Sandy Beaches Symposium: the world’s leading experts gather in Lecce

The IX International Sandy Beaches Symposium was held in Lecce, Italy, on June 24-27 2024. The event was an opportunity to bring the world’s leading experts on sandy coastal ecosystems together in the city.
Past, present, and future of sandy beaches were at the center of the symposium: biodiversity loss, abundance, distribution and dynamics of species of sandy beach ecosystems, climate change impacts, anthropogenic pressures (fisheries, tourism, etc), urbanization, the key role of marine protected areas, and the challenges of creating a network between them, coastal erosion and mitigation strategies, insights from environmental DNA metabarcoding and advanced statistical models, are some of the many topics brought up for discussion by experts from all over the globe.

From Orkney sandy beaches, in Scotland, to the coastal ecosystems of Namibia and Costa Rica, to the sandy beaches of California and Apulia region: the event gathered some of the most renowned experts in the field, offering a unique opportunity to explore the latest research and developments in this disciplinary area, while illustrating to the public the importance of sandy beaches and the challenges we are facing in safeguarding these fragile and threatened ecosystems.

The symposium was an opportunity to present and discuss the state of the art in the field of sandy beach research, from a national, regional and global perspective. The event was organized by the University of Salento, with the support of LifeWatch ERIC.

Among the scientists invited as high-level keynote speakers were: Prof. John M Baxter, University of St Andrews and Heriot-Watt University; Prof. Omar Defeo, Unidad de Ciencias del Mar, Universidad de la Republica, Uruguay; Prof. Mike Elliott, Professor of Estuarine and Coastal Sciences at the University of Hull, UK; Dr. Shinji Sassa, Chair of the International Technical Committee on Scour and Erosion National Institute of Maritime, Port and Aviation Technology, Japan; Prof. Alberto Basset, Full Professor of Ecology at the University of Salento and LifeWatch ERIC Service Centre Director; Dr. Lucia Fanini, researcher at the University of Salento, etc.

To learn more about the International Sandy Beaches Symposium, please visit the dedicated website:

LifeWatch ERIC at the kick-off meeting of the European Partnership on Agroecology

On February 28, the European Commission launched the European Partnership on Agroecology and the European Partnership on Animal Health and Welfare. LifeWatch ERIC, represented by Iria Soto and José Manuel Ávila, participated in the first, which introduced the “European Partnership on Accelerating Farming Systems Transition: Agroecology Living Labs and Research Infrastructures.” The two events represent a significant milestone in advancing European resilient agri-food systems.

The partnership is a large-scale European research and innovation initiative that involves the European Commission, 26 Member States, associated countries, and third countries.

The European Partnership on Agroecology aims to support agriculture that meets the challenges of climate change, food security, biodiversity loss, and environmental sustainability. It strives to make farming profitable and attractive for farmers by pooling resources of the European Commission. Also, it involved states to fund high-level research aligned with the Strategic Research and Innovation Agenda.

LifeWatch ERIC leads Working Package n°5 on Data and Monitoring for Agroecology Transition. The goal is to develop a comprehensive conceptual framework, methodologies, indicators, and an efficient data management strategy and tools to monitor and evaluate the transition. The process will be participative, including stakeholder and expert consultations.

A partnership has launched a co-funded call to accelerate the transition of farming systems. The pre-proposal deadline for submission is April 26, while the full proposal deadline is September 19. Eligible countries for the call are Germany, Denmark, Belgium, Netherlands, France, Spain, Italy, Portugal, Sweden, Norway, Finland, Ireland, Iceland, Slovenia, Hungary, Slovakia, Romania, Switzerland, Lithuania, Estonia, Cyprus, and Turkey. For more information, please visit the following website:

Embracing Open and FAIR Marine Data: The Autumn Data School in Lecce

Autumn Data School

From November 13 to 15, the Autumn Data School was held in Lecce, Italy. It was a three-day workshop organised jointly by EMODnet and LifeWatch ERIC. The workshop brought together researchers from Belgium and the Mediterranean region, including Italy, Greece, Tunisia, and Algeria. The School’s primary objective was to facilitate knowledge exchange and promote open and FAIR marine research data management practices.

During the event’s first two days, the participants engaged in hands-on DATAthon. This involved a deep dive into data management best practices, which included all aspects of the data lifecycle, starting from data collection and ending with data publication. The participants worked in teams, bringing their datasets and receiving guidance on preparing, standardising, and submitting their data to marine research repositories such as MedOBIS and the LifeWatch ERIC Metadata Catalogue.

