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Biodiversity websites I'm watching

A spinoff of teaching Adara about animal and plant life is that I have started to pay more attention to biodiversity on the web. I do a Yahoo! news photo search for her most mornings. Common search criteria we use are zoo, monkey, orangutan or kangaroo.

The IUCN (International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources) 2004 Red List of Endangered Species was released in November, and there is a searchable database on the Red List website.

The New South Wales National Parks and Wildlife Service has an Atlas of NSW Wildlife, which contains a searchable database of species of flora and fauna sighted in various locations of New South Wales.

A real beauty, however, is Animal Diversity Web, produced by the University of Michigan Museum of Zoology. If any website deserves to be called the IMdB of the Animal Kingdom, the ADW is it.

Let's go looking for endangered species of animal in the area where I live. I'll go the NSW Wildlife Atlas and search for endangered species of fauna recorded since 1980 in the Marrickville local government area. This gives me three results, the Ptilinopus superbus (superb fruit-dove), the Xanthomyza phrygia (regent honeyeater), and the Litoria aurea (green and golden bell frog).

Sightings of the green and golden bell frog in the Marrickville LGA since 1980.From the results page we can then call up a map which shows the places where the species have been sighted within the region. I can't link to the result maps as they are dynamically generated, but an excerpt from the map of frog sightings can be seen at right, with the locations indicated with the pink dots (we live a little to the north of the O in Newtown).

Let's focus on the green and golden bell frog for now. We go to the IUCN Red List search page and look for Litoria aurea. The search results lead us to the IUCN's species page, and see that the frog has been classified as vulnerable since 2001. A lot of background information on habitats, threats, and required action.

ADW is thorough, but nonetheless incomplete: if we go to the Pelodryadinae (Austro-papuan tree frogs) subfamily, we can see other frogs listed in the Litoria genus, but not Litoria aurea. At best, we can expect photos, sound bites and even movies of certain species on ADW.

Finally, a good old Google search for Litoria aurea leads us to the marvellous, run by the Amphibian Research Centre. Listen to an MP3 of the frog's croak.