In Seville for the EOSC Future Consortium Meeting

eosc future consortium meeting

From 28­–30 September, LifeWatch ERIC hosted a Consortium Meeting of the Horizon2020 project, EOSC Future, at la Casa de la Ciencia, in Seville. At 18 months into the project, the meeting served to review its execution thus far, as well as the next steps to be followed. All the consortium partners were represented, with 71 people attending in person and about 30 online. On the first day, the morning was dedicated to “WP6: Integration of Community Services and Products into EOSC”, which is led by LifeWatch ERIC, and involves the demonstration of EOSC value through Cross-domain Research Science Projects (10 Science Projects are involved in this WP) which will mobilise the research communities for widespread the use of EOSC resources.

Read more about the project’s ambitions:

EOSC Future will build on the existing baseline for the European Open Science Cloud to deliver a platform with a durable set of user-friendly components that are designed for the long haul. It will adopt a system-of-systems approach to the EOSC platform, linking together other research portals, resources and services to respond to the data needs of a wide range of researchers.

One way to think about EOSC is as a fully operational web of data and related services founded on FAIR protocols, principles and standards for accessing interoperable datasets. In practice, EOSC Future will work with key stakeholders to ensure a smooth user experience, developing:

  • EOSC core, the set of enabling services needed to operate the EOSC
  • EOSC exchange registering resources and services from research infrastructures, other EOSC projects and science clusters to the EOSC and integrating them with the EOSC core functionalities
  • the EOSC interoperability framework will provide guidelines for providers that want to integrate services or data into EOSC

EOSC Future will engage with users throughout the different development stages to make sure the EOSC matches researchers’ needs and is intuitive. It will also provide support and training to make sure users can make the most of the EOSC platform.

To learn more about the projects in which LifeWatch ERIC is involved, please visit our Related Projects page.

Agroecology Initiatives Gain Traction at the Smart Agrifood Summit

Smart Agrifood Summit

As with every year, LifeWatch ERIC is taking part in the annual Smart Agrifood Summit, Europe’s largest agrifood innovation and digitisation event, which is taking place this year from 29 – 30 September in Malaga, Spain. Attended by 3000 participants, 300 speakers, 200 start-ups and with over 50 countries represented, LifeWatch ERIC is in the perfect place to find and consolidate synergies; dozens of corporations, companies and entities highly involved in agrifood innovation and sustainability, such as Cajamar ADNAgroFood, held productive meetings with the infrastructure at its stand.

Notably at the event, Juan Miguel González-Aranda, LifeWatch ERIC Chief Technology Officer, presented “SmartfoodLifeWatch”, alongside José Manuel Ávila-Castuera, Rocío Moreno Domínguez and Daniel Caro Gómez. It is an initiative which measures the impact of agricultural, forestry and fishing activities on Andalusia’s biodiversity, powered in collaboration with the Andalusian Agrarian and Fisheries Management Agency (AGAPA) and researchers from the University of Cordoba.

The Indalo project was also presented at the Summit, which is coordinated with the Andalusian Institute for Research and Training in Agriculture, Food Fisheries and Ecological Production (IFAPA). This initiative studies Andalusian agricultural and fishing ecosystems through the creation of a network of observatories to monitor the impact of climate change and biodiversity. There are eight key focus ecosystems: olive groves, dried fruits, extensive herbaceous crops, intensive horticulture, red fruits, agriculture in the Lower Guadalquivir, dehesa and fishing reserves in the Guadalquivir. The network of observatories will be equipped with state-of-the-art measurement equipment, allowing real-time access to the information obtained by the sensors.

e-Science Research for the Provision of Green Medicines

Green Medicines

The UNGA77 Science Summit (SSUNGA77) is taking place from 13–30 September 2022 in New York and online, organised and moderated by ISC Intelligence in Science (advisory firm specialised in science, technology and policy). Following the successful Biodiversity Plenary which was hosted by LifeWatch ERIC and GBIF last Friday 16 September, LifeWatch ERIC CTO, Juan Miguel González-Aranda, was invited to participate yesterday, Tuesday 27 September, in an important SSUNGA77 session dedicated to Green Medicines: Plant Molecular Farming and a New Collaboration Model for Addressing Global Health Challenges.

