“A Window on Science” Renewed for Third Season

AWOS S3

We are back for another season! The first LifeWatch ERIC podcast season focused on the Internal Joint Initiative, the construction of Virtual Research Environments (VREs), and the second drew on the five validation cases used to develop those VREs. Season Three starts up on 20 July 2022, moving a little outside the infrastructure itself into the broader world of Open Science, Invasive Alien Species and practical applications of the LifeWatch ERIC VRE. The first five episodes span the August holiday break:

  • Wednesday 20 July: WoRMS (World Register of Marine Species)
  • Wednesday 3 August: Ocean Optimism
  • Wednesday 7 September: The Critical Zone
  • Wednesday 21 September: Essential Biodiversity Variables, and
  • Wednesday 5 October: The ENVRI Project.

These LifeWatch ERIC podcasts will be embedded in our website portal at the following link (find all of Season 1 here and Season 2 here), and are also available on SpotifyGoogle PodcastsApple Podcasts, and Amazon Music. Our overall purpose is to raise awareness of the good work being done to understand and remedy the damage caused by climate change and anthropogenic pressures. So have a look at the video and take a note of the dates!


A Window on Science Season 3 | Podcast Trailer


Rolling Out Season 2 of the LifeWatch ERIC Podcast “A Window on Science”

LifeWatch ERIC Podcast

While the first LifeWatch ERIC podcast season focused on the Internal Joint Initiative, the construction of Virtual Research Environments, this second season draws on the experiences of the scientists and ICT specialists involved in the five validation cases used to develop said Virtual Research Environments. Five investigations into the impact of Non-indigenous and Invasive Species on a range of environments suffering from climate change and anthropogenic pressures.

Over the next three months, therefore, you will hear from the terrestrial and marine researchers, ICT technicians and software engineers, molecular geneticists and data managers who worked together in trans-disciplinary teams to construct and test five workflows – pipelines of data sourcing and processing – to make that research possible at scales never achieved before. The LifeWatch ERIC podcast season 2 “A Window on Science” features:

  • Wednesday 11 May: The Atlantic Blue Crab
  • Wednesday 25 May: ARMS. Hard-bottom communities
  • Wednesday 8 June: Metabarcoding
  • Wednesday 22 June: Ailanthus, and
  • Wednesday 6 July: Biotope.

Don’t forget that these LifeWatch ERIC podcasts, as well as being embedded in our website portal (find all of Season 1 here and the live episodes of Season 2 here), are also available on Spotify, Google Podcasts, Apple Podcasts, and Amazon Music.

The Next-Generation Research Infrastructure

A Window on Science S1

As promised in the trailer we released a few weeks ago, Season 1, Episode 1 of our brand new podcast ‘A Window on Science’ is now live!

The first season of the LifeWatch ERIC podcast series ‘A Window on Science’ outlines the  steps forward that the European e-Science infrastructure for biodiversity and ecosystem research has made in the last two years, developing cutting-edge services for researchers. Our CEO, Christos Arvanitidis, opens the series, walking us through terminology that may seem challenging to non-scientific audiences: Research Infrastructures, the Joint Internal Initiative, and virtual servers. The conversation places LifeWatch ERIC clearly in the context of the European Research Area and outlines not only the progress already made, but strategic plans for the next five years – becoming ‘the next-generation Biodiversity and Ecosystem Research Infrastructure’.

If you’re interested in the topics covered in this podcast, and want to find out more, we invite you to visit our dedicated minisite on the Internal Joint Initiative, or to flick through our ‘Alien Alert!’ magazine.

The Window on Science podcasts are available on our website and on the following platforms:

A Window on Science

A Window on Science

LifeWatch ERIC, the European e-Science Infrastructure for Biodiversity and Ecosystem Research, is launching a new podcast series. Entitled “LifeWatch ERIC: A Window on Science”, the fortnightly 10-minute broadcast is geared towards the widest possible audience, from researchers to informaticians, and from politicians to ordinary people concerned about climate change and the environment. 

Starting on 16 March 2022, the early episodes will focus on the Internal Joint Initiative, LifeWatch ERIC’s core activity in its first five years: the development of a new, innovative Virtual Research Environment focused on Non-indigenous and Invasive Species. And if that sounds complicated to you, perhaps you would do well to tune into the first few podcasts, designed to demystify some of that science-speak.

As Christos Arvanitidis, CEO of LifeWatch ERIC commented, “The podcasts are offered as an easy-to-digest communication to raise awareness of our work beyond the scientistic communities already involved. We’re hoping they will have a great impact and attract more users to our next-gen Big Data management facilities”.

