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The role that various scientific societies played in the early life of the colony of New South Wales is briefly reviewed. It is suggested that one of the reasons that was instrumental in the formation of these societies and in the establishment of the Australian Museum in 1827 was the diverse and apparently bizarre biota that engaged these early colonists. This is even more remarkable, given that the colony was initially established as a penal settlement. A brief history of each of the scientific societies is given as well as the development of the Royal Botanical Gardens and Taronga Zoo in Sydney. The paper then focuses in detail on the development of the Australian Museum from its initial beginnings as the Colonial Museum to its current role as one of the leading museums with its extensive collections which document Australia's animal biodiversity and cultural heritage. A chronological discussion is given of the staff appointed from the museum's inception to the present, together with their interests, which were initially natural history and anthropology, to the current staff who are involved in systematics and phylogeny of various groups using morphological and molecular techniques. Finally the problem of declining taxonomic expertise in Australia is discussed and how this can be addressed.

Adam, P. 2010. The study of natural history - a PPP. Pp 1 - 15 in The Natural History of Sydney, edited by D. Lunney, P. Hutchings and D. Hochuli. Royal Zoological Society of NSW, Mosman, NSW, Australia.
Augee M. 2010. From gentlemen naturalists to professional Scientists-the changing nature of the Linnean Society of NSW. Pp. 56 - 57 in The Natural History of Sydney, edited by D. Lunney, P. Hutchings and D. Hochuli. Royal Zoological Society of NSW, Mosman, NSW, Australia.
Australian Museum. 1977. An ecological survey of nearshore waters east of Sydney, NSW 1973-75. A report for the Metropolitan Water, Sewerage and Drainage Board. April 1977. 320 pp.
Beechey, D.L. 2010. Sydney's molluscs: from gentlemen to malacologists. Pp. 107-124 in The Natural History of Sydney, edited by D. Lunney, P. Hutchings and D. Hochuli. Royal Zoological Society of NSW, Mosman, NSW, Australia.
Booth, D.J. 2010. Natural History of Sydney's Marine Fishes: where south meets north. PP 147 - 153 in The Natural History of Sydney, edited by D. Lunney, P. Hutchings and D. Hochuli. Royal Zoological Society of NSW, Mosman, NSW, Australia.
Borja, A., Bricker, S.B., Dauer, D.M., Demetriades, N.T., Ferreira, J.G., Forbes, A.T., Hutchings, P., Jia, X., Kenchington, R., Marques, JC., Zhu., C. 2008. Overview of integrative tools and methods in assessing ecological integrity in estuarine and coastal systems worldwide. Marine Pollution Bulletin 56: 1519-1537.
Branagan, D. F. 1972. Words, Actions, People: 150 Years of the Scientific Societies in Australia. Journal and Proceedings, Royal Society of New South Wales 104: 123-141.
Brazier, J. 1892. Catalogue of the Marine Shells of Australia and Tasmania. Part 1. Cephaloda, 2. Pteropoda 3. Gasteropoda, Murex. Australian Museum Archives, Catalogue of Collections. http://www.australianmuseum.net.au/archives/fact02a.htm
Brown, P. 1776 Nouvelles illustrations de zoologie (London, 1776).
Capa, M. 2007. Apomorphic sabellids (Sabellidae: Polychaeta) from Australia: taxonomic revision and phylogenetic relationships. Invertebrate Systematics 21: 537-567.
Capa, M. 2008. Phylogenetic relationships within Bispira Krøyer, 1856 and Stylomma Knight-Jones, 1997 (Polychaeta, Sabellidae) and description of new species from Australia. Hydrobiologia, 596: 301-327.
Capa, M., Hutchings, P., Aguado, M.T., Bott N.J., in press. Phylogeny of Sabellidae (Annelida) and relationships with related taxa inferred from morphology and multiple genes Cladistics.
Cogger, H.G. 2010. Sydney's herpetofauna: some observations on its history of discovery, biogeographic significance and contribution to the debate on effective reserve size. Pp 198 - 218 in The Natural History of Sydney, edited by D. Lunney, P. Hutchings and D. Hochuli. Royal Zoological Society of NSW, Mosman, NSW, Australia.
Colgan, D. J., Hutchings, P. A. and Beecham, E. 2008. Multi-gene, taxon-rich analyses of phylogenetic relationships between Mollusca, Annelida and Arthropoda. Zoological Studies. 47(3): 338-351.
Cox, J. C. 1868 A monograph of Australian land shells. William Maddock: Sydney.
Dakin, W.J., Bennett, I., and Pope, E. 1952 Australian Seashores. Angus and Robertson. Sydney.
