SUBMERSE to Leverage Existing Subsea Infrastructure for Exciting New Fields of Research

Started in May 2023, SUBMERSE (SUBMarine cablEs for ReSearch and Exploration) project aims to utilise existing submarine cables already used by the research and education networking community, to monitor the Earth and its systems. By utilising existing equipment and infrastructure in a new way, SUBMERSE not only avoids the need for extra hardware under the sea, but also improves the return on investment by enhancing and widening its use.

The 36-month project, in which LifeWatch ERIC is a partner, will work closely with the diverse research communities who intend on using the data, to design and build the data generation service together, thereby creating a highly collaborative environment where data is generated by and for all parties. In this way, SUBMERSE goes beyond the traditional model of supporting and facilitating global research and education with infrastructure, to an environment where project partners and research communities together generate and share research from that infrastructure for multiple purposes.

Over the past five years, national seismic and oceanographic infrastructures, together with NRENs, and partners from universities, research institutes, and industry in parts of Europe have pioneered techniques to use submarine optical fibres to monitor the Earth and its systems. The methods and technologies used vary. However, two techniques show promise in the detail and scalability of their deployment: Distributed Acoustic Sensing (DAS) and State of Polarisation (SoP). The geographic locations where experiments have taken place, the length of experiments, the types of technologies used, and technological readiness levels of those technologies used also vary substantially from country to country.

SUBMERSE seeks to create and deliver a pilot activity which would serve as a blueprint for continuous monitoring upon many more cables in the future, which would lead to the opening of new market opportunities and the demonstration of methods to maximise the investments in research infrastructures, by using the by-products of their operations for the purposes of new scientific research. This would lead to the integration of established regional and national research infrastructures, thereby enabling world-class European research not possible before.

The Biodiversity Knowledge Hub is Online!

BKH

The Horizon 2020 BiCIKL Project, of which LifeWatch ERIC is partner, announces that the Biodiversity Knowledge Hub (BKH) is now online.

The BKH is a one-stop portal that allows users to access FAIR and interlinked biodiversity data and services in a few clicks. BKH has been designed to support a new emerging community of users over time and across the entire biodiversity research cycle providing its services to anybody, anywhere and anytime.

“We have invested our best energies and resources in the development of BKH and the Fair Data Place (FDP), which is the beating heart of the portal” – says Christos Arvanitidis, CEO of LifeWatch ERIC – “BKH has been designed to support a new emerging community of users across the entire biodiversity research cycle. Its purpose goes beyond the BiCIKL project itself: we are thrilled to say that BKH is meant to stay, aiming to reshape the way biodiversity knowledge is accessed and used.”

The BKH is designed to serve a new emerging community of users over time and across the entire biodiversity research cycle.

“The Knowledge Hub is the main product from our BiCIKL consortium, and we are delighted with the result! BKH can easily be seen as the beginning of the major shift in the way we search interlinked biodiversity information,” says Prof. Lyubomir Penev, BiCIKL’s Project coordinator and Founder of Pensoft Publishers

“Biodiversity researchers, research infrastructures and publishers interested in fields ranging from taxonomy to ecology and bioinformatics can now freely use BKH as a compass to navigate the oceans of biodiversity data. BKH will do the linkages,” he adds.

“The BKH outlines how users can navigate and access the linked data, tools and services of the infrastructures cooperating in BiCIKL,” said Joe Miller, Executive Secretary of GBIF—the Global Biodiversity Information Facility. “By revealing how they harvest, liberate and reuse data, these increasingly integrated sources enable researchers in the natural sciences to move more seamlessly between specimens and material samples, genomic and metagenomic data, scientific literature, and taxonomic names and units.”

A training programme on how to best utilise the platform is currently being developed by the Consortium of European Taxonomic Facilities (CETAF), Pensoft Publishers, Plazi, Meise Botanic Garden, EMBL’s European Bioinformatics Institute (EMBL-EBI), ELIXIR Hub, GBIF – the Global Biodiversity Information Facility, and LifeWatch ERIC and will be finalised in the coming months.

A detailed description of the BKH tools and services provided by its contributing organisations is available here.

MARCO-BOLO CoP Survey

The MARCO-BOLO (MBO) project launched a survey to assess biodiversity data and monitoring needs of stakeholders in and beyond the EU.

MBO invites the broader biodiversity community to take part in this research and encourages biodiversity data users and non-users to share their experiences. The survey takes 10-12 minutes to complete and includes 25 questions.

Access the survey here and participate by 30 August 2023.

The results of this survey will feed into the creation of better data products usable by different stakeholders engaged in biodiversity conservation and sustainable use. MARCO-BOLO aims at supporting decision-making with the best available knowledge and data!

