Background - Knowledge base of the Mascarene's corals
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Knowledge base
of the Mascarene’s corals

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IREMIA lab - University of La Réunion

LIS lab - UPMC Paris

CBETM lab - EPHE - University of Perpignan

BtBs lab - University of Milano

ECOMAR lab - University of La Réunion

SHOALS - Rodrigues island

Albion Fisheries Research Center - Mauritius island


Published the 25 May 2008, updated the 30 November 2009

All the versions of this article:

Begun in 1996, the project called Knowledge Base of Corals of the Mascarene Islands is the result of the collaboration between two disciplines, information technology and systematics, through the work of Noël Conruyt, lecturer at the La Réunion University and Gérard Faure, at that time professor at the Institute of Engineering Science (Montpellier II University). Noël Conruyt provided a method and an information technology tool for biological description, and Gérard Faure contributed his expertise in the field of systematics of scleractinian corals, and in particular those of the Mascarene Islands. The practical application of Noël Conruyt’s work was made possible thanks to a collection of about 4000 coral specimens put together by Gérard Faure and which was the base of the systematics appendix of his thesis (1982).

This multidisciplinary approach of an information technology tool applied to corals from this unique collection opened the door to the field of information technology applied to systematics and initiated the development of the IKBS software.


1994 - Based on Noël Conruyt’s thesis work (“Amélioration de la robustesse des systèmes d’aide à la description, à la classification et à la détermination des objets biologiques”, 1994), Jacques Le Renard’s ideas (MNHN, National Museum of Natural History), and the development of the software KATE by Michel Manago (Acknosoft), an idea for a research project on the management of knowledge in biological sciences was born at the Research and Teaching Institute of Applied Mathematics and Information Technology (IREMIA) following the recruitment of N. Conruyt.

1995 – Following an idea of Guy Ancel, work began in the field of marine biology, focussing on corals with the help of scleractinian expert Gérard Faure.

1996 – This collaboration resulted in the first version of the Corals of the Mascarene Islands project. At this time, biologists from the MNHN and ECOMAR are involved in the creation of a knowledge base for the genus Pocillopora. From this time, Nicole Gravier-Bonnet joined the project.
In October, David Grosser joined the team as a PhD student whose first task was to develop the software platform IKBS.
Michel Pichon joined the team of experts. Pierre Gigord, then Director of IREMIA, encouraged the team and undertook to promote this work through a funding application.
Attendance at the 8th International Coral Reef Symposium in Panama (ICRS 1996).

1997 – A demonstration of tele-systematics between experts occurred during MILIA at Cannes.
At the end of this year, the first version of IKBS was functional and there was a shift from the genus Pocillopora to the family Pocilloporidae (description model by G. Faure). In October, a conscientious objector Yannick Geynet completed the team to develop the interface of the IKBS questionnaire on the web as well as the internet site.

1998 – A demonstration of this system took place during the ATM Developments 98 Conference in March in Rennes. The first web site was also launched.
A convention was signed between the Conseil Régional and IREMIA for the funding of stage II of the Knowledge Base of Corals of the Mascarene Islands project. New models were developed for the Fungiidae family (by M. Pichon) and the Astrocoeniidae and Siderastreidae families (by G. Faure). David Caron joined the project as graphic designer and photographer.

1999 – Version 2.2 of IKBS is underway. Jean Diatta, a new lecturer, strengthened the team and focussed on data analysis and processing.

The IKBS program is presented during the IFRECOR meeting on the 21 December at St Gilles.

2000 – Attendance at the 9th International Coral Reef Symposium in Bali (ICRS 2000).

2001 – Official completion of stage II of the project (August). The formal presentation of the outcomes highlights the need to make the results of the project more accessible.

2002 – David Grosser defends his thesis entitled «Construction itérative de bases de connaissances descriptives et classificatoires avec la plate-forme à objets IKBS : application à la systématique des coraux des Mascareignes». Planning for Stage III.

2003 –Project submitted for funding.

2004 – Funding accorded for stage III which begins in July. Attendance at the 10th International Coral Reef Symposium in Okinawa (ICRS 2004).

2005Francesca Benzoni from the Milano-Bicocca University’s Department of Biotechnology and Bioscience joins the expert team and works on the description model of the Mussidae family. Michel Pichon tackles the genus Acropora and Gerard Faure the Faviidae family. Attendance at the 4th WIOMSA scientific congress.
Presentation of mid-term results for the Conseil Régional in October.

2006 – Gérard Faure develops a model for identifying genera starting from the scleractinian order using Xper2, a tool developed at LIS. At the end of the year, part of the team is hosted by SHOALS for a field trip on Rodrigues Island with the ECOMAR Hydroid team. At the same time, Guillaume Dubus from LIS arrives at Réunion Island for 9 months to continue the work on Xper2 .

2007 – On the 14 June, F. Benzoni defends her thesis entitled “Le problème des frontières entre espèces chez les coraux scléractiniaires : Le cas du genre Psammocora”. Subsequently, M. Pichon spends 15 days at Réunion Island to finish the Acropora. October marked the end of stage III and the launching of this web site. Attendance at the 5th WIOMSA scientific congress in August.

2008 - Presentation of the results for the Régional Council in May within an exhibition. Edition of a booklet and CD. Coral identification demos for scholars. Finalization of the List of scleractinian coral species cited from the Mascarene Archipelago.

Will the adventure be continued with a stage IV ?

2009 - Attendance at the 6th WIOMSA scientific congress in August.

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