Fernandes, L., Day, J., Jago, B., Hall, J., Sampson, K., Cameron, D., Innes, J., Tanzer, J., Lewis, A., Lowe, D., Gorman, K., and Kingston, B. 2006. Weaving an “ideal” design of no-take Marine Protected Areas into the real world: the Great Barrier Reef case study. In: Proceedings of 10th International Coral Reef Symposium. June 28th to July 2nd 2004. Okinowa, Japan. Pp. 1511-1516.
Ford, E., Hutchings, P.A. 2005. An analysis of morphological characters of Owenia useful to distinguish species: description of three new species of Owenia (Oweniidae: Polychaeta) from Australian waters. Marine Ecology 26: 181-196.
Fraser, C., Hutchings, P.A. and Williamson, J. 2006. Long-term changes in polychaete assemblages of Botany Bay (NSW, Australia) following a dredging event. Marine Pollution Bulletin 52: 997-1010.
Goldman, B. and Talbot, F.H. 1976. Aspects of the ecology of coral reef fishes. In: Biology and Geology of Coral Reefs. Jones D. A., and R. Endean (Eds.) Academic Press, N. Y. Vol. 2: 125-154.
Haswell W. 1884. The marine annelids of the order Serpulea. Some observations on their anatomy, with the characteristics of the Australian species. Proceedings of the Linnean Society of New South Wales. 9: 649-675.
Heatwole, H., Done, T. and Cameron, L. 1981. Community Ecology of a Coral Cay: A Study of One-Tree Island, Great Barrier Reef, Australia Community Ecology Of A Coral Cay Springer, 400 pp.
Jarman, P. J. and Brock M.A. 2004 The evolving intent and coverage of legislation to protect biodiversity in New South Wales Pp. 1-19. in Threatened Species legislation: is it just an Act? edited by Pat Hutchings, Daniel Lunney and Chris Dickman. Royal Zoological Society of NSW, Mosman, NSW.
Lowry, J.K. and Myers, A.A. (eds) 2009. Amphipoda (Crustacea: Peracarida) of the Great Barrier Reef, Australia. Zootaxa. 2260: 1-930.
Major, R.E. 2010. Using museum collections and community surveys to monitor change in the birds of Sydney. Pp. 239 - 240 in The Natural History of Sydney, edited by D. Lunney, P. Hutchings and D. Hochuli. Royal Zoological Society of NSW, Mosman, NSW, Australia.
O'Hara T.D. 1999. Echinodermata of Port Phillip Bay: introduced species. Pp. 171-177 in Marine biological invasions of Port Phillip Bay, Victoria, edited by C. L. Hewitt, M. L. Campbell, R. E. Thresher, R. B. Martin. CRIMP Technical Report Number 20, CSIRO Marine Research, Hobart, Tasmania, Australia.
Parry, G.D. and Cohen, B.F. 2001. The distribution, abundance and population dynamics of the exotic seastar Asterias amurensis during the first three years of its invasion of Port Phillip Bay. Report No. 33, Marine and Freshwater Research Institute, Queenscliffe.
Przeslawski, R, Ahyong, S, Byrne, M, Wörheide, G. and Hutchings P. 2008. Beyond corals and fish: the effects of climate change on non-coral benthic invertebrates of tropical reefs. Global Change Biology, 14 (1): 1-23.
Recher, H. F. 2010. A not so natural history: the vertebrate fauna of Sydney. Pp 125 - 142 in The Natural History of Sydney, edited by D. Lunney, P. Hutchings and D. Hochuli. Royal Zoological Society of NSW, Mosman, NSW, Australia.
Ross, D.J., Johnson, C.R. and Hewitt, C.L. 2002. Impact of introduced seastars Asterias amurensis on survivorship of juvenile commercial bivalves Fulvia tenuicostata. Marine Ecology Progress Series 241: 99-112.
Russell, B.C. 1983 Annotated checklist of the coral reef fishes in the Capricorn-Bunker Group Great Barrier Reef Australia. Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority, Special publ. ser. 1. 184 pp.
Lowe, G.R. and B.C. Russell, B.C. 1990. Additions and revisions to the checklist of fishes of the Capricorn - Bunker Group Great Barrier Reef Australia. Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority Technical memorandum GBRMPA-TM-19: 1-27.
Russell, B.C, Anderson, G.V.R. and Talbot, F.H. 1977. Seasonality and recruitment of coral reef fishes. Australian Journal Marine and Freshwater Research 28: 521-528.
Shea, G. 2010. The reptile fauna of Sydney past and present: winners and losers. Pp. 154 - 197 in The Natural History of Sydney, edited by D. Lunney, P. Hutchings and D. Hochuli. Royal Zoological Society of NSW, Mosman, NSW, Australia.
Strahan, R. 1979. Rare and Curious specimens: An Illustrated History of The Australian Museum 1927-1979. Offset Alpine Printing Pty Ltd.
Sonnerat, P. 1776. Voyage à la Nouvelle Guinée. Paris, chez Ruault.
Stephens, M. 2008. A cabinet of curiosities. Rare Book Review 35(2) Issue 376: 48-51.
Wilson, R., Hutchings, P.A., and Glasby, C.J. 2003. Polychaetes: An interactive Identification Guide CSIRO Publishers. (CD).
Zeidler, W. 1992. Introduced starfish pose threat to scallops. Australian Fisheries 1992 (October):8-29.
Footnote added at proof stage: In late 2009, the Australian Museum appointed four new research scientists.
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References

Adam, P. 2010. The study of natural history - a PPP. Pp 1 - 15 in The Natural History of Sydney, edited by D. Lunney, P. Hutchings and D. Hochuli. Royal Zoological Society of NSW, Mosman, NSW, Australia.
Augee M. 2010. From gentlemen naturalists to professional Scientists-the changing nature of the Linnean Society of NSW. Pp. 56 - 57 in The Natural History of Sydney, edited by D. Lunney, P. Hutchings and D. Hochuli. Royal Zoological Society of NSW, Mosman, NSW, Australia.
Australian Museum. 1977. An ecological survey of nearshore waters east of Sydney, NSW 1973-75. A report for the Metropolitan Water, Sewerage and Drainage Board. April 1977. 320 pp.
Beechey, D.L. 2010. Sydney's molluscs: from gentlemen to malacologists. Pp. 107-124 in The Natural History of Sydney, edited by D. Lunney, P. Hutchings and D. Hochuli. Royal Zoological Society of NSW, Mosman, NSW, Australia.
Booth, D.J. 2010. Natural History of Sydney's Marine Fishes: where south meets north. PP 147 - 153 in The Natural History of Sydney, edited by D. Lunney, P. Hutchings and D. Hochuli. Royal Zoological Society of NSW, Mosman, NSW, Australia.
Borja, A., Bricker, S.B., Dauer, D.M., Demetriades, N.T., Ferreira, J.G., Forbes, A.T., Hutchings, P., Jia, X., Kenchington, R., Marques, JC., Zhu., C. 2008. Overview of integrative tools and methods in assessing ecological integrity in estuarine and coastal systems worldwide. Marine Pollution Bulletin 56: 1519-1537.
Branagan, D. F. 1972. Words, Actions, People: 150 Years of the Scientific Societies in Australia. Journal and Proceedings, Royal Society of New South Wales 104: 123-141.
Brazier, J. 1892. Catalogue of the Marine Shells of Australia and Tasmania. Part 1. Cephaloda, 2. Pteropoda 3. Gasteropoda, Murex. Australian Museum Archives, Catalogue of Collections. http://www.australianmuseum.net.au/archives/fact02a.htm
Brown, P. 1776 Nouvelles illustrations de zoologie (London, 1776).
Capa, M. 2007. Apomorphic sabellids (Sabellidae: Polychaeta) from Australia: taxonomic revision and phylogenetic relationships. Invertebrate Systematics 21: 537-567.
Capa, M. 2008. Phylogenetic relationships within Bispira Krøyer, 1856 and Stylomma Knight-Jones, 1997 (Polychaeta, Sabellidae) and description of new species from Australia. Hydrobiologia, 596: 301-327.
Capa, M., Hutchings, P., Aguado, M.T., Bott N.J., in press. Phylogeny of Sabellidae (Annelida) and relationships with related taxa inferred from morphology and multiple genes Cladistics.
Cogger, H.G. 2010. Sydney's herpetofauna: some observations on its history of discovery, biogeographic significance and contribution to the debate on effective reserve size. Pp 198 - 218 in The Natural History of Sydney, edited by D. Lunney, P. Hutchings and D. Hochuli. Royal Zoological Society of NSW, Mosman, NSW, Australia.
Colgan, D. J., Hutchings, P. A. and Beecham, E. 2008. Multi-gene, taxon-rich analyses of phylogenetic relationships between Mollusca, Annelida and Arthropoda. Zoological Studies. 47(3): 338-351.
Cox, J. C. 1868 A monograph of Australian land shells. William Maddock: Sydney.
Dakin, W.J., Bennett, I., and Pope, E. 1952 Australian Seashores. Angus and Robertson. Sydney.
Fernandes, L., Day, J., Jago, B., Hall, J., Sampson, K., Cameron, D., Innes, J., Tanzer, J., Lewis, A., Lowe, D., Gorman, K., and Kingston, B. 2006. Weaving an “ideal” design of no-take Marine Protected Areas into the real world: the Great Barrier Reef case study. In: Proceedings of 10th International Coral Reef Symposium. June 28th to July 2nd 2004. Okinowa, Japan. Pp. 1511-1516.
Ford, E., Hutchings, P.A. 2005. An analysis of morphological characters of Owenia useful to distinguish species: description of three new species of Owenia (Oweniidae: Polychaeta) from Australian waters. Marine Ecology 26: 181-196.
Fraser, C., Hutchings, P.A. and Williamson, J. 2006. Long-term changes in polychaete assemblages of Botany Bay (NSW, Australia) following a dredging event. Marine Pollution Bulletin 52: 997-1010.
Goldman, B. and Talbot, F.H. 1976. Aspects of the ecology of coral reef fishes. In: Biology and Geology of Coral Reefs. Jones D. A., and R. Endean (Eds.) Academic Press, N. Y. Vol. 2: 125-154.
Haswell W. 1884. The marine annelids of the order Serpulea. Some observations on their anatomy, with the characteristics of the Australian species. Proceedings of the Linnean Society of New South Wales. 9: 649-675.
Heatwole, H., Done, T. and Cameron, L. 1981. Community Ecology of a Coral Cay: A Study of One-Tree Island, Great Barrier Reef, Australia Community Ecology Of A Coral Cay Springer, 400 pp.
Jarman, P. J. and Brock M.A. 2004 The evolving intent and coverage of legislation to protect biodiversity in New South Wales Pp. 1-19. in Threatened Species legislation: is it just an Act? edited by Pat Hutchings, Daniel Lunney and Chris Dickman. Royal Zoological Society of NSW, Mosman, NSW.
Lowry, J.K. and Myers, A.A. (eds) 2009. Amphipoda (Crustacea: Peracarida) of the Great Barrier Reef, Australia. Zootaxa. 2260: 1-930.
Major, R.E. 2010. Using museum collections and community surveys to monitor change in the birds of Sydney. Pp. 239 - 240 in The Natural History of Sydney, edited by D. Lunney, P. Hutchings and D. Hochuli. Royal Zoological Society of NSW, Mosman, NSW, Australia.
O'Hara T.D. 1999. Echinodermata of Port Phillip Bay: introduced species. Pp. 171-177 in Marine biological invasions of Port Phillip Bay, Victoria, edited by C. L. Hewitt, M. L. Campbell, R. E. Thresher, R. B. Martin. CRIMP Technical Report Number 20, CSIRO Marine Research, Hobart, Tasmania, Australia.
Parry, G.D. and Cohen, B.F. 2001. The distribution, abundance and population dynamics of the exotic seastar Asterias amurensis during the first three years of its invasion of Port Phillip Bay. Report No. 33, Marine and Freshwater Research Institute, Queenscliffe.
Przeslawski, R, Ahyong, S, Byrne, M, Wörheide, G. and Hutchings P. 2008. Beyond corals and fish: the effects of climate change on non-coral benthic invertebrates of tropical reefs. Global Change Biology, 14 (1): 1-23.
Recher, H. F. 2010. A not so natural history: the vertebrate fauna of Sydney. Pp 125 - 142 in The Natural History of Sydney, edited by D. Lunney, P. Hutchings and D. Hochuli. Royal Zoological Society of NSW, Mosman, NSW, Australia.
Ross, D.J., Johnson, C.R. and Hewitt, C.L. 2002. Impact of introduced seastars Asterias amurensis on survivorship of juvenile commercial bivalves Fulvia tenuicostata. Marine Ecology Progress Series 241: 99-112.
Russell, B.C. 1983 Annotated checklist of the coral reef fishes in the Capricorn-Bunker Group Great Barrier Reef Australia. Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority, Special publ. ser. 1. 184 pp.
Lowe, G.R. and B.C. Russell, B.C. 1990. Additions and revisions to the checklist of fishes of the Capricorn - Bunker Group Great Barrier Reef Australia. Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority Technical memorandum GBRMPA-TM-19: 1-27.
Russell, B.C, Anderson, G.V.R. and Talbot, F.H. 1977. Seasonality and recruitment of coral reef fishes. Australian Journal Marine and Freshwater Research 28: 521-528.
Shea, G. 2010. The reptile fauna of Sydney past and present: winners and losers. Pp. 154 - 197 in The Natural History of Sydney, edited by D. Lunney, P. Hutchings and D. Hochuli. Royal Zoological Society of NSW, Mosman, NSW, Australia.
Strahan, R. 1979. Rare and Curious specimens: An Illustrated History of The Australian Museum 1927-1979. Offset Alpine Printing Pty Ltd.
Sonnerat, P. 1776. Voyage à la Nouvelle Guinée. Paris, chez Ruault.
Stephens, M. 2008. A cabinet of curiosities. Rare Book Review 35(2) Issue 376: 48-51.
Wilson, R., Hutchings, P.A., and Glasby, C.J. 2003. Polychaetes: An interactive Identification Guide CSIRO Publishers. (CD).
Zeidler, W. 1992. Introduced starfish pose threat to scallops. Australian Fisheries 1992 (October):8-29.
Footnote added at proof stage: In late 2009, the Australian Museum appointed four new research scientists.
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