Long-term conservation of the most threatened Malagasy orchids (COMALO)

Programme : National Geographic Society's Committee for Research and Exploration (NGS, USA)
Durée : 2019 - 2020

Mots clés

ex situ conservation, IUCN Red List, Madagascar, Orchidaceae, pollination, seed bank, shadehouse.


Conserving plant diversity in biodiversity hotspots is a high priority, and in situ species conservation activities must be accompanied by complementary ex situ approaches since it will not be possible to assure the persistence of viable wild populations of all species. Orchidaceae represent about 10% of the world’s vascular plant diversity and 7% of Malagasy flora. Intensive field surveys conducted by our team have brought some 267 Malagasy orchid species into cultivation using a network of four orchid shade houses. Building on the foundation of these living collections, all of carefully documented provenance, we propose to develop an integrated approach to long-term conservation of Malagasy orchids involving field surveys, ex situ collection and IUCN assessments. Our project aligns with 6 of the 13 Conservation Plans endorsed by IUCN/SSC Orchid Specialist Group. Specifically, we plan to bank seeds of 15% of Madagascar’s orchid diversity (ca. 150 species), focusing on those that are the most threatened. A full set of seeds will be stored in Madagascar, and a duplicate set will be conserved at the Royal Botanic Gardens Kew, UK. Data collected during the project will serve to assess the risk of extinction of ~200 orchids and to update the IUCN Red List. The results will be disseminated through popular and scientific papers, the Catalogue of the Plants of Madagascar (http://www.tropicos.org/Project/Madagascar) and portals related to orchids (e.g., http://www.osssu.org/).


  • Institut de Recherche pour le Développement (IRD, France)
  • Missouri Botanical Garden (MBG, Etats Unis)
  • Université Libre de Bruxelles (ULB, Belgique)
  • Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew (RBGK, Angleterre)
  • New York Botanical Garden (NYBG, Etats Unis)