Tracking biodiversity: it’s all about scale

Scale is a key ingredient when assessing and studying biodiversity: this is the video’s key message just released by the MARBEFES project, focusing on the Baltic Sea Broad Belt Transect (BBT). The video is the first “Meet the BBTs”video series that will be released to explore current challenges faced by biodiversity in Europe.

MARBEFES, the EU project in which LifeWatch ERIC is a partner, aims to identify the connections between marine biodiversity, ecosystem functioning, ecosystem services, and the resulting societal goods and benefits within coastal communities. The BBTs are the backbone of the MARBEFES research project, which aims to broaden our knowledge and understanding of biodiversity across Europe and beyond. This will help researchers gain a deeper insight into the changes occurring in our environment.

The video series serves as an initiative to heighten awareness about the critical significance of biodiversity in marine environments. 

In this episode, MARBEFES took a deep dive into the Gulf of Gdańsk (Zatoka Gdańska), coastal inlet of the Baltic Sea, in Northern Poland. These shallow waters are home to diverse species of fish, birds, and marine mammals, including the iconic grey seal. Unfortunately, the Gulf of Gdańsk is currently experiencing many pressures which are leading to habitat degradation and biodiversity loss: pollution (plastic, nutrients and various chemicals), intense shipping, large-scale tourism, increasing urbanisation, coastal erosion, are all putting at risk this key and fragile habitat, and climate change is also taking its toll on the area.

The Institute of Oceanology of the Polish Academy of Sciences (IO PAN) is responsible for data collection and analysis in the Gulf of Gdańsk BBT. Thanks to the activities developed within MARBEFES project, researchers can determine which actions need to be taken to protect this key area. The video, narrated by Jan Marcin Węsławski, marine ecologist at The Institute of Oceanology of the Polish Academy of Sciences (IO PAN), highlights the significance of studying biodiversity at various levels. At the smallest scale, microorganisms inhabit the beach sand. For these organisms, a one-square metre sample of the seabed in Sopot is adequate to represent the diversity of microorganisms across the Baltic region. At a medium scale, macrofauna, such as crustaceans and molluscs, are a few centimetres in size. In this case, samples from a much larger region spanning several square kilometres are necessary to accurately represent the diversity of these species in a specific area. Things change again at the largest scale, with megafauna and top predators – large fish, seabirds, and sea mammals. These creatures are highly mobile and exist in low densities, necessitating the exploration of the whole region to capture the biodiversity at this scale accurately.

When studying our planet’s biodiversity, it’s crucial to observe the species-area curve for each organism scale separately. This curve shows the relationship between the area of a habitat and the number of species found within that area. It’s a vital tool for understanding and protecting biodiversity. MARBEFES addresses this and focuses on subtropical to subarctic regions to ensure a comprehensive understanding of biodiversity across the European domain.

To learn more about MARBEFES and to watch the video, please visit this page: https://marbefes.eu/article/discover-bbt-region-within-our-project-1-out-of-4-movies-3-steps-into-the-sea-baltic-bbt

LifeWatch ERIC attended the OSCARS kick-off meeting in Thessaloniki

The OSCARS kick-off meeting took place in Thessaloniki from 13 to 15 March. The event brought together the scientific communities of the five Science Clusters and all project partners to define the work plan for the first 12 months of the project. Our CEO, Christos Arvanitidis, attended the meeting.

The OSCARS project stands for Open Science Clusters’ Action for Research and Society. It brings together ESFRI and other world-class research infrastructures organised in five “Science Clusters”:

  • ENVRI-FAIR (environmental science)
  • EOSC-Life (life science)
  • ESCAPE (astronomy and particle physics)
  • PaNOSC (neutron and light source science)
  • SSHOC (social science and humanities)

These clusters have collaborated over the last four years to enhance the efficiency and productivity of researchers by providing open data services and infrastructures for discovering, accessing, and reusing data.

The event began with a joint meeting of the consortia of two EU Science Cluster-led projects, OSCARS and EVERSE. Members discussed areas of cooperation and planned common activities.