The survey is part of MARCO-BOLO “MARine Coastal BiOdiversity Long-term Observations: Strengthening biodiversity observation in support of decision making”, coordinated by Nicolas Pade (EMBRC-ERIC) and funded by the European Commission Horizon 2020 Programme (Grant Agreement No. 101082021)

For general questions or comments regarding the study and survey, please contact: mbosurvey.politikwissenschaft@univie.ac.at

For questions regarding the project, please contact: claire.laguionie@embrc.eu  

LifeWatch ERIC at the AgroServ Conference

AgroServ Conference.

The first annual European Research Services on Agroecology Conference was held by AgroServ (a project in which LifeWatch ERIC is partner) from 5–6 June 2023 at the Czech University of Life Sciences Prague (in-person and online). This first edition of the AgoServ Conference was dedicated to presenting the various agroecological services accessible through AgroServ and the different aspects that shape research in the emerging field of agroecology. To promote and encourage interdisciplinary and transdisciplinary approaches to address the agroecological transition, the first call for transnational access to its services was launched during the event.

Since the transition towards a sustainable and resilient agricultural system must take into account ecological, economic and social factors, work sessions were dedicated to discussions and practical workshops to exchange ideas, meet researchers from different fields (chemists, biologists, agronomists, ecologists, bioengineers, analysts, social scientists, etc.) and build ideas for possible proposals.

As LifeWatch ERIC is one of the eleven partners of AgroServ, three people from the LifeWatch ERIC Agroecology team participated in the conference. The coordinator, José Manuel Ávila, and the researcher, Iria Soto, attended the conference in person, in Prague, while Ángela Ventura intervened remotely in the working group sessions, which were coordinated by the team of Analysis and Experimentation on Ecosystems (AnaEE ERIC).

In the working group on ‘Management and sustainability of agroecosystems, aquaculture and forests’, the importance of interdisciplinarity and multidisciplinarity was highlighted, opening dialogues about the need for the service to have offers coming from multidisciplinary teams. In fact, one crucial problem identified was the lack of understanding between different disciplines, which all have specific and different terminologies, different interests, etc., thus contributing to a complication of the situation that is AgroServ’s big challenge to date.

On the other hand, in the working group on ‘Living Labs’, problems about intellectual property rights were highlighted. The need to tackle this issue was confirmed so that all the agents, coming from different sectors and working on an innovative idea, will feel more comfortable when getting involved in the process.

Finally, in the working group on ‘Animal and Plant Health, Quality Food, and Valorisation of By-products from Agriculture’, progress was made regarding the great potential of small agricultural producers in setting trends in the circular economy model and in scaling up these practices. In order to achieve this, the researchers collaboration must prioritise a daily and high quality production model, in which waste is recycled and reused in examples such as farms converted into biorefineries, and in which alternative income is generated through bioproducts.

Aneris Genomic Technologies workshop sets project parameters.

The ANERIS consortium, whose vision is to protect marine and coastal biodiversity through technological and scientific innovation, held a workshop at the InnocOcean Campus of the Flanders Marine Institute in Ostend, Belgium, 30-31 May 2023. The purpose of the two days was to explore the available genomic workflows currently used by the participating ERICs and associated partners and to share experiences.

Officially launched under the Horizon Europe programme on 21 March this year, ANERIS – whose 25 project partners from 13 different countries include LifeWatch ERIC – is coordinated by the Spanish Institut de Ciènces del Mar. At a time when marine and coastal biodiversity are under serious threat because of human activities, climate change and other factors, the four-year ANERIS research project seeks to protect these ecosystems by creating, testing and implementing the next generation of scientific tools and methods for marine life-sensing and monitoring.

LifeWatch ERIC’s participation in the Genomic Technologies workshop consisted of CEO Christos Arvanitidis and International Initiatives & Projects Manager, Cristina Huertas presenting a study and sampling design, including different hypotheses of which marine communities could be considered (e.g. intertidal, planktonic, benthic), which components to include (i.e. molecules), what type of information to collect, the scale of the sampling, etc..

These would be applied to two case studies within ANERIS project, by integrating learnings from previous initiatives, and connecting with other EU projects (Marbefes, Marco Bolo, BioDT,) and Open Science databases (WoRMS, GBIF). They also contributed to other discussions during the workshop on bioinformatics, sampling and the wet labs protocols.

