SYSTE theme - Systematics and Biogeography of Plants



The knowledge of flora and their origin targets geographical sites in Africa (Mediterranean Maghreb and tropical Africa), South-East Asia (Laos, Indonesia), Asia Minor (Near and Middle East), South America (French Guiana) and Pacific (New Caledonia). In these regions where conservation issues are linked to a good knowledge of biodiversity, work on the systematics and distribution of plant species is part of a development aid policy and is carried out in collaboration with local or international partners. Indeed, these mega-diverse tropical and Mediterranean regions are subject to strong anthropogenic pressures. This research in modern systematics (integrated morphometric/molecular approaches) is also intended to be applied and to include: descriptions of taxa, study of their distribution, assessment of their conservation status. Botanical data management tools and identification tools (Pl@ntNet project) are being developed and a more fundamental biogeographical approach to understanding the origin of the studied flora is also being developed. This work is mainly based on the collections of the herbaria of Cayenne (CAY) and Nouméa (NOU), which we manage, as well as that of Montpellier (MPU).


  •  Provide local partners with a better knowledge of their flora for better management.
  •  Understand the origins of these flora and the diversification processes.
  •  Develop local methods and expertise for the conservation in situ and ex situ (seed bank, shade) of rare or threatened species.
  •  Train local staff in research and naturalist expertise (training of teachers, co-supervision of students, etc.).

Expected Results

This work produces new knowledge that can be directly exploited by users and managers of the concerned flora, and of plant groups that are particularly problematic and important for these regions (Alliaceae, Cupressaceae, Fabaceae, Hyacinthaceae, Lamiaceae, Lauraceae, Orchidaceae, Rubiaceae, Sapotaceae, Sapindaceae).

Significant events

  •  Revision of 14 genera and description of 60 new species and one new genus from New Caledonia, Tropical America and Central Africa.
  •  Participation of V. Droissart in the Lengguru 2014 expedition to West Papua ( ARTE Lengguru filmu (
  •  Participation in the expeditions La Planète Revisitée in French Guiana in 2015 (J.-F. Molino, D. Sabatier, S. Gonzalez) and in New Caledonia in 2016 and 2017 (J. Munzinger et David Bruy).

Main funded projects

Acronym Title Duration
CHRONICKLe chrome et le nickel dans les sols de Nouvelle-Calédonie: Influence des forçages environnementaux et humains sur la biodisponibilité et la mobilité vers la ressource en eau2019 - 2022
MIKOKOMikoko: Conservation and resilience of Kenya’s mangrove forests2019 - 2021
PEPINOHistorical genomics of long-term PEople-Palm Interactions in the NeotrOpics2019 - 2020
SAOTHREATFLORACharacterization of the Threatened Flora of São Tomé and Príncipe2019 - 2021
ERMINESEspèces végétales Rares et Menacées des sites miniers2019 - 2022
COMALOLong-term conservation of the most threatened Malagasy orchids2019 - 2020
IDROPimagerie Intelligente par DRone pour la gestion des écosystèmes forestiers trOPicaux2018 - 2021
FUNBIOMEPlant FUNctional BIOgeography in the MEditerranean2017 - 2019
OSSICULUMOssiculum, a monotypic flagship genus for orchid conservation in Central Africa2017 - 2018
CONAFRO IIIDéveloppement d'un Centre régional de formation et mise en place d’une banque de graines à l'Université de Yaoundé I, Cameroun2017 - 2017
CURCOLEC-ACCuration, gestion et développement des collections écologiques liées au réseau de parcelles permanentes d'Afrique centrale2017 - 2019
NC-LAURACSystematics of New Caledonian Lauraceae2016 - 2020
CONAFROComparative seed biology and the conservation of Central African orchids in Cameroon2015 - 2016
CONAFRO IIComparative seed biology and the future of orchid conservation in Central Africa, with a particular emphasis on the genus Cyrtorchis Schltr. 2014 - 2018
PHYLOGUIANASBiogeography and pace of diversification in the Guiana Shield2013 - 2016
E-RECOLNATValorisation de 350 ans de collections d'histoire naturelle : une plateforme numérique pour l'environnement et la société2013 - 2019
AFRANGROTaxonomic revision and phylogenetic analysis of continental African angraecoid Orchidaceae2011 - 2016
SSP-SAPINDSystematics of South Pacific Sapindaceae2009 - 2020

