Conservation and reproductive biology of the giant leafless Vanilla atsinananensis, endemic to the highly threatened eastern lowland forests of Madagascar

Duration : 2024 - 2026
Research program : The Mohamed bin Zayed Species Conservation Fund
Geographic extension : International

Endangered species
Camera traps
Seed dispersal
Long-term conservation
IUCN Red List assessment

This project will contribute to the long-term conservation of the highly threatened Vanilla atsinananensis in collaboration with local communities and young Malagasy researchers, using a science-based, integrated approach. Detailed knowledge of the target species will be obtained and used to promote effective conservation measures for its specific, highly threatened habitat. Specifically, we aim to 1) search for new localities and collect baseline population demographic data of Vanilla atsinananensis by focusing additional field surveys in two protected areas near historical collections; 2) monitor and strengthen protection of the natural population of Vanilla atsinananensis; 3) study the reproductive biology (pollination, seed dispersal) and ecological interactions of Vanilla atsinananensis, using rope-climbing methods and camera traps; 4) develop the capacity of local communities for long-term conservation of the target species and other rare species living in the same habitats; and 5) update and publish the IUCN Red List assessment of Vanilla atsinananensis and generate conservation action plans.

The outcomes of the project will generate a new scientific understanding of phenology, reproduction, and threats to the habitat of Vanilla atsinananensis, and support awareness raising to local authorities and communities on the importance of conserving the lowland eastern moist forest of Madagascar.


  • Missouri Botanical Garden
  • Madagascar National Park (MNP)
  • Madagascar Flora and Fauna Group (MFG)