The new plan to unlock secrets of Australasia’s megadiversity

May 15, 2017
taxonomy items
Australian butterflies recently 'barcoded' at the National Insect Collection. Photo courtesy of CSIRO.

The Academy has announced the commencement of a new initiative to develop a 10-year strategic plan for biosystematics and taxonomy in Australasia.

Australasia is one of the world’s most megadiverse regions, with large numbers of endemic and evolutionarily important species, and a high rate of discovery of new species. Biosystematists and taxonomists work to discover, name and document new plant and animal species and their relationships. Every species of plant or animal that is known to humanity was named and described by a taxonomist or biosystematist.

Over the next three years, the Academy and its partners will consult extensively with the research sector and end-users of biosystematics and taxonomy information and capabilities, to identify opportunities and priorities for advancing these disciplines and their services in Australasia.

As well as being a foundational discipline for all of biology, knowledge and information infrastructure developed by biosystematics and taxonomy underpins the work of many industry sectors and public services, including biosecurity, agriculture, conservation and drug discovery, among others.

This initiative has been supported by a grant from The Ian Potter Foundation and contributions from sector stakeholders including national councils representing herbaria and fauna collections, universities, professional societies and associations, the Atlas of Living Australia and Biosecurity Australia.

The project will be led for the Academy by Dr Kevin Thiele, a plant taxonomist, former Director of the Western Australian Herbarium, and former Chair of the Council of Heads of Australasian Herbaria.

The development of the plan will commence in the coming weeks, with an exposure draft planned for November this year, and the plan to be finalised by early 2018. The agreement with the Ian Potter Foundation and sector partners will then allow the Academy to work with key stakeholders over the following two years to ensure that the strategies and recommendations included in the plan are implemented.

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