On 20 May 2011, the Queensland Museum held a reception and symposium to demonstrate the Atlas of Living Australia to a keen audience of researchers, departmental managers, educators, enthusiasts and others. The day focused on how the Atlas can be used to access and analyse rich information on Australia’s biodiversity.
The media release from the day, Media Release ALA-QM launch is available here (PDF, 55 Kb).
Dr Graeme Potter, Director of the Queensland Museum South Bank, opened the reception and spoke about the fruitful collaboration between the two Atlas and Museum. He discussed the history and significance of the biological collections at the Museum and the drive to make this information more broadly accessible.
Donald Hobern, Director of the Atlas of Living Australia, introduced the Atlas at the launch. Later that morning at the symposium, he gave a more detailed demonstration of the Atlas website’s extensive biodiversity database, key features and analysis tools, including distribution data for Australian species, species pages, descriptions, images, mapping and identification tools, literature, and molecular data. Donald Hobern’s brief introduction to the ALA (PDF, 1.4 Mb) and more detailed overview of the ALA are available here (PDF, 2.3 Mb).
Following Donald’s overview at the symposium, Dr Lee Belbin, Team Leader of the Geospatial Team, demonstrated the Atlas’ powerful mapping tools and how they can be used to better understand the distribution of Australia’s plants, animals, fungi and microbes, and more. Members of the audience were keenly interested to see the suite of over 350 environmental layers combined with species data in different ways to produce new analyses and information.
As a research tool, the Atlas can be used to create species distribution maps, help to predict areas that could be suitable for a species to live in, determine how a species may be affected by a change in climate, and assist in the management of pests and weeds, among other things.
During the day, the Museum announced a new citizen science project, Wild Backyards, a partnership between the Atlas, Queensland Museum and Quest Newspapers. The site at http:/www.wildbackyards.net.au encourages people to photograph the animals they see in their backyards and upload their sightings to better document Brisbane’s wildlife. Some exciting stories are already coming out of this initiative.
Dr John Hooper, Head of Biodiversity at the Queensland Museum, described the Museum’s significant contribution to the Atlas, including information from the Museum’s collections and related scientific research. This information can now be accessed publicly and shared internationally via the Atlas. Dr Hooper also spoke about the Sponge Maps project with the Atlas. John Hooper’s presentation to the ALA launch is available here (PDF, 590 Kb).
Other Queensland agencies involved in the Atlas include the Brisbane Botanic Gardens, the Queensland Herbarium, James Cook University, the University of Queensland and the Department of Environment and Resource Management through their Coastal Bird Atlas.
Sarah Connor from the Northern Gulf Natural Resources Group spoke about the organisation’s on-ground work and collaboration with the Atlas. The Atlas is assisting the NGNR Group to record, share and analyse biodiversity information from a wide range of sources, including landholders, traditional owners, rangers and others. Sarah’s presentation is available here (PDF, 2.6 Mb).
The Atlas and Museum would like to thank everyone who attended the launch and symposium. You made the day a success and we look forward to catching up with many of you over the next few weeks and months.