Digging up worms, making whales and introducing ourselves

International Year of Biodiversity

Welcome to the August bulletin celebrating the International Year of Biodiversity (IYOB) – from the Year’s coordinators.

In this bulletin we look at the Council of Australasian Museum Directors (CAMD), the body which has been instrumental in securing funding and coordinating the national program of events for IYOB.  We introduce ourselves, IYOB coordinators Teresa Belcher and Valerie Gregory—here to help you promote your events and encourage a wide range of activities to celebrate the year of biodiversity.

We also announce the 18 winners of our third round of grants. They’re digging up worms; watching shore birds, listening for bats; exploring Jurassic landscapes; making whales; studying life in a droplet; and much more.

There are 18 events taking place around the country over the next month. Highlights include a marine photo exhibition and an exploration of taxonomy in Canberra; recycled serpents and born again beasties in NSW; and mini-muses in WA.

And, we have double passes to give away for Creation, a film about Charles Darwin’s crisis of confidence as he completed On the Origin of Species. Share your biodiversity tales with us and win a pass.

In September, a new multi-media campaign will bring fun to biodiversity—and bring people to our website.

For full details of events and activities near you, visit www.biodiversity2010.org.au.

The website is open for events, blogs, essays, photos and more. Please use it to promote your own events and ideas. It is the only source of event listings for this bulletin.

We are keen to communicate with anyone with an interest in biodiversity. Please pass this bulletin on to others you think might like to receive it. See www.biodiversity2010.org.au for more details and to register your activities.

Our next bulletin will cover September events.

Kind regards,

Teresa and Valerie

Coordinators, International Year of Biodiversity (Australia)

Teresa Belcher (teresa.belcher@museum.wa.gov.au | tel: 08 9212 3760)
Valerie Gregory (valerie.gregory@austmus.gov.au | tel: 02 9320 6342)


This bulletin has been sent by Science in Public, on behalf of CAMD and the International Year of Biodiversity Coordinators.

IYOB 2010 is an initiative of the Council of Australasian Museum Directors (CAMD), funded with assistance from the Science Connections Program within the Department of Innovation, Industry, Science and Research.


CAMD: a powerful network for the engagement of Australians

Introducing the IYOB 2010 coordinators

The Biodiversity Hub: have your say

Win tickets to Creation

CAMD gets creative with IYOB

Grants for biodiversity programs—round three recipients

Biodiversity conferences

Biodiversity events coming up

After the United Nations General Assembly declared that 2010 would be the International Year of Biodiversity, the Council for Australasian Museum Directors (CAMD) was successful in securing governmental support to run a national program of activities across Australia.

Established in 1967, CAMD brings together the leaders of 22 national, state and regional museums operating in more than 68 locations in Australia and New Zealand. Working across disciplines in the arts, sciences and humanities, the group engages the public through natural science and social history museums, industry and technology collections, science centres, combined museum/art galleries, heritage houses and outdoor museum sites.

The Australia-wide program is providing a unity of purpose to the broad range of support and activities that museums can offer their communities. Australia’s museums, schools, community groups and individuals are engaging in the celebration of biodiversity. To date, CAMD has been able to support 30 organisations with funding to develop a series of public programs. Australians from all walks of life are being encouraged to discover how biodiversity functions beyond the provision of ecological services, and to explore it as a source of inspiration and cultural identity.

Two coordinators are working jointly to engage Australians in the CAMD International Year of Biodiversity 2010 celebrations.  Teresa Belcher is looking after WA, SA and NT events and is based at the WA Museum in Welshpool, Perth. Valerie Gregory is based at the Australian Museum in Sydney and looks after NSW, VIC, ACT, QLD and TAS events.

Here they tell us a bit about themselves:

Valerie Gregory

My interest in biodiversity evolved out of promoting science generally. I have been involved in science education at various levels and in a variety of contexts. Working with organisations such as the Young Scientist Award Scheme, the Royal Society of NSW and the Australian Museum has provided me with many insights into issues related to biodiversity as well as people’s concerns about and hopes for a sustainable future. At a grass roots level, I initiated the gazetting of the Glenorie Wildlife Refuge, and together with neighbours succeeded in incorporating more than 200 acres of bushland around the Little Cattai Creek environs, north-west of Sydney.

