Geography, Earth Science and Environment

Geography, Earth Science and Environment

Professor Randolph Thaman

Contact Information

Email: thaman_r(at)
Phone: +679 323 2993
Office: Room M.270C, Marine Science Building, Lower Campus

Research interests

Professor Randy Thaman is The University of the South Pacific’s longest serving academic staff member. He joined the University in February 1974. He has conducted research in all the USP member countries, most recently on community-based biodiversity in Fiji, Tonga, Niue Tuvalu and Kiribati, and on the floras of Kiribati, the Marshall Islands, Nauru and a number of islands in Fiji. Over the years countless USP students have worked with him on these projects. Many of these students now hold important positions with government and non-government agencies in the areas of environmental management and sustainable development throughout the region.

Professor Thaman has published widely on a range of topics of importance to the Pacific Islands. His main areas of research include environmentally sustainable development, atoll and small-island ecosystems, biodiversity, agroforestry, Pacific Island food systems, ethnobiology and traditional environmental knowledge, Pacific Island floras, community-based biodiversity conservation, and ecotourism and urban gardening

Selected publications

Thaman, R.R. 2013. Ethno-biodiversity, taxonomy and bioinformatics for all ages: engaging and educating the next generation of taxonomists as a foundation for sustainable living on Planet Earth – challenges and opportunities. In Brooks, L.A. and Aricò, S. (eds) Tracking Key Trends in Biodiversity Science and Policy. United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation, Paris, 23–25.

Thaman, R.R., Fihaki, E. and Fong, T. 2012. Plants of Tuvalu Lākau mo Mouku o Tuvalu: a Guide to Indigenous and Introduced Plants of Tuvalu. The University of the South Pacific Press, Suva, 259 pp.

Thaman, R.R., Gregory, M. and Takeda, S. 2011. Trees of Life: a Guide to Trees and Shrubs of The University of the South Pacific, Suva, Fiji. The University of the South Pacific Press, Suva, 335 pp.

Thaman, R.R., Puia, T., Togabaea, W., Namona, A. and Fong, T. 2010. Marine biodiversity and ethnobiodiversity of Bellona (Mungiki) Island, Solomon Islands. Singapore Journal of Tropical Geography 31, 70–84

Thaman, R.R. 2008. Pacific Island agrobiodiversity and ethnobiodiversity: a foundation for sustainable Pacific Island life. Biodiversity 9, 102–110.

Thaman, R.R. 2008. Atolls – the “biodiversity cool spots” vs “hot spots”: a critical new focus for research and conservation. Micronesica 40, 33–61.

Thaman, R.R., Hassall, D.C. and Takeda, S. 2008. Plants of Nauru: Guide to Indigenous and Introduced Plants of Particular Cultural Importance and Weeds of Potential Threat to Nauru. Secretariat of the Pacific Community Forests and Trees Programme, Suva, 222 pp.

Thaman, R.R. 2008. The ecosystems and flora of Majuro Atoll. In Terry, J.P. and Thomas, F.R. (eds) The Marshall Islands: Environment, History and Society in the Atolls. Faculty of Islands and Oceans, The University of the South Pacific, Suva, 23–68.

Thaman, R.R. 2008. Sustainability. In Gillespie, R. (ed.). Encyclopedia of Islands. University of California Press, Berkeley, 888–896.

Taafaki, I.J., Fowler, M.K. and Thaman, R.R. (eds) 2007. Uno in Aelōñ in Majōl: Kōrā ro, Marin Uno Ko, Uno Ko. IPS Publications, The University of the South Pacific, Suva. 199 pp (Marshallese edition, translated by M.K. Fowler).

Taafaki, I.J., Fowler, M.K. and Thaman, R.R. (eds) 2006. Traditional Medicine of the Marshall Islands: the Women, the Plants, the Treatments. IPS Publications, The University of the South Pacific, Suva, 300 pp.

Thaman, R.R., Keppel, G., Watling, R., Thaman, B., Gaunavinaka, T., Naikatini, A., Thaman, B., Bolaqace, N., Sekinoco, E. and Maseri, M. 2005. Nasoata mangrove island, the PABITRA coastal study site for Viti Levu, Fiji Islands. Pacific Science 59, 193–204.

Thaman, R.R., Bulai, S. and Mathias, A. (eds). 2004. Trees Outside Forests in the Pacific Islands: Proceedings of the Regional Forestry Workshop on Trees Outside Forests, Raffles Gateway Hotel, Nadi, Fiji Islands, 10–14 December 2001. Food and Agricultural Organization of the United Nations Pacific Regional Office, Apia and Pacific Islands Trees and Forests Programme, Secretariat of the Pacific Community, Suva, 219 pp.

Thaman, R.R. and Pene, F. 2004. Three Rs for Academic Success – Research, Recording and Referencing: Guidelines for Students Doing Library, Internet and Field Research. Institute of Education, The University of the South Pacific, Suva, 85 pp.

Thaman, R.R., Tukiuha, C., Tukiuha, V., Kulatea, M. and Aue, S. 2004. Niue’s biodiversity: a foundation for ecological, cultural and economic survival of a small island nation. In Terry, J.P. and Murray, W. (eds) Niue Island: Geographical Perspectives on the Rock of Polynesia. International Scientific Council for Island Development (INSULA), Paris, 125–202.

Thaman, R.R. and Vander Velde, N. 2003. The vascular plants of Majuro Atoll, Republic of the Marshall Islands. Atoll Research Bulletin  503, 1–141.

