November 22 2010
The CReefs Australia program has been not just been about making new scientific discoveries, but also about building capacity and professional networks.
The program has been committed to promoting collaboration internationally and across taxonomic groups, and to building capacity in marine taxonomy.
As the final field trip comes to a close, several of the scientists who have been involved long-term in the program share their thoughts on its benefits.
"There are very few people working on bryozoans around the world, and I have collected so many samples through the CReefs field trips that there is a need for another person to work on them: and CReefs has helped that to happen." – Phil Bock
"Without participating in a program like CReefs, it would have been almost impossible for us to go to Ningaloo Reef, which is remote and doesn't have an established research station. Also, we received an Australian Biological Resources Study/CReefs grant, which allows us to employ scientists and research assistants to sort specimens into families, prepare specimens for microscope analysis, study certain families, and to organise our findings into a database." – Dr Pat Hutchings
"Having large and diverse groups of taxonomists, specialising in a variety of animals and algae, working at different sites and collecting over some years gives us the chance to make important comparisons across several geographical areas and over time. There has been a fluent collaboration among experts, both in the field and after surveys, which greatly increases the value of collections and future outcomes." – Dr Maria Capa
"Most of the material in our collections has been preserved for study in the lab; but the CReefs field program allows us to see the animals alive, to see their colours and their habitats, and this tells us a lot about the animals." – Professor Magdalena Blazewicz
"CReefs is a great chance for me not only to collect unique material but also to work in what are, for marine biologists, the most interesting sites in Australia. The management and atmosphere of all three expeditions in which I took part were perfect. I am excited to return to the lab to work with the samples I have collected here." – Dr Viatcheslav "Slava" Ivanenko
"CReefs is the template for how sampling should be done. With other fieldwork, if I need to pull up a big rock to get one little sample, the rest becomes bycatch. But here, you have people working on many different animals that are all inside the rock, so anything that you get is valuable to other people, and nothing is wasted." – Associate Professor James Reimer
"CReefs is, essentially, allowing me to do my job. The specimens that we've collected on these trips will keep me busy for years. Also, as a junior scientist, I have learnt a lot from observing the more experienced scientists in the field, and I know that the connections I have made through this program will have ongoing benefits throughout my career." – Chad Buxton
"After I finish my PhD, I would like to continue working in parasitology or aquatic diseases. Taxonomy will be a part of any field I go on to specialise in – so in terms of capacity building, CReefs has played a role in helping me to develop skills I will continue to use for the rest of my career." – Holly Heiniger
"Without the CReefs program, we wouldn't have had the capacity to come here and sample as long term as we have. There is still a lot of work to do: many, many lifetimes' worth." – Dr Terrence Miller
"It's a very good thing that CReefs has attracted the money to fund research like this – but there is still more work to be done. The mistake would be to think that having had the CReefs program has in any way meant this research is finished." – Associate Professor Thomas Cribb