Teresa Belcher

I’ve just returned to live in Australia after being in Europe for 10 years, and am loving being back home! I am a biologist and environmental scientist by training with an interest in animals, veggie growing, waste management, and sustainable living. Early on I found myself drawn to communicating science, and I’ve been doing just that for the past 13 years in a variety of positions in journalism, event management, training, PR, web design and corporate communication. Here in Australia, I’ve worked for the Australian Science Festival, Geoscience Australia and the Australian National University. During my time in Europe I undertook a variety of jobs with private industry, government organisations and the European Commission as well as establishing my own science communication consultancy which has now just expanded to Australia!

Our website (http://www.biodiversity2010.org.au/) is a ‘biodiversity hub’ for events in Australia where groups can promote their biodiversity news and events, and share stories and ideas. We are encouraging all organisations with an interest in biodiversity to contribute to the website, and to hold events to promote biodiversity during 2010.

People can visit our ‘Add an Event’ page at http://www.biodiversity2010.org.au/biodiversity-events/add-an-event/ and do just that by filling in a form themselves! This is then added to our calendar that is searchable and distributed widely throughout Australia via this news bulletin.

People may also like to create a ‘story’, providing the opportunity to tell everyone about their activities relating to biodiversity. They may also add photos (via Flickr), or videos (via YouTube) or interact with us directly on Twitter (http://twitter.com/bio2010aus).

We look forward to seeing your contribution soon!

Ten double passes to the movie ‘Creation’ to be won!

‘Creation’, starring Paul Bettany and Jennifer Connelly, is about the life of the great evolutionist Charles Darwin. The film follows his struggle to find a balance between his revolutionary theories on evolution and the relationship with his religious wife, whose faith contradicted his work.

To win, be one of the first ten people to submit a story on ‘biodiversity’ to the Australian International Year of Biodiversity website.  Your story can be a few brief comments or a longer essay.

For example, you may choose to:

  • share your success or struggles in restoring native plants and animals to your local area
  • inform us about the astounding role of particular organisms in helping to keep our planet healthy
  • tell us interesting things to look out for in healthy ecosystems
  • feature threatened species
  • focus on any other biodiversity issues.

To submit your story, visit www.biodiversity2010.org.au/your-say/add-your-story

Look out in early September for the upcoming multi-media campaign designed by creative agency Cabana Boys to drive traffic to www.biodiversity2010.org.au and encourage contribution and participation in the site and IYOB programs.

The campaign will include an interactive online tool, internet banners to run on member museums’ websites and social media activity.

Speaking on behalf of the project’s steering committee, Australian Museum’s Michael Harvey said: “We’re excited to be working with Cabana Boys, as they have brought a really fresh approach to the project.

“The campaign that is now in development will bring a little fun to biodiversity— a really important concept, but not one that’s always hugely accessible to the broader community.”

Cabana Boys creative partner Nik Robinson said, “We’re hoping that by engaging people with a smile, we’ll encourage them to get more involved in the International Year of Biodiversity.”

Congratulations to the eighteen successful projects that have been awarded a round three seed grant by the Council of Australasian Museum Directors. Here’s a summary of the projects. There’s more information at www.biodiversity2010.org.au/about/

WetlandCare Australia: Wetland workshops (NSW)

Mangrove discovery and shorebird spotting are two of the activities in a series of two workshops exploring the uniqueness, variability and sensitivity of estuarine wetlands.

What’s in a cubic metre of soil? Bug Blitz (VIC)

School students are thrusting shovels into the soil to record the biodiversity of different sites around Victoria in a project developed by Bug Blitz.

Supported by Museum scientists, students will dig up a cubic metre of soil at one or more sites, process the soil and collect the invertebrates that fall out of a grid; collect, describe, count and identify these live specimens.

Australian Science Festival: Photographic scavenger hunt (ACT)

The Year of Biodiversity Australian Science Festival photographic scavenger hunt is a competition in the lead up to and during the Australian Science Festival. There will be 16 biodiversity and science festival themed places/items to photograph. Entrants will be asked to photograph the item or something that embodies the ‘theme’ of the item.

Australian Age of Dinosaurs Museum: Dinosaurs to Dunnarts (QLD)

The Dinosaurs to Dunnarts program will look to enhance the visitor experience by encouraging participants to take photos of the flora and fauna they encounter along a 2 km walking track. Interpretive material used along the track and museum staff will assist visitors in identifying their discoveries and downloading their images to an online image library.

