Celebrating 15 Years of WoRMS

WoRMS 15 years

In 2007, the digitally available European Register of Marine Species (ERMS) expanded into a World Register of Marine Species, et voila, WoRMS was born. WoRMS is hosted by VLIZ, which is the national focal point for LifeWatch Belgium. In 2022, WoRMS can be seen as the number one authoritative classification and catalogue of marine names.

WoRMS is managed by a small Data Management Team (DMT) and an elected Steering Committee (SC), but the actual driving force behind the high-quality content of WoRMS is the Editorial Board. Completing and correcting WoRMS requires an enormous continuing effort and is entirely dependent on the expertise and time of the editors. On top of that, it is a race against time as species are at risk of disappearing due to changing environmental conditions such as warming, pollution and acidification, before they are discovered.

To celebrate its 15th birthday and 15 years of collaboration with (taxonomic) experts all over the globe, WoRMS designed an exclusive t-shirt, with proceeds used to coordinate and disseminate funds to the WoRMS editors. With the funds raised, editors will be able to continue to fill gaps in coverage, expand the content and enhance the quality of taxonomic databases, attract interns and students to assist in the verification of taxonomic information, and purchase scientific literature.

And there’s more! Check out all the stories below on the LifeWatch Belgium website in celebration of 15 years of WoRMS!

Get to know the WoRMS editors here!

The growth of WoRMS over the years

Developing the database

Setting priorities to address gaps

Behind the scenes

Taxonomy – a science, an art, or a battleground?

The challenge of author names

Dark literature

Type localities

Endless possibilities

LifeWatch ERIC to feature prominently at ICSOC 2022

ICSOC

ICSOC, the International Conference on Service-Oriented Computing, is the premier international forum for academics, industry researchers, developers, and practitioners to report and share groundbreaking work in service-oriented computing. ICSOC fosters cross-community scientific excellence by gathering experts from various disciplines, such as services science, data science, management science, business-process management, distributed systems, wireless and mobile computing, cloud and edge computing, cyber-physical systems, Internet-of-Things (IoT), scientific workflows, artificial intelligence, machine learning, and services and software engineering.

This congress provides a high-quality forum for presenting results and discussing ideas that further our knowledge and understanding of the various aspects (e.g. application and system aspects) related to Service Computing with particular focus on artificial intelligence, machine learning, big data analytics, IoT, and emerging technologies including quantum computing.

ICSOC 2022, the 20th event in this series, will take place in Seville, Spain from 29 November – 2 December 2022. Inkeeping with ICSOC tradition, it will feature visionary keynote presentations, research and industry presentations, a vision track, workshops, tutorials, and a PhD track.

LifeWatch ERIC is one of the main sponsors and will give two presentations. On Wednesday, 30 November, Antonio José Sáenz-Albanés, ICT Core Operations Coordinator at LifeWatch ERIC, will do a presentation on ‘LifeWatch ERIC distributed e-infrastructure, challenges and goals’. And on Friday, 2 December, Juan Miguel González-Aranda, LifeWatch ERIC CTO and head of LifeWatch Spain, will participate in a session in collaboration with the Digital Agency of Andalusia and will talk about ‘LifeWatch ERIC, an Open e-Science & Data Service Oriented distributed panEuropean Research Core Infrastructure: AstarteWatch, from Andalusia to the rest of the World’.

In the organising committee of ICSOC 2022, the honorary chair is Pablo Cortés, General Secretary of Research and Innovation of Junta de Andalucía, Spain. The general co-chairs are Pablo Fernández and Antonio Ruiz (University of Seville, Spain). The programme co-chairs are Brahim Medjahed (University of Michigan-Dearborn, United States); Mario Piattini (University of Castilla-La-Mancha, Spain) and Lina Yao (UNSW, Australia). The local chair is Jose Maria Garcia (University of Seville, Spain) and the finance chair is Bernd Krämer (Fern University, Germany). 

In the five main thematic areas of this international conference, the Service-Oriented Technology Trends Chair is Marco Aiello (University of Stuttgart, Germany); the Machine Learning / Artificial Intelligence Chair is Xianzhi Wang (University of Technology Sydney, Australia); the Big Data Analytics Chair is Qi Yu (Rochester Institute of Technology, United States); the Internet of Things Chair is Azadeh Ghari Neiat (Deakin University, Australia); and the Emerging Technologies Chair is Manuel Resinas (University of Seville, Spain). 