The Science Cluster coordinators described the status of their work and plans for their cluster’s competence centres and virtual Research Environments (VREs) and the benefits of EOSC for their cluster. In the afternoon, mixed groups worked on detailed work plans for Competence Centres and VREs and potential cooperation areas with other projects and initiatives. 

The last day was dedicated to the launch of the Open Call for Open Science projects. The Call aims to support researchers involved in open data research projects that promote sharing research data and results based on FAIR principles. Proposals developing services or tools enabling open research and encouraging open science practice are eligible. For more information on the Call, please visit this page: https://oscars-project.eu/oscars-first-open-call.

About the project

The OSCARS project aims to consolidate the accomplishments of the five EOSC projects into long-lasting interdisciplinary services and working practices. In addition, it also seeks to lead in engaging and encouraging the participation of diverse research communities in the European Open Science Cloud (EOSC) by developing innovative open science projects. This goal is to promote the adoption of FAIR-data-intensive research practices across the European Research Area (ERA).

The ENVRI-Hub NEXT project has kicked off

The ENVRI-Hub NEXT project, of which LifeWatch ERIC is a consortium member, kicked off on February 1. The project builds upon the solid conceptual and technical foundation established by the ENVRI-Hub. The consortium comprises 21 partners and is attending a face-to-face meeting at the EGI Foundation in Amsterdam Science Park from February 6 to 8.

ENVRI-Hub NEXT aims to expand multidisciplinary environmental sciences by fostering operational synergies between environmental research infrastructures. The project leverages complementarities in data and service provision, enhancing the integration of cutting-edge information technology. It contributes to a more integrated, productive, and globally competitive ENVRI Science Cluster. The project is set to run until January 2027, contributing to the European Open Science Cloud. ENVRI-Hub NEXT also promotes collaboration across environmental research infrastructures.

LifeWatch ERIC is actively contributing to addressing the growing demand for environmental scientific knowledge. Our involvement aligns with the project’s goal of further integrating ENVRIs across subdomains (Atmosphere, Marine, Solid Earth, and Biodiversity/Ecosystems) and horizontally, with the e-infrastructures to leverage the full potential of the ENVRI cluster for integrated environmental research.

ENVRI-Hub NEXT aligns with the World Meteorological Organisation’s set of Essential Climate Variables (ECV) and global climate indicators to transform integrated Earth observation into a concept for a global climate observation system. These variables provide empirical evidence crucial for understanding and predicting climate evolution, guiding mitigation and adaptation.

Stay tuned for the launch of the ENVRI-Hub NEXT website.

RESTORE4Cs will participate in the Wetlands Conference 2024

RESTORE4Cs – the project participated by LifeWatch ERIC on modelling wetland restoration – will be present at the International Conference Conservation and Management of Wetlands to Tackle Climate Change from 14 to 16 February in Valencia, Spain.

The event is organised by Fundación Global Nature together with the University of Valencia, the Generalitat Valenciana and the City Council of Valencia. The aim is to share the latest scientific and technical advances on wetlands and climate change and their crucial role. The discussions will mainly centre around governance frameworks, opportunities for creating green jobs, and the pressing need for conservation efforts.

The conference on conservation and management of wetlands will bring together researchers, policymakers, representatives from international organisations, and other stakeholders. The goal is to facilitate international networking and serve as a platform for sharing scientific and technical advancements. Practitioners and managers will be equipped with the necessary tools for the sustainable management of wetlands. Also, this will enable them to make strategic decisions in the face of global change. This year’s focus is on the Mediterranean, which has depleted over 50% of its natural wetlands since 1970.

LifeWatch ERIC – who oversees the project’s communication and dissemination – will attend the conference in collaboration with MedWet. Other RESTORE4Cs partners, including the University of Aveiro, the University of Barcelona, the European Topic Centre at the University of MalagaWasserCluster Lunz & the University of Vienna, and Tour du Valat, will also attend the conference as members of the scientific committee.

For those unable to attend in person, the conference will be available via streaming. For more information, please visit the official website

World Wetlands Day: How our wellbeing relies on restoring wetlands

world wetlands day

Today, 2 February 2024, is the 27th World Wetlands Day. As The World Health Organization said, our well-being depends on the stability of our climate, biodiversity, and sustainable development. Wetlands play a significant role in connecting all three factors.

