EcoEd training for first-rate science education

The Atlas of Living Australia (ALA) has joined forces with Biodiversity and Climate Change Virtual Laboratory (BCCVL) and Terrestrial Ecosystem Research Network (TERN) to deliver an exciting and innovative new training program called EcoEd.

EcoEd provides cohesive training and skill development to university lecturers and researchers enabling them to combine theoretical concepts with real-world applications developed by three NCRIS-supported facilities (ALA, BCCVL and TERN) into undergraduate and postgraduate curriculum.

ALA, BCCVL and TERN developed data and products are already being used by some of Australia’s most successful ecosystem scientists and most inspiring lecturers spread across all our universities and institutions.

The EcoEd program builds on these achievements, in providing the training required to further incorporate NCRIS-developed expertise and capabilities into Australia’s higher education and research sector.

In doing so EcoEd is increasing the capacity of Australia’s research community to advance science and deliver outcomes that benefit the nation and underpin the sustainable use of our ecosystems. Moreover, it is enabling first-rate science education in Australia by supporting and nurturing our future scientists.

EcoEd provides cohesive training and skill development to university lecturers and researchers enabling them to combine theoretical concepts with real-world applications developed by three NCRIS facilities (ALA, BCCVL and TERN) into undergraduate and postgraduate curriculum.

EcoEd Champions leading the way

The EcoEd program was piloted this month in Adelaide where eight very enthusiastic champions from across Australia and New Zealand with varying backgrounds and institutions came together for a two day workshop. You can meet our champions below.

At the workshop the champions absorbed ready-to-use lecture and workshop modules, along with tools and knowledge on how to use the ALA, BCCVL and TERN platforms to explore species data and their relationships with their environment. The champions will now be incorporating these in their work and re-delivering the education materials in their own institutions.

EcoEd will be further developed to provide professionals teaching ecological and environmental science subjects at tertiary institutions with a wealth of information resources that can be used in courses that focus on topics such as ecology, biogeography, data fitness for use, environmental management and spatial analysis.In addition to the ALA, BCCVL & TERN, we would like to give a special thanks to Research Data Services (RDS) and National eResearch Collaboration Tools and Resources project Nectar for their support in making this program happen. And of course, a big thank you to all our champions for your enthusiasm and participation.

Meet our champions

Here’s a list of our current EcoEd Champions and their biographies.

Champions Biographies [PDF 710KB]

For more information about EcoEd, or if you are interested in participating as a champion in a future program, please express your interest by contacting Chantal Huijbers (

We first discovered Tim Bawden’s images while searching through the ALA’s Recent Sightings for some pictures of Australian mammals for promotional material. Digging through them, we found a great collection of sightings – many of rarely-seen species. They also cover a wide variety of locations around the country.

Luaner (Dasyurus viverrinus)

Luaner (Dasyurus viverrinus). Image by Tim Bawden

Tim uses the ALA to work out new areas to explore and look for areas that contain “target” species that he hasn’t seen before.

Peron's Tree Frog (Litoria Peronii).

Peron’s Tree Frog (Litoria peronii). Image by Tim Bawden

He doesn’t use the ALA for identification assistance, other than to work out the range of the species.

Leopard Seal (Hydrurga leptonyx)

Leopard Seal (Hydrurga leptonyx). Image by Tim Bawden.

He prioritises entering the images of species that are “interesting or rare” into the ALA. He works in IT and his hobby of using the ALA is a “good diversion”.

Sugar Glider (Petaurus breviceps)

Sugar Glider (Petaurus breviceps). Image by Tim Bawden

Many of Tim’s images are now the feature image for that species in the ALA.

Please contact us if you would like to share how you use the ALA.

Compare areas is a simple tool that will show the differences between any two defined areas in terms of species composition and area. Areas can be generated or determined by any of the options available under Add to Map | Area. The inputs to the standard wizard are

  1. Species, species list or lifeform
  2. Identity of area 1
  3. Identity of area 2

Two areas for comparison

and the outputs are

  1. A pop-up window that reports
    1. the size, number of occurrences and number of species for each area
    2. Number of species only in area 1 (not area 2)
    3. Number of species only in area 2 (not area 1)
    4. Number of species in both areas

      Compare areas pop-up window

  2. A CSV file that contains all the above and a list of species showing and if they occur in area 1 and area 2

Compare areas CSV


A New Scanner for Digitizing Australia’s Biodiversity Heritage

This article was originally published in Biodiversity Heritage Library . Read the original post.

By Nicole Kearney, Coordinator, BHL Australia

In 2011, Australia joined the Biodiversity Heritage Library and, led by Museums Victoria, began to digitize the rare books, historic journals and archival material related to Australia’s biodiversity, and to make them openly available online.

There are now 15 Australian organizations contributing to BHL and over 300 worldwide. These include museums, herbaria, royal societies, field naturalists clubs and government organizations.

Just this week the number of volumes digitized for BHL by Australian organizations surpassed 1,000, amounting to over 200,000 pages. The great majority of this digitization work was done by the BHL Australia team at Melbourne Museum. We have a fabulous team of volunteers who scan the pages and prepare the digitized books for upload online.

BHL Australia volunteers with Museums Victoria CEO Lynley Marshall (center) in front of the new BHL Australia scanner. Photo Credit: Nicole Kearney

In the 6 years we have been doing this work, there have been dramatic advances in digitization technology, both in hardware and in software. We are therefore very excited to announce that BHL Australia has just purchased a new scanner.

Museums Victoria CEO Lynley Marshall scanning the first page for BHL Australia on the new scanner. Photo Credit: Nicole Kearney

To celebrate the arrival of the new scanner, the Museums Victoria (MV) library hosted an Open House on 24 May, inviting MV staff to learn more about BHL, see a display of rare books from the MV collection, and see the new scanner.

Visitors exploring rare books from the MV collection during the Open House. Book on display is: Thesaurus rerum naturalium. 1734-1765. By Albertus Seba. Photo Credit: Nicole Kearney

The scanner, a Zeutschel OS 16000, will increase both the quality and quantity of our scanning work, and will automate much of our post processing. This will allow us to further expand our project and to make even more of Australia’s biodiversity heritage literature available online, so stay tuned for the next 200,000 pages!

Peruse the BHL Australia collection.

BHL Australia is funded by the Atlas of Living Australia.