The end of a decade: AMRI highlights
We have accomplished so much at the Australian Museum Research Institute. In the 2018-19 financial year, we discovered 203 new species and our scientists and associates have published 221 publications. AMRI brings together a team of 88 staff, including research scientists, collection scientists, collection officers and more than 100 associates, fellows and students in order to research and explore today’s major challenges.
What better way to celebrate the end of a decade, and the start of a new one, than recount just some of our highlights! Have a look below at some of our discoveries, achievements and collaborations. These are not in any particular order and are by no means a full list; for more information, please visit our webpage. Thank you to all of our scientists, volunteers, partners and collaborators - this next decade should hold even more exciting scientific endeavours.
Please click on the images for the information!
From our Citizen Science projects to our Wildlife forensics facilities, the Australian Museum Research Institute has successfully launched a variety of flagship projects. AMRI have a suite of innovative and engaging projects that enable everyone to contribute to Australian science, and focus on modern challenges such as: climate change impacts on biodiversity; the detection and biology of pest species; and, understanding what constitutes and influences effective biodiversity conservation.
Other projects not listed above include our genomics project to halt Australia’s extinction record (Oz Mammals Genomics), AMRI’s Icons project, a biosecurity identification service and more - please see our Science strategy for more information.
COLLECTION ACQUISITIONS AND EXHIBITION HIGHLIGHTS
The AMRI natural history collections underpin our research and are essential for our biodiversity research, and one of our main asserts is our use of wildlife genomics to solve key problems. We hold an incredible 19.5 million objects and specimens in our natural history collections and our research is underpinned by significant scientific infrastructure including the Australian Centre for Wildlife Genomics, the Australian Museum Research Library and the Lizard Island Research Station (situated on Australia’s Great Barrier Reef). The AMRI collection is the largest and most comprehensive in the southern hemisphere, and continues to serve the Australian and international research community. In the 2018-2019 financial year, a further 6,274 specimens were added to the natural science collections.
Donations, collections and exhibition highlights
- The Albert Chapman collection: a selection, 578 specimens, were installed as a visiting exhibition in the Australian Fossil and Mineral Museum in Bathurst, in 2019.
- Frozen tissue collection: our extensive collections are a valuable resource for the investigation of biodiversity, population genetics, phylogenetics and more. The ACWG manages and curates this collection, comprising of about 80,000 specimens.
- Canowindra fossil fish collection: in central-west NSW, about 300 km west of Sydney, is Canowindra. The Canowindra fossil fish site is a rich late Devonian site, with all fossils preserved on a single bedding plane, part of an ancient fish community trapped in a pool of water which dried up, killing them. The first slab of Canowindra fossil fish was uncovered in the 1950's, and now there are 245 slabs with 320 individual fish registered as scientifically published types specimens. Some fossils are on display at the Age of Fishes Museum, but all of the fossils are 3D scanned.
- In 2015, Dr Jackie Nguyen and UNSW colleagues excavated a near complete skull and neck vertebrae of a young Diprotodon from central NSW. This Diprotodon, which we nicknamed ‘Darren’ (Dazza to his mates), is now in the AM palaeontology collection. We developed a small exhibition about Darren the Diprotodon at the AM in 2017. Earlier in 2019, Darren toured the Australian Fossil and Mineral Museum in Bathurst.
- Donation of the goblin shark which has a YouTube video, garnering over 1.1 million views!
- Significant donation of mammal species from PNG (including three long-beaked echidnas plus diverse species from Bougainville and the Transfly Region).
- Acquisition of the Foster James Springsteen Collection (over 3,000 lots, the bulk being of international origin) and the E.N.Drier Collection, donated by the Museum of Vancouver in 2014 (approx. 3,000 lots of various taxa of Mollusca, the bulk of which were collected by Drier in Australia ~1930).
- Acquisition of a rare Crocoite gemstone from west coast of Tasmania in 2018.
- Donation of an unusual cassiterite (tin dioxide) crystals, from Pine Ridge, near Inverell, NSW.
- Donation of chalcopyrite crystals (copper, iron sulphide), from Olympic Dam, South Australia.
- Purchase of a large azurite (copper carbonate-hydroxide) disc in kaolinite, from Malbunka, N.T.
- Donation of a range of copper minerals from De Grussa Mine, W.A.
- Donation of 5 slices of iron meteorites from South American and African localities.
- Donation of a large range of very unusual smoky quartz crystals from Manuka, NSW.
- Purchase of large and unusual witherite (barium carbonate) crystals from Rosebery, Tasmania.
- Donation of marcasite crystal groups replaced by goethite (iron oxide-hydroxide), from the Farafra Oasis, White Desert, Egypt.
- Donation of the 32 kg Mossgiel stony meteorite from near Hay NSW, as a Cultural Gifts Scheme donation.
- Mineral Treasure specimens and a Broken Hill mineral display installed in the Westpac Long Gallery.
DISCOVERIES, INCLUDING NEW SPECIES
AMRI is a leading institution in scientific discovery. We discover and document the biodiversity of our backyards and beyond, identify potentially environmentally and economically devastating pests, and use molecular techniques (DNA) to solve wildlife forensic mysteries and to understand the origins of Australia’s unique fauna. And part of new discoveries, includes the discovery of new species! New species described in the 2018-2019 year included a reef spider crab (Schizophroida sp.) from the western Pacific, a fossil bristlebird (Walter’s Bristlebird – Dasyornis walterbolesi) and a scincid lizard (Epibator insularis) from l’Île Walpole, New Caledonia. These discoveries are linked with AMRI expeditions (below) so be sure to read further.
AMRI has been at the centre of many expeditions that have contributed to the vast and unique collections at the Museum, and have consequently contributed to Australian and international scientific research. AM collections have been enhanced though the collection of specimens through expeditions to the South West Pacific, Kermadec Islands, Scotia Arc, Southern French Polynesia, Lord Howe Island, Timor-Leste, the Solomon Islands, Australia and more. Learn how our scientists have researched and explored these unique locations, and collaborated with these communities. For more information, please go to: https://australian.museum/learn/expeditions/
JOINT APPOINTMENTS AND AWARDS
At the Australian Museum Research Institute, we are extremely thankful to the amazing and talented people that are a part of AMRI. AMRI is dedicated to building a better future through partnerships, joint appointments, our volunteers, interns, work experience students and more. It is also important to celebrate all of those people who make AMRI what it is today, and to honour the astounding scientists and contributors in Australia.
These are just some of our highlights here from AMRI, but let's not forget one of our biggest achievements - the creation of AMRI in 2014!
We have more exciting things planned which will be announced this year, in 2020 – so be sure to keep an eye out on our webpage and subscribe to the AMRI newsletter! All of these wonderful achievements are part of our Science Strategy (2017-2021), so please read further.
Meagan Warwick, AMRI & External Partnerships Coordinator, Australian Museum Research Institute