Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History

Department ofBotany

Project Description
A number of botanical explorations to the Marquesas Islands have been undertaken since the late 1700's, but none have resulted in a comprehensive treatment of the flora. As a response to this deficiency, David H. Lorence of the National Tropical Botanical Garden and Warren L.Wagner of the Smithsonian Institution initiated the Flora of the Marquesas Islands project. This project aims to:
  • increase scientific interaction among cooperating institutions for further exploration and research within the islands,
  • database specimens and literature,
  • development of a web-based vascular flora,
  • produce the first Vascular Flora of the Marquesas Islands,
  • assist and collaborate with the Flora of French Polynesia project, and
  • provide a framework for preserving the biodiversity of the islands.
Since the initiation of the project, expeditions were dispatched in 1988, 1995, and 1997, ultimately leading to revised estimates for the Marquesas flora. Of the nearly 714 vascular plant species, 337 species are native, with approximately 45% being endemic to the archipelago, including five endemic genera. Monocots are relatively species poor, while dicots account for over half of the flora. The pteridophyte component is one of the richest in the world, comprising nearly 33% of the vascular flora. During the last two decades, roughly 40 new species have been discovered which represents a substantial increase to the native vascular flora, thereby accentuating the need for further field exploration efforts (2003).

This project would not be possible without the assistance of the French Polynesian Delegation for Research (Délégation à la Recherche), which is part of the Ministry of Health and Research (Ministère de la Santé et de la Recherche).

PDF files from Allertonia, volume 7, 1997:
   Studies of Marquesas Vascular Plants: Introduction
   Introduction to the Flora and Vegetation of the Marquesas Islands

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