For instance, just an acre of wetlands can hold up to 1.5 million gallons of floodwater, protecting coastal areas against natural disasters. Peatlands have the potential to store twice as much carbon as the global forest biomass. Wetlands also provide food for up to 4.5 billion people annually through the fish and rice paddies harvested from them.

On this day, we would like to draw attention to an article created as part of the RESTORE4Cs project, in which LifeWatch ERIC participate. The project aims to model wetland restoration for carbon pathways, climate change mitigation and adaptation, ecosystem services, and biodiversity co-benefits.


“For centuries people have found solace in remote wetlands, but there is now evidence that spending time in places like these actually helps boost mental health. This is particularly essential for the dark winter months in northern latitude”,

Mark Reed, Professor of Rural Entrepreneurship at Scotland’s Rural College

Despite this history, we are now losing these ecosystems alarmingly. The 2018 Global Wetland Outlook from the Ramsar Convention revealed that one third of the wetlands have been lost globally since 1970, mainly to urbanization and agriculture. A key theme of World Wetlands Day 2024 is the need to act now, and Europe’s researchers believe we already have solutions to turn things around.

“I think global treaties and recent EU laws mean we’re in the right decade to restore these ecosystems”

Dania Abdul Malak, Director of European Topic Centre for Spatial Analysis and Synthesis at the University of Malaga

Nowadays there are policies that can really help reestablish their function, and make sure they can also provide ecosystem services. Restoring wetland ecosystems will become critical for a more sustainable climate, biodiversity and human wellbeing by 2030.

Matuesz Grygoruk, Professor at Warsaw University of Life Sciences’ (SGGW) Department of Hydrology, Meteorology and Water Management

Mateusz suggested prioritising wetland restoration as a central focus in determining environmental management actions. He argued that these efforts are crucial in restoring the functions of wetlands, which are irreplaceable through any other management measures.

Restoring wetlands can have significant benefits, such as improving their biodiversity, water storage capacity, and ability to sequester carbon in soil. WET HORIZONS, a sister project of RESTORE4Cs, aims to enhance wetlands restoration and support European wetland policy.

To learn more about RESTORE4Cs and their commitment to World Wetlands Day, visit this project page.

Visiting Iceland for the 2nd Marine SABRES General Assembly

Marine SABRES partners in Hafnarfjörður

On October 2-5, 2023, Marine SABRES partners met in Hafnarfjörður, Iceland, for their second General Assembly, one year after the kick-off meeting in Cork, Ireland. Members from each of our 21 partner organisations met together at Hafrannsóknastofnun, the Marine and Freshwater Research Institute of Iceland (MFRI), for three days of productive discussions on the research activities partners have accomplished so far and tasks yet to come.

LifeWatch ERIC joined the meeting with the participation of Cristina Huertas-Olivares (International Initiatives & Projects Manager at LifeWatch ERIC SSO, Seville, Spain), and its LifeWatching WebTV

LifeWatching WebTV joined the Marine SABRES 2nd General Assembly to record audio-visual material for Marine SABRES’ Video Documentary and some WebTV videos, while conducting a first series of interviews with WP leaders, DAs leaders, project partners and some local stakeholders of the fishery sector based in the Arctic Demonstration Area. The local partners and stakeholders made a general presentation of pelagic fisheries in Iceland, illustrating its history and importance, how it has changed over time, what are the most important fish stocks etc, while exploring its economic and environmental challenges. The video shootings took place during the three-day meeting at MFRI, and at the Icelandic Maritime Museum and Ocean Cluster, in Reykjavik. Moreover, some video shootings of the naturalistic surroundings near Reykjavik will be realised.

The driving force of this first year has been stakeholder engagement in the three ‘demonstration areas’ of the project: Macaronesia, the Arctic-Northeast Atlantic, and the Tuscan Archipelago. As a project, Marine SABRES is explicitly designed with the input from the community at its core, rather than using a top-down approach. By inviting stakeholders into the decision-making process, the project ensures that their opinions and perspectives are central to the work being conducted and inform project outputs.

