After two years' planning, Biodiversity Research Center, Academia Sinica (BRCAS) was officially established in January 2004. In line with the "Convention on Biological Diversity," BRCAS was formed with the hope of lowering species extinction, gene disappearance, resource reduction and ecosystem degradation on earth. In 2004, an Advisory Board co-chaired by Dr. Wen-Hsiung Li and Peter H. Raven, was organized, comprising twelve distinguished members. The board was renamed as "Academic Advisory Committee" in May 2005. In January 2008, the second term of Advisory Committee chaired by Dr. Nancy Knowlton was re-constituted, embracing ten distinguished scholars. Dr. Kwang-Tsao Shao, former Director of the Institute of Zoology, has served as the Acting Director since BRCAS was instituted and Dr. Wen-Hsiung Li assumed as Director in January 2008.
Research Direction and Projects
The mission of BRCAS is to promote, coordinate, and sponsor basic biodiversity research in Taiwan; to advance domestic and international research collaboration; to integrate biological, biotechnological, ecological, and socio-economical disciplines in pursuit of academic excellence and innovation; and to provide the scientific foundation for the conservation, education, and sustainable use of biodiversity. The Center was formed also to render assistance to and enforce the "Biodiversity Action Plan", ushered by the Executive Yuan of Taiwan and has contributed to governmental strategy planning on ecological conservation, preservation, and sustainability.
"Systematics and Biodiversity Informatics" was designated as a "Thematic Center" aimed at promoting integration of biodiversity information. The original museum of Institute of Zoology and herbarium of Institute of Botany were transferred to BRCAS in 2005 and were consolidated as a "Biodiversity Research Museum" on January 1, 2007. For expanding public awareness of research collections, the museum is opened to public and school group visiting.
Four foci of research in BRCAS follows:
- Marine Biodiversity and Ecosystems
- Terrestrial Biodiversity and Ecosystems
- Evolutionary Genetics and Genomics
- Microbial Diversity and Bioinformatics
Major Research Accomplishments:
The 19 researchers of BRCAS conducted many biodiversity-related projects and made important contributions. They published papers in noted scientific journals, assisted government in making biodiversity-related policy, and promoted biodiversity education. Researches are classifiable into the following categories: population genetics and molecular evolution; biological systematics; ecological and behavioral studies; preservation and restoration; and integration of biodiversity database and information network in Taiwan.
In 2009, BRCAS research faculty published about 52 SCI papers and held 5 conferences and 38 Seminars both domestic and international. They ranged from basic research to applied fields that contributed to the government policy-making.
Zoological and Botanical Specimen Archives and Digitization in BRCAS:
The Biodiversity Research Museum has maintained a collection of over 47,000 specimens. Included fishes, birds, insects, corals, crustaceans, polychaetes, echinoderms, and mollusks. The Museum serves also as the specimen deposition and database center of the national cryobanking of wild animals project. The herbarium (HAST) focuses mainly on collections of eastern Asia. Currently we have housed over 124,800 vascular plant specimens, with a growth rate of ca. 5,000 sheets per year. HAST has ca. 70,000 duplicate specimens for exchange with ca. 30 institutions worldwide.