Australia has the richest lizard fauna on the planet and globally unique families of frogs and reptiles from our Gondwanan heritage. Many of Australia’s known reptile and frog species are threatened with extinction. Additionally, a significant proportion of Australia’s reptile and frog diversity remains undescribed, which currently hinders our ability to prioritise conservation efforts. We need to resolve the true diversity – from species to management units. For threatened taxa with small ranges, there is need to assess diversity and connectivity of populations to guide conservation management. Genome-led understanding of this unique fauna will generate high impact science, contribute significantly to conservation under rapid environmental change, and consolidate capabilities across university-museum-government/NGO partnerships developed through previous Bioplatforms investments (OzMammals Genomics and Genomics for Australian Plants).
Conservation and Taxonomy Program, Leadership and RFP
The AusARG Conservation and Taxonomy program is co-led by Jane Melville, Museums Victoria (reptiles) and Jodi Rowley, Australian Museum/UNSW Sydney (frogs) supported by expert members of the working group.
The objectives of the program are to:
fundamental research with genomics to meet critical needs of taxonomic
documentation and conservation management of our unique reptile and amphibian
biodiversity, as identified by government and industry. This research would
include the following priorities, ranked higher to lower:
- conservation-oriented taxonomy projects (species boundaries and units);
- small-population conservation genetics;
- pure taxonomy projects (with potential to reveal short range endemics that may meet threatened categories).
- Build a community across Australian Museums, Universities and other research providers, and government agencies to sustain the initiative beyond the life of the Bioplatforms’ investment; and
- Increase awareness of the public and conservation managers of the diversity of Australian reptiles and amphibians and how genomics (and tools developed from it) can aid in their formal identification, conservation and management.
The AusARG initiative is now requesting partnership for projects as part of its Conservation and Taxonomy program and particularly with engagement from:
- Those in the research community with the capacity to integrate population data (generated through the Conservation and Taxonomy Working Group) with genomes and those with other evidence using appropriate analytical approaches.
- For taxonomy projects, there should also be the experience and capacity for formal species revisions; and
- Those in government departments, museums, zoos and others with captive breeding facilities, non-government organisations and community groups who will use the genomic resources arising from this initiative, or work in collaboration with the researchers, in achieving their conservation and management objectives.
The Request for Partnership (RFP) will open on 28 January 2021. Submissions will be assessed and prioritised based on how the project fits the objectives and engagement framework defined above.
Guideline on supported activities:
- Population genetics: reduced representation (ddRAD, up to 2 plates; DArT on case by case)
- Reference genomes: de-novo sequencing, re-sequencing, transcriptomes (to be discussed in coordination with the Comparative genomics and Evolution program)
Submitted RFPs will be assessed quarterly by the AusARG Conservation and Taxonomy working group and recommendations on the submissions will be provided to the proponents within 2 weeks of the assessment. This assessment will take particular care of the presented end-user collaboration, the scientific rigor and species targeted as well as the team and co-contributions in the partnership in terms of funding necessary to complement the AusARG/Bioplatforms Australia component (sequencing only), in order to bring the project to completion (sample collection, data analysis capacity and application of outcomes).
We welcome collaboration and parties interested in participating in the RFP, are encouraged to get in contact with Sophie Mazard.
RFP should not exceed 3 pages and must use the template guide.