University of New England: Discovering New England woodland biodiversity through art, music and science (NSW)

Connecting art and music with botany and zoology, the University of England is featuring prominent local artists and theatre performers to engage school children and the broader regional community on the biodiversity of the New England Grassy Woodlands.

WWF: Bioblitz (WA)

‘Tree-changers are moving out of Perth to rural residential or bushland properties in communities like Chittering. A 24 hour Bioblitz will educate and inform people as they return home to manage their own bushland areas.

‘Bioblitz’ is an intensive snapshot of the biodiversity of a natural area. Volunteer scientists lead community members in surveys for all major elements of biodiversity – flora, mammals, reptiles, birds, insects etc.

Merri Creek Management Committee: Indigenous biodiversity workshops (VIC)

Weave using native grasses from the Merri Creek Catchment and learn more of the indigenous cultural significance of the biodiversity of this catchment

James Cook Museum: Workshops and interpretive walks (QLD)

Local Aboriginal people will share knowledge about Aboriginal uses and cultivation of plants, explaining ways to identify different plant species and understanding the roles that plants and people have in the environment.

Conservation Council of WA: ‘Bat-listening’ (WA)

Listen out for the White Striped Bat with ClimateWatch WA during Conservation week in October. Volunteers taking part in a ‘bat-listening’ project will determine whether the bat has been able to adapt to the changes in its habitat by tracking its call- one of the few species of bat whose call can be heard by humans.

Coogee Public School: Outdoor Biodiversity Classroom (NSW)

The Coogee Public School is creating an outdoor class room for its students – half of whom live in units with little or no access to gardens. The classroom will be established in a native garden in the school playground. It will include a birdbath, frog pond, a beehive of native stingless bees, a native walk, and an adjacent native rockery on public land.

Western Australian Museum: Biodiversity Backpacks – Exploring Urban Biodiversity in a Big City (WA)

‘Biodiversity Backpack’ kits containing water testing kits, magnifying glasses, binoculars, petri dishes, books about wetlands and more, will be used to encourage young visitors to explore biodiversity in naturally-existing and created urban wetlands.

Sapphire Coast Marine Discovery Centre: Cetacean Diversity Program (NSW)

Students will make scale models of the six species of whales and dolphins found off the Sapphire Coast with assistance from professional artists.

Myall Park Botanic Garden: Invertebrate Biodiversity Flagship Project (QLD)

Students and the public will help create a refuge for butterflies, ants and other invertebrates that are part of the biodiversity of communities and species of the western Darling Downs of Queensland.

Charles Sturt University: Murray Darling Biodiversity Photographic Exhibition (NSW)

A stunning exhibition of large biodiversity images from photographers including David Watson, Dirk Spennemann, Damien Michael and Peter Merritt will tour the Murray and Murrumbidgee and be on display in regional museums, council chambers and shopping centers.

Museum and Art Gallery of the Northern Territory and the George Brown Darwin Botanic Gardens: Living Gondwana: Cycads in the Northern Territory (NT)
Cycads are living remnants of the age of dinosaurs This exhibition will include information on conservation and Aboriginal traditional uses of cycads as well as a cycad walk.

Art Gallery of Ballarat, Microscope Drawing Workshops (VIC)

The Art Gallery of Ballarat will combine lessons in science, art, history and mathematics to provide a different perspective of the world around us. What do everyday objects look like up close? Which micro-beasts live inside a single droplet of water? What are scientists looking at when measuring in nanometres, picometres or zeptometres?!

Barbara Hardy Centre UniSA: Operation Spider (SA)

Operation Spider is collecting data on people’s attitudes towards spiders and hoping to increase awareness of their important role in regulating pests such as flies and mosquitoes. Findings of the project will be published for the scientific and wider communities.

Ecological Society of Australia: Biodiversity and You (ACT)
The Ecological Society Conference is attracting the world’s leading ecologists to Canberra  and putting them on a public stage to promote the importance of biodiversity to the public: linking people’s health, wellbeing and lifestyle to the services and values that biodiversity provides.