The Window on Science podcasts are available on our website and on all major podcast platforms:

Series One. Introducing the Internal Joint Initiative:

16 March Trailer

30 March LifeWatch ERIC Chief Executive Officer, Christos Arvanitidis

12 April    Alberto Basset, Director of the LifeWatch ERIC Service Centre, Lecce

27 April    LifeWatch ERIC Chief Technology Officer, Juan Miguel González-Aranda

Stay tuned, more details on Seasons Two and Three coming up soon!

Debut open access paper published in the Biodiversity Data Journal

Biodiversity Data Journal

The “LifeWatch ERIC Collection of Data and Services Papers” published in the Biodiversity Data Journal is dedicated to the resources and assets developed, upgraded and used during the implementation of the Internal Joint Initiative (IJI), our flagship project focused non-indigenous and invasive species (NIS). The first open-access data paper in this series was published on 25 January 2022, entitled “An individual-based dataset of carbon and nitrogen isotopic data of Callinectes sapidus in invaded Mediterranean waters” (Di Muri et al.).

The paper presents compiled datasets of isotopic signatures of the Atlantic blue crab and its prey in invaded coastal and transitional habitats. The analysis of these data can be used to calculate the trophic position of the invader, evaluate its adaptation within new ecosystems and investigate changes in the structure and functioning of invaded food webs.

Having already colonised most of the eastern and central Mediterranean Sea and the Black Sea in recent decades, the Atlantic blue crab is currently widening its distribution towards the western region of the basin. Its impact within invaded habitats was assessed in a number of studies using stable isotope analysis, and Di Muri et al. have combined the results into a geo-referenced dataset.

The research was carried out within the context of the IJI, more specifically the ‘Crustaceans Workflow’, one of the validation cases used to develop an interdisciplinary Virtual Research Environment that utilises disruptive technologies to deal with the impacts of NIS on European native species, genetic diversity, habitats, ecosystem functioning and services, and to inform current practices in environmental management and policy implementation. Stay tuned for the next paper!

Researchers grab chance to experiment with LifeWatch ERIC tools at Hands-on Session

Screenshot of Hands-on Session featuring smiling participants

On Friday 4 June 2021, as a follow-up to the successful e-Science for NIS Research Workshop on 20-21 May, LifeWatch ERIC gave researchers the opportunity to try out LifeWatch ERIC-developed software at a Hands-on Session. It marked the debut of key tools built by LifeWatch ERIC as part of its Internal Joint Initiative (IJI) in its quest to facilitate open access data in the domains of biodiversity and ecosystem research.

All training resources, including presentations, demos and manuals are available through the LifeWatch ERIC Training Platform. (Please note, those who missed out on the Session can find the relevant materials simply by following the link to the training programme and creating an account).

After an introduction from CTO and ICT-Core Director Juan Miguel González-Aranda, together with Service Director Alberto Basset, the floor was given to technical staff, Lucia Vaira, Xeni Kechagioglou, Antoni Huguet Vives, Nikos Miandakis and Antonio José Saénz Albanés, to explain and demonstrate the Metadata Catalogue and the Tesseract VRE, which was illustrated using the Crustaceans Workflow (presented at the Workshop on 20 May). After the presentations and demonstrations, participants were given the opportunity to try the services and workflows for themselves, interacting with the trainers who provided guidance and feedback.

The session was brought to a close with input from Juan Miguel González-Aranda, who reiterated the importance of continued feedback and exchange with the scientific community in order for LifeWatch ERIC to refine and improve its services. CEO Christos Arvanitidis then thanked everyone who took part, noting that the Session was just the beginning of the results LifeWatch ERIC has to showcase after its first five years of hard work alongside dedicated collaborators. He also highlighted that LifeWatch ERIC is leading an important Work Package as part of the EOSC Future project, and how the efforts of everyone involved will ensure that LifeWatch ERIC services can be deployed on the EOSC platform, benefiting a wider audience than ever before.

LifeWatch ERIC showcases: new technology for biodiversity researchers

The 20–21 May was an important milestone for the LifeWatch ERIC, as it hosted its long-anticipated e-Science for NIS workshop, albeit in a virtual form due to the ongoing pandemic. The workshop was organised with the support of ENVRI-FAIR, and was hugely successful, attracting over 220 registrations. The aim of the event was to showcase the results of five research endeavours, known as validation cases, into Non-indigenous and Alien Species (NIS) conducted over the last 18 months within the LifeWatch ERIC Internal Joint Initiative.

These validation cases led to the development of five separate workflows, created through the joint effort of scientists and ICT experts, both from LifeWatch ERIC Common Facilities and Distributed Centres, to accommodate the data and analytical processes generally required by the NIS scientific community. In turn, these workflows have been integrated into Tesseract technical composability layer, the new Virtual Research Environment (VRE) platform being developed by LifeWatch ERIC. Both the innovative advances in technology and the associated scientific reports sparked engaged and enthusiastic discussion over the two days. In fact, the workshop proved to be particularly appreciated by attendees, with 85% rating it as “very good” or “excellent”, as well as the web-services presented also considered “very good” or “excellent” by 78% of participants.

