Biodiversity Snapshots Wins Leadership in Public Programs Award

On Tuesday 14 December, representatives from Victoria’s arts agencies joined Arts Victoria and Parliamentary Secretary to the Premier, Heidi Victoria, for the 2010 Arts Portfolio Leadership Awards.

Winner: Leadership in Public Programs

Museum Victoria – Biodiversity Snapshots

A world-first project for schools, Biodiversity Snapshots combines education, science, mobile technologies, environmental awareness and real life experience.

Bringing the tradition of “Citizen Science” into the digital age, the project encourages and supports field research by students in their local environment.

Armed with web-enabled mobile devices, students can access Museum field guides and resources to help them identify the animals they see, and then record, share and analyse their observations back in the classroom.

The Awards

Established in 1998, the Leadership Awards celebrate the achievements of Victoria’s arts agencies, recognising leadership in seven areas including public programs, community engagement, collaborative practices, disability access and marketing.

In recognition of the changing nature of arts and cultural engagement, a new Leadership in Technology Award was introduced in 2010. The inaugural award went to Museum Victoria for the innovative use of technology in Melbourne Museum’s redeveloped Science and Life Gallery.

Scientific Collections International Second International Conference, 2-4 February 2011 at Melbourne Museum. More info – PDF (47 KB)

Article

The Atlas goes live! Read the Minister's announcement

Australians will be able to help researchers protect the amazing array of plants and animals in their local area, thanks to a new online information portal.
The Atlas of Living Australia has been developed to build a better picture of the Australian biosphere. It already holds over 23 million records on the distribution of Australia’s fauna and flora, in addition to maps, images and literature. Members of the public can help to build the database by contributing local photographs and information. Innovation Minister Senator Kim Carr encouraged schools, communities and researchers to become involved. “With this tool, we can create species distribution models, predict areas that could be suitable for a species, or work out how a species will be affected by a change in climate. I am proud to see Australians working together to protect our natural heritage,” Senator Carr said. The Atlas project is a national scientific collaboration between the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO), the Australian natural history collections community and the Australian Government. CSIRO Chief Executive Dr Megan Clark said community involvement was central to the success of the Atlas project. ”With the support of the public, we expect to incorporate even more data sets, tools and services over the next eighteen months,” Dr Clark added. Mr Donald Hobern, Director of the Atlas, said the project built on existing tools such as the Australian Plant Name Index, the Australian Faunal Directory, the Virtual Herbarium and the Online Zoological Collections of Australian Museums. “The Government’s investment in this project has enabled us to make rapid progress in integrating these rich data sources,” he said. Media contacts: Aban Contractor, Minister’s Office, 0457 989 842 Lynne Sealie, Atlas of Living Australia 02 6246 5901

Australians will be able to help researchers protect the amazing array of plants and animals in their local area, thanks to a new online information portal.

The Atlas of Living Australia has been developed to build a better picture of the Australian biosphere. It already holds over 23 million records on the distribution of Australia’s fauna and flora, in addition to maps, images and literature. Members of the public can help to build the database by contributing local photographs and information.

Innovation Minister Senator Kim Carr encouraged schools, communities and researchers to become involved.

“With this tool, we can create species distribution models, predict areas that could be suitable for a species, or work out how a species will be affected by a change in climate. I am proud to see Australians working together to protect our natural heritage,” Senator Carr said.

The Atlas project is a national scientific collaboration between the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO), the Australian natural history collections community and the Australian Government.

CSIRO Chief Executive Dr Megan Clark said community involvement was central to the success of the Atlas project.

”With the support of the public, we expect to incorporate even more data sets, tools and services over the next eighteen months,” Dr Clark added.

Mr Donald Hobern, Director of the Atlas, said the project built on existing tools such as the Australian Plant Name Index, the Australian Faunal Directory, the Virtual Herbarium and the Online Zoological Collections of Australian Museums.

“The Government’s investment in this project has enabled us to make rapid progress in integrating these rich data sources,” he said.

