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.

LifeWatch Italy in ParAqua Initiative to Investigate Algae-Parasite Interaction


In May this year, LifeWatch Italy was invited to join the COST Action CA20125 – Applications For Zoosporic Parasites In Aquatic Systems – ParAqua.

The main aims of this project are to organise and coordinate an innovative and dynamic network of academia researchers, industries, and water management authorities to advance and apply knowledge and expertise on zoosporic parasites (i.e. aquatic fungi and fungi-like microorganisms) and the relation with their hosts in natural ecosystems and industrial algal biotech production. 

Among the ParAqua objectives, specific task of WG1 and WG2 is to compile and integrate a database on zoosporic parasites across Europe and inventorise parasite effects on algal hosts in algal biotech and natural systems.

Ilaria Rosati and Andrea Tarallo, from the National Research Council of Italy (CNR) and in charge of several management aspects within LifeWatch Italy, joined the Action as members of WG 1 and 2. They led the workshop to kick off the activity, held in Larnaca (CY) on 5 July 2022, and will coordinate the actions to collect and manage the data provide by the project participants that will be hosted on the ParAqua database.

The final goal is to build the database and use it in order to provide a tool to help researchers and companies to take early data-informed decisions for algae cultures and parasite recognition.

This news item was originally posted on the LifeWatch Italy website.

Environmental Education as a Tool for Teaching Inclusivity

giovani ambasciatori

On 31 May 2022, at the Palazzo Marchesale of the Municipality of Melpignano, the closing event of the activities between schools and universities of the project “young sustainability ambassadors: Environmental education as a tool for teaching inclusivity” took place, funded by the University Consortium Interprovincial Salentino (Proposing body: Municipality of Melpignano, Executive Body: University of Salento, Department of Biological and Environmental Sciences and Technologies and Department of History, Society and Human Studies).

The meeting was attended by: Valentina Avantaggiato, Mayor of Melpignano; Corrado De Concini, President of the National Academy of Sciences called XL; Rossano Ivan Adorno, Delegate for Human Resources of the University of Salento (representing CUIS); Alberto Basset, Delegate for Sustainability at the University of Salento (Project Coordinator); Franca Sangiorgio, Dip. of Biological and Environmental Sciences and Technologies (Project Activities Manager); and 170 students representing schools of every kind which are part of the project.

The project aims to raise awareness among younger generations about environmental issues, by delving into of the topics of sustainability and inclusivity ( The approach was based on a co-teaching model that involved students and students of the Bachelor of Science in Primary Education, trainers at primary schools, and secondary school students, as well as students who have been teaching in secondary schools.

In total, about 650 primary and secondary school students from 23 schools in the area of Salento participated in the project, in addition to students and students of the Bachelor of Science in Primary Education Sciences teaching Ecology and Special Pedagogy.

The project also included a training course on the S.O.F.I.A. platform for tutors of the secondary school.

Among the project partners were LifeWatch Italia, which hosts the project site on its platform, and the School Networks: Ambito 17 and RESATUR.

During the closing event, the award ceremony was also held for the winners of the project logo competition and the online serious game competition, on issues of sustainability and inclusivity.

Photogallery of the CUIS Award Ceremony:

This news item was originally posted on LifeWatch Italy.

ENVRI Community International Summer School is back in person!


We are delighted to announce the 2022 edition of the ENVRI Community International Summer School. And this summer, we are back in person! 

The Summer School, now at its fifth edition, is organised by ENVRI-FAIR and LifeWatch ERIC and will take place in Lecce, Italy, from 10–15 July. This edition’s title is “Road to a FAIR ENVRI-Hub: Designing and Developing Data Services for End Users”, and it will cover topics such as user interfaces, packaging of services, reusability and validation of services, and building and supporting networks through the lens of the ENVRI-Hub approach. 

This School is therefore mainly aimed at IT architects, Research Infrastructure (RI) service developers and user support staff, and RI staff working on user interaction and community/network building.

The Summer School will welcome participants on the afternoon of Sunday 10 July with an opening event, while the actual School programme will last from Monday to Friday afternoon, closing with a certificate ceremony. Two online webinars are also planned to take place in the third and fourth week of June on specific use cases, in preparation for the School or to attend as stand-alone sessions.

The outline of the School programme is as follows:

  1. Introducing the ENVRI-Hub (concept and architecture)
  2. Learning to know your end users and their expectations: requirements elicitation
  3. Creating high quality documentation and usage examples to support service end users
  4. Developing services and fostering reusability/interoperability among them
  5. Validating and evaluating your services
  6. Participants’ presentations, school evaluation and certificates

Successful applicants to “Road to a FAIR ENVRI-Hub: Designing and Developing Data Services for End Users” will be offered accommodation and lunch each day in the beautiful baroque city of Lecce in Southern Italy, and will be invited to “extracurricular” activities such as restaurant dinners and excursions in the surrounding area. 