LifeWatch ERIC at the International Conference on Ecological Sciences in Metz

Metz

The SFE2, GFÖ & EEF International Conference on Ecological Sciences is taking place in Metz this week, from 21–25 November, organised by the LIEC (University of Lorraine, CNRS) and other labs in northeastern France working in the fields of ecology and evolution. LifeWatch ERIC is not only there with a stand, but is contributing to the agenda with cutting-edge topics in the field of biodiversity– namely, Non-indigenous and Invasive Species (NIS), considered one of the major threats to ecosystem functioning and one of the main drivers of biodiversity loss.

The European Infrastructure for Biodiversity and Ecosystem Research is putting on two events at the Conference on Ecological Sciences, a Workshop on 21 November to train scientists in the use of e-tools and resources to address key ecological questions on Non-indigenous and Invasive Species, and a Symposium on European Research Infrastructures (RIs).

The Workshop consists of a 4-hour training session in which interested attendees learn how to access and use LifeWatch ERIC Virtual Research Environments (VREs) from their personal computers, in which NIS case studies and workflows are embedded. The hands-on session is introduced by an interactive session to guide the attendees on their first approach to the VREs and related e-tools.

At the Symposium on 24 November, the discussion focuses on major scientific and societal challenges presented by biodiversity loss. Speakers are to present their RIs, then illustrate the services and facilities that these RIs can provide to address major threats for biodiversity (e.g., alien species, habitat degradation and fragmentation, etc.) and tackle climate change impacts affecting ecosystem functioning and services. It is therefore also an occasion to explore multidisciplinary expertise and synergies on these key topics.

Please follow the links for more information on the Workshop and the Symposium.

New Synergies in the Cartuja Science and Technology Park

PCT Cartuja

At the LifeWatch ERIC ICT-Core & FEDERTECH headquarters in the Cartuja Science and Technology Park (PCT Cartuja) in Seville, a working meeting took place on Friday 18 November between Juan Miguel González-Aranda, LifeWatch ERIC CTO and Head of LifeWatch Spain, and Francisco Rodríguez Rubio, Director of the Higher Technical School of Engineering of Seville, whose headquarters are also in the PCT Cartuja. The aim of the meeting was to advance agreements between both entities in order to develop research and innovation initiatives in the field of e-biodiversity and the sustainable management of ecosystem services; a synergy that will promote the generation of knowledge and excellence from said science and technology park within the framework of the European Union, with a global vision.

The Higher Technical School of Engineering (ETSi) of the University of Seville is a university centre of international reference in the field of engineering research. Currently, the ETSi university community has more than 5,600 students, and over 500 professors and researchers. It is very well-positioned in international rankings, including the Shanghai ranking, where four of the School’s courses come in as the top positions in Spain, and are among the top 300 worldwide:

  • Instruments Science and Technology, position 50
  • Automation and Control, range 76-100
  • Electrical and Electronic Engineering and Mathematics, range 101-150
  • Energy Sciences and Engineering and Mechanical Engineering, range 201-300

EU, Latin American, Caribbean and Ibero-American Community Meeting on Sustainable Ecosystem Management

Seville Meeting

This week, coordinators of national biodiversity information networks linked to GBIF, the Global Biodiversity Information Facility, providing the largest biodiversity data network in the world, will work together to accelerate the development and use of data technology networks and services, with the support of the EU and the UN. The meeting will be held in the Cartuja Science & Technology Park in Seville, home to the LifeWatch ERIC ICT-Core.

Understanding and coordinating biodiversity information is essential to respond to current social and environmental challenges and for the sustainable management of ecosystems. The strategic meeting, organised by LifeWatch ERIC, will bring together 30 experts and coordinators from 15 countries in Latin America, the Caribbean and Ibero-America: Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Cuba, Ecuador, Spain, Guatemala, Mexico, Nicaragua, Peru, Portugal, Uruguay and Venezuela, with the following aims:

1. Development of a common roadmap for the development and consolidation of (e-)Infrastructures and services that, from the perspective of e-Science, contribute to:

– the best sustainable management of the territory;

– the conservation of biodiversity and the natural environment;

– the achievement of the United Nations 2030 Sustainable Development Goals, in synergy with the EU Green Deal, EU Blue Growth, EU Biodiversity Strategy 2030 and EU Farm to Fork programmes, among others.

2. Exchange of experiences and capacities in handling issues and challenges common to national and international infrastructures, data, information and knowledge in (e-)biodiversity. A consensus document of conclusions including a EU-LAC Roadmap to co-develop, build and deploy through the financial support of the relevant calls (CYTED, GBIF, Cooperation Agencies, Horizon Europe, the NDICI, etc.)

