Albino spider on Leschenaultia biloba

Albino spider on Leschenaultia biloba / photo by Megan Hele

Biodiversity Survey

Objectives

Through collaborative activities, develop a thorough and robust understanding of the full range of species and ecological communities in Western Australia; their geographic distribution and their health both now and into the future.

  • Uncover and record the biological diversity at a site in all its forms: the number of species present, the genetic variation within each species, and how these species come together to form an ecological community.
  • Understand the distinctiveness and significance of biodiversity variations from site to site and through time. Consequently, understand how environmental change, proposed developments and other land use decisions or actions affect the health of an ecological community.

View the WABSI Research Plan

Research focus

Standards, identification tools and information systems

  • Provide end-users with confidence that species and ecological communities have been robustly surveyed, correctly identified and that their geographic distributions are properly understood.
  • Support research that develops standard processes for data collection that are rigorous and efficient, and able to be used in a range of contexts.

Principal resources that will contribute to this focus area include:

  • A Western Australian Biodiversity Identification Portal: a one-stop shop of identification tools for all taxonomic groups.
  • A Western Australian Vegetation Information System: a collation of all resources to deliver fit-for-purpose derived products such as vegetation maps.

Identify and trial new technologies

  • New technologies offer the opportunity to collect biological survey data in a more efficient and cost-effective manner; the ability to collate and analyse this data more effectively and at finer scales of resolution. 
  • This information will provide an improved context for systematic conservation planning and sustainable development in Western Australia.

Primary areas of focus include:

  • Innovative remote technologies to collect environmental and biodiversity information for both survey and monitoring purposes. For example, satellite and aerial (e.g. drones) platforms can be used to capture environmental information at both local and landscape scales, while camera traps and audio recording units can capture data on species presence and trends in occupancy without the need for field staff to be present.
  • Apply molecular and genomic technologies to gain improved taxonomic resolution for species, particularly for ‘cryptic’ species that are difficult to identify from morphological characteristics. Genomic tools can also provide new opportunities for surveying groups of organisms where taxonomic resolution is never likely to be achieved.

Understand pattern and significance

We seek collaborative research that falls under the key priorities of:

  • Collating and using existing biological, spatial and environmental data to develop predictive models of the patterns in biodiversity across Western Australia’s landscapes; across all levels of diversity from genes to ecological communities. This includes developing refined spatial layers for key environmental variables that currently lack adequate resolution or coverage, and identifying gaps in survey coverage.
  • Investigating and developing conservation planning tools that use these patterns of biodiversity to address status and significance.
  • Developing decision-support tools that integrate the modelled biodiversity patterns with information on threats so that the cumulative impact of proposed developments and/or conservation actions can be evaluated.
  • Designing and implementing optimal monitoring strategies to track changes in biodiversity condition and status over time.