In March 2019, we initiated a botanical survey focusing on trees, towards the production of a photographic field guide of tree species in Nakai-Nam Theun.
A team of botanists and assistants visited our field site to initiate a long-term botanical survey focusing on trees. This study will contribute to the characterization of habitats used by primates and other species at our field site and will help us with the identification of tree species that are part of the diet of the red-shanked douc (Pygathrix nemaeus), as part of our current research on their behavioural ecology.
The team visiting our site included a team of Lao and French botanists: Mr. Keooudone Souvannakhommane (Lao) a national botanist; Mr. Vong (Lao) an assistant botanist from the Pha Tad Ke Botanical Garden; Aurélien Morin (French) an eco-agro-biologist and botanist; and Mr. Jean-Marc Dubost (French) an ethnobotanist currently conducting his PhD research in Laos.
The team is staying close to three weeks in the field and the specimens will be identified and prepared at the Pha Tad Ke Botanical Garden to then be deposited at the Herbarium of the University of Chiang Mai in Thailand and at the National Herbarium of Laos.
The specific objectives of this project are:
The flora of Laos remains one of the least studied in the region with little botanical work for the last 60 years. There have been so far only three incomplete published checklists of plants for Laos: Noms vernaculaires de Plantes en Usage au Laos (Vidal 1959); the Checklist of Lao Plant Names (Callaghan 2004); the Checklist of the Vernacular Plants of Lao PDR (Newman et al., 2007a).
Only one preliminary inventory was conducted between 2004 and 2007 in Nakai-Nam Theun, focusing on vascular plants, which led to a preliminary checklist of vascular plants for the area (Newman et al., 2007b), representing only a small fraction of the number of species that are present. No botanical study has been conducted since.
This project is a collaboration between Anoulak, the Watershed Management & Protection Authority (WMPA), the Pha Tad Ke Botanical Garden of Luang Prabang and the French association ‘Savoirs et Biodiversité’. We hope to conduct surveys annually to produce a comprehensive checklist of tree species and habitat description.