Berkeley -- In the middle of the South Pacific, about 12 miles west of Tahiti, is a tropical island that soon will emerge as a model ecosystem, thanks to the efforts of a U.S.-French research team led by University of California, Berkeley, biologists.
Moorea, home of the UC Berkeley Richard B. Gump South Pacific Research Station and France's Centre de Recherches Insulaires et Observatoire de l'Environnement (CRIOBE), will be the site of an ambitious project to create a comprehensive inventory of all non-microbial life on the island. Supported by a new $5.2 million grant from the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation, the Moorea Biocode Project over the next three years will send researchers climbing up jagged peaks, trekking through lush forests and diving down to coral reefs to sample the French Polynesian island's animal and plant life.
"This is the first effort to catalog and barcode an entire tropical ecosystem, from the bottom of the ocean to the top of the mountains," said George Roderick, UC Berkeley professor of environmental science, policy and management, curator of the campus's Essig Museum of Entomology and co-principal investigator of the project.
"We're constructing a library of genetic markers and physical identifiers for every species of plant, animal and fungi on the island, then making that database publicly available as a resource for ecologists and evolutionary biologists around the world," he said. Roderick is a former director of the Gump Station, where the National Science Foundation has established one of its 26 Long Term Ecological Research sites (the Moorea Coral Reef LTER).
Other lead investigators on this project include Neil Davies, executive director of the Gump Station; Craig Moritz, UC Berkeley professor of integrative biology and director of the Museum of Vertebrate Zoology; Serge Planes, research scientist with France's Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique (National Center for Sci
|Contact: Sarah Yang|
University of California - Berkeley