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.

How on Earth are we going to do this?

A key recommended strategic action in the decadal plan for taxonomy and biosystematics in Australia and New Zealand 2018-2027 is for a substantial acceleration in the discovery and documentation of new species:

Strategic action 1.1 We will significantly increase the rate at which new species in Australia and New Zealand

are discovered, resolved, named and documented.

To achieve this strategic action, Taxonomy Australia and the Australian taxonomy and biosystematic sector are working, with support from the Ian Potter Foundation, the Australian Academy of Science, and a range of partner organisations, to prepare for launch a grand science mission to discover and document all remaining Australian species in a generation.

Rainforest fruits, north Queensland. Image: Tapio Linderhaus


In April and May 2020, Taxonomy Australia hosted a national meeting, in the form of a series of online presentations, forums, whiteboards, workshops, roundtables and panel discussions, to workshop, discuss and develop a roadmap to prepare for launch this ambitious mission. More background to the proposed mission is available here.

Boyd's Forest Dragon with Usnea. Photo: Tapio Linderhaus


There were several parts to the national meeting, as follows:

Part 1 comprised an introduction to the workshop, its context, background, intent and desired outcomes.

Part 2 was a virtual symposium, a series of presentations addressing the challenges and opportunities for greatly accelerated taxonomy in different taxonomic groups.

Part 3 was a whiteboarding or brainstorming exercise in preparation for Part 4, a series of online roundtable breakouts, each covering one aspect of taxonomy and our mission. Wrap-up presentations from the roundtables can be viewed here.

Part 5 comprised a synthesis and identification of next steps towards the development of a detailed plan for a high-throughput taxonomic pipeline and a roadmap for how to get there.

Nembrothia lineolata laying eggs on a sea-squirt Polycarpa aurata. Photo: By Nick Hobgood - CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=4585456

This national meeting was open to anyone with an interest in taxonomy and biosystematics and the discovery, delimitation, naming and documentation of Australia's biodiversity.