Bioinspired robots in Lecce: MAPWORMS Plenary meeting

Micro-CTvlab and MedOBIS Repository were present at the plenary meeting of the MAPWORMS project in Lecce, on 15-16 May 2023. MAPWORMS is a Horizon Europe project which aims to propose robots that are inspired by simplified forms of marine Annelida, able to perform tasks in response to environmental stimuli, thus adapting to the working environment with a shape-morphing strategy with unique features in terms of powering and eco-friendliness.

Micro-computed tomography (micro-CT) is being used to visualize the morphological and anatomical features of the annelids. These data will also be used to create a virtual gallery in the Micro-CTvlab, a virtual laboratory which was developed during the LifeWatch Greece project and offers virtual galleries and online tools for the 3D manipulation of micro-CT datasets.

Furthermore, distributional/georeferenced data produced during the MAPWORMS project, will be deposited in the MedOBIS Repository, which is the Mediterranean Node for OBIS and is hosted by the IMBBC, HCMR in Crete. Its development started in 2003, and it was operational by 2005 as a Tier 3 of EurOBIS. Under the European projects EMODnet Biology and LifeWatchGreece, it became a Tier 2 node and extended to cover the entire Mediterranean Sea. Mrs Dimitra Mavraki has been appointed as the Data Manager of the MAPWORMS project, and presented the Data Management Plan, in which several FAIR repositories, including MedOBIS, have been proposed to the partners in order to deposit their data.

The MAPWORMS project has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon Europe research and innovation programme under grant agreement No 101046846.

LifeWatch ERIC at the ALL-Ready Second Regional Workshop

On 11 May, LifeWatch ERIC hosted, at its ICT Core in Seville, the second regional workshop of the European project ALL-Ready: “Accelerating Agroecology Transition: Your potential role and benefits of contributing to a European network of Living Labs and Research Infrastructures”.

LifeWatch ERIC is is one of the main partners in this highly strategically relevant project. Its Agroecology team, led by José Manuel Ávila, Daniel Caro and Iria Soto, coordinated the morning session of the workshop together with Gerald Schwarz (Thünen Institute), Isidora Stojacic (BioSense Institute), Ophélie Bonnet (INRAE), Isabelle Couture (ENoLL – European Network of Living Labs), Jo Bijttebier and Sylvie Fosselle (ILVO Living Lab Agrifood Technology).

In the presentation, Gerard Schwarz marked the objectives of the implementation plan, stressing the importance of ensuring relevance for actors across Europe and specifying that this work in progress is to be finalised in early autumn 2023:

  • To provide a structured framework to sustainably implement, monitor and adapt the European Network in the long term;
  • To ensure its effective contribution to the partnership on Agroecology;
  • To deliver benefits to the agroecological community in Europe.

During the workshop, the participants formed several groups to exchange experiences and discuss solutions about the challenges of Agroecology Living Labs and Research Infrastructures, and to explore possible roles and contributions of the European Network, in relation to:

  • Thematic priorities of the Network;
  • Communication, networking and demonstration activities;
  • Funding requirements and strategies.

The ALL-Ready workshop served also to advance the production of ideas and proposals to further improve the understanding of which thematic areas and what kind of measures and activities, as part of the European Network, would be especially useful.

The coordinator of the session, Gerard Schwarz (Thünen Institute of Farm Economics), led the working day to discuss:

▪ Insights into topics, themes and issues that the European Network should address;
▪ Insights into type of communication and networking activities that are particularly needed;
▪ Insights into practical solutions foe addressing funding gaps;
▪ Insights into capacity building, including regional gaps in competences, and the role of local actors to support development of competences.

The perspectives and recommendations of the participants will be taken into account to for the implementation plan of a European Network.

The CEO of LifeWatch ERIC, Christos Arvanitidis, intervened in the closing session. He explained that it is necessary to build all together the European Network of Agroecology Living Labs and Research Infrastructures: “And as a Research Infrastructure focused on biodiversity and ecosystem, LifeWatch ERIC aims to support the community of practices to provide science-based evidence about agroecology practices and contribute to knowledge and data sharing to demonstrate and make visible its added value and impacts”.

Christos Arvanitidis also stated that LifeWatch ERIC is working to provide digital tools / e-Services to facilitate the adoption of agroecology practices based on collaboration with the different stakeholders (researchers, farmers, policymakers and citizens), but also in association with other Research Infrastructures. And he especially stressed that: “In the coming years, in the EU Partnership on Agroecology, LifeWatch ERIC will lead the design and implementation of a conceptual framework to monitor the AE transition and the consequent impacts. We encourage to work with us, as CoP, to co-design the specific tools that fit your needs to all together contribute to the make the European agricultural sector more sustainable, resilient and responsive to societal and policy demands”.