Interested persons are invited to apply by 26 June by filling in the sign-up form here. Follow LifeWatch ERIC and ENVRI Community updates!

You can access the dedicated minisite with more detailed information on the School here.

Introducing the EBES Master’s Diary

EBES Master's

In the Spring Term of 2022, LifeWatch ERIC will be funding a three-month internship abroad for three students, Martina, Marco and Ludovico, of the e-Biodiversity and Ecosystem Sciences Master’s degree (EBES) at the University of Salento, which is supported by LifeWatch ERIC.

Thanks to this dedicated LifeWatch ERIC internship programme, the students will be going to the Ionian University in Corfu, where they will be given the chance to apply the skills they have developed during their studies, carrying out research for their dissertations and gaining experience in the university labs. Individually, Martina, Marco and Ludovico will be focusing on using text mining to extract information on spatial and ecological traits of freshwater fishes, using a modelling approach to investigate the reasons a species population stays heterogenous, and building user-friendly citizen science applications with the aim of monitoring natural ecosystems. You can follow all three of the students’ journeys throughout their experience in Corfu by watching their Master’s Diary, which they will be updating periodically – subscribe to our YouTube channel to ensure you never miss an update! 

The EBES Master’s Degree e-Biodiversity and Ecosystem Sciences (EBES) is the newest curriculum available within the Master of Coastal and Marine Biodiversity and Ecology degree, designed to provide trans-disciplinary knowledge and skill sets for a new generation of ecologists proficient in data science, modelling and eco-informatics. It is a two-year programme at the University of Salento, entirely taught in English, allowing students to gain highly specialised instruction on biological and ecological sciences,ecological modelling and ecological informatics technologies. The course was created as current global challenges call for a deeper understanding of ecological phenomena at various levels of scale, to identify patterns and underlying mechanisms of biodiversity organisation and ecosystem functioning, and design scenarios of future change. 

For more information about the EBES Master’s Degree, please see the dedicated webpage of the University of Salento, or download the PDF here.

International Women’s Day 2022: Emilia Chiancone

Emilia Chiancone

For International Women’s Day 2022, we at LifeWatch ERIC are putting eight scientists in the spotlight. Each of the LifeWatch ERIC member states has proposed a figure who has broken boundaries over the course of her lifetime, and is an inspiration to younger generations looking to pursue a career in STEM.

As we explored in the podcast we recorded for The International Day of Women and Girls in Science, women are still underrepresented in various scientific fields, such as engineering, computer science and AI. Additionally, scientific research in general is not only unbalanced in terms of composition (33% female) but also in terms of hierarchy, with only 12% of national science academy members being women, who are disproportionately overlooked when it comes to promotion and grants.

The women at the centre of our campaign are very diverse, hailing from a range of countries and time periods, but they all have one thing in common: overcoming the odds in order to contribute to scientific improvement. We want to draw attention to just a fraction of the women who have defied the cultural barriers pitted against them to bring good to the world, and bring recognition where they might have been overlooked. 

Born in Bari in 1938, the late Emilia Chiancone was Professor Emeritus of Molecular Biology at the “Sapienza” University of Rome and the first woman to become President of the Italian Academy of Sciences. Looking back at Chiancone’s life, we are inspired by the story of a prominent Italian scientist who, throughout her life, continuously broke barriers in terms of gender, and knocked down boundaries between disciplines.

Having graduated in Milan in Biological sciences, she moved to Rome which became the centre of her career. Together with the Nobel laureate Rita Levi Montalcini, Cecilia Saccone and Virginia Volterra, Emilia Chiancone was one of the first women to lead an Institute of the National Research Council of Italy (CNR), the Centre of Investigation on Molecular Biology, which under her guidance developed into the Institute of Molecular Biology and Pathology, which she chaired from 2002 to 2008. In 2007 she received the Antonio Feltrinelli Award for Biological Sciences from the Accademia dei Lincei, and in 2015, the Italian Society of Science History gave her its Lifetime Achievement Award for her commitment to the dissemination of science, once again the only woman recognised with this honour. Altogether, she authored over 200 publications in international journals, several monographs and two patents, gaining recognition for her studies on the evolution of the allosteric regulatory mechanisms of enzymes.