During the third day of the workshop, the participants explored the potential of Citizen Science platforms, such as Zooniverse and the LifeWatch Citizen Science Platform. They gained valuable insights into creating and implementing Citizen Science projects, which helped them empower volunteers in historical data rescue and standardisation tasks.

The Autumn Data School provided a significant opportunity for marine researchers to collaborate, share knowledge, and build capacity. Emphasis on open and FAIR data practices aligns with the shared vision of EMODnet Biology and LifeWatch ERIC, ensuring that marine research data remains findable, accessible, interoperable and reusable.

LifeWatch ERIC at the British Ecological Society’s Annual Meeting


LifeWatch ERIC is excited to announce its participation in the British Ecological Society’s (BES) Annual Meeting, taking place in Belfast, Northern Ireland, from December 12-15, 2023. This event will brings together ecologists worldwide to share ideas, establish collaborations, and tackle environmental challenges. The primary focus of the LifeWatch ERIC presence will be to engage with early career researchers interested in the Infrastructure’s online tools and services.

As the world’s oldest ecological society, the BES Annual Meeting is Europe’s largest conference dedicated to ecology. In 2022, over 1,500 delegates from more than 50 countries across six continents attended the meeting in person or online – a clear example of the importance of this event in advancing environmental knowledge and promoting sustainable solutions on a global scale.

LifeWatch ERIC’s booth will be a central hub for disseminating information about our services, partnerships, and research initiatives, expected to be of the greatest value to early career researchers. Visitors can access LifeWatch ERIC’s analytical tools, speak with experts, and discover our biodiversity and ecosystem research projects. You can find us at Stand no 3 in the Central Hall.

Nine researchers from LifeWatch ERIC, CNR, and the University of Salento will present their latest findings through papers and posters, including topics like semantic artefacts, invasive alien species, metabarcoding and the CIMPAL workflow.

The BES Annual Meeting features a series of thematic sessions that address specific and timely ecological challenges.

Hot topics in the Anthropocene: Emerging research in fire ecology

This thematic session will explore the latest research on fire ecology in the context of the Anthropocene. While human activities intensify, so does the frequency and intensity of fires, significantly impacting ecosystems and biodiversity. This session will showcase emerging research on fire-climate interactions, fire-regime shifts, and the effects of fire on different ecosystems.

Living laboratories – The nexus between research and practice

This session will discuss bridging the gap between ecological research and real-world conservation practices using living laboratories. LifeWatch ERIC researchers will present their work on using living labs to address biodiversity loss, climate change, and invasive species.

Risks and opportunities from novel land uses and seascape changes

This session will discuss the effects of human activities like urbanisation, agriculture, and coastal development on biodiversity and ecosystems. Researchers will present tools to assess and monitor land and seascape changes. Not only, they will also show strategies to mitigate negative impacts and enhance positive outcomes.

The three-dimensional data revolution in ecology

This session will showcase the power of 3D data in ecological research. The focus will highlight its use in studying plant and animal interactions, ecosystem dynamics, and landscape processes. LifeWatch ERIC researchers will discuss their work on developing and applying 3D data tools for ecological research. The presentations will show the challenges and opportunities associated with integrating 3D data into ecological models and frameworks.

It is expected that LifeWatch ERIC’s cloud computing facilities will attract a great deal of attention. A survey is available to identify the functions that researchers would most value in pursuing their research objectives.

LifeWatch ERIC at EGU 2024: Fostering Collaboration and Knowledge Sharing in Environmental Research

EGU 2024

LifeWatch ERIC, in collaboration with EGI and other ENVRI Research Infrastructures, has organised two sessions in the upcoming European Geosciences Union 2024 (EGU) conference in Vienna from April 14-19, 2024.

Call for abstract: tell us how Research Infrastructures helped with your research

The first session will bring together researchers in environment and climate to foster collaboration and knowledge sharing. Researchers come from the atmosphere, marine, biodiversity, ecosystems, and solid earth domains. Besides, it involves data product developers, data scientists, and -engineers.

The session aims to share insights and real-world examples of Research Infrastructure that helped research or scientific development projects. If you:

  • used data analytics and visualisation to make data-driven discoveries;
  • demonstrated data collection and quality control expertise;
  • utilised infrastructures and cloud services to expedite your research;

Or overcome data access challenges, we want to hear about your experience. Contribute to the discussion on how Research Infrastructures contribute to doing science! You can participate in the session by submitting abstracts for oral or poster presentations. For more information, please visit this page. Please submit your contribution by 10 January 2024 at 13.00 CET.

A deep dive into data integration, Virtual Research Environments and more.

