Indomalayan realm

The Indomalayan realm is one of the eight biogeographic realms. It extends across most of South and Southeast Asia and into the southern parts of East Asia.

Also called the Oriental realm by biogeographers, Indomalaya extends from Afghanistan 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 realm boundary named after Alfred Russel Wallace which separates Indomalayan 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 mostly dominated by trees of the dipterocarp family (Dipterocarpaceae).

Ecozone Indomalaya
The Indomalayan realm

Major ecological regions

The World Wildlife Fund (WWF) divides Indomalayan realm 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 realm.


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 realm, 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 (fairy bluebirds), Megalaimidae and Rhabdornithidae (Philippine creepers). Also characteristic are pheasants, pittas, Old World babblers, and flowerpeckers.

More information is available under Indomalayan realm fauna.

See also

Indomalaya terrestrial ecoregions

Andaman Islands rain forests India
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 Myanmar, 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 Myanmar
Irrawaddy moist deciduous forests Myanmar
Jiang Nan subtropical evergreen forests China
Kayah-Karen montane rain forests Myanmar, 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, Myanmar
Myanmar coastal rain forests Myanmar
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, Myanmar, Thailand, Vietnam
Northern Khorat Plateau moist deciduous forests Laos, Thailand
Northern Thailand-Laos moist deciduous forests Laos, Thailand
Northern Triangle subtropical forests Myanmar
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, Myanmar, 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
Central Deccan Plateau dry deciduous forests India
Central Indochina dry forests Cambodia, Laos, Thailand, Vietnam
Chota-Nagpur dry deciduous forests India
East Deccan dry evergreen forests India
Irrawaddy dry forests Myanmar
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
Himalayan subtropical pine forests Bhutan, India, Nepal, Pakistan
Luzon tropical pine forests Philippines
Northeast India-Myanmar pine forests Myanmar, India
Sumatran tropical pine forests Indonesia
Indomalaya Temperate broadleaf and mixed forests
Eastern Himalayan broadleaf forests Bhutan, India, Nepal
Northern Triangle temperate forests Myanmar
Western Himalayan broadleaf forests India, Nepal, Pakistan
Eastern Himalayan subalpine conifer forests Bhutan, India, Nepal
Western Himalayan subalpine conifer forests India, Nepal, Pakistan
Terai-Duar savanna and grasslands Bhutan, India, Nepal
Rann of Kutch seasonal salt marsh India, Pakistan
Kinabalu montane alpine meadows Malaysia
Shola grasslands India
Deccan thorn scrub forests India, Sri Lanka
Indus Valley desert India, Pakistan
Northwestern thorn scrub forests India, Pakistan
Thar desert India, Pakistan
Godavari-Krishna mangroves India
Pichavaram India
Indochina mangroves Cambodia, Malaysia, Thailand, Vietnam
Indus River Delta-Arabian Sea mangroves Pakistan
Myanmar coast mangroves Myanmar, India, Malaysia, Thailand
Sunda Shelf mangroves Brunei, Indonesia, Malaysia
Sundarbans mangroves Bangladesh, India

External links


  • Wikramanayake, E., E. Dinerstein, C. J. Loucks, D. M. Olson, J. Morrison, J. L. Lamoreux, M. McKnight, and P. Hedao. 2002. Terrestrial ecoregions of the Indo-Pacific: a conservation assessment. Island Press, Washington, DC, USA, [1].

Coordinates: 7°00′N 97°00′E / 7.000°N 97.000°E

Abisara saturata

Abisara saturata is a butterfly in the family Riodinidae. It is found in the Indomalayan realm.

Arhopala eumolphus

Arhopala eumolphus, the green oakblue, is a lycaenid butterfly found in the Indomalayan realm.

Arhopala ganesa

Arhopala ganesa, the tailless bushblue, is a species of lycaenid or blue butterfly found at the junction of the Palearctic realm and the Indomalayan realm.

Australasian realm

The Australasian realm is a biogeographic realm that is coincident, but not synonymous (by some definitions), with the geographical region of Australasia. The realm includes Australia, the island of New Guinea (including Papua New Guinea and the Indonesian province of Papua), and the eastern part of the Indonesian archipelago, including the island of Sulawesi, the Moluccan islands (the Indonesian provinces of Maluku and North Maluku) and islands of Lombok, Sumbawa, Sumba, Flores, and Timor, often known as the Lesser Sundas.

The Australasian realm also includes several Pacific island groups, including the Bismarck Archipelago, Vanuatu, the Solomon Islands, and New Caledonia. New Zealand and its surrounding islands are a distinctive sub-region of the Australasian realm. The rest of Indonesia is part of the Indomalayan realm.

Celatoxia marginata

Celatoxia marginata, the margined hedge blue, is a species of butterfly belonging to the lycaenid family described by Lionel de Nicéville in 1894. It is found in the Indomalayan realm .


Cigaritis is a genus of butterflies in the family Lycaenidae. Its species are found in the Afrotropical realm, the Indomalayan realm and adjacent regions of Asia.

Darpa (butterfly)

Darpa is a genus of spread-wingedskippers in the family Hesperiidae. Their distribution is restricted to the Indomalayan realm.

Dodona eugenes

Dodona eugenes, the Tailed Punch, is a small but striking butterfly found in the Indomalayan realm that belongs to the Punches and Judies, that is, the family Riodinidae.

Euthalia franciae

Euthalia franciae, the French duke, is a species of nymphalid butterfly found in the Indomalayan realm.

Flos fulgida

Flos fulgida, the shining plushblue, is a species of lycaenid or blue butterfly found in the Indomalayan realm, including India.


Hyarotis is a genus of grass skippers in the family Hesperiidae.It is found in the Indomalayan realm

Hyarotis microstictum

Hyarotis microstictum, the brush flitter, is a butterfly belonging to the family Hesperiidae. It is found in the Indomalayan realm (Assam to Myanmar, Thailand, Langkawi, Malaya, Borneo, Sumatra, Philippines) and in South India. H. m. coorga Evans, 1949 is the subspecies found in South India. H. m. microstictum (Wood-Mason & de Nicéville, [1887]) is the subspecies found in the Indomalayan realm.


Jamides, commonly called ceruleans, is a genus of butterflies in the family Lycaenidae. The species of this genus are found in the Indomalayan realm, the Palearctic realm and the Australasian realm.

Neptis sankara

Neptis sankara, the broad-banded sailer, is a species of nymphalid butterfly found in the Indomalayan realm.


Oerane microthyrus is a butterfly in the family Hesperiidae and only species in the genus Oerane. It was described by Paul Mabille in 1883. It is found in the Indomalayan realm. The larva feeds on Daemonorops oblongus.

Parantica aglea

Parantica aglea, the glassy tiger, is a butterfly found in Indomalayan realm that belongs to the crows and tigers, that is, the danaid group of the brush-footed butterflies family.


Prioneris is a genus of butterflies in the family Pieridae found in the Indomalayan realm.

Prioneris philonome

Prioneris philonome, the redspot sawtooth, is a butterfly in the family Pieridae.It was described by Jean Baptiste Boisduval in 1836. It is found in the Indomalayan realm.

Rachana jalindra

Rachana jalindra, the banded royal, is a species of lycaenid or blue butterfly found in the Indomalayan realm.

See also


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