Over the coming months, several conferences will celebrate the International Year of Biodiversity. If you are interested in registering or submitting an abstract please visit the conference website. Here is a selection:

Biodiversity and World Food Security
The Crawford Fund Parliamentary Conference
30 August – 1 September 2010, Canberra
For further details see http://www.crawfordfund.org/conference.html

Coast to Coast 2010
National Coastal Management Conference
20-24 September 2010
For further details see http://www.coast2coast.org.au/

The Politics of Biodiversity
NELA National Conference
20-23 October 2010, Canberra
For further details see http://www.nela.org.au/node/174

From Discovery to Delivery: Science, Policy, Leadership and Action
EIANZ Conference
26-29 October 2010, Wellington NZ
For further details see http://www.confer.co.nz/eianz2010/index.html

People, Diversity and the Future of Australia
International Unity in Diversity Conference
19-20 August 2010, Townsville
For further details see http://www.unityindiversityconference.com/

Sustaining biodiversity: the next 50 years
Ecological Society of Australia – annual conference
6-10 December 2010
For further details see http://www.esa2010.org.au/

Click on the link or visit www.biodiversity2010.org.au for full details of each event, and to see newly added events.

Australian Capital Territory

Marine Biodiversity Hub Exhibition at Questacon – Ensuring a future for life in Australia’s oceans

Until 31 July, Questacon, Canberra

The exhibition contains images from Marine Biodiversity Hub partners (and a few more) and is curated by Mark Norman, Head of Science at Museum Victoria. The aim is to reach out to the general public (especially school students) and raise their awareness of the beauty and fragility of Australia’s marine biodiversity.

TRIN interactive field day

31 August, Australian National Botanic Gardens, Canberra

The CERF-funded Taxonomy Research & Information Network is hosting the TRIN Interactive Field Day, aimed at those with an interest in identification products and biodiversity technology. The event provides participants with the opportunity to interact with TRIN researchers and developers and consists of a series of exhibits and small presentations showcasing a variety of TRIN products and applications

New South Wales

Biodiversity in the forest

15 August, Cumberland State Forest, West Pennant Hills

As part of Biodiversity in the City run by the Australian Museum, Cumberland State Forests is running a special double activity – Forest Detective and the Featherdale Wildlife Show!

Learn how to become a forest detective using wildlife surveying techniques in the forest. Discover animal signs, including scats, tracks, feathers, skulls and fur. What clues can you find? You will also experience a live wildlife show from Featherdale Wildlife Park.

Biodiversity and the Arts

11 September, Australian Museum, Sydney

The event is a pilot project for the Sydney Consortium, a University of Western Sydney initiative which brings together key cultural institutions in Sydney.

The theme of biodiversity and the arts will be approached in relation to three things that challenge the imagination and are therefore difficult to understand: ‘the world and everything in it’; ‘how things go together’; and ‘that things end’.

The events will involve two main components: works of visual art and poetry will be staged in the main exhibition space of the museum during the day, featuring work by artists such as Roger Dean and Ben Denham and poets such as Robert Adamson, Peter Minter, Amanda Stewart and Judith Beveridge.

In the afternoon a panel of invited speakers from a range of disciplines will address the themes set out above. There will be four to five speakers, each drawn from different disciplines (a novelist, a philosopher, a sociologist, an astronomer, a biologist). Each speaker will have 15 minutes and will be asked to address one or all of the three themes (‘the world and everything in it’; ‘how things go together’; and ‘that things end’) from the perspective of their own discipline. The different perspectives will offer interesting points of contrast, as the issues are approached from a range of angles. These will be followed by a general discussion and dialogue. Speakers will include the Miles Franklin award-winning novelist Alexis Wright, Astronomer and former Young Australian of the Year Brian Gaensler, and the philosopher Nikolas Kompridis.

For further details see and www.australianmuseum.net.au


Until 19 September, Australian Museum, Sydney

For the International Year of Biodiversity the Australian Museum has delved back into its historical stores to discover its own “world-wide” collection. These are objects we don’t normally display, revealed for just a few months in this special year.

Serpent alive

Until 19 September, Australian Museum, Sydney

You are invited to add to a sculptured serpent by weaving recycled materials to form a species-scape to symbolically portray the relative abundances of various life forms on earth. This sculpture will be a part of our Alive Program. Your help will bring this species scape Alive!

