Our Discovery Mission

Our mission, should we choose to accept it, is to discover and document all remaining Australian species of plants, animals, fungi and other organisms ... in a generation.

Part 4 - Roundtables

Part 4 of this process will comprise a series of roundtables, each of which will consider and envision the support mechanisms, policies, programs and processes we will need in order to bring about the step change in species discovery required to achieve our mission goal.

Two sessions are scheduled for each roundtable, to increase the chance that you will be able to find a session that suits. Each session is scheduled for 1.5 hours max.

The roundtable chair will attend both sessions, but participants are expected to attend only one. After the sessions, the chair will synthesise the roundtable discussions into a recommendation document, which will be shared widely to ensure we capture all good ideas.

To register for one or more roundtables, choose a session for each roundtable you wish to join (note that no sessions are concurrent), then provide your name, institution and email address and click Register. A tabular timetable is at the bottom of the page.

Before joining your first roundtable, please watch the short introductory video at https://youtu.be/6mUDbvwC_1k – this explains the purpose of the roundtables and how we will all get the most from them.

Note: all session times below are in your local time.

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Roundtable timetable (week beginning 27 April 2020)

Note. Session times in this table are in Eastern Standard (Brisbane, Sydney, Canberra, Melbourne, Hobart) times

Time

Monday

Tuesday

Wednesday

Thursday

Friday

9:30 AM -11:00 AM

R1 Field campaigns

R6 New technologies

R5

Informatics

R2

Morphology

R8 Citizen Science

11:30 AM

-1:00 PM

R3 DNA & species delim.

R7 Current practices

R10 

Collections

R9

Workforce

R4

Phylogenetics

1:30 PM

-3:00 PM

R2

Morphology

R8 Citizen Science

R1 Field

Campaigns

R6 New technologies

R5 Informatics

3:30 PM

-5:00 PM

R9

Workforce

R4

Phylogenetics

R3 DNA & species delim.

R7 Current Practice

R10

Collections

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Roundtable 1: What field campaigns are we likely to need to support our mission?

Many un-named species are already represented in our collections, but others will not be, or still need more specimens. This roundtable will consider issues around field work, including:

  • Do we need to plan a field work campaign as part of this mission, or will field work be conducted on an as-needs basis?

  • What role could there be for the public and citizen science in field collecting?

  • If field work needs to be ramped up, should this happen early or late in the mission?

  • What types of support structures and programs should we build to support field collecting for our mission?

This roundtable will be led by

Ben Parslow

Choose a session below if you would like to join this roundtable

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Roundtable 2: How can we most effectively use morphology for our mission?

Morphology obviously has a long history in species delimitation and discovery, but is being challenged now by DNA sequencing as a primary tool in some taxonomic groups. Some taxonomists support morphological-only taxonomy while other support DNA-only taxonomy. This roundtable will consider issues around morphology, including:

  • Why exactly does morphology remain important in this age of genetics and genomics?

  • Are we able to identify any taxonomic groups where we can say that morphology basically doesn't matter?

  • How can we improve the capture, handling and use of morphological (trait) information in the service of our mission?

This roundtable will be led by

Gerry Cassis

Choose a session below if you would like to join this roundtable

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Roundtable 3: How do we most effectively use DNA sequencing for rapid and robust species delimitation?

DNA sequencing will clearly play an important role in this mission - indeed, the mission would be impossible without it. Currently, some taxonomists have access to sequencing facilities while others do not, and some are skilled in all aspects of sequencing, bioinformatics and phylogenetics while others are not. This roundtable will consider issues around sequencing, including:

  • How can we ensure that sequencing speeds up, rather than slows down, species discovery and delimitation?

  • Should sequencing and bioinformatics support be more centralised or more dispersed than at present? 

  • Should all taxonomists be trained in every step along the sequencing->bioinfoirmatics->phylogeny->species delimitation pipeline, or should we specialise more?

  • How do we best balance the roles of short, cheap, universal sequences (barcodes) versus longer, more expensive but more informative sequences (up to and including complete genomes)?

This roundtable will be led by

Michelle Waycott

Choose a session below if you would like to join this roundtable

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Roundtable 4: How can we most effectively use phylogenetics for our species discovery mission?