Future workshops of ALL-Ready will be held today 12 May, in Budapest, and on Monday 15 May, in Frankfurt. All the efforts made are directed towards the final conference, which will take place on 27 September 2023, in Brussels.

LifeWatch Netherlands in ambitious new project LTER–LIFE

LTER-LIFE

The planet is changing rapidly; to understand and forecast how ecosystems are affected by global change, ecology should become a predictive science. LifeWatch Netherlands is an integral part of ambitious new project LTER–LIFE, starting summer 2023, in which it will contribute virtual laboratories to answer fundamental questions on the functioning and resilience of ecosystems. LTER-LIFE is a Large-Scale Research Infrastructure in the making, one of the nine projects awarded within the Dutch national roadmap for large-scale reseach infrastructre. It will provide a state-of-the-art e-infrastructure to study and predict how changes in climate and other human-induced pressures affect ecosystems and biodiversity, capitalising on recent advances in Big Data science. This will enable ecologists to link scattered long-term data on plants, animals, and the environment; share methods for data analysis, modelling, and simulation; and build digital replicas of entire ecosystems (“Digital Twins”), transforming our ability to understand how ecosystems will respond under different scenarios and mitigation measures.

In addition to fostering crucial scientific breakthroughs, the LTER LIFE infrastructure will also enable research on societal questions, such as how biodiversity will benefit from specific interventions to reduce nitrogen deposition in the Veluwe area, or how mitigation measures will impact the species composition, and thereby ecosystem functioning, in the Wadden Sea. Hence, LTER-LIFE will fit seamlessly into the EU Biodiversity Strategy 2030 and its new EU Nature Restoration Plan, and into Dutch initiatives such as the Deltaplan Biodiversiteitsherstel. By extending the instrument to other ecosystems and their services, LTER-LIFE will also contribute to the European initiative “Destination Earth”, demonstrating technological capabilities in simulation, modelling, data science, artificial intelligence and high-performance computing in the context of biodiversity and ecosystems. Thus, the benefits of LTER-LIFE will be widely felt by scientists in the field of biodiversity, ecology and environmental sciences, as well as a broad range of societal organisations.

Together with LifeWatch Netherlands, which develops virtual laboratories to answer fundamental questions on the functioning and resilience of ecosystems, LTER-LIFE is built on:

  • Long-Term Ecosystem Research Netherlands (LTER-NL): carries out and connects time series on long-term ecosystem monitoring within so called LTER sites, and makes these data available for research. LTER-NL is part of LTER-Europe, which is on the European ESFRI road map for large infrastructure.
  • National Environmental Monitoring Network (NemNet): runs a national scheme of abiotic monitoring of soils, water and air.

For more information, please read this article from the Dutch Research Council.

LifeWatch ERIC to Host Upcoming ALL-READY Regional Workshop

ALL-READY REGIONAL WORKSHOP

We are excited to announce the upcoming 2nd ALL-READY Regional Workshop, entitled “Accelerating the Agroecology Transition: Your potential role and benefits of contributing to a European Network of Living Labs and Research Infrastructures”. This interactive discussion session will take place on 11 May 2023, at the LifeWatch ERIC ICT-Core premises in Seville, Spain, and will also be available online as a hybrid event.

The workshop is organised by LifeWatch ERIC, Thünen Institute and INRAE as part of the ALL-Ready project, and will focus on exploring the potential of a European Network of Living Labs and Research Infrastructures to enable the transition towards agroecology throughout Europe.

The European Partnership under Horizon Europe for Accelerating Farming Systems Transition by Agroecology Living Labs and Research Infrastructures is currently being prepared by the SCAR Agroecology Strategic Working Group. ALL-Ready is a Coordination and Support Action (CSA) funded by the European Commission with the aim of preparing a framework for a future European network of Living Labs and Research Infrastructures.

The workshop will not only raise awareness of the future Horizon Europe Partnership on Agroecology but also build on the knowledge gained at the previous workshop in November 2022. The event will provide a platform for exchange and networking among local and regional actors, exploring possible solutions to overcome problems and difficulties that initiatives face in the transition process. The workshop will particularly emphasise a capacity-building programme for Agroecology Living Labs and Research Infrastructures.

This workshop is ideal for policy makers and funding organisations, companies, entrepreneurs, researchers and academics, living lab representatives and practitioners, innovators, and participants of an initiative related to the agroecology transition.

We invite all interested parties to join us for the ALL-READY Regional Workshop on 11 May in the LifeWatch ERIC ICT-Core premises in the Italian Pavilion (Isla de la Cartuja), Seville for an engaging and productive discussion about the potential of agroecology and the role of Living Labs and Research Infrastructures in driving this transition forward.