Media contacts:
Aban Contractor, Minister’s Office, 0457 989 842
Lynne Sealie, Atlas of Living Australia 02 6246 5901

Images from the Australian National Botanic Gardens (ANBG) 40th Birthday Gardens Party

ANBG Open Day 2010 - Close up of two stick insects

Close up of two stick insects

ANBG Open Day 2010 - Families looking at the stick insects and the display

Families looking at the stick insects and the display

ANBG Open Day 2010 - Visitors walking the Acacia tree of trees

Visitors walking the Acacia tree of trees

ANBG Open Day 2010 - Visitors walking the Acacia tree of trees

Visitors walking the Acacia tree of trees

ANBG Open Day 2010 - Kids looking at the stick insect

Kids looking at the stick insect

ANBG Open Day 2010 - Annette showing visitors the stick insect

Annette showing visitors the stick insect

ANBG Open Day 2010 - Annette showing kids the stick insect

Annette showing kids the stick insect

ANBG Open Day 2010 - Annette holding the stick insect

Annette holding the stick insect

ANBG Open Day 2010 - Looking at the postcard & holding the stick insect

Looking at the postcard & holding the stick insect

ANBG Open Day 2010 - Father and Son looking at Stick Insect

Father and Son looking at Stick Insect

ANBG Open Day 2010 - Holding the magnifying glass

Holding the magnifying glass

ANBG Open Day 2010 - Kids looking at Stick Insects

Kids looking at Stick Insects

Article

Tree of Trees launch

The Atlas of Living Australia is one of the proud sponsors of the Acacia Tree of Trees exhibit held at the “old nursery” site in the Australian National Botanic Gardens, Canberra.

By Robyn Lawrence, Atlas of Living Australia
The Atlas of Living Australia is one of the proud sponsors of the Acacia Tree of Trees exhibit held at the “old nursery” site in the Australian National Botanic Gardens, Canberra.

The Executive Director of the Australian National Botanic Gardens, Dr Judy West, opened the Tree of Trees exhibit to celebrate National Wattle Day, held each year on the 1st of September.

Acacia, commonly known as wattles, are the richest plant genus within the Australian flora. Their typical yellow flowers, although not all Acacia flowers are yellow, is an iconic sight across most Australian landscapes and the genus is well recognised by most Australians.

Tree of Trees layout diagram (press to see high resolution image 3MB)

Tree of Trees layout diagram
The trunk and branches are paths that can be explored to reach the groups of plants with similar genetic profiles. Comparisons can be made between closely related species and those located on other branches within the Tree of Trees
(press to see high resolution image 3MB)

Botanist and molecular systematist, Dr Joe Miller, designed the evolutionary tree of Acacia, with 100 different species arranged as the leaves of the tree. The phylogenetic tree shows the similarity or dissimilarity between the 100 Acacia species documented to date. The closer the plants are together on the branches of the tree indicate the similarity in their genetic relationship, while plants on different branches indicate less similarity in their genetic makeup. This display allows visitors to examine specimens of the plants with their nearest related ancestors. It allows the public to view similarities in structure and design in relation to their genetic relationships.

“This display shows how data drawn from the Atlas can be used in innovative ways. It’s great to see the on-ground relationships between species of plants in such an iconic Australian genus”, said John Tann, Team Leader for Collections Data Management of the Atlas.

The Tree of Trees exhibit currently documents around 10 percent of Australia’s known Acacia species. The Botanic Gardens and Centre for Plant Biodiversity Research staff grew the plants used in the layout and put together this model of over 2000 square metres. All up, the exhibit has 360 linear metres of path to traverse, made from 17 cubic metres of tan bark.

The Tree of Trees exhibit reflects a long-term DNA sequencing study carried out by the Centre for Plant Biodiversity Research, a joint venture between the Australian National Botanic Gardens and CSIRO Plant Industry. The Atlas of Living Australia amalgamated and provided the species information and distribution maps for the panels in front of each plant, allowing the public to gain greater insight into the species data associated with the each of the display plants.

The display will be available to the public at the Australian National Botanic Gardens until the 25th October 2010.

For more information

  • Australian National Botanic Gardens website
  • The Centre for Plant Biodiversity Research website
  • Australian National Botanic Gardens, old nursery site for the Tree of Trees exhibit
  • Acacia Tree of Trees details (1 Sep – 25 Oct 2010)
  • Australian National Botanic Gardens (ANBG) / Centre for Plant Biodiversity Research (CPBR) media release
  • Genus Acacia information
  • World Wide Wattle site

All photos courtesy of Carl Davies, Visual Resources Unit, CSIRO Plant Industry

People along the phylogenetic tree

People along the phylogenetic tree

Joe Miller explaining the Tree of Trees project

Joe Miller explaining the Tree of Trees project

Tree of Trees aerial view

Tree of Trees aerial view

Judy West and Joe Miller examining a wattle

Judy West and Joe Miller examining a wattle

Crowd at the Tree of Trees launch

Crowd at the Tree of Trees launch

Article

July / August 2010 newsletter summary

August 2010 - articles and reports, media releases, conferences and workshops, biodiversity weblinks

