Set in the natural laboratory of French Polynesia, the Moorea model ecosystem is an excellent base for field studies in the scientific disciplines constituting biocomplexity with a variety of marine and terrestrial habitats. Surrounded by a well developed coral reef and lagoon system (12 reef passes), Moorea (132 sq Km) is a high, 1.2 million year old volcanic island with freshwater streams that flow year-round. A ridge with high peaks forms a U shape open to the north. The north side of the island is highly eroded and has two narrow bays, Cook's Bay and Opunohu Bay, with Mt. Rotui (899m) between them. The highest peak is Mt. Tohiea (1207 m) in the east and most of the summits are narrow and surrounded by steep cliffs.
The Gump Station occupies 14 hectares (35 acres) of land from the shore to 149m (489ft) at the entrance to Cook's Bay, providing excellent access to the ocean, lagoon, and island interior. From Cook's Bay, the main island of Tahiti and its capital Papeete is just 20Km away (25 minutes by carferry; 7 minutes by plane). Researchers and classes find the Gump Station an excellent base for field studies. Marine scientists can work in a variety of habitats - mud and sand flats, sea grass beds, inner and outer coral reefs, algal ridges and deep oceanic waters - all easily accessible from the Station. Terrestrial and freshwater scientists study island biogeography, geomorphology, the biology of invasive species, and the ecology of insular plant and animal communities. Human scientists (ethnobiology, public health, sustainable development, sociology, environmental design, policy, anthropology and archeology) find a fascinating balance between traditional Polynesian society and the culture of more recent immigrants, as well as a wealth of archeological sites.
The Insular Research Center and Environment Observatory (CRIOBE) is a field station for French as well as international researchers. Located in Moorea, French Polynesia, the CRIOBE is connected with the Practical School of High Studies (EPHE) and is part of the CNRS French marine stations national network. The CRIOBE's scientific activities are focused on applied and fundamental research, education and training (Thesis and master's degree student's internships) and information (press articles, awareness rising, science fair). Research is mostly focused on the Polynesian coralline ecosystem but may also concern ground insular topics related to the previous.
DNA barcoding is a taxonomic method that uses a short genetic marker in an organism's mitochondrial DNA to identify it as belonging to a particular species. It is based on a relatively simple concept: most eukaryote cells contain mitochondria and mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) has a relatively fast mutation rate, which results in significant variance in mtDNA sequences between species and, in principle, a comparatively small variance within species. A 648-pairs of base region of the cytochrome C oxidase subunit I gene (COI) was initially proposed as a potential 'barcode'.