Computer-aided identification of tropical forest trees (BIOTIK)
Funding Agency(ies):
European Commission under ASI@IT&C programme
Principal Investigator(s):
Dr. Pierre Grard, Dr. B.R. Ramesh
Start Date : 
Duration : 
5 years
Axis 4. of the Ecology Department /

The project aims to develop and sustain a long-term cooperation between Europe and South Asia in the area of taxonomy and information technology or broadly speaking, in the emerging discipline of Biodiversity Informatics.

By sharing European know-how in the field of taxonomy (species identification system IDAO (IDentification Assistée par Ordinateur), Grard, P., 2002) with the partners in Asia, this project intends to build a knowledge base, to widely benefit the communities of South and South East Asia and also the larger scientific community of Europe. This extensive knowledge base on the tree species of two hotspots in the region (Western Ghats of India and the Annamite Mountain range of Lao PDR) will enhance environment-monitoring capabilities and therefore improve the designs for sustainable management strategies in the region.

The long-term objectives are:

  • To sustain the long-term cooperation between European and South Asian institutions involved in taxonomy and IT&C initiatives;
  • To preserve and disseminate traditional knowledge in local languages and improve taxonomy knowledge-sharing through IT&C initiatives;
  • To promote the development of Open Source based IT&C tools in Biodiversity Informatics for southern countries through a transfer of know-how between Europe and Asia;
  • To promote cooperation between two southern countries in the area of biodiversity informatics, namely Lao PDR and India.
Materials and Methods:

The existing multimedia species identification software “IDentification Assistée par Ordinateur (IDAO)” was implemented to generate identification keys for tree species of each region independently. The identification system, entirely graphic, provides multi-entry points, allows identification of incomplete samples and certain level of observational errors, and enables specialists and non-specialists to make determinations of taxa by an alogoritham, in effect, generating rules as required at any stage of identification, as like the way by which experts discriminating taxa by using which character(s) should be used in various circumstances. IDAO builds a conceptual plant for every selection of characters. Subsequently, at each step of the identification process, a similarity coefficient is calculated for each species based on the user supplied characters.

Field works conducted extensively in both the hotspots to collect digital images, species descriptions (including ecology and distribution) and morphological features of tree species. Images of the herbarium of also incorporated for some species in the program. All the documents (species descriptions, hypertext files and species images) were integrated with IDAO system. In addition to descriptions of species in English (with hypetext glossary), descriptions are also provided in local languages (Kannada, Tamil and Malayalam for Western Ghats v.1.0 whereas Lao for Northern Annamites v.1.0 application) for wider dissemination of taxonomic knowledge and enhancement of biodiversity assessment capabilities of the region.


Main outputs:

  • Western Ghats v 1.0: A multimedia identification system of evergreen tree species of the Western Ghats, India – in a DVD to identify 528 tree species of Western Ghats
  • Northern Annamites v.1.0: A multimedia identification system of evergreen tree species of Northern Annamites – in a CD-ROM to identify 127 tree species of Northern Annamites
  • Web based application for the online version of the systems:

Western Ghats v 1.0  (Online version:

                Northern Annamites v.1.0

UMR AMAP, Montpellier, France

  • Dr. D. Barthélémy - Project Coordinator - Botanist
  • Dr. P. Grard - Botanist
  • Dr. C. Edelin - Botanist
  • Dr. J. Prosperi - Botanist


  • Dr. P.J.E. Kessler - Botanist
  • Dr. C.E. Ridsdale - Botanist

National University of Laos

  • Prof. Dr. Bouakhaykhone SVENGSUKSA

Staff ( IFP & External )

GRARD P., Director
RAMESH B.R., Researcher
AYYAPPAN N., Researcher
BALASUBRAMANIAN D., Research engineer
ARAVAJY S., Ingénieur d’études