Dr González-Aranda gave his presentation during the Moderated Panel Discussion: Policy Framework for Stimulating Cooperative Capacity Building for Better Access to Medicines and Vaccines, entitled LifeWatch ERIC: e-Science Research Collaborationon e-Biodiversity & Ecosystem Services to support the provision of Green Medicines.

Convened by “Medicines for Future (M4F)” initiative, the University of Natural Resources and Life Sciences, Vienna (BOKU), Austria, and Cape Bio Pharms, South Africa, in cooperation with the International Society for Plant Molecular Farming, the session aimed to contribute to increasing the accessibility of essential medicines to people in low- and middle-income countries. Similarly to the Biodiversity Plenary, the results of the session will also be used to prepare joint input for the United Nations Summit of the Future, which will take place in 2024, aiming at further developing the collaboration model and to increase awareness for Plant Molecular Farming as an affordable, innovative and versatile manufacturing platform for biopharmaceuticals and beyond at high-level decision makers globally. An extremely important initiative that will be enriched by the participation of LifeWatch ERIC.

Appearing in the photo from left to right: Kurt Zatloukal, Medical University of Graz, Austria, Declan Kirrane, ISC Intelligence, Josef Glössl, University of Natural Resources and Life Sciences, Vienna, Austria

A Plenary Dedicated to Biodiversity in Support of the SDGs | The UNGA77 Science Summit


The Biodiversity Plenary at the Science Summit held to coincide with the 77th United Nations General Assembly (UNGA77) was convened by LifeWatch ERIC and GBIF (the Global Biodiversity Information Facility) on Friday 16 September. The event brought together representatives from governments, research infrastructures and data repositories, with demonstrations of collaborative research systems and examples of innovative digital technologies to facilitate the society to meet the challenge set by the SDGs to preserve ecosystems, through better informed decision-making that is firmly rooted in science. 

With the support of the European Commission (European Regional Development Fund) and the Government of Andalusia, Spain, and organised and moderated by ISC Intelligence in Science (advisory firm specialised in science, technology and policy), the hybrid summit saw real engagement in global science cooperation with representation from Bulgaria, Cambodia, Canada, Colombia, Ecuador, Finland, Ghana, Greece, Mongolia, Nigeria, Peru, Portugal, South Africa, Spain, Uruguay, and the USA. Recommendations made at the conclusion confirmed the centrality of open data in attaining Sustainable Development Goals numbers 14, Life below Water, and 15, Life on Earth. 

The free availability and interoperability of biodiversity and ecosystem data globally is essential to solve the interrelated challenges of climate change, pollution, and biodiversity loss, and the involvement of indigenous knowledge was acknowledged as being critical in identifying and implementing local solutions to these complex and global matters. Aligning policies, priorities and protocols will provide an enabling regulatory environment that will allow communities around the world to exchange data and interpret science-based knowledge with confidence.   

The meeting, held in the Extenda office of the Permanent Mission of Spain to the United Nations in New York, provides a springboard to preparing input for the United Nations Summit of the Future, which will take place during UNGA78 in September 2023. LifeWatch ERIC and GBIF were thanked at the end for providing powerful leadership in convening the summit.

Watch a recording of the full Plenary on the LifeWatching Science Channel.

See the complete day’s programme here.

Serious Games for Students of Sustainability

Serious Game

Next month, LifeWatch Italy and DiSTeBA (the ecology laboratory of the University of Salento) will be taking part in the 31st Conference of the Sea (XXXI Rassegna del mare) organised by Mareamico, an environmental protection and ecological agency. Together, they will be putting on an educational session for students aged 11–14, coordinated by Franca Sangiorgio of the LifeWatch Italy node. The Conference will take place in Gallipoli in the province of Lecce in southern Italy, and this year will revolve around the theme of ‘Safeguarding Biological Resources and the Blue Economy’. In order to increase their awareness and understanding of sustainability issues, the students will be involved in tournaments focused on marine ecosystem protection and sustainability. LifeWatch Italy has for many years been working on the creation and implementation of scientific content for so-called “serious game” competitions, using the Ecologicamente platform; the initiative aims to contribute to raising awareness of sustainability issues, so that future citizens will be more conscientious when it comes to the environment. All the students taking part in the competition will receive a participation certificate and the schools which perform the best will receive a prize.

You can find the full programme for the event on the Mareamico website.

