New Phyto VRE to be presented at 52nd EMBS

A dedicated LifeWatch Italy booth welcomes participants of the 52nd European Marine Biology Symposium (Piran, 25–29 September 2017) and guiding them to discover the first demonstration of the Phyto Virtual Research Environment.

The Phyto VRE, one of the components of the Marine VRE, is a web collaborative working environment addressing researchers’ needs in terms of accessibility, interoperability and integration on the large heterogeneous and distributed data on phytoplankton.

Thanks to three main tools, the Atlas of Phytoplankton, Atlas of Shapes, Phytoplankton Traits Thesaurus, users will be able to obtain and share harmonised data on taxonomy and morpho-functional traits, discover, access, integrate and export both own and others’ datasets, share and capture workflows, models, algorithms, online services and scientific results by orchestrators, all working collaboratively and simultaneously overcoming limitations of traditional working practices and boundaries.

Moreover, the Phyto VRE, like all LifeWatch ERIC’s virtual research environments, will be expandable with more services and tools designed on the basis of researchers’ necessities.

Come and visit us at our stand and follow the oral communication “Phytoplankton morphological and demographic traits computation in a virtual research environment Phyto VRE”*, given by Dr Elena Stanca on 26 September 2017, at 12:15.

* Elena Stanca, Leonilde Roselli, Francesco Cozzoli, Ilaria Rosati, Nicola Fiore and Alberto Basset, “Phytoplankton morphological and demographic traits computation in a virtual research environment Phyto VRE”

Interim Executive Board Meeting

Form 26 – 29 June 2017, the Interim Executive Board of LifeWatch ERIC took place in Melpignano, Lecce, in the magnificent and recently renovated Palazzo Marchesale.

The meeting, hosted by the LifeWatch ERIC Service Centre, thanks to the support of the Town of Melpignano, was the first operative session of the infrastructure, after the I General Assembly held in Seville. Representatives from Spain, The Netherlands, Belgium, Greece and, obviously, Italy, had been meeting for four days to draft the strategical lines of the operative construction of the infrastructure, based on the valorisation of what already produced in the course of the preparatory phase.

2018 International Summer School on “Data Management in Environmental and Earth Science Infrastructures”

Between the 9 –13 July, around 40 academics, researchers, PhD students, data managers and research infrastructure developers coming from all across Europe gathered in Lecce, to join the International Summer School on “Data Management in Environmental and Earth Science Infrastructures: theory and practice”, organised by the H2020 ENVRIplus and LifeWatch Service Centre.

In recent years, one of the major challenges in environmental and earth science has been managing and using continuously growing volumes of data collected across multiple disciplines, and educating both scientists and developers on how best to do so. Many different standards, approaches, and tools have now been developed to support the research data lifecycle, which need to be examined and, where appropriate, adopted by a wider community. In particular, modern semantic technologies provide a promising way to properly describe and interrelate different data sources in ways that reduce barriers to data discovery, integration, and exchange among environmental and ecological resources and the researchers who use them.

To address these challenges, ENVRIplus and the LifeWatch Service Centre organised a five-day summer school providing an unique insight into the contemporary debate on data management in the environmental and earth sciences. The programme, combining theory with hands-on sessions, explored themes as diverse as reference modelling and research metadata semantics, data processing and e-infrastructure, identification and citation, cataloguing and provenance, and closed presenting two use cases on data management in the context of LifeWatch Italy.

“Both ENVRIplus and the LifeWatch Service Centre have been working on these topics and have already organised dedicated workshops and training sessions in recent years.” say the organisers, Nicola Fiore (LifeWatch Service Centre) and Zhiming Zhao (ENVRIplus). “This year we decided to move forward and propose a full International Summer School; its participants were enthusiastic about the programme and so we are already at work on a 2019 edition”.

Welcome, LifeWatch ERIC!

Deepening biodiversity and ecosystem related issues has become a crucial value in contemporary society, which is tackling global scale challenges on capital elements, such as resource supply, economic development, environmental security and human well-being. The European Commission recognises research in this area as a priority, moving further from the punctual programmes funding the many fixed-term projects, to the institution of a European Research Infrastructure Consortium, as a long term strategy to ensure sustainability of research. Welcome, LifeWatch ERIC!

LifeWatch ERIC is the 14th European research infrastructure to be granted this important status, and it is composed by eight founding member states and three common facilities. Through the use of the ICT, the infrastructure guarantees the access to big sets of data on biodiversity, ensuring their standardisation and interoperability, and providing researchers and institutions with tools and services allowing the creation of customised virtual research environments, supporting policy making.

