Early accounts in old newspaper articles, diaries and books include an amazing diversity of references to many species of wildlife on mainland Australia that are now either threatened or extinct. In South Australia, this "Forgotten Fauna" includes species like dingoes, quolls, pademelons, phascogales, bettongs and bandicoots.
Hidden away in the texts of the 1800s are possibly thousands of additional records that are not currently compiled in any central database; but often provide amazing, highly descriptive accounts, capable of bringing our Forgotten Fauna back to life.
The simple goal of this project proposal is to harness the power of citizen scientists who will help us transform these historic accounts into an integrated on-line resource – making it easy for anyone to find, interpret and use this forgotten data in new ways.
The FINDING FORGOTTEN FAUNA (or F3) computer app will comprise three main components:
- A data entry portal, where key fields can be entered – such as the species, location and historic record observation date – as well as the ability to upload a scanned, searchable pdf image of the written account;
- A plug-in for Trove, to make uploading newspaper accounts to the F3 portal easy; and,
- A plug-in for the Atlas of Living Australia, to collate and map the data, and with embedded links that will allow researchers to instantly view, read and reference the full original written account.
By integrating with Trove and the Atlas of Living Australia, F3 would fill a need for ecologists and historians alike, and is immediately scalable to the national level.
Just think - if only a fraction of the thousands of hours that volunteers all around the country spend correcting text in Trove each month could be harnessed to help build this resource, it would quickly become an incredibly valuable, open access reference library.
This concept will bring historians and scientists together for mutual benefit, breathing new life into a wider discussion about environmental change in Australia and capturing the power of storytelling as a tool for re-connecting the community to our landscapes.