ECSA59: Showcasing the LifeWatch ERIC VRE


ECSA59 was the first face-to-face meeting of the Estuarine and Coastal Sciences Association in three years and attracted 460 participants to the Kursaal Conference Centre in Donostia-San Sebastián, Spain from 5–8 September 2022. Under the theme of ‘Using the best scientific knowledge for the sustainable management of estuaries and coastal seas’, scientists from all over the world discussed urbanisation, remote sensing, social ecology, governance, resilience to global warming, modelling food webs and much, much more.

Professor Angel Borja of the Basque Research and Technology Alliance (AZTI) as Conference Chair noted in his opening address how much things have changed in the 50 years since ECSA’s first papers were published in 1962. 150 years after Ferdinand Magellan’s expedition first circumnavigated the world, we are all now concerned that anthropogenic changes are impacting estuarine and coastal waters more than other domains, and the only way to set up sustainable management strategies is to provide decision-makers with the best scientific knowledge. 

Diverse aspects of that scientific knowledge were presented in five keynote plenaries and 44 parallel sessions over the four days of ECSA59. LifeWatch ERIC sponsored the conference and its stand proved very popular; early-career researchers in particular were keen to learn more about its open data, open-access Virtual Research Environment, the constantly-evolving result of the Infrastructure’s first internal project, which focuses on the topic of invasive alien species. The event concluded with field trips and the start of the AZTI Summer School. The next ECSA conference will be held in 2024.

Visitors to stand included: Mike Elliott, University of Hull; John Humphries, ECSA president-elect; Irene Prete, Università del Salento; Henrique Cabral, INRAE, France; Professor Omar Defeo, Universidad de la República de Uruguay; Patrick L. Friend, Deep-time Digital Earth; Irene Guarnieri, CNR-ISMAR; Nathalie Caill-Milly, Ifremer, France; Sonagnon Olivier Tokpanou, Université Laval, Quebec; Grzegorz Rozynski, Polish Academy of Sciences; Marina Dolbeth, University of Porto; and Heliana Teixeira, University of Aveiro.

Keeping Up with LifeWatch Belgium

LifeWatch Belgium

There’s been a lot going on at LifeWatch Belgium over summer 2022, so please flick through some of our favourite news stories from the LifeWatch Belgium website, where you can find the full versions of these featured articles.

Taxonomy and beyond: ecological trait information in Aphia and WoRMS

In 2018, the WoRMS Steering Committee identified “documenting relevant species traits” as one of the content priorities for WoRMS (hosted by the national focal point for LifeWatch Belgium, VLIZ). The relevance of traits and their integration with the taxonomy of WoRMS however already dates back to 2015, when Costello et al., 2015 prioritised 10 marine species traits to document: Taxonomy, Environment, Geography, Depth, Body size, Substratum, Mobility, Skeleton, Diet and Reproduction.

Taxonomy, which is not actually a trait, is the main goal of WoRMS, and geography and depth are covered by the distribution module in WoRMS. Environment and body size were considered as the most straightforward traits of this list; meaning this information is easy to find rapidly and can be applied across all taxa in WoRMS. Therefore, it was decided to first focus on collecting information for these two traits in WoRMS. For a long time, environment information has been included in WoRMS as the “environment flag”. This flag indicates whether a species is marine, brackish, freshwater and/or terrestrial. In addition, the “functional group” trait documents whether a species belongs to the benthos, plankton, nekton, etc.

Before 2019, both functional group and body size were documented in Aphia and WoRMS to some extent, but not systematically, and not for all species. To complement this trait information, the WoRMS Data Management Team started a “traits data mining exercise” in 2019. Thanks to the positive responses of many editors, environment is now 99.5% complete, functional group 76%, qualitative body size 45%, and quantitative body size 9%. These are the numbers for the accepted species in Aphia. Looking at the accepted, extant, marine species, the numbers are even higher: 100% complete for environment, 81% for functional group, 47% for qualitative body size, and 17% for quantitative body size. More statistics can be found here. Definitions of all traits and values currently available in WoRMS and Aphia can be consulted here. If you want to help in the completion of these traits, please contact

The Species Information Backbone, the development of which is supported by LifeWatch Belgium, aims at bringing together taxonomic and species-related data.

Original story here. Image credit: Pieterjan Verhelst, image available here.

