Today, the 70,458 species identified in France’s overseas territories are estimated to be just 10% of the species thought to be present. France’s richest biodiversity is situated in these territories and therefore a concerted effort must be made to overview and inventorise it.
Bande-annonce expédition Guyane 2014-2015 - La Planète Revisitée. Réal. Frédéric Dubos et Sébastien Pagani © MNHN
The expedition consists of 2 missions:
- a marine mission, which was itself divided into a deep sea mission (21 July > 11 August 2014), to collect benthos samples from the continental shelf and its steep slopes (30 to 800 metres in depth), on the Venezuelan oceanographic vessel Hermano Gines, and a coastal mission (22 September > 7 October 2014), to collect benthos samples from the coastal fringe from 0 to 20 metres, on the Iles du Salut (Salvation Islands)
- a land mission (27 February > 27 March 2015), to collect samples of the terrestrial and freshwater flora and fauna of the Mitaraka massif, in the central area of the Guiana Amazonian Park.
First results (December 2015)
Details of the first results from this expedition are available in the downloadable report at the bottom of the page.
The report is divided into two parts, in keeping with the two focuses of the expedition: terrestrial and marine.
On one hand, French Guiana is aware—and proud—of its rich terrestrial biodiversity. While there was no need to demonstrate it, the expedition does confirm it. What the expedition has shown, is that the broad lines of Guiana’s Amazonian biodiversity are already known, even in the Mitaraka range, which up to now had not been explored in depth. The discovery in the area of species new to French Guiana, as well as species new to science in general, is important, but not earth-shattering. No “lost world” distinct from the rest of French Guiana was revealed. The Mitaraka expedition will nevertheless remain a reference in terms of organization, collecting, specimen processing and data sharing.
On the other hand, French Guiana’s marine environment had a reputation for poor biodiversity. The expedition confirmed the truth of this, at least when compared with the islands of the West Indies, for instance. Paradoxically, the expedition was able to increase the Guianese inventory twofold, threefold and even tenfold in all almost every group, and discover dozens of new species.