Malden Island is low and flat. At the centre is an extensive, shallow, lagoon which contains numerous small islets and ridges composed of coral rubble. The island rises steeply from the shore in a series of sand and rubble ridges, particularly on the northern coasts, where the island is exposed to northern Pacific swells and storms.
A substantial seabird colony.
Non-bird biodiversity: Green turtles nest in small numbers.
Pressure/threats to key biodiversity
There are small numbers of feral cats on the island, but no rats (Pacific rats appeared to have died out before the 1970s). There are house mice around the deserted buildings. Goats and pigs were also formerly present on the island but have now died out.
Designated as a closed Wildlife Sanctuary in 1975.
Habitat and land use
The island is uninhabited and has been since the late 1950s. Previously continuously occupied between 1860 and 1920 to mine phosphate on the island. Reoccupied for a few years in the late 1950s as part of the programme to monitor the effects of the Christmas Island nuclear bomb testing. There are 3 or 4 small clumps of Pisonia trees, all that remain after human and goat colonisation. The rest of the island is dominated by low and stunted Sida scrub with low herbs and grasses.
BirdLife International (2021) Important Bird Areas factsheet: Malden Island. Downloaded from
http://www.birdlife.org on 22/06/2021.