3. The development of the above based on the paradigm of biogeographical regions in the CELAC area, through national cross-border collaboration between the states involved, in collaboration with the EU and the UN, e.g., through IKRI, the Indigenous Knowledge initiative Research Initiative, based on the aforementioned financial instruments.

Participating in the inaugural session of this initiative are Christos Arvanitidis, LifeWatch ERIC CEO; Juan Miguel González Aranda, CTO and Head of LifeWatch Spain; Joe Miller, GBIF Executive Secretary; Margarita Paneque Sosa, Institutional Coordinator of CSIC in Andalusia; Francisco Pando de la Hoz, representative of GBIF Spain; Melisa Ojeda, representative of GBIF nodes in CELAC area, and many others. Javier Castroviejo Bolívar, eminent Spanish biologist, UNESCO Consultant and former president of IberoMaB, the Network of National MaB Committees and Biosphere Reserves of Ibero-America and the Caribbean, will give a keynote address.

ALL-Ready Regional Workshop Hosted by LifeWatch ERIC: Accelerating the Agroecology Transition

ALL-Ready Workshop

LifeWatch ERIC is hosting a hybrid regional workshop on 2 November for the ALL-Ready Project, at its ICT-Core office in Seville, located in the Cartuja Science and Technology Park. It will be attended by the project partners and more than 50 experts from Spain, Portugal, Greece, Bulgaria and Italy, of which 50% of the attendees are members of the Andalusian agricultural and agri-food sectors. Presenting will be Consolación Vera, General Secretary of Agriculture, Livestock and Food of the Junta de Andalucía, and José Carlos Álvarez, Managing Director of AGAPA, the Andalusian Agricultural and Fisheries Management Agency, alongside representatives of workshop organisers LifeWatch ERIC (Juan Miguel González-Aranda, CTO) and INRAE (Heather McKhann, Muriel Mambrini-Doudet). The Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries, Water and Rural Development of the Junta de Andalucía and its organic farming working group are also collaborating in the organisation of the event, to involve the Andalusian community of farmers (through the SmartFood project). They will present as a success story their experience promoting and stimulating the creation of Living Labs in Agroecology to enhance the presence of Andalusian farmers in the European Association. More information on the workshop and attendees here.

The important news from this Horizon2020 project is that the European Commission, through Horizon Europe, is designing the European Association to Accelerate the Transition of Agricultural Systems through Living Labs (collaborative workspaces) and Research Infrastructures in Agroecology, formed of the ALL-Ready project consortium and the experts in attendance at the workshop. The aim is over the next seven years to mobilise more than 500 million euros in order to bring the green and digital revolution to fruition in the agricultural sector, in line with the European Green Deal, the Farm to Fork Strategy, the European Biodiversity Strategy 2030, the new Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) and the UN SDGs. At the workshop, the participants will work together to propose the focus, maturity and financing of their initiatives, taking into account the practices and values ​​of ALL-Ready, to define their respective roles in the network. Another goal is to boost the participation of local agents from Southern Europe in the initiatives that will be organised by the Association.

For its part, LifeWatch ERIC has been designated by the European Commission as the Reference Research Infrastructure for the management of knowledge, data and infrastructure of Information Technology Association, and to help contribute to a green and digital revolution across Europe. To this end, the infrastructure is developing an innovative Virtual Research Environment based on its Tesseract and LifeBlock (which uses Blockchain) platforms, which will support the tokenisation of ecosystem services to enable ecosystem monitoring and tracking and CAP schemes based on agroecological practices and low-carbon agriculture. These developments carried out from Andalusia through its AstarteWatch network will be duly federated at a pan-European level through the LifeWatch ERIC e-Infrastructure.

In the two days following the regional workshop on 2 November, the ALL-Ready Annual Meeting morning will take place between the 13 entities of the project consortium, hosted by LifeWatch ERIC. Together, they will analyse the achievements made in the first phases of the project, define and plan the next steps, organise the growing involvement of all sectors linked to agroecology and model the training courses that contribute to systematising the legacy of this project and its continuity.

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

One Biodiversity Knowledge Hub to link them all: the II BiCIKL General Assembly

BiCIKL General Assembly


The Horizon 2020 – funded Project BiCIKL, in which LifeWatch ERIC is a partner, has reached its halfway stage. The partners gathered in Plovdiv (Bulgaria) from 22 – 25 October for the Second General Assembly, brilliantly organised by Pensoft Publishers

The BiCIKL project will launch a new European community of key research infrastructures, researchers, citizen scientists and other stakeholders in the biodiversity and life sciences based on open science practices through access to data, tools and services. BiCIKL’s goal is to create a centralised place to connect all key biodiversity data by interlinking 15 research infrastructures and their databases. The 3-year European Commission-supported initiative kicked off in 2021 and involves 14 key natural history institutions from 10 European countries.

