Australian Tropical Herbarium Research and Programs Theme 2 – Education, Knowledge Capture and Translation, Expert Advice

Theme 2 – Education, Knowledge Capture and Translation, Expert Advice

Tropical Indigenous Ethnobotany Centre (TIEC)

The TIEC is a partnership between Traditional Owners (TO), the ATH, JCU’s Cairns Institute, Qld. Govt. DES, and CSIRO Ecosystem Sciences. Development of the TIEC, housed at the ATH, and research projects undertaken in association with it, advance through mutually beneficial partnerships. Projects research and collate existing ethnobotanical data, promote and carry out research in a respectful and culturally appropriate way, and provide awareness, training and education. The TIEC aims for recognition as the centre for ethnobotanical research in the Australian tropics, with a focus on north Queensland. Future activities may include neighbouring countries.


Gerry Turpin (ATH), Rosemary Hill (CSIRO), Eda Addicott (ATH), TBA (JCU Cairns Institute), Darren Crayn (ATH).

Indigenous knowledge and mangrove management

This project aims to combine multiple coastal mangrove ecosystems values into Indigenous land and sea management partnerships. The project will develop a two-way indicator monitoring framework and program that will bring Indigenous knowledge and science together to support Indigenous land and sea management of coastal mangrove ecosystems. In partnership with Indigenous groups, the project will develop a tool that combines Indigenous values and knowledge of mangrove ecosystems with scientific assessments to support community-based monitoring and management of Indigenous coastal land and sea country. This approach brings greater attention and focuses on Indigenous values into the management and planning of mangrove and shoreline ecosystems for the benefit of indigenous, local and regional communities.


Ilisapeci Lyons (CSIRO), Gerry Turpin (ATH).

Rainforest Key

The “Australian Tropical Rain Forest Plants - Trees, Shrubs and Vines” (a.k.a. the Rainforest Key, or RFK) is an interactive multiple-entry identification and information system. A total of 138 characters, covering morphology - habit, bark, leaves, flowers, fruits and seedlings - and some geographic and ecological information ensure reliability and power of the key is high. Illustrated help notes assist with interpretation of characters. Plant images help to confirm identification. The latest version, RFK edition 7, was released online in late 2018 and includes 2739 species of rainforest plants of northern Australian rain forests and for the first time included rainforest plants of the Central Queensland region. Further development is mostly focused on publication of the RFK as an app and finalizing and publishing the fern module (some 300 spp).


Frank Zich (ATH), Raelee Kerrigan (ATH), Ashley Field (ATH).

Savanna Key

The Australian tropical savanna biome covers the top one third of the continent. The region is undergoing rapid change, with pressures from rapidly expanding agricultural and resources sectors. However, the lack of a comprehensive Flora for most of the biome means that biodiversity surveys and conservation planning are severely hindered. Currently, plant identification resources for the biome are dispersed, in technical literature and therefore difficult to access, and inconsistent in format and taxonomy. Field guides where available are taxonomically incomplete, local in scope, and vary in quality. We aim to produce, over the next 5-7 years, a comprehensive, authoritative interactive identification key to Australian tropical savanna plants that is free for use over the internet. The product will be similar to the proven ‘Rainforest Key’, which has enjoyed broad stakeholder uptake.


Frank Zich (ATH), Eda Addicott (ATH), Darren Crayn (ATH), Paul Williams (volunteer), Ailsa Holland (DES), Kevin Thiele (Independent researcher), Ian Cowie (DNA), Donna Lewis (DNA), Bruce Wannan (volunteer).

Grasses of Cape York Peninsula

Grasses are among the most important plant groups in savanna ecosystems for multiple land use groups including primary producers and conservation land managers. Currently identification resources for non-specialists are inadequate. This project will produce fact sheets for species of grasses found on the Cape York Peninsula. Work will progress in a modular fashion subject to funding with completed products for defined subregions contributing toward the ultimate objective of a complete guide to the grasses of the Cape York Peninsula bioregion.


Raelee Kerrigan (ATH).

Ericaceae – an eFlora of Australia treatment

Generic boundaries in the predominantly Australian subfamily Epacridoideae (Ericaceae; c. 580 Australian taxa) have recently been resolved following many years of phylogenetic research, paving the way for the description of undescribed species and a Flora of Australia treatment. This project will complete part of such a treatment by formalizing generic-level nomenclature, describing 25 new species and completing species profiles for all capsular-fruited taxa (c. 150 species). This research will aid conservation efforts, particularly in south-western Australia, where there is a high level of diversity, with many species subject to multiple threats. Further studies into historical biogeography and evolution will also be undertaken.


Fanie Venter (ATH), Jeremy Bruhl (University of New England), Rose Andrew (University of New England), Ian Telford (University of New England), Caroline Puente-Lelievre (US Food and Drug Administration), Kristina Lemson (Edith Cowan University), Michael Hislop (Western Australian Herbarium), Ron Crowden (independent researcher), Helen Kennedy (PhD student, UNE), Darren Crayn (ATH).