In the second session, we will conduct a training course that brings together environmental researchers, data developers, scientists, and engineers. This course provides practical and hands-on opportunities to enhance your understanding of data integration, Virtual Research Environments (VREs), web services, and their significance in environmental science. The course will also address the challenges faced while customising and running data workflows on the cloud using Jupyter Notebooks, which are time-consuming and complex processes. Participants will learn about the key technologies for notebook containerisation, workflow composition, and cloud automation in a Jupyter notebook-based VRE. We will also guide attendees to explore science cases in ecology and biodiversity virtual labs, making it a comprehensive and practical learning experience.

Calling All Scientists: Submit Your Abstracts for the 7th International Zooplankton Production Symposium Workshop

On 17th of March, the workshop “Approaches towards findable, accessible, interoperable and reusable (FAIR) zooplankton trait data as stepping stones to improved functional ecology” will take place, organised by Jessica Titocci e Ilaria Rosati, from CNR-IRET and LifeWatch Italy, in collaboration with Dr. Kieran Murphy (ARC Australian Centre for Excellence in Antarctic Science), Dr. Brian Hunt (University of British Columbia), Dr. Patrick Pata (University of British Columbia).

In the current era of the Anthropocene, both marine and freshwater ecosystems are undergoing significant changes that are disrupting their delicate balance. Zooplankton plays a key role in the trophic dynamics, productivity and functioning of all aquatic ecosystems. As grazers of phytoplankton and food sources for higher trophic levels, zooplankton organisms represent a key link in the transfer of energy and nutrients in food webs and strongly influence global biogeochemical processes.

Therefore, in light of the current crisis of biodiversity loss and climate change, it is of paramount importance to study the dynamics and distribution of zooplankton populations and communities and to understand the role of zooplankton functional diversity in food web dynamics and ecosystem processes.

To achieve a comprehensive understanding of the impacts and consequences of these changing ecosystems, and to raise awareness of the importance of zooplankton communities in sustaining marine and freshwater environments in these changing times, the 7th International Symposium on Zooplankton Production will be held in Hobart, Australia, from 17 to 22 March 2024. The symposium will provide a global framework for zooplankton researchers to share the latest advances in the field and discuss key issues such as the impact of climate change and biodiversity loss, innovative zooplankton sampling methods, biochemical perspectives, advanced modelling and other related topics. The event is organised by the International Council for the Exploration of the Sea (ICES) in collaboration with the North Pacific Marine Science Organisation (PICES).

Submit your abstract

The workshop will discuss the challenges of implementing FAIR principles and analysing zooplankton trait data. To achieve this goal, researchers in this field are invited to submit their abstracts for presentation at the workshop before 30 September 2023.

The workshop’s main objective is to assess the current status of trait-based research on zooplankton and explore future possibilities. The workshop will also focus on sharing and implementing FAIR principles and best practices to ensure that zooplankton trait-based data are findable, accessible, interoperable and reusable.

 The preferred abstract topics for this workshop are:

  • Zooplankton functional ecology
  •  FAIRness of zooplankton trait based data
  •  Trait data collection and management
  •  Novel frameworks and analytical methods and e-science tools in zooplankton trait-based studies

The event will begin with informative presentations and interactive, hands-on sessions. During these sessions, the speakers will present various digital services and semantic resources developed to promote the harmonisation and interoperability of zooplankton functional trait data.

Finally, participants will have the opportunity to explore a global database of zooplankton traits and create a species trait matrix. For more information on the workshop, please visit the dedicated page and use this page to submit your abstract.

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 ERIC at the EOSC Future General Assembly and Project Meeting

EOSC Future General Assembly gathered at Casa de la Ciencia, Sevilla.

On 3–5 May, LifeWatch ERIC participated in the EOSC Future General Assembly and Project Meeting, held in Seville, Spain. The event was hosted by LifeWatch ERIC in Casa de la Ciencia, where all the entities who are the backbone of EOSC Future gathered.

Christos Arvanitidis, LifeWatch ERIC CEO, is very pleased with the level of participation and cooperation shown in the various sessions of this meeting: “Our assessment is very positive and increases expectations regarding the achievement of the objectives for the development of this platform”.

On the first day of the Meeting, LifeWatch ERIC’s CEO, Christos Arvanitidis, opened the first session by welcoming the participants and explaining the objectives of WP6, which is the Work Package coordinated by LifeWatch ERIC. Then Sally Chambers from Dariah (Digital Research Infrastructure for the Arts and Humanities) hosted the session “Onboarding and Integration: Challenges & Solutions”, indicating two main objectives:

  • To clarify the differences between the five resource types which can be on boarded into the EOSC-Exchange;
  • To explore the Resource Providers have faced when onboarding and integrating their resources into EOSC Exchange and use the methods of ‘user stories’ to explore how to ease the process.

