A few thoughts for list members regarding the Atlas of Victorian Wildlife
(AVW) fauna database, mainly for those visiting or residing in Victoria.
There may be a lack of appreciation amongst some birdos of the AVW and the
important role it plays in the management of threatened species and
ecological communities in Victoria.
Many naturalists of all types (vertebrate, invertebrate, marine species,
etc) forward their records to the AVW, as all fauna can be recorded in the
system. Importantly alot of additional observer detail can also be
recorded (e.g. the numbers of a species, habitat information, area covered
in count and other useful data can be sent in (as opposed to just the
presence/absence of a species). This more detailed data makes the database
much more useful to potential users. It is worth noting that consultants,
private citizens and government officers working on environmental matters
find the extra detail very much more useful than just presence/absence
alone provides. Indeed the AVW receives many inquiries each week
requesting detailed information for sites across Victoria (including off
shore areas) and detailed lists of records for various species.
The Atlas has also made an effort to record all fauna reported in
historical journals, textbooks and field studies since European
settlement. This means some idea of historical ranges of species (e.g.
increases or decreases in range) can be gleaned by analysing AVW data over
various time frames etc. Indeed, many Victorian fauna (mammals, birds,
reptiles, fish, etc) listed as threatened species under the Flora and
Fauna Guarantee Act were nominated for listing using data from the atlas.
The current managers of the AVW have provided me with the following
detailed response to suggestions that the AVW is '...out of date'
"The statewide repository of fauna data, the Atlas of Victorian Wildlife,
is updated as soon as records are submitted to us. After new records are
added we then review the data (ideally every 3 months) and approve records
for wider distribution. The review of data can take us several months
depending on resources. Currently, we are very under resourced and
unfortunately this translates into delays for reviewing and approving new
data for publication.
The method in which we distribute data is either via the Viridans public
display systems such as the Victorian Fauna Display (VFD) CD Rom or as
spatial layers for incorporation into a Geographic Information System.
Whether you use the Viridans systems or spatial data the records published
in the datasets are updated at the same time so they are consistent. This
historically has occurred annually because of the time it takes to
complete the update.
In 2005 we initiated a project to improve our technical processes to speed
up the time it takes us to update the spatial layers (and therefore when
we can provide updated data for viewing with the Viridans products). The
intention was to reduce the time it took to release new data from 12
months down to a more practical 3 months or even faster for priority
records that can be reviewed on a fast track basis. Unfortunately this
project has been delayed by many months owing to a recent reduction in
staff numbers and, as a result, no update has happened since it commenced,
causing the gap between old and new approved data to lengthen to two
We appreciate that this is not ideal but we are nearing the end of our
project to improve our services and will soon be releasing updated data.
If you would like to be added to a mailing list to be notified when the
data is available please email to register."
I strongly encourage all birdos to send their observations into the AVW
(or preferred database) so we have the best available information to
better manage our native avifauna and their habitats. The AVW has various
recording methods available to interested people (use the above address to
If you send data to the atlas you receive acknowledgment of your data and
have access to the system as a registered data collector.
Note also that the AVW has a data exchange agreement with Birds Australia,
so each system has access to the others data.
The AVW is your database. It's only as good as the data that people
forward to it.
Observers records, no matter how small, can make a difference to the
conservation of our flora and fauna. We can all make a difference if as
many people as possible support these flora and fauna databases.
(happy to discuss)
Threatened Species & Communities Section
Department of Sustainability and Environment
2/8 Nicholson St. (PO Box 500), East Melbourne 3002
Tel: 9637 9869
(prefixes: Interstate 03 International 613)
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