Project Title: Australian Southern Right Whale Photo-identification Catalogue: Phase One - Design Development
Chief Investigators: Dr Rebecca Pirzl
Australia has significant holdings of southern right whale photo-identification data spanning four decades and covering large areas of the species’ Australian range. These data allow individual whales to be traced over long temporal and spatial scales, providing a means of investigating, among other things, population biology, life history, movements and abundance. Australian photo-identification data are held in disparate datasets, but are most powerfully used in combination with one another. The desirability of moving towards functional integration has been recognised for some time, and this project was established to esign a data management system for that purpose.
The Australian Southern Right Whale Photo-identification Catalogue: Phase One – Design development project represents Phase 1 of a two-phase approach to development of an integrated photo-identification cataloguing system. The technical architecture and curation/administration aspects have been addressed in Phase 1, with system build and data migration to occur in Phase 2 (subject to future funding). The benefits of an integrated cataloguing system include provision of more complete and comprehensive data and potential for more powerful analysis to address a wider range of research and management questions.
The Catalogue Design project comprised three inter-linked elements:
1) Scoping: Existing systems were investigated in order to build on prior experience with curation of similar data. Several global systems were investigated, in particular the work of the New England Aquarium which developed a photo-identification data management system for North Atlantic right whales, along with the work of the Provincetown Centre for Coastal Studies, a major contributor to the North Atlantic Right Whale Catalogue. Discussions and information sharing ensuing from these interactions shaped parts of the project's outputs.
2) Consultation: Strong participation from researchers and managers with a close interest and/or investment in southern right whale photo-identification data was integral to the project's success and essential to support data contribution over the long-term. The project was structured with a strong focus on participatory consultation with the stakeholder group, which comprises individuals from universities, museums, state and commonwealth government departments and private sector consulting. Input was received at project inception, during background research and scoping, and during technical design and catalogue establishment planning. Discussions at a Catalogue Development Workshop were particularly valuable; a clear purpose and functions for the catalogue were specified, data content and sharing were considered in detail, the geographic scope was expanded to include New Zealand, and the catalogue was designated as the Australasian Right Whale Photo-Identification Catalogue (ARWPIC).
3) Development of catalogue framework: This element of the project set out the recommended design and structure for ARWPIC. It resulted in the development of two documents. The ARWPIC Technical Outline sets out system architecture, data content and structures, data contribution work flow, validation and integrity, types of users and anticipated requirements for types of access and use levels. The ARWPIC Establishment Outline addresses overall administrative requirements to support catalogue implementation and details work flows, a curation model and principles for data sharing agreements. The two documents provide the framework for ARWPIC system build and full implementation in Phase 2.
Please refer to the ARWPIC Technical Outline and the ARWPIC Establishment Outline for further details of the Catalogue Development project and its outputs.