Parks Australia Division
Parks Australia Division
The Director of Parks Australia also manages the Australian Biological Resources Study (ABRS) and the development of Australian Government policy on management of Australia’s genetic resources, including regulating access to such resources in Commonwealth areas, and provides coordination and leadership in meeting Australia’s commitments under the Convention on Biological Diversity.
The ABRS is responsible for collecting and disseminating information on Australian plants, animals and other organisms and where they occur. ABRS taxonomic work includes naming, describing and classifying Australia’s biodiversity and managing databases that provide national references for species names. The program funds research and training in taxonomy, as it is critical for biodiversity conservation, biosecurity and a range of industry uses such as agriculture, horticulture, and forestry that species are accurately named and their relationships are understood.
Australian Biological Resources Study
The Mountain Katydid defends itself by flashing bright colours and squirting noxious liquid. (Julian Finn)
The Australian Biological Resources Study (ABRS) collects and disseminates information on Australian plants, animals and other organisms and where they occur. ABRS taxonomic work includes naming, describing and classifying Australia’s biodiversity, and managing databases that provide national references for species names. The program funds research and training in taxonomy, as it is critical for biodiversity conservation, biosecurity and a range of industry uses (such as agriculture, horticulture, and forestry) that species are accurately named and their relationships are understood.
As the national taxonomy broker, the Australian Biological Resources Study aims to:
- promote the importance and raise the profile of taxonomy
- complete the national biodiversity picture and improve biodiversity information delivery
- strengthen the taxonomy funding and relationship base
- increase Australia’s taxonomic capacity.
Bush Blitz is a three-year partnership between BHP Billiton, Earthwatch Australia and AusPlots–Rangelands. It supports key ABRS priorities by promoting and raising the profile of taxonomy, strengthening the taxonomy funding and relationship base, and increasing Australia’s taxonomic capacity. Bush Blitz successfully completed five surveys across a number of properties in the National Reserve System. The program also funded 14 research and capacity-building grants and supported 14 Tactical Taxonomy Contracts to help describe and publish information on new species discovered on Bush Blitz expeditions.
As part of Bush Blitz, the ABRS partnered with the Australian Science Teachers Association to conduct the Bush Blitz Australia’s Top 10 New Species competition for schools. Up to 1 400 students, teachers and other community members voted in the competition, with the unusual-looking pink handfish (Brachiopsilus dianthus) taking out the award for top species.Winning entries from primary school students in each state won biodiversity-related activities for their class, while two secondary school students won the chance to attend a Bush Blitz survey as volunteers through Earthwatch Australia
The National Species List project, funded by Atlas of Living Australia, is supporting the completion of ABRS managed databases to help meet the key ABRS objective of completing the national biodiversity picture
The ABRS funded 59 research grants and taxonomic training positions under the National Taxonomy Research Grant Program in 2010–11 (PhD, Masters and Honours scholarships).
The ABRS published books on Australian algae and flora; a report on the Bush Blitz survey conducted at Darkwood in the New England National Park in New South Wales and contributed illustrations to a book on the evolution of birds. The ABRS also updated online databases on fauna, flora and lichen species, including the Flora of Australia online database, which now provides profiles for more than 6 000 species in 138 families, and the Australian Faunal Directory, which now holds data for almost 91 000 accepted species in around 3 900 families.
ABRS successfully undertook five Bush Blitz surveys across four states in 2010–11. While much of the scientific information is still being analysed, the results will contribute to our knowledge of biodiversity within the National Reserve System and help managers develop adaptive management strategies.
Fourteen Tactical Taxonomy contracts have been awarded to participating Bush Blitz scientists to describe and publish information on new species in the National Reserve System.
The Atlas of Living Australia program is helping to increase our national taxonomic capacity and completing species information for fauna, protoctista, lichens, algae and cyanophyta.