LifeWatch ERIC is at the service of the biodiversity and ecosystem research community, and is constantly seeking to create opportunities for mutual exchange. For this reason, the presentations of the validation cases were complemented by a series of round tables, featuring academics and experts from a wide range of fields. The speakers debated the ecological, economic and social impact of NIS, and the need to work across disciplines, combining social and natural sciences. The final consensus was that greater coordination of data collections is required in order to integrate existing data from different sources, and find ways to enable access to such collections.

Non-indigenous Invasive Species have enormous impacts on ecosystem services, human health and on the economy. This is why LifeWatch ERIC was proud to present the results of the validation cases providing powerful and flexible workflows capable of integrating more data and services than has yet been possible. The workflows will be available in the LifeWatch ERIC Tesseract VRE, which among its many innovative functions, enable the import of data from different sources, their exploration in maps for validation, and the use of standard tools to connect data analytics through its HPC and cloud-related technologies. Tesseract is also built around the unique LifeWatch ERIC tool known as LifeBlock, which uses Blockchain technology to ensure the integrity of all data inputs and full recognition for contributors. The VRE is not only an innovative tool that can be customised to other bioregions, but it will continue to evolve in the light of future feedback from scientists. In the long run, the use of Tesseract will contribute to boosting social awareness about biodiversity and help policymakers concerned about habitat conservation to implement sound science-based decisions.

LifeWatch ERIC would like to take this opportunity to acknowledge the superb efforts of all the team members involved, and to thank ENVRI-FAIR Science Cluster for its support during the workshop, as well as all the wonderful speakers and participants who actively contributed to make this 2-day workshop a success and with whom LifeWatch ERIC hopes to continue working in the future.

The recording of the workshop will shortly be made available, in the meantime, you can find the workshop presentations here.

e-Science for NIS Research Workshop

NIS 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

Workshop: Online Bioinformatic Platforms to support Metabarcoding and Metagenomics research and Applications

The pan-European Workshop, held in Porto from 26 – 28 February, in the Research Centre in Biodiversity and Genetic Resources (CIBIO-InBIO) at the Vairão campus of the University of Porto, Portugal, boasted a very specific title: ‘Online Bioinformatic Platforms to Support Metabarcoding and Metagenomics Research and Applications’.

The workshop witnessed more than 30 participants from nine European countries (Belgium, Estonia, Germany, Greece, Italy, Norway, Portugal, Slovenia, Spain, Switzerland) with different expertise and backgrounds, ranging from metagenomics and metabarcoding, to ecology and ICT.

1) Checking existing distributed Bioinformatics e-Resources within the LifeWatch ERIC communities of practice,

2) Reaching a common understanding of users’ requirements and needs in Virtual Research Environments, and

3) Proposing an efficient and realistic and engaging mechanism from an ICT perspective, capable of federating those e-Resources within the LifeWatch ERIC VREs.

Examples of evidence-based research were provided by the European Open Science Cloud (EOSC), MIRRI (Microbial Research Resource Infrastructure), ELIXIR (which unites Europe’s leading life science organisations in managing and safeguarding the ever-growing volumes of data generated), other Research Infrastructures and Bioinformatics initiatives.

The outcome of the three days was a plan with well-identified next steps towards the co-construction of the bioinformatic platform.

2nd Dahlem-Type Workshop

2nd Dahlem-Type Workshop

The LifeWatch ERIC Internal Joint Initiative was launched in October 2019 to design and construct a Virtual Research Environment capable of processing and modelling available data on one of the planet’s most burning biodiversity issues, the proliferation of Non-indigenous and Invasive Species (NIS), in order to help mitigate their impacts. 

Development of a new Virtual Research Environment (VRE) is essential to further integrate the tools and services available in the LifeWatch ERIC web portal. The process will allow stakeholders greater ability to develop their research activities within the e-Science Infrastructure, whilst also clearly demonstrating the added value that LifeWatch ERIC’s advanced technologies can bring not only to the biodiversity and ecosystem scientific community, but to policymaking and human wellbeing around the globe. 

The conceptual paper and workflow-timeline developed at the 1st Dahlem-type workshop in Seville, Spain, 14-18 October, formed the basis of this 2nd Dahlem-type Workshop, organised in Rome, Italy, from 2-6 December, this time coordinated by the LifeWatch ERIC CTO, Juan Miguel González-Aranda. This 2nd Dahlem-type workshop delivered the first prototype of the new LifeWatch ERIC Non-indigenous and Invasive Species Virtual Research Environment. The collaborative construction and deployment approach and the intense interaction between ICT and NIS experts made it possible to achieve definition of the requirements and needs of the scientific community and of the main architecture layers (application, e-Services composition, e-infrastructure integration, and resources) that underpin the VRE.