Ms Margaret Cawsey in her office at the Australian National Wildlife Collection.

Ms Margaret Cawsey manages the Collection database for the Australian National Wildlife Collection.

Ms Margaret Cawsey: managing wildlife data

Ms Margaret Cawsey manages the collection database for the Australian National Wildlife Collection.

  • 14 November 2007 | Updated 14 October 2011

Current activities

Ms Cawsey is currently restructuring the database at the Australian National Wildlife Collection (ANWC) to become a fully relational database.

When completed, the new ANWC database will allow interactive interrogation and mapping of collection records.

This work underpins the ANWC's participation in a national initiative to develop an on-line, real-time information resource on Australian biodiversity.

Ms Cawsey is also supervising the design and implementation of a similar database environment for the ANWC Sound Library, working with the Manager of the Sound Library, Mr Alex Drew.

Ms Cawsey is currently restructuring the ANWC database and the new database will allow interactive interrogation and mapping of collection records.

Ms Cawsey will take a major role in the new Commonwealth Environmental Research Facilities (CERF) Taxonomy Research Hub, which will develop a new business model for taxonomy research in Australia.

As part of the taxonomy research hub's Knowledge Management and Delivery Framework Sub-Program group, Ms Cawsey will be involved with:

  • higher level systems design
  • assessing protocols and techniques
  • evaluating options for developing the new business model for the taxonomic process.

Ms Cawsey also works with Dr Leo Joseph on predictive modelling of species distributions in various contexts. One example is a project involving a three-year investigation of the application of stable isotope data to climate change modelling across the Australian continent.


Ms Cawsey joined CSIRO in 1973 and has extensive experience in:

  • data management and analysis
  • systems analysis and GIS modelling
  • product and protocol evaluation.

In 1974, Ms Cawsey began work with Dr Mike Austin and Dr Doug Cocks on a multi-discplinary project to characterise the social and biophysical environment on the Eurobodalla Shire in South-East New South Wales.

From 1976 she participated in early CSIRO remote sensing research with Dr Austin, Dr David Jupp and others, and in 1980 she commenced work with Dr Austin on a long term project to predict the distribution of native plant species in south-eastern Australia.

By combining existing Bureau of Meteorology records with additionally collected climate data, Ms Cawsey fitted models which provided more robust inputs for predictive modelling of plant distribution.

Ms Cawsey applied expertise in computer programming, pattern analysis and database design and implementation in several ensuing projects during the 1980s and 1990s including:

  • designing the BioGrad database of vegetation and animal sampling data for south-east Australia with Dr Austin
  • the WogWog database for the Wog Wog Habitat Patch Experiment with Dr Chris Margules
  • a significant role in the pre-1750 mapping of southern New South Wales for the Comprehensive Regional Assessment process
  • pre-1750 ecological predictive modelling in the central Lachlan River catchment.

Since 2000, she has managed research, designed and managed databases, developed GIS models, advised on field sampling protocols and otherwise been involved with many projects including:

  • the Savernake and Native Dog (SAND) Farmscapes project
  • the Sustainable harvesting of firewood in the Murray Darling Basin project
  • the NSW Native Vegetation Mapping project
  • several activities within the Better Knowledge Better Bush project, including BioAssess.

Academic qualifications

Ms Cawsey was awarded a Bachelor of Science from the Australian National University, Canberra, Australia, in 1975.


Ms Cawsey is a co-author on 35 technical memoranda, consultancy and research reports, journal papers and book chapters.

She has pioneered the use of relational forms on handheld computers for the collection of field survey data, a technique which has helped streamline field data collection and improve data processing efficiency for ecological researchers.

She also worked with Dr David Freudenberger in the development of the Plantation Biodiversity Score for agroforestry.

Find out more about the Australian National Wildlife Collection.