June 2008 newsletter summary

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

Welcome to the Atlas of Living Australia Newsletter

The Atlas of Living Australia project is now making progress and we plan to produce a regular informational newsletter to keep stakeholders and friends aware of what is happening. We would appreciate it if you could pass this first newsletter on to interested colleagues.

Please send an email to ( if you wish to be added to the mailing list for this newsletter, or if you wish to be removed from the list.

The project

The Atlas of Living Australia (ALA) is a five-year project funded under the Australian Government’s National Collaborative Research Infrastructure Strategy (NCRIS) and involving a wide range of Australian scientific institutions and organisations.

The goal of the project is to develop web-based tools to enable users to discover, access and use the widest possible range of information resources relating to Australia’s fauna and flora, including databases from natural history collections and ecological field work, images and other multimedia, text documents, identification tools and molecular data.

A presentation giving an overview of some of the planned project activities can be found in the Presentations section:
The ALA – Challenges and Opportunities for Managing Biodiversity Information (D Hobern, 15 May) – PPT (11.5MB) – PDF (2.3MB)

Atlas web site

The Atlas has launched its web site. At present it mostly comprises information about the project and its participant organisations, but the site will increasingly include information and discussions on the planning and implementation of the project. Ultimately it will become the Atlas portal for discovering information on all Australian species.

Atlas user needs analysis

What can you do for the Atlas today? We need your contacts in biodiversity – lots of them, and from as many different fields as you can identify. We want to ask them (and you) a few simple questions.

We have commissioned a small team to investigate how users access such information today and how they use it in their own studies and decision-making. Over the next few months, this team will be contacting many of you to learn more about your needs. Please give them your support – we want to understand how the ALA can become a useful tool for you in your work.

For more information on this process, see the planning for the User Needs Analysis.

TDWG 2008 conference to be held in Perth

Taxonomic Database Working Group (TDWG), the international biodiversity information standards organisation, will hold its annual conference at the Western Australian Maritime Museum, Perth, 19-25 October 2008. One day of the conference will be devoted specifically to the Atlas of Living Australia and will include workshops to explore ways for the project to meet the needs of Australian researchers.

For more information on the conference, see TDWG Annual Conference 2008.

ALA review of online and desktop tools

Paul Flemons and John Tann from the Australian Museum have carried out an extensive review of software components which could feed into the development of the Atlas or which could be of benefit to data providers or users. The results of this review are online at Please take a look at this resource and suggest any additional tools which should be included.

For more information on this review, see the Tools Survey.

The Atlas and GBIF

We have started discussions with the Global Biodiversity Information Facility (GBIF) to ensure that the Atlas can act as the Australian node within GBIF. The Atlas expects to reuse code from the GBIF Data Portal to develop its own cache of Australian biodiversity records. This cache will then serve as an efficient way to integrate Australian data into GBIF’s global network. The Atlas has also begun discussions with GBIF New Zealand on possible ways to share resources and align activity.

Other activity

Over the last few months the Atlas team has been working on the following tasks: