The interface of evolutionary biology and policy impact

6–7 September 2016

We invite research providers (scientists) and research users (policy makers and managers) to join us for an engagement and dialogue workshop.

Innovative capabilities in biodiversity science are rapidly emerging at the boundaries of evolutionary biology, genomics and spatial ecology. These new concepts and tools have been heralded as having considerable potential to assist with many of the complex issues confronting policy and management (see background discussion paper), such as:

However, there is often a distinct gap between academic research, where the majority of this new biodiversity data is being generated, analysed and interpreted; and the current, and future, needs of practical policy development and real-world management. Closing this gap will begin to address two current policy priorities - for academia, research engagement and impact; and for policy-makers, transparency, citizen engagement and evidence-based policy making.

The meeting aims to transfer knowledge, perspectives and challenges amongst scientists and policy makers and find ways to effectively engage into the future. It will address the 'push and pull' dilemma information agenda setting that often shapes the relationship between researchers and policy makers. Accordingly, it will have a different format to previous CBA conferences. Rather than sessions of traditional conference talks (i.e. science ‘push’), the meeting will be in the form of a two-day engagement and dialogue workshop.


Questions / themes

  • What does the interface of science and policy currently look like? What are the key issues that will need to be addressed into the future? 
  • What do policy-makers and managers want and need (problems) from biodiversity scientists?
  • What sorts of information can evolutionary biology and spatial ecology (concepts) and new genomic technologies and bioinformatics (tools) provide to real-world policy and management? 
  • What are the most useful approaches to transfering these knowledge and needs? What are the best processes of engagement and how can a dialogue be maintained?

Invited speakers

  • Gregory Andrews (Threatened Species Commissioner)
  • Sam Banks (ANU)
  • Linda Broadhurst (CSIRO)
  • Margaret Byrne (WA Dept. of Parks and Wildlife)
  • Emma Campbell (Dept. Environment and Energy)
  • Dave Coates (WA Dept. of Parks and Wildlife)
  • Sue Fyfe (Parks Australia)
  • John Kanowski (Australian Wildlife Conservancy)
  • Adrian Manning (ANU)
  • Cate McElroy​ (Dept. Environment)
  • Craig Moritz (ANU)
  • Dan Rosauer (ANU)
  • David Salt (ANU)
  • Carla Sgro (Monash)
  • Cameron Slatyer (Australian Museum)
  • Andrea Taylor (Monash)
  • Stephanie Vongavel (Atlas of Living Australia)
  • Andrew Weeks (U Melbourne & cesar Pty Ltd)
  • Kate Wilson (NSW Office of Environment and Heritage)


Final workshop report and appendices

Decision Point article: Evolutionary biology - what is it good for?


Pre-workshop survey

Please fill in the pre-event survey before the workshop. 

Post-workshop survey

Please fill in the post-event survey after the workshop. 

Speakers' slides

Please contact Claire Stephens if you would like a copy of any of the speakers' talks.


6 September 2016
Time Session
Registration, Tea & Coffee
What can we expect from the workshop?
Wendy Russell
What is this ‘gap’ and what signals that it is a problem?
Craig Moritz
What is the changing context in which scientists, policy-makers and managers interact and exchange information (or fail to)?
Linda Broadhurst​, Gregory Andrews, Kate Wilson
What is your experience of making or using data for policy?
Speed dating
Morning tea
How does it look when things aren’t working well (when the gap is wide?)
Case studies: John Kanowski, Sue Fyfe, Andrea Taylor, Carla Sgro
What causes the problem? What is missing? What’s in the way?
Small group discussion
Afternoon tea
What opportunities are lost when the gap is wide? How could things be better if we solved this problem?
Panel: Margaret Byrne, Emma Campbell, David Salt, Cameron Slatyer
Lightning talks
Drinks and canapés
7 September 2016
Time Session
Registration, Tea & Coffee
How does it look when things work well?
Case studies: Adrian Manning & Sam Banks, Dave Coates, Stephanie Von Gavel, Andrew Weeks, Cate McElroy​
In the best possible world, what would things look like? Where would we like to be?
Small group visioning
Morning tea
What helps us to get there? What stops us getting there? Where should we put our energies?
Forcefield Analysis
What concrete steps should be taken? What strategies will help us move in the right direction?
Open Space
Afternoon tea
What strategies have we come up with? What are we going to do next?
Strategies report back

Registration dates

8th July - 26th August 2016

  • Full registration: AUD 135.00
  • Student registration: AUD 65.00
  • Workshop dinner and drinks: AUD 75.00 (Tues 6 Sept at University House. Guest speaker Nick Matzke will share his experience with the Evolution of antievolution policies).

Workshop registration includes morning and afternoon teas and lunches and refreshments for the evening poster session. The workshop dinner is an optional event.

After registering, please fill in the pre-event survey before the workshop. 

* Please note: ANU Finance has advised that ANU events should not be paid for using an ANU Purchase Card. When registering please select the "Registration (ANU only)" option - this will ask you to enter a charge code (GLC) that will allow ANU Finance to do a journal transfer. If you are not the delegate for this GLC, please provide the delegate’s email address so we can get permission to charge payment to this account.


Lightning talks

We invite workshop participants to present a lightning talk. This session is an opportunity to present snapshots of novel biodiversity science that may have the potential to inform policy areas, or where policy and management have sucessfully incorporated new scientific information.

Lightning talks will have a 10 minute timeslot (including question time) in the final session on Tuesday afternoon. Please bring your presentation on a USB drive.

The Lightning talks will be followed by drinks and canapés at 5pm.

Please submit your abstract to before 26 August.

Include title, author’s name/s, affiliation, address, email. Abstract text max. 300 words.



The workshop is being held at the ANU Commons Function Centre, cnr Barry Drive and Marcus Clarke Street, Acton (ANU). The entrance to the function centre is on Rimmer Street.

T  +61 2 6125 0228 | F  +61 2 6125 7944 | E

Map | ANU Commons parking | ANU parking

Workshop dinner

If you are attending the workshop dinner on Tues 6 Sept, it will be held from 6.30pm in The Common Room, University House, 1 Balmain Crescent, Acton (ANU).

T +61 2 6125 5211 | F +61  2 6125 5256 | E


Accommodation suggestions


Steering committee

Craig Moritz (ANU), Dan Rosauer (ANU), Simon Ferrier (BEKS, CSIRO), Kristen Williams (BEKS, CSIRO), Linda Broadhurst (NRCA, CSIRO), Stephanie Von Gavel (ALA, CSIRO), Margaret Byrne (WA Dept. Parks and Wildlife) and Peter Cochrane (currently advisor to the 2016 State of the Environment report; ex-Director National Parks).

Workshop facilitator 

Wendy Russell (Double Arrow Consulting), assisted by Vicky Darling (Kintsugi Alliance)

Claire Stephens
02 612 59492