Areas of Emphasis
Accelerated Biodiversity Surveys
Large-scale, collaborative, and integrative surveys provide the most effective means for documenting biodiversity. Opportunities and funding for such surveys are rapidly increasing, but few organizations have the staff or expertise to initiate or lead them. The Biodiversity Institute will provide the infrastructure and core staff to pursue such initiatives with the assistance of the numerous field stations and universities worldwide with which we work. Examples include:
- Biodiversity Inventories: Inventories provide overviews of life in a geographic area or ecosystem. A mainstay of museum and biodiversity science, inventories often are conducted by individuals or small teams focused on one or a few taxa (e.g., birds and mammals).The development of large-scale sampling strategies, digital imaging techniques, genetic barcoding, and bioinformatics tools have enabled large-scale, cross- taxon inventories and have driven recent increases in funding sources and amounts.
- Accelerated Species Discovery: Global networking, molecular methods, and the rapid dissemination of biodiversity information can accelerate species discovery. Such efforts are especially effective in large-scale, collaborative programs, like NSF’s Planetary Biodiversity Inventory Program.
- Comprehensive Biodiversity Assessments: Biodiversity assessments of areas proposed for development are required by local and federal laws worldwide. Governmental agencies provide funds to single clients to conduct assessments for environmental impact statements. Assessments also are funded by organizations, such as Conservation International and The Nature Conservancy, interested in protecting endangered species or ecosystems.
- History of Life: Several NSF-funded AToL (Assembling the Tree of Life) projects, as well as large-scale paleontological and archaeological efforts at FLMNH, are creating new understanding of the history and relationships of life on Earth. Informatics tools allow integrated access to information on the history of the biosphere and tree of life.