From 2011 until her passing, Chiancone was the first female President of the Italian Academy of Sciences, characterising her mandates with a series of initiatives which were positively welcomed by both the scientific community and wider society. She put a special emphasis on scientific dissemination, a pertinent example being  the organisation alongside the CNR of “Wheats&Women international conference – Carlotta Award 2018”. Despite a career in biochemistry, it was under her presidency that the National Academy of Sciences joined LifeWatch Italy in 2012; her commitment was valuable and unwavering, and permanently marked the story of this infrastructure. In her final years, she worked tirelessly to foster the connection between science and society, the participation of students in research projects and a focus on science in schools. Together with CNR and LifeWatch Italy, she was the promoter and organiser of a number of citizen science initiatives, among which the TrovaPiante di Villa Torlonia (an interactive multimedia guide to identify local flora), a complete guide to the rich flora of the metropolitan area of Rome (including over 1600 infrageneric taxa), and the first Italian Citizen Science Conference,  “Biodiversity, Networks, Open Science and Platforms”, as part of a prolonged effort to make science more inclusive. An excellent scientist and resolute woman, Emilia Chiancone distinguished herself for her expertise, dedication and commitment – a true role model and inspiration for all those who want to pursue a career in research, particularly young women.

Waterfowl Dataset on LifeWatch Italy portal

Waterfowl dataset

This news item was originally published on LifeWatch Italy.

A dataset on waterfowl has been published on the LifeWatch Italy portal.

Populations of herons and egrets in north-western Italy increased considerably from 1972 to 2000, but then the positive trend started reversing – this change was detected thanks to a 50-year monitoring programme on the nesting populations of 12 species of colonial aquatic birds (Families Ardeidae, Phalacrocoracidae, Plataleidae, Threskiornithidae). The study represents the longest census programme ever carried out in Italy, and one of the most extensive in Europe, comprising an area of 58,000 km2.

The researchers from University of Pavia, CNR-IRSA and collaborators who participated in the monitoring programme believe that the decline in the breeding population is due to changes in rice cultivation practices, which is their main foraging habitat.

The dataset has been deposited and metadated on the LifeWatch Italy portal in compliance with international FAIR standards (Findable, Accessible, Interoperable, Reusable).

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!

Research Grants at University of Salento

Research Grants

The University of Salento (Puglia, Italy) has published a number of calls for applications for research grants, in association with LifeWatchPLUS and LifeWatch Italy. These include:

  • “Development of geospatial models supporting web services for the study of biodiversity and ecosystem change scenarios” (21/01/22)
  • “Semantic technologies for biodiversity and ecosystem research to support the LifeWatchPLUS distributed Data Centre and the LifeWatch ERIC community” (16/01/22)
  • “Multimedia developments for biodiversity and ecosystem research” (21/01/22)

Please see the LifeWatch Italy Jobs page for more information. To see opportunities available with LifeWatch ERIC, click here.

LifeWatch ERIC Executive Board members to speak at the ‘XXX° Rassegna del mare’

Rassegna del mare

From 21 – 24 October, the Italian city of Gallipoli will host the XXX° Rassegna del mare (30th Festival of the Sea), organised by MareAmico, with the patronage of the Italian National Research Council and the contribution of several LifeWatch ERIC experts, scientists and representatives. This edition, which will be held in-person in compliance with anti-Covid regulations, will be based on the topic “Recognition and protection of the sea and marine resource management”.

With a range of activities taking place, the goal of the event is to raise awareness among institutions (the EU, competent ministries, the Puglia Region and local authorities) on the importance of ocean resources and their management. The round tables will be attended by international experts, who will participate in debates on this edition’s issues and topics.

Among the moderators of the event is Alberto Basset, Director of LifeWatch ERIC’s Service Centre, Manager of the LifeWatch Italy JRU (Joint Research Unit), and member of the Festival’s Organising Committee. On Saturday 23 October, during the round table “Alien Species: from threat to opportunity, the case studies of LifeWatch ERIC on the invasive blue crab (Callinectes sapidus)”, Christos Arvanitidis, LifeWatch ERIC CEO, and Juan Miguel González-Aranda, LifeWatch ERIC CTO, will present the results of the infrastructure’s Internal Joint Initiative on the theme of non-indigenous and invasive species. The work will be summed up in a report, which is going to be discussed in plenary assemblies and further worked on by the MareAmico Scientific Committee. This final document should represent the groundwork for subsequent deliberative and operational decisions.

Recreational and educational areas will be set up for younger participants, who will have the opportunity to participate in activities aimed at raising awareness on environmental issues, mainly concerning marine resources and fishing. Participants and tourists gathering at the stands will get the chance to witness the fish landing, and will be invited to enjoy the show’s cooking events, using local products.

You can read the programme here (in Italian).