Institute of Applied Science

IAS




South Pacific Regional Herbarium and Biodiversity Centre

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Description

Section Description

The South Pacific Regional Herbarium (SPRH) was established in 1993 by the Fiji Department of Agriculture and was then known as the Fiji Herbarium (Suva). The University of the South Pacific (USP), through theInstitute of Applied Sciences, assumed responsibility for the maintenance and administration of the facility in 1982. It currently houses more than 50,000 vascular plant specimens in the main collection. It also has a wet collection of plant parts, bryophytes and algae from the Pacific region. The SPRH serve the member countries of the USP which consists of the Cook Islands, Fiji, Kiribati, Marshalls Islands, Nauru, Niue,Niue, Solomon Island, Samoa, Tonga, Tokelau, Tuvalu and Vanuatu. The SPRH serves as a very important resource in matters pertaining to the taxonomy, conservation and ecology of plants, forestry, land use planning, economic plants and weed problems in the region. As a member of an international network of herbaria, the SPRH participates in programs with other international herbaria to maintain collections of botanical plants specimens for study by both local and international botanists and scientists working in associated fields.

Contact Person:

Name: Marika Tuiwawa

Title: Curator

Unit: South Pacific Regional Herbarium Unit

Email: marika.tuiwawa(at)usp.ac.fj

Contact: +679 32 32970


Mission

Mission

To develop a comprehensive scientifically-based collection and a data base of native and introduced plants + animals that are representative of the flora and fauna of both the Pacific Islands region and its individual countries and territories.

Herbarium Collection

SPRH Unit: Collections & Its Importance

What is a Herbarium?

A herbarium is like a plant museum or library, although it is not a place where you go to simply tour the museum exhibits or browse the collection. Nevertheless, it does serve a similar role, as an important reference collection and storehouse of information about Pacific Islands plants (botanical biodiversity). More importantly, it is a place you can go in order to find the correct name for a plant. Many people within the University and in the wider community, including government and non-government institutions and industries, use the herbarium to find out the correct names for plants. Many international visitors use the collection for their research on Pacific Island plants each year.

The Collections

The herbarium maintains an extensive collection of preserved and identified plant specimens collected throughout the region over many years. Each specimen is carefully selected and collected by a botanist or other trained persons. At the time of the collection, the collector records as much information as possible. Such information includes where the plant was collected, collection date, whether the plant was flowering or fruiting, local name (s), uses and any other useful information. If the collector does not know the scientific name, the specimen is brought to the herbarium where it is correctly identified or in some cases sent overseas for identification by specialists. At the herbarium the specimens are specially treated and mounted on special papers and stored in steel cabinets in a dehumidified and air-conditioned room. The collection room is periodically fumigated to kill any bugs that may have entered. This way the collections can be preserved for centuries.

Importance of Pacific Island Flora

Plant taxonomists and biogeographers alike view the flora of the Pacific Islands with considerable interest. Internationally, it has been estimated that the region (including the Hawaiian archipelago) has over 3300 of the world's endemic plant species that are unique to the region. The region also has very unique and rich terrestrial, freshwater and marine vertebrate and invertebrate fauna. As a result, the region is earmarked as one of the 25 biodiversity "hot spots" for conservation priority in the world. The rich and unique botanical diversity of the tropical Pacific Island region represents the heritage of its people at the regional, national and community levels. Its sustainable use holds the key to their future well being and security.


The USP recognizes the importance of this biodiversity and that priority must be given to assist member governments in the conduct of applied research on their biodiversity. It realizes that without information on the nature and status of biodiversity, it will be difficult for a country to promote the sustainable use and, where necessary, the protection and of these resources.

Regional Importance of the Collection

Botanical researchers and technicians have deposited their collections in Suva since 1993. Over the last 70 years various botanists have annotated more than 75% of the specimens and donated specimens to the collection. Most notable among the holdings are the collections related  to W.R. Syke's Flora of Niue (1970); A.C. Smith's Flora of Fiji (1979, 1981, 1985, 1987, 1989, 1991);G. Brownlie's Pteridophyte Flora of Fiji (1977) and Thaman, Fosberg, Manner and Hassall's Flora of Nauru (1994). These and a wide range of collections by others have greatly enhanced the scientific conservation value of the collections. The herbarium also contains a small but important collection from the rest of USP's 12 member countries, and also holds specimens from New Caledonia, Norfolk Island, French Polynesia, Guam, Papua New Guinea, Hawaii and Pitcairn Island.

