Institute of Applied Science


South Pacific Regional Herbarium and Biodiversity Centre

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The South Pacific Regional Herbarium (SPRH) was established in 1993 by the Fiji Department of Agriculture and was then known as the Fiji Herbarium (Suva). The University of the South Pacific (USP), through theInstitute of Applied Sciences, assumed responsibility for the maintenance and administration of the facility in 1982. It currently houses more than 50,000 vascular plant specimens in the main collection. It also has a wet collection of plant parts, bryophytes and algae from the Pacific region. The SPRH serve the member countries of the USP which consists of the Cook Islands, Fiji, Kiribati, Marshalls Islands, Nauru, Niue,Niue, Solomon Island, Samoa, Tonga, Tokelau, Tuvalu and Vanuatu. The SPRH serves as a very important resource in matters pertaining to the taxonomy, conservation and ecology of plants, forestry, land use planning, economic plants and weed problems in the region. As a member of an international network of herbaria, the SPRH participates in programs with other international herbaria to maintain collections of botanical plants specimens for study by both local and international botanists and scientists working in associated fields.

Contact Person:

Name: Marika Tuiwawa

Title: Curator

Email: marika.tuiwawa(at)

Contact: +679 32 32970


We provide high quality applied scientific services through:


  • conserving, discovering and sharing knowledge about plants and their environment, in order to preserve and enrich life and to discover new information about plants, promoting the efforts of the botanical research community, and disseminating information to a wide range of potential recipients.

Herbarium Collection

SPRH Unit: Collections & Its Importance

What is a Herbarium?

A herbarium is like a plant museum or library, although it is not a place where you go to simply tour the museum exhibits or browse the collection. Nevertheless, it does serve a similar role, as an important reference collection and storehouse of information about Pacific Islands plants (botanical biodiversity). More importantly, it is a place you can go in order to find the correct name for a plant. Many people within the University and in the wider community, including government and non-government institutions and industries, use the herbarium to find out the correct names for plants. Many international visitors use the collection for their research on Pacific Island plants each year.

The Collections

The herbarium maintains an extensive collection of preserved and identified plant specimens collected throughout the region over many years. Each specimen is carefully selected and collected by a botanist or other trained persons. At the time of the collection, the collector records as much information as possible. Such information includes where the plant was collected, collection date, whether the plant was flowering or fruiting, local name (s), uses and any other useful information. If the collector does not know the scientific name, the specimen is brought to the herbarium where it is correctly identified or in some cases sent overseas for identification by specialists. At the herbarium the specimens are specially treated and mounted on special papers and stored in steel cabinets in a dehumidified and air-conditioned room. The collection room is periodically fumigated to kill any bugs that may have entered. This way the collections can be preserved for centuries.

Importance of Pacific Island Flora

Plant taxonomists and biogeographers alike view the flora of the Pacific Islands with considerable interest. Internationally, it has been estimated that the region (including the Hawaiian archipelago) has over 3300 of the world's endemic plant species that are unique to the region. The region also has very unique and rich terrestrial, freshwater and marine vertebrate and invertebrate fauna. As a result, the region is earmarked as one of the 25 biodiversity "hot spots" for conservation priority in the world. The rich and unique botanical diversity of the tropical Pacific Island region represents the heritage of its people at the regional, national and community levels. Its sustainable use holds the key to their future well being and security.

The USP recognizes the importance of this biodiversity and that priority must be given to assist member governments in the conduct of applied research on their biodiversity. It realizes that without information on the nature and status of biodiversity, it will be difficult for a country to promote the sustainable use and, where necessary, the protection and of these resources.

Regional Importance of the Collection

Botanical researchers and technicians have deposited their collections in Suva since 1993. Over the last 70 years various botanists have annotated more than 75% of the specimens and donated specimens to the collection. Most notable among the holdings are the collections related  to W.R. Syke's Flora of Niue (1970); A.C. Smith's Flora of Fiji (1979, 1981, 1985, 1987, 1989, 1991);G. Brownlie's Pteridophyte Flora of Fiji (1977) and Thaman, Fosberg, Manner and Hassall's Flora of Nauru (1994). These and a wide range of collections by others have greatly enhanced the scientific conservation value of the collections. The herbarium also contains a small but important collection from the rest of USP's 12 member countries, and also holds specimens from New Caledonia, Norfolk Island, French Polynesia, Guam, Papua New Guinea, Hawaii and Pitcairn Island.