Italy, through its Ministry for Education, University and Research (MIUR) and its National Research Council (CNR), plays a key role in LifeWatch ERIC, hosting its Service Centre, one of the three common facilities, at the University of Salento, and contributing with its e-Biodiversity Research Institute, powered by a Joint Research Unit counting more than 30 among top level universities, national institutes, regional agencies and academies of the country.

On 8 and 9  May 2017, the first General Assembly of LifeWatch ERIC took place in Seville (Spain), and elected the interim members of the statutory bodies which will manage the Consortium until the formal ones will be appointed. Prof. Alberto Basset has been named interim Director of the Service Centre and interim Member of the Executive Board.

On 23 May 2017, European Commission Director-General for Research & Innovation, Robert Jan-Smits, awarded the LifeWatch ERIC Plate to the Spanish Secretary of State for Research, Development & Innovation, Carmen Vela, who received it on behalf of the entire LifeWatch ERIC community.

Welcome, LifeWatch ERIC!

To see the LifeWatch ERIC statutes, please click here.

You can find the Communication of the European Commission here.

Ontology and Semantic Web for Biodiversity and Ecosystem Research

Workshop | Ontology & Semantic Web for Biodiversity & Ecosystem Research Lecce (Italy) | 11–14 July 2017

Many different standards, approaches, and semantic tools have been developed to improve data sharing and interoperability. Semantic technologies provide a promising way to properly describe and interrelate these different data sources in ways that reduce barriers to data discovery, integration, and exchange among biodiversity and ecosystem resources and researchers.

LifeWatch Italy and EUDAT want to tackle these challenges through their workshop Ontology & Semantic Web for Biodiversity & Ecosystem Research, a forum for the semantic web and linked open data communities, where professionals from Academia, Research Infrastructures, Industries and others interested in these topics are welcome to present theoretical and applied research work, share experiences and discuss the latest scientific results and technology innovations around semantic technologies and linked open data in the field of Biodiversity and Ecosystem Research.

In particular the event will revolve around four main themes:

  • Usages of semantic resources in Research Infrastructures (RIs)
  • Comparison among vocabulary governances
  • Alignment of vocabularies and ontologies
  • Services for semantics 
  • Semantic discoverability and interoperability

The workshop Ontology & Semantic Web for Biodiversity & Ecosystem Research will take place in Lecce, in the fascinating historical framework of Monastero degli Olivetani (University of Salento) from 11–14 July 2017.

SIL Congress 2016, Turin 31/7 – 5/8

The International Society of Limnology will held its XXXIII Congress in Turin, from 31 July – 5 August 2016. LifeWatch Italy will play an active role in the congress feeding the scientific debate with a special session focusing on Alien Species.

Special Session SS34: Alien species ecological impacts: from genomics to macroecology

Alien species are considered one of the major threats to ecosystems and to endangered species and are extremely difficult to be managed after their establishment. Therefore, scientific efforts should be directed to understand the mechanisms underlying alien species success. To this respect, making data and tools readily available, through appropriate activities of e-Science, appears crucial to address emerging issues and open up new perspectives for a better understanding and wiser conservation and management of biodiversity. Within this context, LifeWatch, the European Virtual Biodiversity Research Infrastructure, has the commitment to become a reference for researchers, policy makers and public authorities. Recently, it has promoted a European-level case study designed to assess the vulnerability of ecosystems to alien species. LifeWatch endorses this SIL session, with the aim to contribute achieving a better understanding and managing of biological invasions, along different perspectives, from genomics to macroecology. Three main issues will be addressed, from single species, to individual populations and whole ecosystems: i) the state of the art of biological invasion in freshwaters, ii) the comparison across typologies (from inland to coastal marine aquatic ecosystems), iii) the e-Science approach to alien species impacts.

Angela Boggero, CNR-Institute of Ecosystem Study, Italy
Monica Santamaria, CNR-Institute of Biomembrane and Bioenergetics, Italy
Alberto Basset, University of Salento, Italy

Should you wish to participate to the conference, the call for abstract is open until 1 February 2016.

Workshop on Thesauri and Semantics

On 9  10 June 2016LifeWatch Italy will hold its workshop “Thesauri & Semantics in the Ecological Domain“. The workshop will be held in Lecce (Italy), in the BIOforIU Multidisciplinary Laboratory of the University of Salento (BIOforIU), with the support of CNR IREA. The two days will be organised as follows:

Thursday, 09/06/2016

sharing good management practices of semantics in the context of ecology

Friday, 10/06/2016

discussing collaboration opportunities in the development and integration of thesauri/vocabularies.

To ensure the best organisation and quality of the workshop, we are starting to collect registrations which will be opened until 13 May. You can attend the workshop either as presenter or participant. Please also note that due to the very concentrated schedule of the workshop we might not be able to accept all proposals.