Specimen Database

SUVA Specimen Index

Browse Specimen Index by Family

Specimen Collection
Taxon: Family:
Country/Province/District: with images only
 

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For comments or corrections please contact Marika Tuiwawa, curator of the South Pacific Regional Herbarium, by email: tuiwawa_m@usp.ac.fj.

Research

South Pacific Regional Herbarium and Biodiversity Centre: Research & Postgraduate Studies

Projects

South Pacific Regional Herbarium and Biodiversity Centre Projects

2013

2013

New Range Extensions

Vegetation surveys, headed by herbarium curator Marika Tuiwawa and consultant Senilolia Tuiwawa, in Emalu, in the province of Nadroga-Navosa, revealed the presence of some botanically important plant species.  These important range extension discoveries were made for two endemic species on the IUCN Red List; Acmopyle sahniana and Degeneria vitiensis; as well as two other rare endemic palms whose Red List status is currently under review (Cyphosperma naboutinense and Metroxylon vitiensis).  A new range extension to an altitude of 700m was also recorded for the orchid Nervilia cf. aragoana, which has previously only been recorded from altitudes below 400m.  Another range extension is of the horsetail, Equisetum ramossimum subsp. debile  previously recorded from the provinces of Namosi, Naitasiri and Ba.  One other plant species was collected which is the most recent record and new range extension for the ground orchid Macodes cf. petola. This is a very rare species and one not normally seen in the forest.

 

Fiji Liveworts New Findings

Three new occurrence records were made for Fiji liverworts. MSc student, Mereia Katafono, discovered these new finds for Fiji during the process of identifying several hundred moss and liverwort samples collected during her fieldwork.  The three liverworts were all collected from Vago Forest Reserve in the province of Naitasiri.  One of them, not yet identified to species level, belongs to the genus Cephaloziella, and is the first member of this genus to be found in Fiji.  Two other species (Telaranea tasmanica and Telaranea aff. Granulate) have also never been found in Fiji before.

 

New Findings in Habitat Ecology, and Plant-animal Interactions

 

During fieldwork in the Rewa delta as part of the IUCN MESCAL project, MSc student Lekima Copeland recorded a new addition to the brackish water fishes of Fiji; the sweetlip Plectorhinchus albovittatus. Previously this species was only known in Fiji from reef habitats. The finding of a juvenile specimen in the brackish delta waters expands our knowledge of the life cycle requirements of this species and highlights the importance of the mangrove ecosystem as a nursery for juvenile reef fishes.

Two significant breakthroughs were made in the CEPF-funded project ‘Conservation of Fiji’s Endemic and Rare Butterflies: Hypolimnas inopinata and Papilio schmeltzi’, which is coordinated by Hilda Sakiti-Waqa. The identity of the host plant of H. inopinata has now been determined conclusively to be Elatostema nemorosum Seem., an endemic member of the nettle family (Urticaceae).  Additionally, the life cycle of this rare butterfly has been comprehensively documented, with larval instars, pupa and egg stages identified and their morphology fully recorded.

2012

2012

MESCAL Mangrove Project and the World Bank REDD+ project (to assess standing carbon stocks in an interior forest)

IAS also continued to develop expertise in community-based economic analysis, working with Landcare NZ in 2012 to assess the economic impact of invasive species and with Landcare NZ and PACE-SD (USP) to study cost-benefit analysis of various approaches to disaster risk reduction.


IAS staff also continued studies on butterflies, cloud forest biodiversity and the impacts of locally-managed marine areas.

 

 East Melanesia Conservation Investment Strategy : Critical Environment Partnership Fund

The IAS team was requested by the Critical Ecosystem Partnership Fund (CEPF) to manage the development of a regional profile and investment strategy for the Eastern Melanesian Islands, which includes Vanuatu and Solomon Islands.  CEPF is a joint initiative of l’Agence Française de Dévelopment, Conservation International, the European Union, the Global Environment Facility, the Government of Japan, the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, and the World Bank.  A fundamental goal is to ensure civil society is engaged in biodiversity conservation.  USP lead regional, national and community meetings to entertain views on how civil society could best be supported to carry out biodiversity conservation.  Its report was presented to the heads of the above organizations in December, 2012 and was very positively received; US$9 million was allocated to carry out the suggested investment strategy.

