Concept: Solomon Islands
Among Oceania’s population of 35 million people, the greatest number living in poverty currently live in Papua New Guinea (PNG), Fiji, Vanuatu, and the Solomon Islands. These impoverished populations are at high risk for selected NTDs, including Necator americanus hookworm infection, strongyloidiasis, lymphatic filariasis (LF), balantidiasis, yaws, trachoma, leprosy, and scabies, in addition to outbreaks of dengue and other arboviral infections including Japanese encephalitis virus infection. PNG stands out for having the largest number of cases and highest prevalence for most of these NTDs. However, Australia’s Aboriginal population also suffers from a range of significant NTDs. Through the Pacific Programme to Eliminate Lymphatic Filariasis, enormous strides have been made in eliminating LF in Oceania through programs of mass drug administration (MDA), although LF remains widespread in PNG. There are opportunities to scale up MDA for PNG’s major NTDs, which could be accomplished through an integrated package that combines albendazole, ivermectin, diethylcarbamazine, and azithromycin, in a program of national control. Australia’s Aboriginal population may benefit from appropriately integrated MDA into primary health care systems. Several emerging viral NTDs remain important threats to the region.
An epidemic of Ross River Virus (RRV) occurred in the South Pacific in 1979-1980, but it was not believed to occur endemically outside Australia and Papua New Guinea. We conducted a seroprevalence study to determine whether RRV has circulated in American Samoa after 1980.
HTLV-1 infection is endemic among people of Melanesian descent in Papua New Guinea, the Solomon Islands and Vanuatu. Molecular studies reveal that these Melanesian strains belong to the highly divergent HTLV-1c subtype. In Australia, HTLV-1 is also endemic among the Indigenous people of central Australia; however, the molecular epidemiology of HTLV-1 infection in this population remains poorly documented.
The largest rookery for hawksbill turtles in the oceanic South Pacific is the Arnavon Islands, which are located in the Manning Strait between Isabel and Choiseul Province, Solomon Islands. The history of this rookery is one of overexploitation, conflict and violence. Throughout the 1800s Roviana headhunters from New Georgia repeatedly raided the Manning Strait to collect hawksbill shell which they traded with European whalers. By the 1970s the Arnavons hawksbill population was in severe decline and the national government intervened, declaring the Arnavons a sanctuary in 1976. But this government led initiative was short lived, with traditional owners burning down the government infrastructure and resuming intensive harvesting in 1982. In 1991 routine beach monitoring and turtle tagging commenced at the Arnavons along with extensive community consultations regarding the islands' future, and in 1995 the Arnavon Community Marine Conservation Area (ACMCA) was established. Around the same time national legislation banning the sale of all turtle products was passed. This paper represents the first analysis of data from 4536 beach surveys and 845 individual turtle tagging histories obtained from the Arnavons between 1991-2012. Our results and the results of others, reveal that many of the hawksbill turtles that nest at the ACMCA forage in distant Australian waters, and that nesting on the Arnavons occurs throughout the year with peak nesting activity coinciding with the austral winter. Our results also provide the first known evidence of recovery for a western pacific hawksbill rookery, with the number of nests laid at the ACMCA and the remigration rates of turtles doubling since the establishment of the ACMCA in 1995. The Arnavons case study provides an example of how changes in policy, inclusive community-based management and long term commitment can turn the tide for one of the most charismatic and endangered species on our planet.
Naturally blond hair is rare in humans and found almost exclusively in Europe and Oceania. Here, we identify an arginine-to-cysteine change at a highly conserved residue in tyrosinase-related protein 1 (TYRP1) as a major determinant of blond hair in Solomon Islanders. This missense mutation is predicted to affect catalytic activity of TYRP1 and causes blond hair through a recessive mode of inheritance. The mutation is at a frequency of 26% in the Solomon Islands, is absent outside of Oceania, represents a strong common genetic effect on a complex human phenotype, and highlights the importance of examining genetic associations worldwide.