The second part of the session was focused on “Implementing the Science Projects: Current status and next steps”, and was led by Cristina Huertas, LifeWatch ERIC International Initiatives and Project Manager. This second part of the session identified five main objectives:

  • To identify the Risks of the technical implementation of Science Projects;
  • To review the status of Scientific Documents;
  • To explore the way Science Projects could consider their sustainability after the end of the project;
  • To engage and satisfy the users;
  • To review the status of the webinars provided by the ten Science Projects to date.

On the first day of the General Assembly, forty people have participated in person, in total, and other representatives of the consortium have also intervened livestream. Among others, Yannis Ioannidis, Greek delegate to the European Strategy Forum on Research Infrastructures (ESFRI), member of the ESFRI Executive Board, and ESFRI representative to the e-Infrastructures Reflection Group (e-IRG). As coordinator of EOSC Future, Yannis Ioannidis chaired the assembly. A total of thirty-five entities have also been integrated into the EOSC Future consortium.

The first day of EOSC Future General Assembly has been moderated by Ron Dekker, associate consultant at Technopolis Group Belgium (where he coordinates the Open Science activities) and EOSC Future Project Leader, and Lennart Stoy, senior consultant in Technopolis Group Belgium.

On the second day of EOSC Future General Assembly and Project Meeting, Agis Evrigenis and Sophie Viscido, from Technopolis Group, led the session dedicated to the overview of the project implementation status, challenges and next steps. Then Paolo Manghi (Openaire), Roksana Wick (ACK Cyfronet), Mark Van de Sanden (Surf / Eudat) and Klaas Wierenge (Géant), coordinated the session about new and upcoming tech capabilities and led a short presentation and demos by the product teams (marketplace, providers, portal, helpdesk, etc.). EOSC Architecture and Interoperability Framework has also been presented, discussing tech planning towards project end and capabilities to be demonstrated at the month 30 review.

LifeWatch ERIC, with Christos Arvanitidis, Cristina Huertas, and Ana Mellado, led a session about the overview status of Science Projects. The topics covered included: progress to date, resources’ integration status and plans, lessons learned as piloting EOSC and post project sustainability.

Later in the afternoon, LifeWatch ERIC presented a scientific case in progress: Implementation ARMS workflow. This early-warning system for marine biological invasions allows non native invasive especies (NIS) researchers and stakeholders to identify newly arrived NIS, track the migration of already known NIS and monitor the composition of hard-bottom communities over long periods. This system is based on ARMS data (Autonomous Reef Monitoring Structure), which are quality controlled and open access based, permanently stored (Marine Data Archive) along with their metadata (IMIS, catalogue of VLIZ), ensuring fairness.

LifeWatch ERIC CEO, Christos Arvanitidis, introduced Joaquín López Lérida, LifeWatch ERIC Data e-Science Management Plan & BlockChain Officer, who also explained, whit a remote online presentation, how the integration of the platform is being done with EOSC. In terms of authentication, the integration has been confirmed to be ready for internal consumption of all LifeWatch ERIC Tesseract Services, including LifeBlock.

In the session about real-life demonstrations of use cases, (in view of the month 24 review), which has been led by Matthew Viljoen, another of the presentations that has aroused interest is the one presented by Carolina Simón, from the National Center for Biotechnology (Spain), who exposed the case of integration of Covid-19 Data with EOSC. On the other hand, Elisa Cauhé (EGI Foundation), presented results and next steps of the EOSC Digital Innovation Hub (DIH): eight projects collaborations, twenty-three supported pilots, and more than fifty funding opportunities.

The last day of EOSC Future General Assembly and Project Meeting was, instead, focused on addressing aspects such as EOSC Procurement, EOSC as a Data Space and also RDA Open Calls. The closing session revolved around updates provided by WP10 about the progress made for the project.

The EOSC Future Meeting held in Seville for three days has concluded with a standing ovation from all the participants to congratulate the LifeWatch ERIC team for the quality of their work as host of the meeting.

Ron Dekker, EOSC Future Project Leader, called on all the entities participating in the consortium to intensify the implementation of their work packages, in order to finish the last phase of the project in the best possible way. From 20-22 September 2023, the EOSC Symposium will take place in Madrid, in the context of the Spanish Presidency of the Council of the European Union. In the context of the EOSC Future project, the EOSC Symposium will also be a critical platform to showcase project achievements and key exploitable results.