BHP Billiton – CReefs Fellow
Celleporina rostellata Iodictyum species Crisia elongata Lace Coral, family PhidoloporidaeBryozoa, commonly known as moss animals or lace corals, are a highly diverse and ecologically important group of microscopic aquatic invertebrates which inhabit oceans worldwide.
The tropical bryozoan collections held by the Queensland Museum, at the Museum of Tropical Queensland, are probably the largest in the World; however, the diversity of species and their research potential is unrealised because they are unstudied and inaccessible for scientific research.
In November 2010, the Queensland Museum entered into a three-year partnership with the Australian Institute of Marine Science (AIMS) and BHP Billiton to ‘unlock’ the hidden secrets of the Bryozoa.
As a result of this partnership, the Queensland Museum has employed international expert and recognised authority on the Bryozoa, Dr Kevin J. Tilbrook, to the position of BHP Billiton – CReefs Fellow.
In this role, based at the Museum of Tropical Queensland in Townsville, Kevin will document, describe and publish the bryozoan collections held by the Queensland Museum and AIMS.
Kevin will also collect new bryozoan specimens as part of the Census of Coral Reefs (CReefs Australia) expeditions, a project with which he has been associated since 2006.
Part of Kevin's research to date can be viewed at Great Barrier Reef Bryozoa.
The focus of CReefs Australia is to systematically survey life on Australian coral reefs; to fill knowledge gaps and so better understand the biodiversity that exists on Australia’s reefs. CReefs Australia is part of the CReefs global research initiative (itself part of the global Census Of Marine Life), a partnership between the Australian Biological Resources Study, BHP Billiton, The Great Barrier Reef Foundation, the Australian Institute of Marine Science and the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation. CReefs Australia involves scientists from the Australian Museum, Museum Victoria, the Western Australian Museum, the Museums and Art Galleries of the Northern Territory, the University of Adelaide, and the Australian Herbarium.
At the end of the three-year fellowship the Queensland Museum will have a well documented and internationally acclaimed collection of tropical Bryozoa. Most importantly, this collection will be more easily accessible for scientific research, and further development.