Alessandro Oggioni oggioni.a(at)

Ilaria Rosati ilaria.rosati(at)

Major progress on global biodiversity observation system

During a three day workshop in Germany scientists and technical and legal experts made great steps towards the development of a cooperative and global monitoring system for changes in biodiversity. The workshop, which was a breakthrough in global collaboration, was organised for the first time as part of the EU horizon 2020 project GLOBIS-B, coordinated by the University of Amsterdam.

The fast growing global human population and climate change drive environmental modifications which might lead to poverty, social unrest and wars. But which dimensions of the environment are changing most dramatically, where are these changes happening and what will be the consequences for biodiversity? At the workshop in Leipzig, Germany, biodiversity scientists, technical experts from research infrastructures and advisors for legal interoperability of data defined so called Essential Biodiversity Variables (EBVs) to address these questions.  

Essential Biodiversity Variables

Like climate variables, EBVs are constructed from various sources of data and are the underlying variables to assess changes in biodiversity through time. They can be used to measure the achievement of targets like the Aichi targets set by the Convention for Biological Diversity (CBD), to protect the world from further loss of biodiversity, support sustainable use of natural resources and enhance benefits from these. The variables should be capable of measuring changes in species distributions and abundances, for any type of organism, for any given time and any given area. In doing so, the measurements play an important role in policy decisions and are critical to the future work of the Inter-governmental Panel on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES); a sister panel to the well-known Inter-governmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).

GLOBIS-B workshop

The workshop was organised as part of the EU Horizon 2020 project GLOBIS-B (“GLOBal Infrastructures for Supporting Biodiversity research”). GLOBIS-B supports research infrastructures active in  biodiversity and ecosystems research from Australia, Brazil, China, Europe, South Africa and the USA to cooperate with their expertise. The project is coordinated by the University of Amsterdam as part of the LifeWatch European research infrastructure for biodiversity and ecosystems research.

“With this workshop we set the scene for a global harmonisation process”, says Daniel Kissling, scientific coordinator of GLOBIS-B. This will improve the harmonization of data collection and technical data management, and help to address legal complications and constraints. “EBVs require big datasets on where species live”, continues Kissling. These data come from all kinds of places and have all kinds of formats. It is not always trivial that this data is made openly available and free. “With this project and the workshop we make a great breakthrough in global collaboration among holders of biodiversity data. This will facilitate the processing of big data and making them available for societal use”, concludes Kissling.

The main outcomes of the workshop were:

  • The Living Planet Index will make over a quarter of a million data points freely available to be used in these measurements;
  • eBird, the largest data collection of bird distributions in the world, will focus on measuring the change in patterns of bird occurrences globally;
  • The Atlas of Living Australia together with the European LifeWatch capability will create a demonstrator proof-of-concept for the process of measuring and presenting an EBV;
  • Consensus on using the ‘Darwin Core Event’ (DWCe), a new technical standard for biological datasets;
  • The Wildlife Picture Index will make their publically available data (2.6 million records) now accessible through the Darwin Core Event.

In June 2016 the participants will gather again in Seville, Spain for a follow up and to write a widely endorsed paper with recommendations on how to build the EBV’s for species populations.

For reference:

GLOBIS-B is a 3 year project, funded by the European Commission with the goal to enhance global collaboration among research infrastructures. The aim is to contribute to the development of Essential Biodiversity Variables by using the available data and technical capacity in these research infrastructures across the world.

The project is coordinated by the University of Amsterdam, The Netherlands, as a leading partner in the European LifeWatch research infrastructure. Other European project partners are: Cardiff University United Kingdom, Gnubila France, Consiglio Nazionala delle Ricerche (CNR) Italy, Martin-Luther-University Halle Germany and the Universidad de Alcalá Spain. For more information, consult the website or send an e-mail to

MSCA individual fellowship opportunity

The Marie Skłodowska-Curie actions are a scheme funded by the European Commission to allow, amongst other activities, opportunities for researchers’ career development and mobility.

The Service Centre promotes the participation of LifeWatch in the funding opportunities offered by Marie Skłodowska-Curie scheme through 3 vacancies, opened together with the University of Salento (please the attachments for details – vacancy description and general information sheet), for researchers willing to apply to the Individual Fellowships Programme in the area of Environmental and Geosciences.

Please do not hesitate to contact the Service Centre (servicecentre(at) if you wish to apply to the current vacancies.

Opening of BIOforIU

On Friday 15 May 2015, the reserach facilities built in the framework of the BIOforIU project were inaugurated in the University of Salento.
Many the links with the LifeWatch’s Service Centre, in particular concerning the e-Biodiversity Research Centre, one of the six facilities hosted in Lecce.
Have a look to our video and brochures and discover the many opportunities for scientific cooperation.