Learn more about
Australian Biological Resources Study (ABRS)
The ABRS is a Program within Parks Australia Division of the Department of Sustainability, Environment, Water, Population and Communities.
ABRS strives to answer three questions:
- What plants, animals and other organisms occur in Australia?
- Where are they found?
- How can we provide that information to you?
The Aim of ABRS is to provide, through strategic partnerships, the underlying taxonomic knowledge necessary for the conservation and sustainable use of Australia’s biodiversity.
The Objectives are to:
- Facilitate at a national level the identification of Australia’s biodiversity;
- Support studies of the origins, evolution and relationships of Australia’s biota;
- Foster knowledge of Australia’s biodiversity, including poorly known groups;
- Enhance Australia’s capabilities in taxonomy, including training and mentoring of new scientists;
- Document and disseminate information on the taxonomy and biogeography of Australia’s biota, providing increasing access to our knowledge base;
- Foster partnerships with other organisations to build capacity in taxonomy;
- Meet Australia’s national and international responsibilities as custodian of a mega-diverse biota; and
- Increase public awareness of taxonomy and ABRS's role as a fundamental provider of information on Australia’s biodiversity.
ABRS achieves its aim and objectives by providing:
- Grants and Contracts to taxonomic researchers through the ABRS National Taxonomy Research Grant Program;
- Training schemes including Postgraduate Scholarships, and Bursaries for Student Travel to university students;
- Electronic Databases and identification tools, often in collaboration with other research organisations via public access systems;
- ABRS Publications and Software — several series of internationally recognised books about Australia's biodiversity, published in conjunction with CSIRO Publishing, as well as a range of software products in cooperation with other agencies;
Australia has a rich and intriguing biota. This natural heritage is a treasure for all Australians, as our plants and animals form the living fabric of the landscapes in which we live. Approximately 80% of Australia's terrestrial and aquatic flora and fauna occur nowhere else in the world, placing a heavy responsibility on Australia under the terms of the Convention on Biological Diversity.
Until 1973, information on our plants and animals lay scattered throughout the many libraries, museums and herbaria in Australia and overseas. In that year the Australian Government established ABRS to coordinate research in taxonomy, the science which identifies, describes, classifies, and records the distribution of our flora and fauna.
The decision to establish ABRS was generally in accordance with recommendations from the Australian Academy of Science during the 1960s and consistent with the 1972 report of the House of Representatives Select Committee on Wildlife Conservation:
That a biological survey be established by the Australian Government to undertake on a continuing basis, surveys of birds, mammals and reptiles and their ecology and to establish a national collection of wildlife species.
Since its inception, ABRS has taken active responsibility for funding taxonomic research on Australia’s biodiversity, and is a world leader with its internationally recognised series of publications and databases.
ABRS has also published a number of one-off publications such as the Darwin Declaration, and the Global Taxonomy Initiative: Shortening the Distance between Discovery and Delivery.