Atlas activities

  • Lynne Sealie, Communications Manager, Atlas of Living Australia, reports on the launch of the Atlas.
    The official launch of the Atlas was performed by Minister Kim Carr at the Melbourne Museum in late July.
  • Lynne welcomes new starters to the Canberra Atlas team:
    Tania Volk who is working as a technical writer and Wai Mok who is part of the java development team. The management team is looking to fill several new positions – expect to read more about new staff members in the next newsletter.
  • Lee Belbin, Geospatial Team Leader, Atlas of Living Australia, reports on the Spatial Analysis Toolkit. (article no longer available)
    A similar page about GIS Services »
  • Benay Wettle, User-centered Design Expert, Atlas of Living Australia, talks about getting the user’s perspective »
    Benay reports on the extensive work with external users over the past two months to fine tune the Atlas prototype before the public launch in October 2010.
  • Kevin Thiele, Descriptive Data Team Leader, Atlas of Living Australia, reports on efforts to support DELTA users.
    The Atlas is considering options for supporting users of the DELTA (Description Language for Taxonomy) descriptive information system for which there is no ongoing maintenance.
  • Miles Nicholls, ALA’s Data Manager, would like to encourage organisations and individuals with ownership of biodiversity data (including observations, specimens, environmental or contextual maps, species information and images) and with an interest in sharing it to contact the Atlas to discuss the possibility of linking to their resources and/or publishing their data via the Atlas. The Atlas aims to make biodiversity information more accessible and usable online.

Partners

  • Ken Walker, Museum Victoria, reports on recent developments in PaDIL.
    PaDIL is a biosecurity and biodiversity software tool that delivers high quality diagnostic images and structured information to the web. A recent software upgrade includes a new product called BowerBird.
  • Jo Harding, Bush Blitz Manager, Australian Biological Resources Study (ABRS), is upbeat about the Bush Blitz competition.
    Find out about the Bush Blitz Top Ten New Species competition for students.
  • ClimateWatch, an initiative of Earthwatch, has a new website featuring mammals, birds, insects, reptiles and plants that scientists would like assistance in monitoring as part of our scientific response to climate change.
  • Piers Higgs, Gaia Resources and the Atlas, reports how the ClimateWatch project, funded by the Atlas, won the Environment and Sustainability category of the WA Spatial Excellence Awards in July 2010.

Media Release and Report

  • Media Release – Atlas of Living Australia launch at Melbourne Museum, 28 July 2010 (PDF 17KB)
  • Report – Environmental Data Library Workshop, 22-23 April 2010 (PDF 715KB)

Conferences / Workshops

  • Workshop – Parkcare in the Molonglo Valley, 28 August 2010, Canberra (STEP & Molonglo Catchment Group).
    Workshop Invitation (PDF 169KB)
  • Taxonomic Research & Information Network (TRIN), Interactive Field Day, 31 August 2010, Canberra.
    TRIN Flyer (PDF 252KB)
  • TDWG 2010 Annual Conference, 26th September – 1st October 2010, Woods Hole, USA.
    TDWG:2010 conference link
  • Australian Network for Plant Conservation Inc (ANPC), 8th National Conference, 28 September – 1 October 2010, Perth. ANPC Flyer (PDF 510KB)
  • Ecological Society of Australia. Annual Conference 6-10 December 2010, Canberra.
    ESA10: 2010 conference link.
  • 15th International Congress of Myriapodology, 18-22 July 2011, Brisbane.
    15ICM Flyer (PDF 76KB), 15ICM website.

Newsletters

  • National Science Week August 2010 (PDF 1.3 MB)
  • DataONE: News Report No. 1 (25 June 2010) from the Director, Bill Michener
  • Centre for Biological Information Technology, June 2010

Biodiversity journal articles

  • Butler, A.J., Rees, T., Beesley, P. & Bax, N.J. (2010) Marine Biodiversity in the Australian Region, PLoS One. 5(8): e11831. Published online 2010 August 2. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0011831
  • Franz, N.M. & Thau D. (2010) Biological Taxonomy and Ontology Development: Scope and Limitations, Biodiversity Informatics, 7, pp. 45-66. (PDF 1.63MB)

Related weblinks

  • The Internet Bird Collection (videos, images, sounds) – includes Australia
  • ABC Science Online: Australian oceans most biologically diverse, 3 August 2010
  • New Scientist Online: The richest areas of the ocean, 2 August 2010
  • Fresh Science Online: Aussie lizard reveals cancer secrets, 28 June 2010
  • BBC News Online: Experts rediscover plant presumed extinct for 60 years, 24 June 2010
  • Biodiversity Heritage Library visitors to the Melbourne Museum, 8 June 2010
  • ClimateWatch, an initiative of Earthwatch, has a new website featuring flora and fauna that requires monitoring by the public.