The LifeWatch Data Cloud has been launched!

The LifeWatch Data Cloud provides an overview of biodiversity and ecosystem data and data products, interactive viewers to interact with the data, an analysis platform (R Studio environment) and code to analyse a variety of data. In the background, the LifeWatch Data Cloud is using the Flemish Supercomputer Center (VSC) resources to provide the users with a performant infrastructure. The initial idea of the LifeWatch Data Cloud was raised during LifeWatch Maritime Industry Advisory Board meetings organised in collaboration with the Blue Cluster, a network of Blue Economy players in Flanders. There was high demand from the maritime industry for a clear and user-friendly platform to consult all data and data products to be able use them for their company-specific applications. Since LifeWatch ERIC offers much more than marine data and tools, and wants to offer this service to other users as well, the cloud was expanded to include terrestrial and freshwater products and is now available to a variety of users.

For the User Day of the Flemish Supercomputer Center (VSC), which took place at Ghent University on 22 May 2022, Lennert Schepers from LifeWatch Flanders presented the LifeWatch Data Cloud and two use cases that are using the LifeWatch Data Cloud: (1) a scientific study that models plankton interactions and (2) the European Tracking Network community that uses the LifeWatch Data Cloud to analyse the movement and migration of aquatic animals at a pan-european scale. The presentation is available here and the aftermovie is available on the website of the VSC.

You are encouraged to try out the LifeWatch Data Cloud for your own applications. Please feel free to contact if you have questions or need help. The LifeWatch Data Cloud was developed by VLIZ in the framework of the Flemish contribution to LifeWatch ERIC (funded by FWO), with support of the Blue Cluster and the Flemish Supercomputer Center (VSC).

Original story here.

Searching for synergies between IMEV and LifeWatch VLIZ

Plankton imagery instruments, deployed in situ or in the lab, can reveal abundance, biomass and size spectra of plankton and marine particles, improving our ability to study plankton community composition and their small-scale spatial distribution. Thanks to technological advancement in imagery, many marine research centres are acquiring an increasing number of instruments and data and are becoming highly specialised in this field. In this situation, collaboration among research stations that are using the same methods, instruments and similar workflows are key to meet a common goal: to produce interoperable and high quality imagery datasets from which biologically and ecologically meaningful plankton observations can be derived.

From 18 – 20 July 2022 a team of plankton imagery specialists from the Laboratoire d’Océanographie de Villefranche (LOV), the Quantitative Imagery Platform (PIQv) and the Center for Planktonic Collections (CCPv) from the Institut de la mer de Villefranche,  Sorbonne Université-CNRS, in France, visited the LifeWatch VLIZ team in Ostend. During the 3-day meeting, both teams shared their expertise, discussed data acquisition, processing and management, identified synergies among their respective projects and future collaborations, among others. It was a very fruitful meeting with action points to follow up in the coming months, until the next time when, hopefully, the team from Ostend will visit Villefranche sur mer. 

Imaging data and sensors acquired at VLIZ are part of the Flemish contribution to LifeWatch ERIC.

Original story here.

LifeWatch Greece launches Marine Creatures Citizen Science platform for Nautilos project

Nautilos Marine Creatures

The Institute of Marine Biology, Biotechnology and Aquaculture at the Hellenic Centre for Marine Research –coordinator of the LifeWatch Greece node– has launched a new citizen science platform for the Horizon2020 project, Nautilos. Using the software Zooniverse, they have called their platform for Nautilos Marine Creatures, at the service of citizen scientists everywhere. The aim of the project is to help identify the sessile and often unnoticed benthic communities living on hard substrates using high-definition underwater images from artificial reefs, ports and natural sea caves. Morphological characters can be used to identify the taxonomic groups of these sophisticated marine communities.

If you would like to participate in this voluntary project and help out, please click here and get involved! A Tutorial and a Field Guide are available which will help you discover the project, be a Citizen Scientist and learn more about the marine environment.

New EU project MarineSABRES to tackle coastal and marine biodiversity decline

marine biodiversity loss

LifeWatch ERIC is pleased to announce that it is involved as a partner in a new, EU-funded research project called MarineSABRES. The project aims to address the continued and accelerated biodiversity loss caused by the intensification of human activities at land and sea. The project — coordinated by MaREI, the SFI Centre for Energy, Climate, and Marine Research at University College Cork — will bring together an international consortium of 22 partners across 11 countries and will receive €9.8m in funding from Horizon Europe, the EU’s key funding programme for research and innovation. Running for four years, MarineSABRES aims to enable stakeholders from government and policy, coastal and marine management, scientists, and the public to make informed decisions that balance human and ecosystem needs.

