From Stephen Ambrose, Director, Ambrose Ecological Services Pty Ltd
In general, there are two types of ecological consultant:
- Specialists who focus their activities on one group of taxa (e.g. birds, bats, reptiles, marine animals) or in one industry sector (e.g. mining, urban development).
- General Practitioners who don’t have a particular focus and work across a broader range of ecological consultancy issues at a more superficial level than specialist consultants.
Specialist consultants tend to keep abreast with the taxonomic and biosystematic changes in the taxa that are the focus of their interest. They usually do this by following the scientific literature, attending conferences, and occasionally being the drivers of the taxonomic and biosystematic studies.
However, generalist consultants cover too broad an area to easily keep up with revisions of all taxa that they deal with during the course of their work. It is this group of consultants who would benefit the most from better communication about these revisions.
While the onus is on individual consultants to keep up with
these revisions, taxonomists could assist with facilitating communication with
them. One possible way of doing this in NSW would be for taxonomists and
evolutionary biologists to send hyperlinks to the Ecological Consultants
Association of NSW (the ECA) firstname.lastname@example.org
to relevant online publications or websites. The ECA’s Administration
Officer would then forward this information to ECA members, either as a regular
ECA Information Emails or as collated information in the ECA’s regular journal,
There is probably an opportunity for taxonomists to receive
information from ecological consultants, too, based on field work associated
with development assessments, but I’m not sure how best to facilitate that
interaction, especially as there is usually a commercial-in-confidence
agreement between consultant and client. There is also the likelihood
that there will be less opportunity for this to happen with ecological
consultants (in NSW, at least) spending less time in the field, and more time
in front of the computer, under the new environmental legislation.