ATBI draft report exec summary

Wed Feb 23 10:10:25 CST 1994

The following is the executive summary of the draft report of the
NSF-sponsored All Taxa Biodiversity Inventory (ATBI) workshop at the
University of Pennsylvania, 16-18 April 1993.  The full report is available
in text format from the Biodiversity and Biological Collections gopher (at
Harvard), and from the anonymous ftp archive at Gopher to and follow the menu through Biodiversity Information
Resources/All Taxa Biodiversity Inventory(ATBI), or use anonymous ftp
(under /project_information/atbi). The executive summary and cover letter
to workshop participants are also available at these sites.

This report originates in the commentary at the NSF-sponsored All Taxa
Biodiversity Inventory (ATBI) workshop at the University of Pennsylvania,
16-18 April 1993 (see Yoon 1993, Miller 1993, and Janzen and Hallwachs 1993
for summary statements from that

The report is intended to be a generic outline of much of what might
appropriately be considered by an ATBI, and is being produced with the goal
of being of use to any nation that considers doing one.  It is not a grant

Comments are eagerly sought by the compilers.   By July 1994, a final copy
will have incorporated, to the best of its ability, the comments received
during the first half of 1994, and be circulated widely.


Janzen, D. H. and W. Hallwachs 1993.  Highlights of the NSF-sponsored "All
Taxa Biodiversity Inventory Workshop', 16-18 April 1993, Philadelphia.
Biological Systematics Discussion List <taxacom at harvarda.bitnet>

Miller, S. E. 1993.  All Taxa Biological Inventory Workshop, April 1993: an
overview.  Pacific Science Association Information Bulletin 45:20-21.

Yoon, C.K. 1993.  Counting creatures great and small.  Science 260:620-622.


All Taxa Biodiversity Inventory (ATBI) of Terrestrial Systems

A generic protocol for preparing wildland biodiversity
for non-damaging use

9 February 1994

Tropical biodiversity: you gotta know it to use it, and you gotta
use it to save it

An inventory is an itemized description of the things in a place,
a stock taking;  once the inventory is conducted, the foundation
has been laid for a myriad of ever deeper and more revealing
question-driven studies and uses for these things.

     This report,  All Taxa Biodiversity Inventory (ATBI) of
Terrestrial Systems, is a generic protocol for preparing wildland
biodiversity for non-damaging use.  It is the result of a
workshop sponsored by the National Science Foundation (NSF)
Division of Environmental Biology, convened at the University of
Pennsylvania, 16-18 April 1993.  57 systematists, biodiversity
administrators and computer specialists from the USA, Canada,
Brazil, Australia, Mexico, Norway, England, and Costa Rica
discussed the feasibility, technology, protocols, costs and
sociology of a rapid and thorough inventory of the biodiversity
of a large and biodiverse (terrestrial) wildland.   Prior to this
workshop and after, the subject was discussed broadly within the
scientific community and with many biodiversity users.   This
report reflects the workshop and these discussions.

          At the workshop, a general consensus was reached that

     o    such an inventory is technically feasible for all
          groups of organisms, with most but not 100% of the
          species being at least located and distinguished,
     o    five years is the minimum time necessary,
     o    holding the project to an intense and minimal time
          budget has substantial scientific, sociological and
          social value,
     o    the area should be at least 50,000 - 100,000 hectares
          in size,
     o    the area should be rich in diversity of terrain and
          habitats, and encompass at least one major ecosystem,
     o    the area should be fully accessible to scientists,
          administrators and society at large,
     o    the ATBI site should have full legal conservation
     o    the area should contain some anthropogenic habitats as
          well as large areas of relatively undisturbed habitats,

     o    the basic information to be gathered would be
          o    what species are there,
          o    where are at least some members of each species,
          o    how to get the species to hand or eye, and
          o    what does each species do (the beginnings of
               natural history information),
     o    the ATBI will generate, massage, package and export a
          massive and extremely diverse array of biodiversity
          information to all sectors of society in both
          electronic and physical formats,
     o    the general methods for collection and specimen/data
          processing are already available, but substantial
          innovative development is still necessary for
          appropriate computerized management of an ATBI's
          processes and products,
     o    the ATBI will create a known universe against which
          monitoring and survey methodologies may be amply
          calibrated, and is a base-line for major biodiversity
          monitoring in the face of global change,
     o    all information would be public domain, except where
          restricted for conservation purposes,
     o    the effort would be designed so as to prepare the site
          for many decades of post-ATBI non-damaging use by all
          sectors of society - ranging from education programs to
          basic research to biodiversity prospecting to ecosystem
     o    an ATBI is one among a few tens of similar efforts that
          would constitute major benchmarks within the global
          network of many kinds of biodiversity inventories,
          monitoring, question-driven projects, and users,
     o    the first ATBI will have a major pilot project
          component and be operated as a global learning
     o    such a project must be highly collaborative between the
          national custodians, researchers and users of the
          ATBI's conserved wildlands - and the international
          taxonomic community - the Taxasphere,
     o    the essential in-country administrative elements are
          the Conservation Area, the ATBI, and a National
          Biodiversity Institute, and these must mesh with a
          strongly supportive global Taxasphere,
     o    the ATBI administration would be fully national, with
          an international advisory committee,
     o    the inventory process would be carried out by
          taxon-specific clusters of professional and
          paraprofessional biologists of national and
          international origin,
     o    education of biodiversity biologists at all levels will
          be a major responsibility of the ATBI,
     o    2-years of planning and set-up will be necessary before
          the 5-year ATBI begins, and
     o    the cost would be $2 to 6 million for the two-years of
          planning and start-up, and about $88 million for the
          5-year ATBI, if the ATBI occurs in a developing country
          - developed country costs could be noticeably greater.

          With the understanding generated by an ATBI, the
complexity of wildland biodiversity becomes a life-enriching
stimulus and an engine of economic development.  Without this
understanding, wild biodiversity is only a dull green obstacle to
humanity's domesticates and a deteriorating sponge for human
waste.  Taxonomy and inventory are basic technology to achieve
this understanding.  In a certain sense, an ATBI is a
long-overdue payment to modern society for its several centuries
of support of basic research on wild biodiversity.

D. H.Janzen and W. Hallwachs
Department of Biology
University of Pennsylvania
Philadelphia, PA 19104

Tel 215-898-5636, FAX 215-898-8780
djanzen at

Janzen and Hallwachs will be at the University of Pennsylvania
February-April 1994 and in Costa Rica (FAX 506-36-28-16) May-August 1994.

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