Birding (Baron Viktor von Plessen, 1938)

The Wallace Line

The small island, Nusa Penida, is of considerable zoogeographic interest because of its position in the Lombok Strait.

Lombok Strait, separating Bali on the west from Lombok on the east, marks the westward limit of certain Australo-Papuan species and the eastward limit of many Indo-Malayan forms. The "sharp faunistic boundary" between Bali and Lombok forms a part of Wallace's line. Nusa Penida is nine kilometres from Bali and twenty-one kilometres from Lombok. It lies on a narrow elevation which extends from Bali to Lombok; in the Badung Strait (between Nusa Penida and Bali) this elevation is no more than 210 meters from the surface; in the Lombok Strait (between Nusa Penida and Lombok) it is 220 meters. The dimensions of the island are 20.7 kilometres by 16.5 kilometres. The greatest elevation is 529 meters. It is heavily populated and there is considerable rice culture and other agriculture. The collection on which this paper is based was made between February 21 and March 12, 1938. It was the first since that of Stresemann's expedition to Bali in 1911. The collection consists of 177 specimens belonging to 51 species and subspecies. An analysis of the breeding avifauna of Nusa Penida indicates that for 100 western (Indo-Malayan) genera, species and races on this island there are respectively 60, 56, and 70 of eastern (Australo-Papuan) origin.


A comparison with the situation on Bali and Lombok shows that "Penida is absolutely richer and relatively much richer in eastern (Australo-Papuan specifically Celebo-Floresian) elements than Bali and relatively richer thereby than Lombok." From this it is concluded that at the time of colonisation from the east, which occurred in early Pleistocene or earlier, Nusa Penida must have been connected with Lombok and not with Bali, and that the closer relation to Bali occurred about the time of the lower sea levels of the Pleistocene. "The great line of division in the Sunda Archipelago passed originally not through the Lombok Strait from north to south, but rather in the southern part, westward, so that Penida lay east of this cleavage and the Badung Strait became the continuation of the Lombok Strait and thereby the boundary between the Asian-Malayan insular region and the lndo-Australian intermediate region."

Meise, Wilhelm - The Avifauna of Noesa Penida near Bali Based on a Collection by Baron Viktor yon Plessen. (Ueber die Vogelwelt von Noesa Penida bei Bali nach einer Sammlung yon Baron Viktor von Piessen). 1941. Journal für Ornithologie, 89(4): 345-367.

Above summary (review) of the original German artcle, mentioned above, was done by Donald S. Farner. See also: (link: October 2009)

Summary of Results

1. From 21 February to 12 March 1938, Viktor Baron von Plessen collected 177 bird skins belonging to 51 forms on Nusa Penida, southeast of Bali. Three forms from Penida and Celebes are described and named as new.

2. The faunal analysis of the family stock, genera, species and breeds showed that on Nusa Penida the number of eastern families, genera, species and breeds was 8.3, 7.9, 22.5 and 40.0 %, whereas the number of western families, genera, species and breeds was 0,12.2, 40.0 and 57.5 % of the total stock of these systematic categories of breeding birds of the island. For every 100 western genera, species and breeds, 60, 56 and 70 eastern genera were counted.

3. The comparison of these ratios with those of the neighboring islands of Bali and Lombok shows that Nusa Penida in this respect is equal to Lombok due to the height of the eastern parts and the lack of frequent and typical Indo-Malayan families, or indeed, within the Sunda chain, which belong to the eastern area.

4. From this, it is concluded that Penida, at the time of the main settlement from the east (probably in the early Pleistocene or even earlier) became a part of the southwestern peninsula of Lombok and was not connected to Bali, and that a strong 'approach' to Bali occurred only about the time of the Pleistocene sea level reduction.

5. The large section of the Sunda Arc, therefore, didn't originally run through the Lombok Strait from north to south, but ran towards the west in the southern part, so that Penida came to be situated east of this trench and that the Badung Strait continued in the Lombok Strait and thus became the intermediate area between the Asian Malay islands and Indo-Australian area.



Original German text

Zusammenfassung der Ergebnisse

1.Viktor Baron von Plessen sammelte vom 21. Februar bis 12. März 1938 auf Noesa Penida südöstlich von Bali 177 Vogelbälge, die zu 51 Formen gehören. Drei Formen von Penida und eine von Celebes werden als neu beschrieben und benannt.

2. Die faunistische Analyse des Bestandes an Familien, Gattungen, Arten und Rassen ergab, dass auf Noesa Penida die Zahl der östlichen Familien, Gattungen, Arten und Rassen 8.3, 7.9, 22.5 und 40.0 Prozent, die Zahl der westlichen Familien, Gattungen, Arten und Rassen 0, 12.2, 40.0 und 57.5 Prozent des Gesamtbestandes dieser systematischen Kategorien an Brutvögeln der Insel ausmacht. Auf je 100 westlichen Gattungen, Arten und Rassen würden also 60, 56 und 70 östliche bekommen.

3. Der Vergleich dieser Verhältniszahlen mit denen der Nachbar-Inseln Bali und Lombok zeigt, dass Noesa Penida wegen der Höhe der östlichen Anteile und wegen des Fehlens der in Bali häufig vorkommenden typisch indomalayischen Familien zum östlichen Bereich gehört, ja, innerhalb der Sundakette den selben Rang wie Lombok einnimmt.

4. Daraus wird geschlossen, dass Penida zur Zeit der Hauptbesiedlung aus dem Osten (wohl im frühen Pleistozän oder noch früher) mit der südwestlichen Halbinsel von Lombok und nicht mit Bali zusammenhing, und dass eine starke Annäherung an Bali erst etwa zur Zeit der pleistozänen Meeresspiegelsenkung eintrat.

5. Der grosse Schnitt durch den Sundabogen ging also ursprünglich nicht durch die Lombokstrasse von Norden nach Süden hindurch, sondern bog im südlichen Teil nach Westen um, so dass Penida östlich dieses Grabens lag und die Badoengstrasse zur Fortsetzung der Lombokstrasse und somit zur Grenzscheide zwischen der asiatischmalayischen Inselwelt und dem indoaustralischen Zwischengebiet wurde.

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