 

Potential New Species of Aquatic Gastropods

Three potentially new species of aquatic gastropods in the genus Fluviopupa  (Family Taetidae) were collected during a biodiversity assessment of streams in Emalu, in the province of Nadroga-Navosa.  The collections were made by MSc student Bindiya Rashni.  Preliminary identification work suggests that these could be three species new to science and endemic to Fiji.  Bindiya also carried out freshwater macroinvertebrate surveys in Kadavu which yielded a larval specimen from the family of aquatic insects known as Crambidae, which were previously unrecorded in Fiji.  The larva is yet to be identified to genus or species level, but preliminary analysis reveals a relationship with members of the genus Hygraula, which is found in New Zealand.Three potentially new species of aquatic gastropods in the genus Fluviopupa  (Family Taetidae) were collected during a biodiversity assessment of streams in Emalu, in the province of Nadroga-Navosa.  The collections were made by MSc student Bindiya Rashni.  Preliminary identification work suggests that these could be three species new to science and endemic to Fiji.  Bindiya also carried out freshwater macroinvertebrate surveys in Kadavu which yielded a larval specimen from the family of aquatic insects known as Crambidae, which were previously unrecorded in Fiji.  The larva is yet to be identified to genus or species level, but preliminary analysis reveals a relationship with members of the genus Hygraula, which is found in New Zealand.

 

2011

2011

Botanical Assessment

1The highlight of a recent rapid botanical assessment survey to Kadavu island by the herbarium team, resulted in the discovery of a potentially new and unique species of Medinilla sp. (plant related to the tagimoucia) that has white flowers. The plant specimen collected from this species is currently being taxonomically assessed.

2010

2010

Conservation International (CI)

The Herbarium staff have received funding from Conservation International (CI) to undertake studies on the biodiversity of Fiji’s montane rain forest and to study the conservation of two endangered butterflies in Fiji.

Lau Biodiversity Survey :  CI/USP

Another grant from CI helped support a biodiversity survey of Southern Lau in Fiji.  The Lau group are an outer island group of Fiji far from the capital and the most recent biodiversity study had been undertaken in 1924.  In 2007 a survey was done of the northern Lau islands and in 2009 central Lau.  These surveys involve about twenty scientists who live aboard a research vessel for one month as it moves among the small islands.  Hundreds of new species not previously known to exist in the Lau group have been documented and priority areas for conservation identified.  Marine samples were also collected for drug discovery work.

2009

2009

Darwin Initiative project: 'Focus on Fiji: Insect Inventories for Biodiversity Assessment

IAS also has two major projects funded by the UK-based Darwin Initiative.  Under one several people are being trained in entomology and insect collections have been made in ten locations.  Under work on the second project a Postgraduate Diploma in protected area management has been developed and the year-long Pacific Island Community-based Conservation Course was offered for the fifth time for sixteen Pacific islanders in 2009.

Staffs

South Pacific Regional Herbarium and Biodiversity Centre Staff List

Name: Marika Tuiwawa

Title: Curator

Unit: South Pacific Regional Herbarium

Email: marika.tuiwawa(at)usp.ac.fj

Contact: +679 32 32970

Name: Alivereti Naikatini

Title: Senior Technician

Unit: South Pacific Regional Herbarium Unit

Email: alivereti.naikatinin(at)usp.ac.fj

Contact: +679 32 32975

Name: Dr. Sarah Pene

Title: Fellow

Unit: South Pacific Regional Herbarium Unit

Email: sarah.pene(at)usp.ac.fj

Contact: +679 32 32316

Name: Mereia Tabua

Title: Scientific Officer

Unit: South Pacific Regional Herbarium Unit

Email: mereia.tabua(at)usp.ac.fj

Contact: +679 32 32708

Name:  Jone Raituva

Title: Technical Assistants

Unit: South Pacific Regional Herbarium Unit 

Email: jone.raituva(at)usp.ac.fj

Contact: +679 32 32975

Name: Tokasaya Cakacaka

Title: Lab Attendant

Unit: South Pacific Regional Herbarium Unit

Email: tokasaya.cakacaka(at)usp.ac.fj

Contact: +679 32 32975

Name:  Apaitia Liga

Title: Lab Attendant

Unit: South Pacific Regional Herbarium Unit 

Email: apaitia.liga(at)usp.ac.fj

Contact: +679 32 32182

Name:  Iliesa Koroi

Title: Scientific Officer

Unit: South Pacific Regional Herbarium Unit 

Contact: +679 32 32975

Gallery

Gallery

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Page last updated: Thursday, May 25, 2017
Institute of Applied Science
Faculty of Science and Technology
Private Bag, Laucala Campus,
Suva, Fiji.
Tel: (+679) 323 2965
Fax: (+679) 323 1534