Sensitive Data

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AEKOS implements TERN’s data policy for sensitive species and ecological data using a number of management approaches. Our default position is to make ecological data and information freely available for biodiversity research and land management. Most data in AEKOS are integrated site data from government monitoring surveys (almost 100, 000 sites) and TERN’s research monitoring projects such as AusPlots.

What are sensitive species?

Highly collectable species – highly, desirable charismatic or commercially valuable taxa such as brightly coloured birds, reptiles, amphibians, cage/aquarium-friendly species, attractive/unusual plants (cycads, ferns, orchids), invertebrate vulnerable to illegal or excessive collection

‘Rare and easily disturbed species’ – those vulnerable to physical disturbance, disease, feral species being introduced by collectors, photographers

Who is responsible for safe publishing of sensitive species?

Individual community data collectors - citizen scientists such as naturalists recording personal sightings and depositing them in community-based repositories. Note, AEKOS doesn't publish community-based data (see the data decision tool under Author Instructions)

Project-based collectors (researchers, consultants, citizen scientists)

Database Publishers - third party responsibility of publishing managers of repositories for very large data collections such as TERN AEKOS

What approaches does AEKOS use for responsible data publishing?
TERN AEKOS is a data publisher and as such has third party responsibility when it comes to the safe publishing of sensitive species and ecological data. We are guided by the data authors especially when they have specialist knowledge of species vulnerabilities, ecosystem disturbances and environmental conditions of the study area. In special cases where authors are new to data publishing, TERN fully informs authors about sensitive data, the authors responsibilities and points them to resources they can consult to help identify sensitive data. To ensure data trustworthiness, TERN AEKOS data reviewers further check for data sensitivities during the review of submissions.

There are five different approaches TERN uses:

Approach 1 - No spatial data is provided. (Very few species fall into this category although there are special cases where whole research datasets fall into this category that based on such as spatial resolution, topography and road networks)

Approach 2 - The spatial accuracy of records is desensitised to 1.0 degrees

Approach 3 - The spatial accuracy of records is desensitised to 0.1 degrees

Approach 4 - The spatial accuracy of records is desensitised to 0.01 degrees

Approach 5 - The taxonomic name is generalised to be indistinguishable from species or ecological data that aren't sensitive. (Very few species fall into this category and is used when the site locations cannot be sufficiently generalised using Approaches 2 to 4)

For more resources on sensitive data.