2008 Plant expedition

During the year 2008 we surveyed by foot with Ravahere TAPUTUARAI, field project leader, and Marie FOURDRIGNIEZ, field assistant, all the highest summits of Moorea: Mt Tohiea (1207 m), Mt Rotui (899 m), Mt Mouaputa (830 m), and the ridges surrounding Mt Mouaroa (880 m), Mt Mouapu (762 m), as well as the largest and deepest valleys of Opunohu and Maharepa. Collecting priority was given to native (indigenous) and endemic vascular plants (flowering plants –Angiosperms- and ferns –Pteridophytes-). At least three individuals/plants per site were sampled for genetic studies (a couple of young leaves per plant is picked then dried in silicagel) and one of them (with flowers and/or fruits) is kept as a voucher specimen (pressed in a plant press and dried in an oven) for identification and storage in the herbarium (two vouchers if it is a new island record and/or a new species to science). The rare endemics were sampled in the different surveyed sites for further study on genetic variability and potential fragmentation effects. Location and elevation of each collected plant species are given using an altimeter, a topographic map (1/20 000) and a GPS. Photos of the species habitat, its habit (or life form), and its reproductive organs (flowers and fruits for the Angios, fertile frond for the ferns) were taken in situ. A short habitat description, with the dominant plant species in each strata (herbaceous, understorey, canopy), is conducted for each voucher specimen. More than 90 taxa were collected since November 2008, i.e. almost 35% of the island’s native vascular flora and 61% of the Angiosperms. We added about 20 new island records for the Pteridophytes, and found new populations/sites for some rare or threatened endemic flowering plant species such as the endemic sandalwood  Santalum insulare var. raiateense, the endemic lobeliad Sclerotheca forsteri, the endemic Rubiaceae Ophiorrhiza spp., and the native and endemic orchids Calanthe tahitensis, Corybas minutus, Corymborkis veratrifolia. Liparis clypeolum, Moerenhoutia plantaginea…New island records for endemic or native plants include the tree Macaranga taitensis,  the native sedge Cyperus macrophyllus, the vine Stephania japonica, and more are to be discovered!