina dry evergreen forests Cambodia, Laos, Thailand
Southern Vietnam lowland dry forests Vietnam
Sri Lanka dry-zone dry evergreen forests Sri Lanka
Indomalaya Tropical and subtropical coniferous forestsv · Himalayan subtropical pine forests
Bhutan, India, Nepal, Pakistan
Luzon tropical pine forests Philippines
Northeast India-Myanmar pine forests Burma, India
Sumatran tropical pine forests Indonesia
Indomalaya Temperate broadleaf and mixed forestsv · Eastern Himalayan broadleaf forests
Bhutan, India, Nepal
Northern Triangle temperate forests Burma
Western Himalayan broadleaf forests India, Nepal, Pakistan
Indomalaya Temperate coniferous forestsv · Eastern Himalayan subalpine conifer forests
Bhutan, India, Nepal
Western Himalayan subalpine conifer forests India, Nepal, Pakistan
Indomalaya Tropical and subtropical grasslands, savannas, and shrublandsv · Terai-Duar savanna and grasslands
Bhutan, India, Nepal
Indomalaya Flooded grasslands and savannasv · Rann of Kutch seasonal salt marsh
India, Pakistan
Indomalaya Montane grasslands and shrublandsv · Kinabalu montane alpine meadows
Indomalaya Deserts and xeric shrublandsv · Deccan thorn scrub forests
India, Sri Lanka
Indus Valley desert India, Pakistan
Northwestern thorn scrub forests India, Pakistan
Thar desert India, Pakistan
Indomalaya Mangrovev · Godavari-Krishna mangroves
Indochina mangroves Cambodia, Malaysia, Thailand, Vietnam
Indus River Delta-Arabian Sea mangroves Pakistan
Myanmar coast mangroves Burma, India, Malaysia, Thailand
Sunda Shelf mangroves Brunei, Indonesia, Malaysia
Sundarbans mangroves Bangladesh, India

External links


  • Wikramanayake, Eric; Eric Dinerstein; Colby J. Loucks; et al. (2002). Terrestrial Ecoregions of the Indo-Pacific: a Conservation Assessment. Island Press; Washington, DC.

Coordinates: 7°00′N 97°00′E / 7°N 97°E / 7; 97

Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.

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