How to share your biodiversity information with the Atlas

By Miles Nicholls, Atlas of Living Australia

Dedicated individuals and communities devote countless hours building up web resources with their contributions, support and moderation. What the Atlas of Living Australia (ALA) is doing, is making Australian biodiversity-related online resources discoverable by putting them in context with other related resources.

The ALA will develop tools and systems to support these biodiversity-related resources wherever possible, without any intention of replacing them.

More About Sharing »

Stick Insect © Leo Berzins

Stick Insect © Leo Berzins

The Atlas is not attempting to replace any existing website or biodiversity resource, in fact, if we did the Atlas itself would fail. We are an aggregation and discovery resource, not a content producer. If the original sources of information were to disappear, we would have nothing to display.

When an interested person searches in the ALA for a species, a species profile page is returned. It includes:

  • profile data about the species characteristics, habitat, distribution etc.
  • website attribution detailing the source of the data
  • links to other websites for further information

In order to locate your resources on the web, we need some information. There are different levels to choose between – the more detail, the more opportunities for your website resource to be discovered.

Information about your website What it allows
A description of the coverage of the website – e.g. what taxonomic groups An entry in the ALA list of Australian biodiversity resources with your website listed as a resource containing information related to those groups (at a higher taxonomy level).E.g. This website relates to insects
A list of the species and the URL of the individual sections / pages for each species Your website able to be listed as part of each relevant Atlas species page as a potential source of information for the species.E.g. This page of the website has some information for this species
Some of the characteristics on the page for each species Your website able to be listed on each ALA species page as a resource containing specific information for the species.E.g. Go to this webpage / site for habitat information on the species
Information for some / all of the characteristics Some information from your website able to be displayed on the species page and a link back to your site for the full / further information.E.g This species lives in eucalypt forest (from http://yourwebsite.org). See this webpage / site for additional habitat information
And/or
Here is a full description of the species (from http://yourwebsite.org), see this webpage / site for habitat and behaviour information

Please note: If you wish to include some or all of the text from your website we will need you to complete an ALA Data Provider agreement to verify your ownership of the information, the terms of use and how you would like to be attributed. To promote re-use and provide a consistent basis for licensing the ALA encourages the use of Creative Commons 2.5 Australia licenses. The Data Provider agreement is available from the ALA website or from the ALA Data Management Team (data_management@ala.org.au).

How to provide information to the Atlas

The simplest way is to contact us and we will provide you with a sample spreadsheet to fill in – a few fields about the site as a whole, and then rows for the details. If your website is based on a database this should be relatively easy to produce. Otherwise, a small amount of manual work is required.

We could analyse your website (with your permission) to extract the required information, but this is time-consuming and becomes out-dated with any changes to your site.

Like to discuss sharing your biodiversity information with the ALA?

If you would like to share the full content of your website we would, of course, be very interested. All information provided will subject to the terms of conditions and attribution specified in the ALA Data Provider agreement.

For further information and examples, contact Miles Nicholls, ALA Data Manager on:

phone: +61 2 6246 4463
email: Miles.Nicholls@csiro.au
alternative email: data_management@ala.org.au

Article

Getting the user’s perspective

Over the past two months, we have been conducting audience testing at various sites around Australia to fine tune the Atlas of Living Australia prototype before the public launch in October 2010.

What we’ve been doing lately

By Benay Wettle, Atlas of Living Australia

Over the past two months, we have been working extensively with external users to fine tune the Atlas of Living Australia prototype before the public launch in October 2010.

A ‘work in progress’ preview of the new website – PDF (1.9MB), PPT (7.2MB).


Activities undertaken in the last few months include:

  • June – user testing of the Atlas mapping tool
  • July – user testing of the new Atlas website
  • August – audience testing of the beta or ‘go live’ version of the Atlas website and tool set.

Many thanks to all those people who volunteered their time to participate in these activities. Your contribution is greatly appreciated!!!

What’s next?

After the beta launch of the Atlas in October (and a well-earned celebration!) the user interface design team will be going back to the drawing board to further improve what is already there and to design new functionality for 2011/12.

If you would like to be involved in future user activities, please contact Dena Paris.