BiCIKL is keeping pace as expected (16 out of 48 deliverables have been submitted, 9 are in progress/under review and due in a few days, 21 out of 48 milestones have been achieved).

The hybrid format of the meeting enabled a wider range of participants, which resulted in robust discussions on the next steps of the project, such as the implementation of additional technical features of the FAIR Data Place (FAIR being an abbreviation for Findable, Accessible, Interoperable and Reusable). This online platform – the key and final product of the partnership and the BiCIKL initiative – is meant to provide scientists with all types of biodiversity data “at their fingertips”. 

This data includes information, such as detailed images, DNA, physiology and past studies concerning a specific species and its ‘relatives’, to name a few. Currently, the issue is that all those types of biodiversity data have so far been scattered across various databases, which in turn have been missing meaningful and efficient interconnectedness.

Additionally, the FAIR Data Place, developed within the BiCIKL project, is to give researchers access to plenty of training modules to guide them through the different services.

Halfway through the duration of BiCIKL, the project is at a turning point, where crucial discussions between the partners are playing a central role in the refinement of the FAIR Data Place design. Most importantly, they are tasked with ensuring that their technologies work efficiently with each other, in order to seamlessly exchange, update and share the biodiversity data every one of them is collecting and taking care of. 

By Year 3 of the BiCIKL project, the partners agree, when those infrastructures and databases become efficiently interconnected to each other, scientists studying the Earth’s biodiversity across the world will be in a much better position to build on existing research and improve the way and the pace at which nature is being explored and understood. At the end of the day, knowledge is the stepping stone for the preservation of biodiversity and humankind itself.

“Needless to say, it’s an honour and a pleasure to be the coordinator of such an amazing team spanning as many as 14 partnering natural history and biodiversity research institutions from across Europe, but also involving many global long-year collaborators and their infrastructures, such as Wikidata, GBIF, TDWG, Catalogue of Life to name a few. I see our meeting in Plovdiv as a practical demonstration of our eagerness and commitment to tackle the long-standing and technically complex challenge of breaking down the silos in the biodiversity data domain. It is time to start building freeways between all biodiversity data, across (digital) space, time and data types. After the last three days that we spent together in inspirational and productive discussions, I am as confident as ever that we are close to providing scientists with much more straightforward routes to not only generate more biodiversity data, but also build on the already existing knowledge to form new hypotheses and information ready to use by decision- and policy-makers. One cannot stress enough how important the role of biodiversity data is in preserving life on Earth. These data are indeed the groundwork for all that we know about the natural world” – said BiCIKL’s project coordinator Prof. Lyubomir Penev, CEO and founder of Pensoft, a scholarly publisher and technology provider company. 

“The point is: do we want an integrated structure or do we prefer federated structures?” – says Christos Arvanitidis, LifeWatch ERIC – “What are the pros and cons of the two options? It’s essential to keep the community united and allied because we can’t afford any information loss and the stakeholders should feel at home with the Project and the Biodiversity Knowledge Hub.”

“We are a brand new community, and we are in the middle of the growth process” – says Joe Miller, GBIF– “We would like to already have answers, but it’s good to have this kind of robust discussion to build on a good basis. We must find the best solution to have linkages between infrastructures and be able to maintain them in the future because the BKH is the location to gather the community around best practices, data and guidelines on how to use the BiCIKL services… In order to engage even more partners to fill the eventual gaps in our knowledge.”

“BiCIKL is leading data infrastructure communities through some exciting and important developments”, says Guy Cochrane, EMBL-EBI. “In an era of biodiversity change and loss, leveraging scientific data fully will allow the world to catalogue what we have now, to track and understand how things are changing and to build the tools that we will use to conserve or remediate. The challenge is that the data come from many streams – molecular biology, taxonomy, natural history collections, biodiversity observation – that need to be connected and intersected to allow scientists and others to ask real questions about the data. In its first year, BiCIKL has made some key advances to rise to this challenge.”

“As a partner, we, at  Biodiversity Information Standards – TDWG, are very enthusiastic that our standards are implemented in BiCIKL and serve to link biodiversity data.  We know that joining forces and working together is crucial to building efficient infrastructures and sharing knowledge”, says Deborah Paul, chair of the Biodiversity Information Standards-TDWG.

The project will go on with the first Round Table of experts in December and the publications of the projects who participated in the Open Call and will be founded (https://bicikl-project.eu/open-call-projects) at the beginning of the next year.

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