Barrow island is a Nature Reserve 90km off the north west coastline of Western Australia. Between 2004 to 2006, an intensive invertebrate baseline study was conducted.
The Biodiversity results were fascinating:
- 14,000 specimens were collected, catalogued and are now curated in Museums
- 2,100 species were identified
- Only 268 were known to science - most of the remainder are new species!
The website is being used as window into the Biodiversity of Barrow Island and as a resource to assist with the active Quarantine Incursion Management on Barrow Island.
The Barrow Island PaDIL website is unique in that it presents an entire island’s known invertebrate fauna. We use this resource to assist with the active Quarantine Incursion Management on Barrow Island.
Barrow Island, some 202 square km, is 90km off the Western Australian coastline and classified as a Class A Nature Reserve. It supports some species now extinct on Australia's mainland and is home to many plants and animals not seen anywhere else in Australia.
Chevron began producing oil on Barrow Island in 1964 and in 2009 was given government approval to produce Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG). Approval was based on strict environmental guidelines to prevent the introduction of invasive pests and diseases and the spread of weeds. However, it is difficult to know whether an incursion has occurred without baseline data of the fauna and flora that already exists on the island. To create this baseline data, Curtin University conducted extensive invertebrate sampling across the island in 2004, 2005 and 2006. The sampling site and techniques were statistically modelled to ensure an 80% or greater effectiveness of collecting all existing fauna.
The collected specimens were then sent to taxonomists and specialists around Australia for identification. Incredibly, some 2,100 species were identified. Of these, less than 50% could be named, which means that many new species had been collected and discovered. Scientists will now name and describe these new species, which both adds to knowledge of Australia’s unique fauna and confirms the special status of the Barrow Island Class A Nature Reserve.
The Barrow Island collected specimens are stored at Curtin University and the Western Australian Museum. While they are safe at these locations, they are not easily or readily available to assist with Quarantine Incursion Management on the island itself. To overcome this, the identified specimens were sent to Museum Victoria to be captured as high resolution digital images. More than 25,000 images are now publicly available on the PaDIL–Barrow Island website.
This process created two firsts:
- The first time an entire island’s invertebrate fauna was surveyed.
- The first time an entire island’s invertebrate fauna is now available on the web.