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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 5 - Synthesis

Part 5 of this process comprises a synthesis of Parts 1–4. We will draw the threads together to produce a list of actionable items from the roundtables, a summary description of the high-throughput taxonomic pipeline we will need to achieve our goal, and a roadmap for how to get there.


This page lists the action items from the roundtables, grouped into those that we could start now, those that we could start with modest funding (or redeployment of existing funding) and those that would require substantial new funding to begin. Please set your priority (High, Medium or Low) for each item, then enter your name and submit. 

These ideas need no specific funding and could be started now


We need to build a collaboration space that combines an expertise directory (online register of taxonomists), a portal for shared field work, and a clearing-house mechanism to connect citizen scientists and scientists for taxonomic projects and a coordinated recognition system for citizen science contributions to taxonomy


We need to streamline the permitting process in every state to reduce the burden on collectors applying for permits


We need to start writing shorter, faster morphological descriptions


We need to agree on a controlled name-space for informal species (OTUs)


We need to create a new specialised journal for rapid taxonomic description and publication


We need to agree a community consensus on how to integrate molecular and morphological data, especially when they conflict


We need to measure the economic value of our collections (independently from their replacement cost)


We need to design collections now for years 5, 10 and 25 years of our mission


We need to start including funding for collections activities in grant applications

These ideas need modest funding and could be started if resources become available


We need to build a platform for recording traits and semi-automatically producing descriptions


We need to establish regular entry-level and advanced training programs and internships for students and others in morphology, genomics, bioinformatics, nomenclature and collection management.


We need to build the architecture for a sequence reference library (including non-types)


We need to start building a super-phylogeny for the Australian biota and a workable, functional, comprehensive and curated database of phylogenies, with national protocols for adding species, sequences and trees


We need to build a national repository for expedition metadata


We need to hold a series of national workshops to develop standard ontologies/descriptors for taxonomic groups


We need to develop a national program to use citizen science opportunities to ramp up digitisation of our collections


We need to co-design Indigenous engagement opportunities for taxonomy


We need to attract undergraduates to study taxonomy and systematics by offering more learning opportunities


We need to start including collection professionals on field expeditions to help handle collecting


We need to establish a professional exchange program between institutions to deal with the backlog of unidentified specimens

These ideas need substantial funding


We need to complete an inventory of our collections (including both museum/herbarium and biosecurity etc. collections)


We need to plan and fund a targeted, stratified sampling fieldwork campaign to collect the many new specimens we still need


We need to build a system to enable enhanced access to the modern tools needed for morphology (SEM, micro-CAT etc)


We need build a national network of paid bioinformatics specialists to help with taxonomic projects


We need to build a national repository to store high-resolution images both 2D and 3D


We need increase the number of specialised and generalised technicians in institutions


We need to locate, database, image and sequence all Australian types, both here and overseas


We need to build a high-performance, centralised (or decentralised) sequencing and bioinformatics services (with economies of scale)


We need to complete the National Species Lists and develop efficient and timely mechanisms to curate it


We need to appoint dedicated citizen science liaison officers


We need to fund targeted PhD programs, especially in hyperdiverse groups


We need to increase the number of joint appointments between collections institutions and universities


We need to fund targeted post-doctoral positions, especially in hyperdiverse groups, and fellowships for senior researchers


We need to image all incompletely identified specimens


We need to build more efficient data and collections management systems


We need to establish robotic handling of specimens where sensible


We need to establish paid positions to support volunteer programs


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