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‘Taxonomic’ research into plants and animals gets $2m boost

THE AUSTRALIAN Government is investing $2.12 million for specialist scientists to investigate Australia’s unique array of plants and animals through taxonomic research.

The Australian Biological Resources Study’s National Taxonomy Research Grant Programme is a competitive, merit-based process led by an External Expert Assessment Panel of seven taxonomy experts. Taxonomy – the science of naming, describing and classifying organisms to include all plants, animals and microorganisms – will help fill large gaps in current knowledge and possibly open up new innovation across a braod spectrum.

A spokesperson for Parks Australia, the body which administers the National Taxonomy Research Grant Programme, said research in taxonomy was vital for biodiversity conservation, particularly within Australia’s Commonwealth reserve estate. 

“The discovery and documentation of Australia’s biodiversity can have many applications including: the recovery and management of threatened species; identifying and understanding the risks of pest species or vectors of pathogens to people, plants and animals; and the potential for discovery of novel new biological resources with medicinal or other properties,” the spokesperson said.

“Taxonomy is an important and often overlooked branch of science.

“Taxonomists’ work to describe and classify plants and animals which supports many areas of biology, ecology and conservation science.”

This year the panel assessed 83 applications and selected 19 projects to receive funding over the next three years.

“These 19 research projects will help us fill gaps in our current knowledge and understanding of Australia’s unique and incredibly rich biodiversity and will support the study of a wide variety of Australian species including millipedes, frogs, and everlasting daisies,” the spokesperson said.

“In previous years this funding has enabled researchers to discover and describe thousands of new species including algae, insects, plants and reptiles.”

http://www.environment.gov.au/science/abrs/grants

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