Within each demonstration area, Marine SABRES research focuses specifically on a local issue. In Macaronesia, for example, the research is centred around biodiversity restoration and the benefits of ecotourism, while in the Tuscan Archipelago, the work examines the impacts of tourism on seagrass meadows. 

At Hafrannsóknastofnun, insights from project partners in the Arctic-Northeast Atlantic area on shared management challenges for the fishing industry in Iceland, Greenland, and the Faroe Islands, where overfishing is dangerously high and the ranges of important fish stocks such as herring, mackerel, and blue whiting are shifting due to climate change, were presented and discussed. Some local stakeholders of the Arctic demonstration area, Lísa Anne Libungan of Fisheries Iceland, and Thor Sigfusson from Iceland Ocean Cluster attended the meeting. Partners had also the opportunity to receive a tour from Thor of the Ocean Cluster House, a unique space in Reykjavik for entrepreneurs and businesses in marine industries. 

Marine SABRES look forward to updating you on the progress of the project, as partners identify opportunities to better implement ecosystem-based management and develop pathways to transformation for a biodiverse & sustainable future!

LifeWatch-ERIC, LALINET and ACTRIS-ERIC bridging meeting: towards a new future in Earth-atmosphere interactions research 

LifeWatch ERIC meeting in Granada

In the context of the SmartEcoMountains project, which aims to create a Thematic Centre to expand the knowledge on the functioning of Sierra Nevada ecosystems in global change scenarios, LifeWatch ERIC held a meeting with LALINET (Latin American Lidar NETwork) and ACTRIS (Aerosols, Clouds, and Trace gases Research Infrastructure Network) to foster collaboration in the future. The meeting took place in Granada from October 17 to 20, to exchange and transfer knowledge to identify future collaborative opportunities among these three entities.

Researchers from various Latin American countries, including Colombia, Chile, Bolivia, Argentina, and Brazil, attended the meeting to collaborate and design joint actions to understand better Earth-Atmosphere interactions using lidar techniques.

On the first day of the meeting, each network showcased its infrastructures, capabilities, needs, and interests for future collaborations. A major topic of discussion was vertical signal data processing. ACTRIS-ERIC presented their Centre for Aerosol Remote Sensing (CARS) and other tools that sparked interest in exploring future implementations for lidar data processing. Two distinct processing tools for atmospheric profiling were introduced, such as the Lidar Processing Pipeline (LPP), an open-source lidar signal analysis software developed in Latin America. 

The participants also engaged in a lively discussion on including Artificial Intelligence within the vertical profiling data processing framework, recognising its potential to enhance these processes. LifeWatch-ERIC offered valuable resources to enrich the collaboration, including blockchain for data traceability to ensure transparency and security and to develop cutting-edge virtual research environments (VREs) to support research and management of the infrastructures. 

The meeting explored possibilities for applying to joint proposals on European calls, such as Marie Sklodowska-Curie Actions: Research and Innovation Staff Exchange (RISE) and other possible international cooperation programmes.

DTO-BioFlow: Building the biodiversity component of the Digital Twin of the Ocean

Funded through the EC Horizon Europe Programme and coordinated by the Flanders Marine Institute (VLIZ), DTO-BioFlow aims at incorporating previously unavailable or difficult-to-access marine-biodiversity data into the biodiversity component of the EU Digital Twin Ocean, ensuring sustainable data flows for marine biodiversity research.

When it comes to observing, mapping, and monitoring biodiversity in maritime ecosystems, marine habitats present specific and one-of-a-kind issues. In spite of the fact that significant advancement has been made in Europe to collect, harmonise, and make available data on marine biodiversity, particularly as a result of the efforts of European research infrastructure (such as EMODnet, Copernicus Marine, and other related European and international initiatives (MBON, OBIS, GOOS)), a large portion of the data that is currently being collected is unavailable and inaccessible; this type of data is referred to as “sleeping data.”

That’s the stage when DTO BioFlow Project steps in: its primary objective is to awaken sleeping biodiversity data, enabling a smooth integration of both existing and new data into the EU Digital Twin Ocean.