Specimen Database

SUVA Specimen Index

Browse Specimen Index by Family

Specimen Collection
Taxon: Family:
Country/Province/District: with images only

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For comments or corrections please contact Marika Tuiwawa, curator of the South Pacific Regional Herbarium, by email:


The list below contains thesis titles from both Masters (MSc) and Doctoral (PhD) research by the IAS South Pacific Regional Herbarium postgraduates, for both completed and current students. Click on thesis titles (blue text) to read more about each research.



Thesis Title





Reassessment of the flora and vegetation along an altitudanal transect on the slope of Mt. Korobaba, Rewa Province, Fiji

Iliesa Koroi



Effect of catchment forest cover on Macroinvertebrate Community Structure in streams of Fiji.

Bindiya Rashni 

                   Mr. Pritesh Sharma



Diversity distribution and abundance of Fijian freshwater fish.

David Boseto



The distribtion, conservation status and ethnobiology of Metroxylon vitiense in Fiji.

Isaac Rounds

Mr. Isaac Rounds



The distribution and abundance of Fijis ground frog, Platymantis vitianus and the cane toad, Bufo marinus on Viwa Island, Tailevu.

Nunia Thomas

Ms. Nunia Thomas



Monitoring comparative spatial and temporal variation in the land-birds of Vago-Savura Forest Reserve, a native lowland rainforest in South East Viti Levu, Fiji.

Alifereti Naikatini





  1. Taxonomy, Phylogenetics and Biogeography of the Fijian long-horned beetles (Coleoptera: Cerambycidae)
  2. Taxonomy, diversity and distribution of canopy Coleoptera (Beetles) along elevational gradients on Eastern Viti Levu, Fiji.


Hilda Sakiti Waqa

Mrs. Hilda Waqa



Trunk-inhabiting Bryophyte diversity on two common native trees along an altitudanal gradient on Viti Levu, Fiji





Mereia Tabua



Diversity and community structure of macro-moths (Lepidoptera) in forest habitats on Viti Levu

Siteri Tikoca


South Pacific Regional Herbarium and Biodiversity Centre Projects



Sovi Basin Plot Monitoring

The National Trust of Fiji organized a revisit to the Sovi Basin in February to capture monitoring data in the plots that were not assessed in 2015. This also allowed the opportunity for further plant, insect and bryophyte collection.

External links:




Samoa Flora Project

The National Tropical Botanical Garden, Kauai, organized a flora expedition on Upolu and Savai’I on Samoa. Our local bryophyte specialist, was the recipient of their fellowship award to join the six-week expedition, which provided the opportunity to collect bryophytes from various habitats and localities on the two main islands of Samoa.



Sovi Basin Plot Monitoring:

Through the support of FAO, reassessment of the long-term monitoring plots of the Sovi Basin Protected Area was conducted by team members from the herbarium unit and the National Trust of Fiji. It was also an opportunity for further specimen collection and report on the current state of the biological diversity within the protected area.

External links:


Expedition to the Solomon Islands

The South Pacific Regional Herbarium coordinated a historic, biological expedition, funded by the Critical Ecosystem Partnership Fund (CEPF) and the USP Research Office, to the interior of Guadalcanal in the Solomon Islands. The purpose of the expedition was to investigate the diverse flora and fauna of this biological hotspot.
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External links:



REDD+ Emalu Grassland Survey

A rapid biodiversity assessment and archaeological survey was conducted on the Emalu grassland, a REDD+ pilot study site, in the Noikoro District of the Navosa Province on Viti Levu.

External links:



REDD+ Emalu Forest Survey

A rapid biodiversity assessment and archaeological survey was done on a Fiji REDD+ Pilot Site - the Emalu forest area on Viti Levu. This survey was the second phase to the assessment that was done in 2012.

External links:


Delaikoro Biodiversity Rapid Assessment, Socioeconomic Study and Archaeological Survey

The Global Environment Facility, through the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, funded this project to assess the biological diversity and conduct the socio-economic and archaeological survey of the Delaikoro mountain ecosystem on Vanua Levu, a proposed protected area.

External links:


REDD+ Vunivia Forest Survey

A rapid biodiversity assessment, archaeological survey and socio-political study of a Fiji REDD+ pilot site was conducted in Vunivia on Vanua Levu.