Phylogenetics and species delimitation are becoming more and more closely integrated. Placing specimens of a potentially new species into a phylogeny is a great start in any taxonomic project. However, for this to be maximally effective for an all-species mission such as we envisage, we really need a phylogeny of all known species. This roundtable will consider issues around phylogenetics and species discovery, including:

  • Is a phylogeny that includes all Australian species achievable in the medium term?

  • How would we best go about constructing such a phylogeny?

  • What systems would we need to have in place to manage a comprehensive phylogeny and allow it to be used effectively for species discovery and delimitation?

This roundtable will be led by

Michelle Guzik & Darren Crayn

Choose a session below if you would like to join this roundtable

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Roundtable 5: What informatics structures, processes and programs do we need to support our mission?

Taxonomy and informatics are no longer separable. Almost all traxonomists now use a wide range of informatics tools in their day-to-day work, including online taxonomic checklists and nomenclators such as are provided by ABRS, occurrence records in the ALA and GBIF, online repositories of type images and information, and online sequence repsoitories and analysis tools. This workshop will examine the informatics toolkit available to taxonomists and ask the questions:

  • What more do we need?

  • Are our exisitng tools comprehensive enough, and integrated enough?

  • What's the next big thing we need to be aware of (or perhaps build)?

This roundtable will be led by

Ely Wallis

Choose a session below if you would like to join this roundtable

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Roundtable 6: What new technologies (other than genetics and genomics) will we need to deploy for our mission?

New technologies are available now that can help in our mission, including machine learning, high-end imaging, supercomputing and more. This roundtable will consider issues around new technologies, including:

  • How exactly could machine learning be used in species discovery, delimitation and documentation?

  • What support structures do we need to be able to effectively use new imaging technologies?

This roundtable will be led by

Jane Melville

Choose a session below if you would like to join this roundtable

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Roundtable 7: What can (and should) change in current practice to enable our mission?

Taxonomy has a rich history and tradition. A downside of this is that some practices that may once have been strengths may now be weaknesses. This roundtable will critically examine all aspects of current taxonomic business-as-usual and try to identify those practices that remain valuable and those that we should consider changing to help with this mission. Issues examined will include:

  • Is the traditional taxonomic revision fit-for-purpose for an all-species mission?

  • What publication practices serve us well and which do not?


This roundtable will be led by

Mark Harvey

Choose a session below if you would like to join this roundtable

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Roundtable 8: What role can citizen science play in our mission?

Citizen science is increasingly important and popular, for a range of reasons. Many programs use citizen scientists to record aspects of biodiversity, usually observation records and images. But while these have some relevance to taxonomy (by adding new observations for known species, and occasionally serendipitously finding new species), on the whole they are fairly peripheral to taxonomy per se. This roundtable will consider issues around citizen science and taxonomy, including:

  • Can we make better use of citizen science for species discovery, delimitation and documentation, and if so, how?

This roundtable will be led by

Tom May

Choose a session below if you would like to join this roundtable

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Roundtable 9: How can we best build the required workforce for our mission?

Taxonomy clearly needs skilled people (at least until AI puts us all out of a job and we can go on a permanent field trip or holiday). And this mission clearly needs more skilled people than we have at present. This roundtable will consider issues around the taxonomic workforce, including:

  • What type of workforce will we need over the 25 years if this mission?

  • How will we train and build this workforce?

  • What important skills are currently in shortest supply, and how will we redress this?

This roundtable will be led by

Mike Bayly & Andy Austin

Choose a session below if you would like to join this roundtable

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Roundtable 10: Collections

There will be many implications of an accelerated species discovery mission for biodiversity collections - think of all the extra specimens collected in the field, loans and exchanges, management of DNA vouchers, samples and sequences, and management of collection databases and information systems. This roundtable will explore these issues, including:

  • How will collections cope with a significantly expanded role and workload?

  • Could some aspects of current collections practices become more efficient? If so, which, and how?

  • What will a collection even look like in 20 years time?

This roundtable will be led by

Shelley James

Choose a session below if you would like to join this roundtable

Please enter your name and meeting password (you set this when you registered for the meeting), then click Join Roundtable(s)

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