Born again beasties

Until 19 September, Australian Museum, Sydney

Create a beastie born from recycled materials! Using a variety of recycled objects create your own beastie to represent an animal, plant, insect, spider or whatever your imagination can conjure. These mini sculptures will be displayed as a part of the International Year of Biodiversity and our Alive Program.

Out of the lab

1pm daily (2pm during school holidays), until 17 September, Australian Museum, Sydney.

Australian Museum scientists and researchers come out of their labs/offices to the Alive Program to mingle with the visitors in a variety of ways to highlight their research or collections. Activities include slide shows of field trips and/or specimens, discussing their work and how it relates to biodiversity, interactive activities and more!

Northern Territory

Exhibition: Supercrocodilians: Darwin’s ultimate survival story

Until 20 January 2011, Museum and Art Gallery, Darwin

Come face to face with one of the largest crocodilians known to have ever existed, which may have measured more than 12 metres in length.

Parks Alive in the Top End

Until 30 September, Northern Territory National Parks

If you’d like to hear about wicked wetlands, riparian rambles, seashell stories or the passions of a ranger then head along to some of the Top End’s magnificent parks and reserves as the Territory Parks Alive program for 2010 has now commenced.

South Australia

Diversity at sea: port river dolphins

Until 10 December, South Australian Maritime Museum, Port Adelaide

School students in all year levels can explore the rich biodiversity of South Australia’s marine bioregions. The program draws in depth from the local and topical example of the Port River dolphin pod and students will engage in innovative and experiential activities, including role-play and storytelling, using the South Australian Maritime Museum’s resources. It will be available during school terms in 2010.

Murray Bridge Roadshow July 2010

29-31 July, Murray Bridge, SA

The South Australian Museum’s Out of the Glass Case roadshow program is returning to the Murraylands to showcase scientific and cultural collections and stories related to the Murraylands region through school workshops and a community day.


A Year of Wonder in the Island Arc

Until 21 December, Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery, Hobart

Hands-on real science and the wonder of discovery! Choose one or more of these elegant and achievable programs at the Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery.


The art of scientific observation

9 to 26 August 2010, several locations across Victoria

To celebrate the International Year of Biodiversity and Science Week 2010, Museum Victoria is delivering a one day program of performance, art activities and local environmental awareness. The day will consist of a performative guided tour that takes participants in an around their local area on a journey of scientific discovery and observation followed by a workshop where participants will engage in drawing techniques used by scientists and scientific illustrators to explore the link between art and scientific observation.

Bug Blitz

20 August 2010, Castlemaine

To mark the 150th anniversary of the Burke and Wills expedition, the Royal Society, Bug Blitz and other partners are following in their footsteps. And while doing so they will be engaging students in a series of ‘hands on’ investigations of biodiversity in local habitats, raising awareness about the importance of science in our lives, and sharing knowledge of science via the arts.

Wild: amazing animals in a changing world

Until 30 December, Museum Victoria, Carlton

Be surrounded by the wonderful diversity of mammals, birds and reptiles from around the world. Experience Victorian environments such as alps, grassland, wetlands and discover why biodiversity is under threat and get clues about how we can create a more hopeful future.

Western Australia

Amazing nature photography

13 July- 28 August, Western Australian Museum- Kalgoorlie-Boulder

ANZANG Nature Photography is an exhibition that celebrates the depth and diversity of nature in Australia, New Zealand, Antarctica and the New Guinea region through the eye of the nature photographer.

Mini muses – Cathy Coolbardie

10 – 11:30am, 29 July, Western Australian Museum – Albany

In the world of magpies, being the boss is all a matter of black and white! Find out why being boss is not all good news. Mini Muses are a fun series of junior sessions (children 5 years and under) which will introduce your child to the wonderful native creatures of Western Australia. You will have the chance to meet live animals such as possums, turtles, lizards and kangaroos and their wildlife carers.

To get your event mentioned in the next bulletin, please add it to the online biodiversity event calendar.


This bulletin has been sent by Science in Public, on behalf of CAMD and the International Year of Biodiversity Coordinators.


Teresa Belcher (teresa.belcher@museum.wa.gov.au | tel: 08 9212 3760)
Valerie Gregory (valerie.gregory@austmus.gov.au | tel: 02 9320 6342)

IYOB 2010 is an initiative of the Council of Australasian Museum Directors (CAMD), funded with assistance from the Science Connections Program within the Department of Innovation, Industry, Science and Research.