e-Science for NIS Research Workshop


On 20–21 May 2021, LifeWatch ERIC will be hosting the online workshop “e-Science for NIS Research”, with the support of the ENVRI-FAIR Project. The workshop will showcase the results of four validation cases into Non-indigenous and Invasive Species (NIS) conducted over the last 18 months within the LifeWatch ERIC Internal Joint Initiative. Registration is compulsory and free of charge.

The first day will be dedicated to the marine domain, with sessions focusing on the long-term monitoring of hard-bottom marine communities and marine/transitional NIS occurrence and trophic niches dynamics. LifeWatch ERIC and Distributed Centre staff will also be presenting workflows using photographic, metabarcoding and stable isotope tools to extract and analyse data of different typologies from varying sources.

The second day will be devoted to the terrestrial domain, with a particular focus on the detection and monitoring of invaders through remote sensing and habitat vulnerability to NIS and impact on biotopes. Presenters will also showcase workflows involving the use of satellite and occurrence data, combining different statistical and machine-learning algorithms to map the distribution of invaders and identify which habitats are most at risk.

The workshop programme will be enriched with several round tables, covering hot topics within the biodiversity and ecosystem research community such as cooperation between Research Infrastructures, the impact of NIS on marine ecosystems as well as their impact on economy and society, disruptive technologies for NIS research and how open science and open access can benefit researchers.

As a follow-up to the workshop, a hands-on training session on the use of the four workflows and Virtual Research Environments (VRE) will be held on 4 June, subject to sufficient interest. The full programme and any relevant updates can be found here

Science, Technology and Innovation: Transfiere 2021

A tantalising glimpse into post-pandemic life last week as Transfiere, Spain’s biggest professional and multi-sectoral forum for knowledge and technology, was given the green light to be held in-person. Over 2,000 professionals attended Transfiere 2021 in Málaga on 14 and 15 April, among whom the LifeWatch ERIC Common Facility in Spain and LifeWatch Spain Node. That the annual Forum was allowed to go ahead (with health and safety measures in place) confirms its status as one of the most valuable intellectual exchanges on technology transfer and innovation for research ecosystems in Southern Europe.

Staying true to form, the organisers behind Transfiere 2021 made it possible to check in to more than 3,000 meetings with potential partners, among which some 30 universities and research institutions. Many important bilateral meetings and presentations took place, one such being the table on the Circular Economy, where LifeWatch ERIC’s Chief Technical Officer, Juan Miguel González-Aranda, spoke alongside other eminent participants such as representatives of Airbus, Mercadona, CDTI and several Innovation Technology Parks.

Meanwhile, at LifeWatch ERIC’s own dedicated exhibition booth, the ERDF Andalusia programme was met with keen interest by the hundreds of visitors to the stand. During such institutional visits and working meetings at the booth, LifeWatch ERIC staff were only too happy to reply to the inundation of questions and requests received, highlighting LifeWatch ERIC’s increasingly salient profile in the research sector.

Institutional interest in LifeWatch ERIC at Transfiere 2021

Institutional interest in LifeWatch ERIC: New collaborative partnerships sealed with handshakes at Transfiere 2021

Transfiere 2021, from 14–15 April in Málaga, Spain was all about sharing scientific, technological and innovation knowledge to promote innovation and connect science and business. The perfect forum, in fact for LifeWatch ERIC to show its prowess and competitiveness. LifeWatch ERIC Chief Technology Officer Juan Miguel González-Aranda jointly with staffers from the Common Facility in Spain and the LifeWatch Spain Node welcomed at the LifeWatch ERIC booth a number of visits from representatives of local, regional, national and international governments, universities, and other research centres.

On Wednesday, 14 April, Enrique Playán-Jubilar, Director of the Spanish State Research Agency-Ministry of Science and Innovation, and Teresa Serrano-Gotarredona, Directorate General of Research & Knowledge Transfer – Regional Government of Andalusia-Junta de Andalusia visited our booth. Thursday, 15 April was the turn of Elías Bendodo Benasayag, Minister of the Presidency of the Junta de Andalucía, Francisco de la Torre Mayor of Málaga, and Jesús Alonso Sánchez Secretary General of Science, Technology & Innovation at the Regional Government-Junta de Extremadura.  These high-ranking officials showed strong support and reaffirmed their commitment to the projects and initiatives on display and took a great interest in LifeWatch ERIC.  

We were also honoured by the visit of other public administration representatives and decision makers in the field of sustainable ecosystems management and services, including: Raúl Jiménez Jiménez, recently appointed as Managing Director of the Andalusian Digitalisation Agency, a long-time supporter of LifeWatch ERIC through the Smart Food ERDF Andalusia project; Inmaculada Aguilar Nacher, DG of the Spanish Science and Technology Foundation-FECYT, accompanied by Borja Izquierdo, International Science Department Director at FECYT; Daniel Escacena Ortega, Director of Projects in the Andalusia Knowledge Agency-Junta de Andalusia; the Rectors of the Pablo de Olavide and Málaga Universities, Francisco Oliva Blázquez and José Ángel Narváez Bueno, respectively; and Fernando Ferrero Álvarez-Rementería, Director for Strategic Investments at IDEA-Junta de Andalusia, among others

This level of interest at such an intense forward-looking forum is a great tribute to, and recognition of, the role LifeWatch ERIC can play in contributing to new EU Green Deal-based and circular socioeconomics models. New collaborative initiatives were also forged with South Africa and Bulgaria. 