Theses defended

  •  Amasifuen Guerra, C. A. 2016. Ecological and biochemical study of Himatanthus tarapotensis (Apocynaceae): production patterns and role in the plant-plumericin insect interaction in the Amazonian natural environment. Thesis Univ. Montpellier & Univ. Peruana Cayetano Heredia, Lima, Peru (Co-Director P. Delprete & M. Sauvain; Thesis Allocation Univ. Lima). Curent position: Associate Professor Univ. Iquitos, Peru.
  •  Ferreira Margalho, L. 2017. Systematic study in Simira Aubl (Rubiaceae). Thesis Univ. São Paulo, Brazil (Co-director M. Groppo & P. Delprete; CNPq and Fapesp scholarships). Curent position: Associate Professor Univ. Belem, Brazil.
  •  Paudyal, S. 2015. Systematic and biogeography of the Chiococceae-Catesbaeeae (Rubiaceae) complex. Thesis Univ. Old Dominion, Norfolk, USA (Dir. P. Delprete; Fellowship Old Dominion Univ., Norfolk). Curent position: Associate Professor USA.
  •  El-Hajj Sawaya, R. 2016. Integrative approach to Mediterranean biodiversity conservation issues for prioritizing the designation of protected areas. Thesis Univ. Aix-Marseille (Co-director. T. Tatoni, E. Vela & C. Khater; thesis scholarship from the Lebanese CNRS). Curent position: Lecturer and researcher at the University of Saint-Joseph in Beirut.
  •  Trueba, S. 2016. Ecology, forms and functions of the basal angiosperms from New Caledonia = Ecologie, formes et fonctions des angiospermes basales de Nouvelle-Calédonie. Thesis ED GAIA, Univ. (Dir D. Barthélémy; CONACYT research allowance). Curent position: Post-doctoral fellowship Univ. Yale, USA
  •  Bruy, D. 2018. Diversity, Ecology and Evolution of single-stemmed species in New Caledonia. Thesis Univ. Montpellier (Dir. D. Barthélémy; Research grant ED Gaia, Univ. Montpellier). Curent position: permanent position of IRD Study Engineer.
  •  Sekkal, F.-Z. 2019. Floral diversity of dry grasslands on the Traras Mountains (Tlemcen, Algeria). (Dir S. Hadjadj-Aoul & E. Vela; continuing education). Curent position: Assistant Master Univ. Oran, Algeria.

Theses in progress

  •  Azandi, L. 2016-2019. Taxonomy, conservation and reproductive biology of the genus Cyrtorchis Schltr. Thesis Univ. 1 Yaoundé, Cameroon (Co-Director B. Sonké & V. Droissart; SCAC Yaoundé Fellowship)
  •  Guechi, N. 2016-2020. Floral and ethnobotanical studies of the Hodna mountains: case of the Maadid massif (M'sila, Algeria). Thesis Univ. M'Sila, Algeria (Co-director K. Rebbas & E. Véla; doctoral scholarship from the Algerian state).
  •  Mesbah, M. 2016-2020. Taxonomic and biogeographic study of some species of the genus Silene L. (Caryophyllaceae) from northeastern Algeria. Thesis Univ. Bejaia, Algeria (Co-director M. Sahnoune & E. Véla; doctoral scholarship from the Algerian state).
  •  Mahmood A. 2018-2024. Biodiversity assessment and conservation needs in Kurdistan region of Iraq (NW Zagros). Thèse ED GAIA, Univ. Montpellier & Univ. Duhok, Irak (Co-dir. E. Véla & S. Youssef ; formation continue).
  •  Belharrat A. 2018-2022. Taxonomic and conservatory study of the Ptéridophytes (ferns and allied plants) of northeastern Algeria. Thesis U. Bejaia, Algeria (Co-Director A. Bougaham & E. Véla; Algerian State Doctoral Award).


  •  Véla, E. 2017. From biodiversity inventory to conservation priorities in the hotspot of the Mediterranean basin: can knowledge gaps be filled? HDR ED Gaia, Univ. Montpellier.

Main scientific production (ACL only)

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