Staff: Mike Wilson

The Fiji Islands are recognised as one of 25 key locations for conserving the world's biodiversity by Conservation International. A lack of knowledge relating to the insect diversity hinders strategic conservation effort in Fiji. This UK-funded Darwin Initiative project is based at the University of the South Pacific (USP) and aims to build significant capacity for insect biodiversity survey work in Fiji. This will be done by establishing and training an expert team of three senior curators, three technicians and five parataxonomists. Together, they will: (i) design and complete insect biodiversity surveys in Fiji Islands; (ii) process samples and prepare specimens; (iii) summarise and disseminate the results in the form of computer databases, technical reports, webpages, and accessible identification guides; (iv) raise awareness of environmental and biodiversity issues (v) as part of the legacy of the project, establish a national insect collection based at USP. Training of the 11-strong team will be greatly enhanced by each of the curators and technicians being brought to the UK for 6 weeks of intensive training in taxonomy and ecology. Recognised international experts from the UK delivering intensive training courses on their specialist insect group in Fiji.

Dr Wilson has carried out some training on Hemiptera in Fiji in 2007 and hosted a visit by one curator from Fiji in July 2007. Research papers on new species from Fiji will be prepared. A checklist of the leafhopper and planthopper fauna of the Fiji islands is already completed and will be published in 2008.