COVID-19 | Epidemiology and data support

Epidemiology and data support

The COVID-19 pandemic is hitting our society and citizens hard, in Europe and all over the world, generating a health crisis whose proportions and impacts have no precedent in recent history, and which is yet to be fully understood. An emergency, that to be tackled requires institutional and key science actors to join forces and coordinate efforts and identify viable science-based approaches.

LifeWatch ERIC welcomed the initiative undertaken by ESFRI for “aggregating information about dedicated services offered by Research Infrastructures and communicating all relevant actions as broadly as possibly” on a unique web page where the information collected is clearly organised, immediately available and regularly updated. 

LifeWatch ERIC submitted a proposal to the Spanish Ministry of Science and Innovation on a joint initiative, involving a group of international scientists with long-track experience in machine learning and modelling, to create dedicated epidemiology and data support services. Expected to become available in the next few months, the services will make it possible to: 

• Implement a large set of scenarios and model simulations to establish alternative trajectories of the spread of SARS-CoV-2.

• Perform an extensive sensitivity analysis to understand the major sources of uncertainty associated with model projections.

• Develop an on-line decision support system platform enabling stakeholders in the public and private sectors to make queries about risks in specific locations and time periods.

• Support the federation, provenance and accountability mechanisms associated with distributed (e-)Resources (databases, publications, media, software, etc.) through Blockchain-based technologies.

S4BioDiv 2020

3rd International Workshop on Semantics for Biodiversity

The S4BioDiv 3rd International Workshop on Semantics for Biodiversity, to be held in Bolzano, Italy, on 16 September, has issued a call for papers. Authors are invited to submit for inclusion topics related the application and development of semantic technologies to support research in the biodiversity and related domains. In the light of the coronavirus crisis, the conference may need to be held virtually. The final format of the conference will be determined in June.

Biodiversity deals with heterogeneous data and concepts generated from a large number of disciplines in order to build a coherent picture of the extent of life on earth. The presence of such a myriad of data resources makes integrative biodiversity research increasingly important, as well as challenging given the variety of ways in which data and information are produced and made available. The Semantic Web approach enhances data discoverability, sharing, interoperability and integration through a formalised conceptual environment providing common formats, standards, and terminological resources.

The S4BioDiv 2020 Workshop, which is supported by LifeWatch ERIC, aims to bring together computer scientists and biologists, working on Semantic Web approaches for biodiversity, ecology and related areas such as plant sciences, agronomy, agroecology or citizen science related to biodiversity. The goal is to exchange experiences, build a state of the art of realizations and challenges, and reuse and adapt solutions that have been proposed in other domains. The workshop focuses will be on presenting challenging issues and solutions for the design of high-quality biodiversity information systems leveraging Semantic Web techniques.

Click here for conference details and important dates.

Ten remarkable new marine species from 2019

As in previous years, the World Register of Marine Species (WoRMS) has again released the annual list of the top-ten marine species described by researchers during the year 2019 to coincide with World Taxonomist Appreciation day – 19 March!

Every day in labs, museums, out on fieldwork, taxonomists are busy collecting, cataloguing, identifying, comparing, describing and naming species new to science. Some 500 experts globally also contribute their valuable time to keeping the World Register of Marine Species up to date.

Today is a chance for us at WoRMS to thank all our editors for this important task. And we celebrate the work of taxonomists now with the WoRMS list of the top-ten marine species described in 2019 as nominated and voted for by taxonomists and journal editors!

This top ten list is just a small highlight of almost 2,000 fascinating new marine species discovered every year. Each of these marine animals has a story. This year the chosen species are in some cases particularly small, large, hidden or rather sparkly! We feature the unusual light-producing Christmas-Light Brittle Star and the Star-of-the-Sea Seed Shrimp; the tiny Brenner’s Bobtail Squid; cryptic Boring Amphipods and Green Rat Clingfish; and even a giant Mediterranean Branching Placozoan (well, giant for a placozoan…).

A list of the ‘Top Ten Species’ described from ALL habitats and taxa has been announced annually since 2008 by the State University of New York College of Environmental Science and Forestry (ESF). The oceans cover over 70% of the surface of our planet, and yet they still include the least explored regions. Although the ESF list often contains one or two marine species, we decided to pay homage to the ‘largest habitat on earth’ by producing our own list of the top marine species.

Go to the LifeWatch Belgium press release for details of these ten remarkable new marine species from 2019.

BEeS Conference postponed

BEes Conference

In light of the growing concerns about COVID-19, in consideration of the limitations that various nation states have enforced to contain the pandemic, and in the light of guidance issued by national public health authorities and global health organisations, LifeWatch ERIC has decided to postpone the Biodiversity and Ecosystem e-Science (BEes) Conference, previously announced for 27-29 May 2020, in Ljubljana.


Given the current circumstances, we have concluded that it is no longer possible to plan and manage our conference to the usual standards in such a way as would sufficiently ensure the safety of participants.


We thank all our prospective participants for their trust and interest, but we issue this urgent warning NOT to make any travel or accommodation arrangements for this event.


Now is the time for us to put all our strengths together to fight this pandemic. New dates and details will be communicated as soon as possible.