Thaman, R.R. 2002. Trees outside forests as a foundation for sustainable development in the Small Island Developing States of the Pacific Ocean. The International Forestry Review 4, 268–276.

Thaman, R.R. 1999. Pacific Island biodiversity on the eve of the 21st Century: current status and challenges for its conservation and sustainable use. Pacific Science Association Information Bulletin 51, 1–37.

Thaman, R.R. and Hassall, D.C. 1998. Republic of Nauru NEMS: National Environmental Management Strategy and Action Plan. Prepared for the Department of Island Development and Industry, Nauru and produced with financial assistance from the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP). South Pacific Regional Environment Programme (SPREP), Apia, 204 pp.

Thaman, R.R. and Whistler, W.A. 1996. A Review of Uses and Status of Trees and Forests in Land-Use Systems in Samoa, Tonga, Kiribati and Tuvalu with Recommendations for Future Action. Working Paper 5, June 1996 (RAS/92/361). South Pacific Forestry Development Programme, Suva, 171 pp.

Thaman, R.R. 1995. Urban food gardening in the Pacific Islands: a basis for food security in rapidly urbanising small-island states. Habitat International 19, 209–224.

Thaman, R.R., Fosberg, F.R., Manner, H.I. and Hassall, D.C. 1994. The flora of Nauru. Atoll Research Bulletin 392, 1–223.

Thaman, R.R. 1993. Children and the future of the Pacific Islands. Directions: Journal of Educational Studies 15, 1–18.

Clarke, W.C. and Thaman, R.R. (eds) 1993. Pacific Island Agroforestry: Systems for Sustainability. United Nations University Press, Tokyo, 297 pp.

Thaman, R.R. 1992. Agrodeforestation as a major threat to sustainable development. In Thistlethwaite, R. and Votaw, G. Environment and Development: a Pacific Island Perspective. Asian Development Bank, Manila and South Pacific Regional Environment Programme, Apia, 194–195.

Thaman, R.R. 1992. Vegetation of Nauru and the Gilbert Islands. Pacific Science 46, 128–158.

Thaman, R.R. 1992. Batiri kei Baravi: the ethnobotany of Pacific Island coastal plants. Atoll Research Bulletin 361, 1–62.

Thaman, R.R. and Neemia, U. 1991. Republic of Kiribati: National Report for the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED), Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, June 1992. Ministry of the Environment and Natural Resources Development, Bairiki, Tarawa and South Pacific Regional Environment Programme (SPREP), Noumea, 279 pp.

Thaman, R.R. and Neemia, U. 1991. Tuvalu: National Report for the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED), Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, June 1992. Office of the Prime Minister, Vaiaku, Funafuti and South Pacific Regional Environment Programme (SPREP), Noumea, 231 pp.

Chase, R. and Thaman, R.R. (eds) 1991. Atoll Agricultural Research: Problems and Prospects. Proceedings of the International Conference on Developing Agricultural Research Programmes for Atolls, Pacific Harbour, Fiji, November 913, 1990. Institute for Extension, Research and Training in Agriculture (IRETA), The University of the South Pacific, Alafua, Western Samoa, 103 pp.

Thaman, R.R. 1990. The evolution of the Fiji food system. In Jansen, A.A.J., Parkinson, S. and Robertson, A.F.S. (eds) Food and Nutrition in Fiji: a Historical Review. Volume One: Food Production, Composition and Intake. Department of Nutrition and Dietetics, Fiji School of Medicine and the Institute of Pacific Studies, The University of the South Pacific, Suva, 23–107.

Thaman, R.R. (ed.) 1989. Applied Atoll Research for Development: Proceedings of the Kiribati Applied Atoll Research for Development Consultation, Tarawa 27 February to 2 March 1989. Ministry for Natural Resource Development, Bairiki, Tarawa, 253 pp.

Thaman, R.R. 1988. Health and nutrition in the Pacific Islands: development or underdevelopment. GeoJournal 16, 211–227.

Thaman, R.R. 1988. Environmental issues in the Pacific Islands: constraints to sustainable island development. Pacific Issues 1, 1–77.

Thaman, R.R. 1987. Urban agroforestry: the Pacific Islands and beyond. Unasylva 39, 2–13.

Thaman, R.R. and Thomas, P.M. 1985. Cassava and change in Pacific Island food systems. In Cattle, D.J. and Schwerin, K.H. (eds) Food Energy in Tropical Ecosystems. Gordon & Breach, New York, 191–228.

Thaman, R.R. 1982. Deterioration of traditional food systems, increasing malnutrition and food dependency in the Pacific Islands. Journal of Food and Nutrition 39, 109–121.

Thaman, R.R. 1978. Cooperative yam gardens: an adaptation of a traditional agricultural system to serve the needs of the developing Tongan market economy. In Fisk, E.K. (ed.) The Adaptation of Traditional Agriculture. Development Studies Centre Monograph 11, Australian National University, Canberra, 116–130.

Thaman, R.R. 1977. Plant resources of the Suva Municipal Market, Fiji. Ethnomedicine 4, 23–62.

Thaman, R.R. 1974. Lantana camara: its introduction, dispersal and impact on the islands of the tropical Pacific Ocean. Micronesica 10, 17–40.

Thaman, R.R. 1974. Remote sensing of agricultural resources. In Estes, J.E. and Senger, L.W. (eds) Remote Sensing Techniques for Environmental Analysis. Hamilton Publishing, Santa Barbara, 189–224.

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