Ancient DNA from Vanuatu and Tonga dating to about 2,900-2,600 years ago (before present, BP) has revealed that the “First Remote Oceanians” associated with the Lapita archaeological culture were directly descended from the population that, beginning around 5000 BP, spread Austronesian languages from Taiwan to the Philippines, western Melanesia, and eventually Remote Oceania. Thus, ancestors of the First Remote Oceanians must have passed by the Papuan-ancestry populations they encountered in New Guinea, the Bismarck Archipelago, and the Solomon Islands with minimal admixture . However, all present-day populations in Near and Remote Oceania harbor >25% Papuan ancestry, implying that additional eastward migration must have occurred. We generated genome-wide data for 14 ancient individuals from Efate and Epi Islands in Vanuatu from 2900-150 BP, as well as 185 present-day individuals from 18 islands. We find that people of almost entirely Papuan ancestry arrived in Vanuatu by around 2300 BP, most likely reflecting migrations a few hundred years earlier at the end of the Lapita period, when there is also evidence of changes in skeletal morphology and cessation of long-distance trade between Near and Remote Oceania [2, 3]. Papuan ancestry was subsequently diluted through admixture but remains at least 80%-90% in most islands. Through a fine-grained analysis of ancestry profiles, we show that the Papuan ancestry in Vanuatu derives from the Bismarck Archipelago rather than the geographically closer Solomon Islands. However, the Papuan ancestry in Polynesia-the most remote Pacific islands-derives from different sources, documenting a third stream of migration from Near to Remote Oceania.
The monospecific fern genus Cystodium (Cystodiaceae; Polypodiales) occurs exclusively in the tropical forests of the Malay Archipelago, the Admiralty Islands, the Louisiade Archipelago, and the Solomon Islands. Divergence time estimates suggest that the genus originated in the Mesozoic; however, fossil evidence to validate this suggestion has been lacking. Amber from Myanmar (Burmese amber) is an important source of new information on the diversity of vascular cryptogams in the Cretaceous. This paper describes the fossil taxon Cystodium sorbifolioides nov. sp. based on a fragment of a fertile leaf preserved in Burmese amber that represents the first fossil evidence of the family Cystodiaceae. Cystodium sorbifolioides is used to obtain a minimum age estimate for the Cystodiaceae and the closely related, monogeneric Lonchitidaceae and Lindsaeaceae. The fossil strengthens the hypothesis that the forest ecosystems of Malesia and Melanesia represent refugia for many tropical plant lineages that originated in the Cretaceous.
Histories of vertical crustal motions at convergent margins offer fundamental insights into the relationship between interplate slip and permanent deformation. Moreover, past abrupt motions are proxies for potential tsunamigenic earthquakes and benefit hazard assessment. Well-dated records are required to understand the relationship between past earthquakes and Holocene vertical deformation. Here we measure elevations and (230)Th ages of in situ corals raised above the sea level in the western Solomon Islands to build an uplift event history overlying the seismogenic zone, extremely close to the trench (4-40 km). We find marked spatiotemporal heterogeneity in uplift from mid-Holocene to present: some areas accrue more permanent uplift than others. Thus, uplift imposed during the 1 April 2007 Mw 8.1 event may be retained in some locations but removed in others before the next megathrust rupture. This variability suggests significant changes in strain accumulation and the interplate thrust process from one event to the next.
Community mass treatment with 30mg/kg azithromycin is central to the new WHO strategy for eradicating yaws. Both yaws and trachoma- which is earmarked for elimination by 2020 using a strategy that includes mass treatment with 20mg/kg azithromycin-are endemic in the Pacific, raising the possibility of an integrated approach to disease control. Community mass treatment with azithromycin for trachoma elimination was conducted in the Solomon Islands in 2014.
We report the unprecedented Lapita exploitation and subsequent extinction of large megafauna tortoises (?Meiolania damelipi) on tropical islands during the late Holocene over a 281,000 km(2) region of the southwest Pacific spanning from the Vanuatu archipelago to Viti Levu in Fiji. Zooarchaeological analyses have identified seven early archaeological sites with the remains of this distinctive hornless tortoise, unlike the Gondwanan horned meiolaniid radiation to the southwest. These large tortoise radiations in the Pacific may have contributed to the rapid dispersal of early mobile Neolithic hunters throughout southwest Melanesia and on to western Polynesia. Subsequent rapid extinctions of these terrestrial herbivorous megafauna are likely to have led to significant changes in ecosystems that help explain changes in current archaeological patterns from Post-Lapita contexts in the region.