A major scientific survey finds more species than in the entire Mediterranean at Lifou, Loyalty Islands

February 04, 2002

The coral reefs of New Caledonia, a major focus of marine biodiversity, are exceptional as subjects for investigation by zoologists and ecologists. They harbour an extraordinary profusion of species, representing one of the most complex ecosystems in the world's oceans. Exploration of a single bay, during the Lifou 2000 research campaign, found a treasure trove of discoveries highly stimulating for scientific imagination and debate.

The scientific survey LIFOU 2000, organized and led jointly by the French National Museum of Natural History (MNHN) and the Instituit de recherche pour le développement (IRD), was conducted at Lifou (Loyalty Islands Province) in October and November 2000. It brought together an international team of 35 scientists, with the logistical means of IRD and the support of the TotalFina Elf Foundation. Unlike the main island, Grande-Terre, surrounded by a lagoon, Lifou is a raised atoll, a large flat island with no rivers. Its reefs plunge straight down to the abyssal depths. The invertebrate fauna had not been studied there since the days of pioneering research by missionaries - over 100 years ago.

An array of collection approaches was used, including diving, drag-netting and harvesting specimens at low tide. This wide-ranging biological survey revealed a magnificent diversity of tropical fauna. It found at Lifou, over an area of barely 5000 ha, nearly 3000 species of mollusc living, which is 1.5 times as many as in the entire Mediterranean (3 million km_) ! Moreover, which is striking, most of the species are rare or even very rare. In fact 28% of them have been seen only once and 22% are represented only by single examples. The samples collected from Lifou 2000, which include several hundred unknown species, signify a world first : the survey is the only study to have available an exhaustive quantified inventory of the species richness of a whole site. An international network of 120 taxonomists is being coordinated by the MNHN to study this wealth of fauna. Many more years of investigation will be needed before these samples can yield all the information they hold.

The results from LIFOU 2000 provide thought for coral reef conservation strategies. The extreme heterogeneity which has been demonstrated suggests that organizing several protected sites into networks could be an alternative to the current system of independent protected areas somewhat isolated from each other.

The Lifou 2000 survey team is now planning a campaign of similar scope in South-East Asia, at the heart of the " Golden Triangle " of reef biodiversity, the " Holy Grail " of all marine zoologists.
-end-
Press offices :

Muséum National d'Histoire Naturelle Institut de recherche pour le développement (IRD) Geneviève Boulinier ou Amélie Jolivet

+33 (0)1 40 79 54 40/42

Institut de recherche pour le développement

Related Species Articles from Brightsurf:

A new species of spider
During a research stay in the highlands of Colombia conducted as part of her doctorate, Charlotte Hopfe, PhD student at the University of Bayreuth, has discovered and zoologically described a new species of spider.

Two new species of parasite discovered in crabs -- discovery will help prevent infection of other marine species
Two new species of parasite, previously unknown to science, have been discovered in crabs in Swansea Bay, Wales, during a study on disease in the Celtic and Irish Seas.

Marine species are outpacing terrestrial species in the race against global warming
Global warming is causing species to search for more temperate environments in which to migrate to, but it is marine species -- according to the latest results of a Franco-American study mainly involving scientists from the CNRS, Ifremer, the Université Toulouse III-Paul Sabatier and the University of Picardy Jules Verne -- that are leading the way by moving up to six times faster towards the poles than their terrestrial congeners.

Directed species loss from species-rich forests strongly decreases productivity
At high species richness, directed loss, but not random loss, of tree species strongly decreases forest productivity.

What is an endangered species?
What makes for an endangered species classification isn't always obvious.

One species, many origins
In a paper published in Nature Ecology and Evolution, a group of researchers argue that our evolutionary past must be understood as the outcome of dynamic changes in connectivity, or gene flow, between early humans scattered across Africa.

Species on the move
A total of 55 animal species in the UK have been displaced from their natural ranges or enabled to arrive for the first time on UK shores because of climate change over the last 10 years (2008-2018) -- as revealed in a new study published today by scientists at international conservation charity ZSL (Zoological Society of London).

Chasing species' 'intactness'
In an effort to better protect the world's last ecologically intact ecosystems, researchers developed a new metric called 'The Last of the Wild in Each Ecoregion' (LWE), which aimed to quantify the most intact parts of each ecoregion.

How do species adapt to their surroundings?
Several fish species can change sex as needed. Other species adapt to their surroundings by living long lives -- or by living shorter lives and having lots of offspring.

Five new frog species from Madagascar
Scientists at Ludwig-Maximilians-Universitaet in Munich and the Bavarian State Collection of Zoology have named five new species of frogs found across the island of Madagascar.

Read More: Species News and Species Current Events
Brightsurf.com is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.