VLIZ recruiting marine researcher

Gloved researcher handling fish at VLIZ Marine Observation Centre

The Flanders Marine Institute (VLIZ) is looking to hire a researcher to join its Marine Observation Centre with immediate start.

The ideal candidate would have a PhD in marine sciences (or equivalent) to further LifeWatch Belgium‘s work in fish tracking research.

Valued qualities also include being able to work both independently and in a team, as well as strong organisational skills and an enthusiasm for collaborative international research, particularly offshore fieldwork. Applications for this two-year contract will be accepted up to and including 7 May 2021.

For more information on this vacancy, please click here.

New collaborations with Bulgaria and South Africa

As part of LifeWatch ERIC’s highly successful involvement in Transfiere 2021 in Málaga on Thursday 15 April 15 2021, two international bilateral meetings were chaired by Chief Technology Officer and Director of the Common Facility in Spain, Juan Miguel González-Aranda. 

The first involved the Deputy Minister of Education and Science from the Government of Bulgaria, Karina Angelieva, while the second was a meeting with the Deputy Director General of International Cooperation and Resources of the government of South Africa, Daan du Toit, accompanied by Vinny Pillay, Senior Science & Technology Representative to the EU, from the South African Department of Science & Innovation. 

Both of these important meetings counted on the involvement of representatives from the Region of Andalusia Government-Junta de Andalusia, first among whom was the Director General for Research and Knowledge Transfer of the Junta de Andalucía, Teresa Serrano Gotarredona.

The discussions were broad-ranging and positive, looking at future collaboration projects between the countries involved. Of particular interest for Bulgaria were relationships around Agroecology and the Marine domain; whereas joint actions aimed at EU-African Union cooperation on the Green Deal and Energy Transition were explored with South Africa.

ERIC Forum elects new Chair F. Colomer

New ERIC Forum Chair elected: Francisco Colomer

The ERIC Forum is pleased to announce the appointment of Francisco Colomer, Director of JIVE ERIC, as the new Chair of the ERIC Forum.  

The new Chair, with the support of members from the Executive Board, will be in charge of the strategic management and planning of the ERIC Forum, strengthening its dialogue and relations with key stakeholders such as the European Commission and the ESFRI.  

Francisco Colomer commented that “the best researchers need the best research infrastructures to produce the best science“. The ERIC Forum, which is one of the leading science policy voices in Europe, “emphasises the critical role of European research infrastructures as high level service providers to those researchers, to make science and innovation possible, while increasing the visibility and relevance of ERICs in the individual European member states“. 

Composition of the Executive Board: 

Each member of the Executive Board represents a scientific cluster (Social Sciences and Humanities, Life Sciences, Environment and Earth Sciences clusters), in addition to the chair and vice-chair who, in their turn, represent the two remaining clusters (respectively: Physical Sciences and Engineering, and Health and Food clusters). 

ERIC Forum Executive Board >> 

About the ERIC Forum:  

The ERIC Forum brings together 21 large-scale European Research Infrastructures, and aims to advance operations of ERICs and to strategically contribute to the development of ERIC-related policies. The ERIC Forum is also a consultation body for EU policies related to Research Infrastructures. It centralises the type of challenges that ERICs face in this regard and the potential solutions which are being implemented. 

For more information, visit the ERIC Forum website: www.eric-forum.eu

Contact us at: info@eric-forum.eu  

Biomonitoring of aquatic ecosystems using genetic methods

Hand holding vial containing clear liquid

The second part of a DNAqua-Net workshop on “Biomonitoring of aquatic ecosystems using genetic methods”, was hosted virtually by the Cyprus University of Technology and the Institute of Marine Biology, Biotechnology and Aquaculture (IMBBC) of the Hellenic Centre for Marine Research on Friday 12 March 2021. It presented to experts, and to the general public, the exciting potential of new, promising and rapidly developing genetic methods for assessing biodiversity, and their use as monitoring tools.

Throughout their lifetime, all organisms release DNA into the environment (environmental DNA or eDNA). New genetic methods, such as DNA metabarcoding, detect this eDNA that is released into the environment and can partially identify and quantify the existence of various organisms without necessarily collecting whole organisms. In aquatic ecosystems, for example, living species can be detected by filtering only a few litres of water and submitting them to genetic analysis.

In an age of great ecological challenges, eDNA methods will find applications in monitoring changes in biodiversity caused by factors such as ecosystem degradation and climate change, in the early detection of alien/invasive species, and in the identification of rare and endangered species. They therefore have the potential to substantially improve the procedures for assessing and monitoring the ecological status of aquatic ecosystems, in particular as part of national and European directives, such as the Water Framework Directive and the Marine Strategy Framework Directive.

The workshop provided in-depth information on the great potential of DNA and eDNA-based methods to experts involved in the practical implementation of these European Directives, and highlighted the status quo of the reference databases. The presentations by IMBBC and CUT were followed by a discussion which emphasised the need for collaborative action between stakeholders (scientists in the fields of genetics, ecology and bioinformatics, policy makers, management bodies, NGOs, etc.) in order to standardise the methods used at national level so as to be able to engage in formal bio-monitoring actions on the ecological quality of aquatic ecosystems right across Europe.

Spatial modelling in Portugal

Spatial Modelling

study from 2012 to 2019 in the Sabor river in northeast Portugal focused on stream fish affected by hydropower development. Trajectory analysis was used to quantify the directionality and velocity of community change across 30 sites, and geometric modelling provided a simple framework to understand where and why temporal community dynamics vary across dendritic stream networks.

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