Atlas goes live
A much-awaited information portal to Australia’s natural science collections is now up and running.
The Atlas of Living Australia is now live and online at www.ala.org.au. A free online information portal, the Atlas holds over 23 million records on the distribution of Australia’s fauna and flora.
And it’s easy to use. I searched for records of animals within a kilometre of my home in Rhodes, NSW and found 83 species of bird, but only three reptiles (small skinks) and just one mammal, the Common Brushtail Possum.
Now it’s really interesting that we’ve seen an invasion of Common Ringtail Possums in our area over the last year or two; yet this is not showing in the Atlas. Changing the search radius to five kilometres upped the results to a surprising 37 species of mammal – but still no ringtails south of the Parramatta River.
Great! Now I can log in and contribute my sightings of ringtails to the Atlas. I can even upload and share my photos of them feeding on my backyard Grevillea.
Yet these are relatively superficial functions of the Atlas. As a serious research tool, it can create species distribution models, predict areas that could be suitable for a species, or work out how a species will be affected by a change in climate, among other things. Its potential value for managing and protecting natural heritage is enormous.
To see what’s found near your home:
• visit www.ala.org.au
• click on Explore, then Your area, and type in your home address
• select a search radius of one, five or ten kilometres
• wait while the Atlas collates and displays the latest records from the Australian Museum, National Parks and other databanks onto a map or aerial photograph.
The Atlas project is a national scientific collaboration between the CSIRO, the Australian natural history collections community, including the Australian Museum, and the Australian Government.
Brendan Atkins , Publications Coordinator