Edited by Jennifer Sills Lindenmayer and Scheele also promote a
new set of publication guidelines, but such
guidance already exists (4, 5). Open-access
science journals work closely with open-
data repositories to ensure that sensitive
species are securely published (6, 7). Con-
servation biologists can publish sensitive
data and ensure data are available through
secure sources for approved purposes. Pub-
lishing such data provides many benefits
to biodiversity science, its management (2,
4, 8, 9), and national productivity (10). Not
depositing these valuable data risks loss of
knowledge that is desperately needed to
protect our most endangered species.
Andrew J. Lowe,1 Anita K. Smyth,2
Ken Atkins,3 Ron Avery,4 Lee Belbin,5
Noleen Brown,6 Amber E. Budden,7 Paul
Gioia,3 Siddeswara Guru,8 Mel Hardie,9
Tim Hirsch,10 Donald Hobern,10 John La
Salle,11 Scott R. Loarie,12 Matt Miles,13
Damian Milne,14 Miles Nicholls,11 Maurizio
Rossetto,15 Jennifer Smits,16 Ben Sparrow,2
Gregston Terrill,17 David Turner,2 Glenda
1Department of Biological Sciences, University
of Adelaide, Adelaide, SA 5005, Australia.
2 Terrestrial Ecosystem Research Network–
Ecoinformatics, University of Adelaide, Adelaide
SA 5005, Australia. 3Department of Parks and
Wildlife, Kensington, WA 6151, Australia. 4Office
of Environment and Heritage, Sydney South,
NSW 1232, Australia. 5Atlas of Living Australia,
Tasmania, Australia. 6Department of Science,
Information Technology and Innovation, Brisbane,
QLD 4001, Australia, 7DataONE, University of
New Mexico, Albuquerque, NM 87106, USA.
8 Terrestrial Ecosystem Research Network, The
University of Queensland, Queensland, QLD 4072,
9Department of Environment, Land, Water, and
Planning, East Melbourne, VIC 8002, Australia.
10Global Biodiversity Information Facility Secretariat,
Copenhagen, 2100, Denmark. 11Atlas of Living
Australia, CSIRO National Research Collections
Australia, Canberra, ACT 2601, Australia. 12i Naturalist.
org, California Academy of Sciences, San Francisco,
CA 94118, USA. 13Department of Environment,
Water, and Natural Resources, Adelaide, SA 5000,
Australia. 14Department of Environment and
Natural Resources, Palmerston, N T 0830, Australia.
15National Herbarium of New South Wales, Royal
Botanic Garden and Domain Trust, Sydney, NSW
2000, Australia. 16Environment, Planning and
Sustainable Development Directorate, Australian
Capital Territory Government, Canberra, ACT 2601,
Australia. 17Department of Environment and Energy,
Parkes, ACT 2600, Australia. 18School of Life and
Environmental Sciences, The University of Sydney,
Sydney, NSW 2006, Australia.
1. TERN, TERN Data Licensing ( www.tern.org.au/datalicence).
2. D. Turner, A.Smyth,C. Walker,A.Lowe,in Terrestrial
Ecosystem Research Infrastructures Challenges and
Opportunities, A. Chabbi, H. W. Loescher, Eds. (CRC Press,
2017), pp. 341–368.
3. A. D. Chapman, O. Grafton, Guide to Best Practices for
Generalizing Sensitive Species Occurrence Data (2009);
4. “Open Data in a Big Data World” (International Council for
Science, International Social Science Council, The World
Academy of Sciences, InterAcademy Partnership, 2015).
5. Australian National Data Service, “Publishing and sharing sensitive data” (2017); www.ands.org.au/guides/
6. Science,Editorial Policies( www.sciencemag.org/authors/
7.Na ture , Policies, Earth and Environmental Sciences ( www.
8. M. J. Costello, W. K. Michener, M. Gahegan, Z.-Q. Zhang,
P. Bourne, Trends Ecol. Evol.28, 454 (2013).
9. J. LaSalle, K. Williams, C. Moritz, Phil. Trans. R. Soc. B 371,
10. Australian Government, Productivity Commission, Data
Availability and Use (2017); www.pc.gov.au/inquiries/
Publish openly but
In their Perspective “Do not publish”
(26 May, p. 800), D. Lindenmayer and
B. Scheele warn that publishing location data for rare, endangered, or newly
described species could promote wildlife
poaching, strain landholder relations, and
accelerate habitat destruction. To prevent
these outcomes, they recommend that
researchers withhold such location data.
We recognize the need for security around
localities of highly collectable species
and support care in publishing precise
site locations. However, sensitive data
management approaches have sufficiently
matured to minimize misuse.
Implementation of sensitive data
policies varies, with some repositories
partnering with data authors and managers to identify sensitive information and
data before submission (1). Metadata
records can be published and associated
data are either masked (taxonomy or
location), made available privately with
the approval of the data custodian, or
embargoed by authors. Data authors, reviewers, and managers further check for
overlooked data sensitivities before publication (2). These policies, some of which
have been in place for almost a decade
(3), have kept the locations of hundreds of
endangered species secure.
Freely available data show the
location of the palm cockatoo,
which puts the species at risk.