ABRS ecological descriptors - what they mean

The Australian Biological Resources Study (ABRS) covers the taxonomy and biogeography of Australia's biota.

The Australian Biological Resources Study (ABRS) covers the taxonomy and biogeography of Australia's biota, including the use of standard terms to describe the ecology and distribution of animal and plant groups.

What is the ABRS?

The Australian Biological Resources Study (ABRS) is a programme within the Parks Australia Division of the Federal Department of the Environment and Water Resources. According to the ABRS website, it attempts to answer three main questions:

  1. What plants, animals and other organisms occur in Australia?
  2. Where are they found?
  3. How can that information be provided to a wider audience?

Glossary of ecological descriptors

The ABRS incorporates the Australian Faunal Directory (AFD), which is being compiled as a public enquiry database and source of taxonomic and biological information for all Australian animal species. The Australian Museum uses the standard terms from the AFD Glossary to describe the ecology of different animal species on our Animal pages. The terms from the ABRS website that we have used cover:

  • habitats (freshwater, marine, terrestrial and other habitat types)
  • feeding habits (what animals eat and/or how they get their food)
  • life histories (where an animal is found and/or how it behaves)
  • vegetation growth forms (a subset of habitat types)

Distribution of Australian animal species

The ABRS website also provides maps of bioregions and marine zones, which include the particular terms for the geo-political distribution of Australian animals that we have used on our Animal pages. These maps cover:

  • Australian Political and Geographic Regions
  • Australian Marine Jurisdictional Zones
  • World Geographic Regions
  • World Marine Areas (still in development)
  • Marine Depth Zones


Ondine Evans , Web Researcher/Editor
Last Updated:

Tags ABRS, Australian Biological Resources Study, ecological, terms, descriptors, definitions, glossaries, glossary,