External links:


New Range Extensions

Vegetation surveys, headed by herbarium curator Marika Tuiwawa and consultant Senilolia Tuiwawa, in Emalu, in the province of Nadroga-Navosa, revealed the presence of some botanically important plant species.  These important range extension discoveries were made for two endemic species on the IUCN Red List; Acmopyle sahniana and Degeneria vitiensis; as well as two other rare endemic palms whose Red List status is currently under review (Cyphosperma naboutinense and Metroxylon vitiensis).  A new range extension to an altitude of 700m was also recorded for the orchid Nervilia cf. aragoana, which has previously only been recorded from altitudes below 400m.  Another range extension is of the horsetail, Equisetum ramossimum subsp. debile  previously recorded from the provinces of Namosi, Naitasiri and Ba.  One other plant species was collected which is the most recent record and new range extension for the ground orchid Macodes cf. petola. This is a very rare species and one not normally seen in the forest.


Fiji Liveworts New Findings

Three new occurrence records were made for Fiji liverworts. MSc student, Mereia Katafono, discovered these new finds for Fiji during the process of identifying several hundred moss and liverwort samples collected during her fieldwork.  The three liverworts were all collected from Vago Forest Reserve in the province of Naitasiri.  One of them, not yet identified to species level, belongs to the genus Cephaloziella, and is the first member of this genus to be found in Fiji.  Two other species (Telaranea tasmanica and Telaranea aff. Granulate) have also never been found in Fiji before.


New Findings in Habitat Ecology, and Plant-animal Interactions

During fieldwork in the Rewa delta as part of the IUCN MESCAL project, MSc student Lekima Copeland recorded a new addition to the brackish water fishes of Fiji; the sweetlip Plectorhinchus albovittatus. Previously this species was only known in Fiji from reef habitats. The finding of a juvenile specimen in the brackish delta waters expands our knowledge of the life cycle requirements of this species and highlights the importance of the mangrove ecosystem as a nursery for juvenile reef fishes.

Two significant breakthroughs were made in the CEPF-funded project ‘Conservation of Fiji’s Endemic and Rare Butterflies: Hypolimnas inopinata and Papilio schmeltzi’, which is coordinated by Hilda Sakiti-Waqa. The identity of the host plant of H. inopinata has now been determined conclusively to be Elatostema nemorosum Seem., an endemic member of the nettle family (Urticaceae).  Additionally, the life cycle of this rare butterfly has been comprehensively documented, with larval instars, pupa and egg stages identified and their morphology fully recorded.



Emalu REDD+

An initial rapid biodiversity assessment and archaeological survey was done on the Emalu forest area in the Navosa province on Viti Levu


MESCAL project – Rewa river delta

This project was implemented by the IUCN Oceania to conduct preliminary assessments of biomass and carbon inventory in mangrove forests.


External links: 


MESCAL Mangrove Project and the World Bank REDD+ project (to assess standing carbon stocks in an interior forest)

IAS also continued to develop expertise in community-based economic analysis, working with Landcare NZ in 2012 to assess the economic impact of invasive species and with Landcare NZ and PACE-SD (USP) to study cost-benefit analysis of various approaches to disaster risk reduction.

IAS staff also continued studies on butterflies, cloud forest biodiversity and the impacts of locally-managed marine areas.


 East Melanesia Conservation Investment Strategy : Critical Environment Partnership Fund

The IAS team was requested by the Critical Ecosystem Partnership Fund (CEPF) to manage the development of a regional profile and investment strategy for the Eastern Melanesian Islands, which includes Vanuatu and Solomon Islands.  CEPF is a joint initiative of l’Agence Française de Dévelopment, Conservation International, the European Union, the Global Environment Facility, the Government of Japan, the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, and the World Bank.  A fundamental goal is to ensure civil society is engaged in biodiversity conservation.  USP lead regional, national and community meetings to entertain views on how civil society could best be supported to carry out biodiversity conservation.  Its report was presented to the heads of the above organizations in December, 2012 and was very positively received; US$9 million was allocated to carry out the suggested investment strategy.