The project aligns with the EU’s Biodiversity Strategy and Nature Restoration Law and with the mission “Restore our oceans and waters by 2030”, both of which advocate for the protection and restoration of land and sea regions.

The DTO-BioFlow Kick off meeting

DTO-BioFlow project kicked off on September 27th in Ostend, Belgium. The meeting was hosted at the InnovOcean Campus and organised by the Flanders Marine Institute (VLIZ), the project’s coordinator, host and technical manager of the European Marine Observation and Data Network (EMODnet) portal.

LifeWatch ERIC is one of the 30 partners from 14 countries that make up DTO-BioFlow Consortium. The other project partners include research, infrastructures (e.g., EMBRC), networks (MBON), organisations (ICES), global aggregators and platforms (OBIS), and others.

The consortium partners bring together biological monitoring infrastructures and experts, data managers, and DTO developers, marine biodiversity-relevant policy development and implementation and enabling the Mission to meet its 2030 targets.

Revolutionizing Access to Ocean Biodiversity Data and Driving Sustainable Integration

Between September 2023 and February 2027, DTO-Bioflow will come up with creative and long-term solutions that will make previously unavailable or difficult-to-access marine-biodiversity data available to the public. The ultimate goal of the project is to increase the flow of relevant biodiversity data by unlocking current barriers to assimilation and ingestion.”, explains Klaas Deneudt, manager of the VLIZ Marine Observation Centre and coordinator of the DTO BioFlow project.

Over the next four years DTO-BioFlow consortium will work on consolidating standards, quality control, communication protocols, harmonisation pipelines, data products, data models, ingestion procedures and incentives for sustainable connection to improve the interoperability and digitisation of biodiversity data. The project will also test out various technologies that are both affordable and adaptable to carry out species monitoring on a massive scale. The end-to-end approach will be demonstrated via a number of science-based use cases and via mechanisms to monitor, measure progress and drive community action towards increasing biodiversity data flows. To learn more about DTO-BioFlow, please visit the project website.

In Brussels to present the All-Ready project: meet the Agroecology Virtual Lab

Agroecology Living Labs & Research Infrastructures

In collaboration with AE4EU, ALL-Ready organised its final event in Brussels on 27 September 2023. The conference was hosted by the Committee of the Regions.

Our Agroecology Project Manager, Iria Soto Embodas, presented the All-Ready project in the panel “Practice Perspective: How to put Agroecology Living Labs and Research Infrastructures in practice? Q&A”. Within the project, one of the deliverables was to produce the Agroecology Virtual Lab, a collaboration platform to standardise collaboration for research and innovation. During the event, the steps to achieve this were presented.

The one-day conference highlighted two projects that have laid the foundation for a European Network of Living Labs and Research Infrastructures. The discussions focused on how these projects can best support the transition to agroecology and translate theoretical concepts into practical applications. The event explored the lessons learned from three years of project work and highlighted regions’ role in driving agroecology transitions.

The Agroecology Virtual Lab

The Agroecology Virtual Lab is a web platform designed to simplify, centralise, digitalise and streamline the creation of interdisciplinary innovation ecosystems and communities via collaboration with complementary partners that match your needs. This Agroecology Virtual Lab includes, among other functionalities, a marketplace, networking tools, a repository of resources for dissemination and knowledge sharing, geographical visualisation of innovation ecosystems available agroecology best practices and other data management functionalities.

The platform caters to individuals and organisations from various sectors, including research, innovation, public, and civil sectors. The main objective of Agroecology Virtual Labs is to assist scientists, academics, small and medium-sized businesses, farmers, authorities, public bodies, consumers, citizens, and anyone interested in agrifood systems. Additionally, it aims to bring together stakeholders from different sectors of society to foster collaboration and exchange of knowledge on real-world applications of agroecology, research questions, technological solutions, and any other innovative ideas.

About the project

Agricultural systems face multiple challenges today, such as climate change, biodiversity loss, dwindling resources, and soil and water quality degradation. To address these challenges, Open Innovation Arrangements, including Living Labs and Research Infrastructures, can pave the way to enhance the sustainability and resilience of farming systems.

