November 2008 newsletter summary

November 2008 – Atlas activities, articles and reports, media releases, conferences and workshops, biodiversity weblinks

Getting involved in the Atlas of Living Australia

The Atlas of Living Australia (ALA) team has been busy over the last few months starting work on systems to integrate Australian biodiversity data. We hope soon to be able to offer early versions of some tools and interfaces. The real value from a project like the Atlas will however come from the resources which data owners share through the system.

We would like therefore to ask for your involvement in any of the following ways:

Sharing specimen and observation data

The ALA aims to help researchers to understand the distribution of Australian plants and animals. We are therefore inviting everyone to let us know of data they hold on the occurrence of any Australian species. We will then explore the best ways to assist data owners in linking their information to the ALA.

Sharing images through Flickr

(Before the public release in November 2010. This group is still available and is harvested regularly into the Atlas. Alternatively see the Tools – Images Page for more details.

The Encyclopedia of Life (EOL) has set up a group on the Flickr photo-sharing site to allow photographers to share their images of any organism. The Atlas encourages Australian photographers to use this site make their images available to the ALA, EOL and other users of biodiversity information.

Sharing collection information through the Biodiversity Collections Index

The Biodiversity Collections Index (BCI) is an international initiative to build an online catalogue of all herbaria and natural history collections. The ALA will use the BCI as a key reference and would like to encourage Australian collection managers to make sure that their collections are registered and described in the system.

For more information, see Biodiversity Collections Index

Contributions to the ALA from Queensland Museum

The ALA is a collaboration between a large number of participant organisations and institutions. Their content will be the most significant part of what the Atlas has to offer. Over the coming months we plan to highlight what different ALA participants are doing to develop and share information as part of their contribution to the project.

This month we have an update from Queensland Museum on the new Vernon software system they have been implementing to manage information on more than 1.2 million specimens and other collection objects held by the museum. This has required significant effort on their part in cleansing data and ensuring that it makes consistent use of standard terms.

The Vernon software supports Darwin Core, one of the key data standards adopted by the ALA. This will allow Queensland Museum to share existing and future data from its biodiversity collections through the Atlas.

TDWG Conference in Fremantle

TDWG held its annual conference on biodiversity informatics in Fremantle, WA, 19-26 October 2008. This meeting was very well attended by delegates from across Australia and around the world and addressed many issues of relevance to the ALA.

Presentations from the conference were recorded and are available online as movie files. This includes ten presentations specifically addressing Australian biodiversity informatics and the work of the ALA.

For more information on the conference, see TDWG conference in Fremantle, October 2008 and Atlas’ presentations given at TDWG.

Other activity

Over the last two months work has continued on the following tasks:

  • Collaborating with the team from the Australian Museum producing the Atlas user needs analysis (due to be available in the next few weeks).
  • Participating in the TDWG Conference in Perth, a major opportunity to share ideas and learn from similar projects around the world.
  • Setting up and configuring a copy of the data portal software developed by GBIF (GBIF Data Portal) to index data on the occurrence of Australian organisms
  • Developing detailed specifications for the DIAS-B project (Metadata Repository and Data Annotation Services) and evaluating candidate technologies