Potential New Species of Aquatic Gastropods

Three potentially new species of aquatic gastropods in the genus Fluviopupa  (Family Taetidae) were collected during a biodiversity assessment of streams in Emalu, in the province of Nadroga-Navosa.  The collections were made by MSc student Bindiya Rashni.  Preliminary identification work suggests that these could be three species new to science and endemic to Fiji.  Bindiya also carried out freshwater macroinvertebrate surveys in Kadavu which yielded a larval specimen from the family of aquatic insects known as Crambidae, which were previously unrecorded in Fiji.  The larva is yet to be identified to genus or species level, but preliminary analysis reveals a relationship with members of the genus Hygraula, which is found in New Zealand.Three potentially new species of aquatic gastropods in the genus Fluviopupa  (Family Taetidae) were collected during a biodiversity assessment of streams in Emalu, in the province of Nadroga-Navosa.  The collections were made by MSc student Bindiya Rashni.  Preliminary identification work suggests that these could be three species new to science and endemic to Fiji.  Bindiya also carried out freshwater macroinvertebrate surveys in Kadavu which yielded a larval specimen from the family of aquatic insects known as Crambidae, which were previously unrecorded in Fiji.  The larva is yet to be identified to genus or species level, but preliminary analysis reveals a relationship with members of the genus Hygraula, which is found in New Zealand.




Botanical Assessment

The highlight of a recent rapid botanical assessment survey to Kadavu island by the herbarium team, resulted in the discovery of a potentially new and unique species of Medinilla sp. (plant related to the tagimoucia) that has white flowers. The plant specimen collected from this species is currently being taxonomically assessed.

Southern Lau Expedition

As part of the baseline survey of the Southern Lau group for terrestrial and marine resources, with various government ministries and NGOs, the herbarium provided financial support and expertise in the fields of plant and vegetation ecology, mammology and entomology.

External links: 

Biodiversity Studies of Fiji Cryptogams & Pteridophytes

An international team of collaborators, led by Dr. Matt von Konrat of Chicago’s Field Museum, together with a team from the South Pacific Regional Herbarium, spent four weeks carrying out field work on Viti Levu and Kadavu, collecting bryophytes, lichens and ferns. The bryophytes and lichens, which are poorly known from Fiji and the tropical Pacific region, were the main focus of this expedition. Documenting the diversity and distribution of these tiny plants is vital for our understanding of their ecological significance, including their potential to act as indicators of climate change.

External links:



Conservation International (CI)

The Herbarium staff have received funding from Conservation International (CI) to undertake studies on the biodiversity of Fiji’s montane rain forest and to study the conservation of two endangered butterflies in Fiji.

Lau Biodiversity Survey :  CI/USP

Another grant from CI helped support a biodiversity survey of Southern Lau in Fiji.  The Lau group are an outer island group of Fiji far from the capital and the most recent biodiversity study had been undertaken in 1924.  In 2007 a survey was done of the northern Lau islands and in 2009 central Lau.  These surveys involve about twenty scientists who live aboard a research vessel for one month as it moves among the small islands.  Hundreds of new species not previously known to exist in the Lau group have been documented and priority areas for conservation identified.  Marine samples were also collected for drug discovery work.



Darwin Initiative project: 'Focus on Fiji: Insect Inventories for Biodiversity Assessment

IAS also has two major projects funded by the UK-based Darwin Initiative.  Under one several people are being trained in entomology and insect collections have been made in ten locations.  Under work on the second project a Postgraduate Diploma in protected area management has been developed and the year-long Pacific Island Community-based Conservation Course was offered for the fifth time for sixteen Pacific islanders in 2009.


South Pacific Regional Herbarium and Biodiversity Centre Staff List

Name: Marika Tuiwawa

Title: Curator

Email: marika.tuiwawa(at)

Contact: +679 32 32970

Name: Alivereti Naikatini

Title: Senior Technician

Email: alivereti.naikatinin(at)

Contact: +679 32 32975

Name: Dr. Sarah Pene

Title: Fellow

Email: sarah.pene(at)

Contact: +679 32 32316

Name: Mereia Tabua

Title: Scientific Officer

Email: mereia.tabua(at)

Contact: +679 32 32708

Name: Tokasaya Cakacaka

Title: Lab Attendant

Email: tokasaya.cakacaka(at)

Contact: +679 32 32182

Name:  Apaitia Liga

Title: Lab Attendant

Email: apaitia.liga(at)

Contact: +679 32 32182

Name:  Iliesa Koroi

Title: Scientific Officer

Email: iliesa.koroi(at) 

Contact: +679 32 32945



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Page updated: Tuesday, February 06, 2018
Institute of Applied Science
Faculty of Science and Technology
Private Bag, Laucala Campus,
Suva, Fiji.
Tel: (+679) 323 2965
Fax: (+679) 323 1534