There is great potential to promote agroecology in Europe. The main objective of ALL-Ready is to establish AgroEcoLLNet, the framework for a future European network of LLs and RI that will facilitate the transition towards agroecology throughout Europe. To learn more about All-Ready, please visit the project website.

Enhancing Biodiversity Access through Collaboration

We are delighted to announce the collaboration between LifeWatch ERIC and OpenAIRE, aimed at advancing Open Science. By joining forces, we will enhance the accessibility of Open Science, improve the FAIRness of LifeWatch ERIC research and enrich the OpenAIRE Graph.

Open Science is gradually becoming the modus operandi in research practices, shaping the way researchers collaborate and publish, discover, and access scientific knowledge. Scientists are increasingly publishing research results beyond the article, to share all scientific products generated during an experiment, such as metadata, data, analytical services, etc.

LifeWatch ERIC and OpenAIRE proudly signed a Memorandum of Understanding to sustain and accelerate Open Science. They commit to enhance their Open Science activities by improving the FAIRness of the LifeWatch ERIC research and enriching the OpenAIRE Graph. Both organisations have joined forces to work on EOSC projects, with the OpenAIRE Graph playing a crucial role in aggregating data sources and connecting metadata such as funding information, data, publications, software, and other unique identifiers (PIDs). Through this collaboration, the combined efforts of Lifewatch ERIC and OpenAIRE will enhance the overall data quality presented on the EOSC Portal.

As a result of this collaboration, all publications, datasets, research projects, software and other outputs of LifeWatch ERIC will now be made accessible through an OpenAIRE CONNECT gateway. Moreover, a MONITOR service with a set of configurable indicators and tools will be made available to simplify research monitoring and evaluation, while measuring and increasing the uptake of Open Science practices.

Sustaining flagship project outputs that provide the infrastructural backbone of FAIR (Findable, Accessible, Interoperable and Reusable) and open data discovery is a priority to both organisations. These efforts will also play key role in realising a meaningful European Open Science Cloud for research communities, building upon the work that is already undertaken in other projects, such as EOSC-FUTURE, FAIR-IMPACT, BioDT and OpenAIRE Nexus project. 

“Providing access to the world’s biodiversity content, services and communities in one click is LifeWatch ERIC’s vision. The signature of this Memorandum of Understanding is yet another milestone to this direction, by fostering synergies and complementing each other, both OpenAIRE and LifeWatch ERIC will have a more significant impact and valuable contribution to the acceleration and integration of Open Science and FAIRness within the European Research Area and beyond, providing even more innovative and interoperable tools for our research communities”, Christos Arvanitidis, LifeWatch ERIC Chief Executive Officer.

“This partnership aims to bring together the biodiversity communities closer to Open Science in practical ways, through shared infrastructure, bringing economies of scale, and building trusted relationships. OpenAIRE can only learn from LifeWatch ERIC so as to calibrate our services to respond to the real needs of this vibrant community”, Natalia Manola, OpenAIRE CEO.

About:

LifeWatch ERIC: LifeWatch ERIC is a European Research Infrastructure Consortium providing e-Science research facilities and services to scientists investigating biodiversity and ecosystem functions in order to support society in addressing key societal challenges linked to climate change and resource efficiency, food security and agriculture, sustainable development, energy and health. LifeWatch ERIC’s vision is to become the Research Infrastructure providing access to the world’s biodiversity content, services and communities in one click.

OpenAIRE: OpenAIRE is a Non-Profit Partnership, established in 2018 as a legal entity, OpenAIRE AMKE, to ensure a permanent open scholarly communication infrastructure and support research in Europe and beyond. OpenAIRE is making Open Science happen. Collectively and in practical ways. Its fields of expertise and activities include services, policies and training. Operating since 2009, OpenAIRE is an integral part and a leading force behind the European Open Science Cloud developments.

OpenAIRE Nexus: The Horizon 2020 OpenAIRE-Nexus project, a consortium of 11 partners, brings in Europe, EOSC and the world a set of services to implement and accelerate Open Science and tools to embed in researchers’ workflows, making it easier for them to accept and uptake Open Science practices of openness and FAIRness.