To set European marine management on a course to reverse biodiversity decline, MarineSABRES will bring together diverse audiences and perspectives to co-design a simple Socio-Ecological System (SES) framework. The aim of this approach is to strengthen interventions and measures for the protection and conservation of coastal and marine areas and improve the uptake of ecosystem-based management. The Simple SES will be tested in three areas: the Tuscan Archipelago, where research will focus on seagrass conservation and protection; the Arctic (Greenland, the Faroes, and Iceland), where work will address climate change and fisheries; and Macaronesia (Azores, Madeira, and the Canaries), where the emphasis will be on biodiversity conservation and the responsible use of the region for multiple maritime activities.

The coming decade will be critical in meeting the challenge of climate change, reversing trends in biodiversity loss, and developing a sustainable ocean economy. Effective marine environmental management and biodiversity protection are fundamental to achieving the transformation to a modern, resource-efficient, and competitive low-carbon sustainable ocean economy. MarineSABRES’ Simple SES approach aims to show how we can protect and maintain the natural structure and processes of marine ecosystems while simultaneously delivering the societal goods and benefits that people rely on. Successful development of this Simple SES will enable managers to make sustainable decisions; empower citizens to engage with marine biodiversity conservation; promote sustainable development in coastal and marine sectors and setting European marine management on a course to reverse biodiversity decline.

You can find more detailed information on this project at the following page

You can learn more about the projects in which LifeWatch ERIC is involved on the Related Projects page

Stepping Closer to Biodiversity 2030 with Biodiversa+

Data Interoperability

On 1 September, alongside 37 other participants, LifeWatch ERIC took part in the Data Interoperability and Harmonisation workshop organised by Biodiversa+, with a presentation from LifeWatch ERIC Web Portal Officer, Lucia Vaira. During her presentation, she gave an overview of the EOSC Interoperability Framework in technical, semantic, organisational and legal terms, explaining the (Meta)data structure and workflows within LifeWatch ERIC, along with the status and main challenges of interoperability within the Infrastructure.

Biodiversa+ is the European Biodiversity Partnership supporting excellent research on biodiversity with an impact for society and policy. It was jointly developed by BiodivERsA and the European Commission as part of the EU Biodiversity Strategy 2030, and will contribute to the ambition that “by 2030, nature in Europe is back on a path of recovery, and that by 2050 people are living in harmony with Nature”. The Commission recognises that it is vital to make biodiversity data more accessible in order to make faster progress in this research area and achieve the objectives of the EU Biodiversity Strategy.

Lucia Vaira touched on many important topics in her presentation, demonstrating not only key openly-accessible LifeWatch ERIC tools such as the Metadata Catalogue and EcoPortal, but explaining the importance of interoperability to the Infrastructure: In light of the FAIR principles, interoperability essentially means that “research data need to be integrated with other data; and need to interoperate with applications or workflows for analysis, storage, and processing”, principles which are always held in consideration during the development of the Infrastructure’s tools. After all, interoperability is essential to enable the seamless combination of all LifeWatch ERIC’s assets, providing added value for the final users. You can access the full presentation here.

Other speakers at the event included Alberto Basset – Italian Ministry of Universities and Research, Hilde Eggermont – BelSPO, Dani Villero Pi and Nestor Fernandez – EuropaBON, Tim Hirsc – GBIF, and Sujeevan Ratnasingham and Rutger Vos – BIOSCAN/iBOL, with whom a fruitful discussion was held on how Biodiversa+ can help achieve effective data interoperability. LifeWatch ERIC is honoured to participate in opportunities to nurture and maintain multilateral dialogue within the European Research Area to support the EU Biodiversity 2030 Strategy, in line with its mandate to enhance understanding, linkages and synergies between biodiversity loss and other societal challenges. Increased interoperability with other biodiversity databases through the support of Biodiversa+ facilitates the Infrastructure in its mission to mobilise and integrate data and algorithms for biodiversity and ecosystem research.