Oxford University Expedition To The Cook Islands 1991

Stephen Swabey

An examination of the dynamics of the freshwater body of the island was made using cave diving and other techniques. Special attention was paid to the relationship between tidal movements in both marine and inland environments. Some geomorphological studies were undertaken to widen knowledge about the origin of the island. Four copies of a 350-plant botanical collection was made for the Fielding-Druce Herbarium, University of Oxford; Smithsonian Institute, Washington DC; the DSIR, Christchurch, New Zealand; and the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, London. Information was collected on local use and names of each plant. Vegetational studies were undertaken to establish vegetational patterns on the island. Several limited range and/or unique plants were collected, including the fan-palm (Pritchardia vuylsekeana), thought to be unique to the island.

Project update: 19/8/96. The Oxford team worked closely with the Cook Islands Natural Heritage Project collecting herbarium specimens on the island of Mitiario. Efforts were focused on a number of the islands more interesting endemic plants including the fan-palm. Using information provided by local people, data were gathered on the local medicinal and nutritional uses of the plants collected.