Discovery and identification of the unique biodiversity in Pilbara

07 September 2016

The Pilbara is known as the engine room of Australia and home to a massive mining industry in crude oil, salt, natural gas and iron ore.

To learn more about the impact of mining to the Pilbara fauna, Western Australia Museum (WAM) was awarded the Net Conservation Benefits Fund – Conservation Systematics of the western Pilbara fauna. The project led by the Western Australian Museum is designed to support on-ground conservation outcomes by providing a more thorough understanding of the systematics and composition of selected terrestrial and marine fauna of the western Pilbara. The project is implemented by two research scientists, Dr Nerida Wilson and Dr Joel Huey, leading the marine and terrestrial components respectively.

Genetic approaches to biodiversity conservation are now well established and contribute greatly to understanding biological diversity at all levels, from genes, populations and species to ecosystems. These approaches are increasingly complementary to traditional morphological research into species identities. In addition, these approaches aid in determining taxa that are undescribed, cryptic or have restricted geographic ranges, and may be in need of active conservation initiatives.

We spoke with research scientist, Dr Joel Huey and the Molecular Systematics Unit manager/research scientist, Dr Gaynor Dolman from WAM to understand more about this project and how genomics is helping their project goals. See full story