Abstract – Online species maps from environmental DNA


The Atlas of Living Australia (ALA) is Australia’s largest repository of biodiversity occurrence data. As the cost of DNA sequencing drops significantly, the use of eDNA survey techniques is quickly becoming a popular choice for many biodiversity management organisations. Working in collaboration with environmental DNA (eDNA) research groups in CSIRO, BioPlatforms Australia and industry groups, the ALA is exploring how to best incorporate eDNA derived occurrence data into its platform and make it available to users.

eDNA delivers several advantages to data aggregators such as the ALA, including: a source of both species interaction and (depending on survey design) absence data, and filling data gaps both spatially and taxonomically. But this data is not without challenges. Given that eDNA survey techniques are still maturing, getting the right metadata standards and vocabularies is crucial. The development of more accurate and comprehensive taxonomic reference libraries is also progressing and will ultimately improve data quality, but aggregators need to accommodate eDNA survey data now that will not be reprocessed against the new libraries after the initial upload. Future work for the ALA includes working with communities on standards, vocabularies and metadata requirements; and enhancements to the ALA user interface providing users with specific information on data returned by searches including its source.

If you would like to know more about this platform please contact Michael Hope (ALA Project Manager).