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

Rassegna del mare

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

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


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


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

You can read the programme here (in Italian).

EcoLogicaMente

EcoLogicaMente

The EcoLogicaMente platform, developed by LifeWatch Italy in partnership with the Italian Society of Ecology (SItE) and University of Salento (UniSalento), is a web-based tool launched in 2021 to allow visitors to explore a broad range of issues in the field of ecology. 

Primarily addressed to Italian school students and teachers, from Primary through to High School, the in-depth topics contain various types of material including texts, videos, presentations, live lessons, games, questionnaires, and practical activity sheets for work in the field or in the laboratory.

The EcoLogicaMente study topics and materials have been compiled by university professors and experts on ecological issues and are divided into five macro-areas: Ecosystem goods and services, Sustainability, Resource Management, Climate Change, and Biodiversity. 

The courses are divided into different levels all of which require a login, and it is possible to receive a certificate of participation, after completing all the lessons and passing a final test. Support is available through an FAQ page and users can leave a rating of the material available and write reviews. Click here to navigate the platform.

Castelporziano Estate Species Checklist

Castelporziano Biodiversity

The Castelporziano Presidential Estate, just outside Rome, Italy, is one of the three residences of the President of the Italian Republic. Dating from the fifth century, and declared a State Nature Reserve in 1999, the grounds at Castelporziano cover nearly 6000 hectares and are home to majestic oaks, laurel groves and free-roaming deer, foxes, badgers and wild boar. 

The Estate has now made its biodiversity dataset of 6329 taxa accessible through the LifeWatch Italy data portal and the LifeWatch ERIC metadata catalogue. The dataset is the result of the “Systematisation and geospatial analysis of the environmental monitoring data of the Castelporziano Estate” project, funded by the National Academy of Sciences (known as the XL), under the scientific supervision of Prof. Alberto Basset (University of Salento) and Prof. Emilia Chiancone (President of the Academy of XL). In parallel a series of 4 serious games were designed to support citizens and students in discovering the Castelporziano Presidential Estate, its biodiversity and ecosystem richness, and to further disseminate the species checklist (Check the dedicated minisite).

The first phase of creating the dataset involved the digitization of two checklists relating to the species found on the Estate from 1885 to 2006, with the integration in 2013 for the Insecta class. Subsequently, a literature search was carried out regarding all the publications on Castelporziano biodiversity from 2006 to 2019 and the data obtained were integrated into the dataset. All the observation records have been validated by botanical experts, wildlife specialists and entomologists of the Technical Scientific Commission of Castelporziano – Professors Sandro Pignatti, Carlo Blasi, Paolo Audisio and Marco Apollonio, who also provided unpublished data that were integrated into the dataset.

In the second stage, the data standardization and care/maintenance procedures were carried out using the services made available by the LifeWatch Italy platform. The dataset has been structured according to the LifeWatch Italy Data Schema which is based on the Darwin Core standard and on controlled vocabularies. For the dataset, 23 fields were selected that include information of a geographical, taxonomic nature, of the conservation status of the species according to the IUCN Red List and the Habitats and Birds Directives, as well as the alien trait and bibliographic references.

The dataset was subsequently screened for digitization errors and duplicate values removed. A taxonomic check was performed using the LifeWatch ITA nomenclatural reference system (Global Name Architecture; GNA). The GNA uses as its main Taxonomic Authority File the names present in PESI (Pan European Species directories Infrastructure; www.eu-.‐nomen.eu/portal), and for supplementary and subordinate purposes, two other nomenclators: WoRMS (www.marinespecies.org ) and the Catalogue of Life (www.catalogueoflife.org).

At the end of the standardisation and validation procedures, the dataset obtained presents 6329 taxa of which 6117 are species, 3073 genera, 801 families, 242 orders, 72 classes, 28 phyla, and 6 kingdoms.

The best represented of the latter is the animal kingdom with 3488 species, of which 2922 belong to the Insecta class. 0.77% of the species surveyed, or 49 species, are classified as alien. As for the conservation status, 492 species are present in the red lists of the IUCN (7.8%), 44 (0.7%) in the Habitat Directive 92/43 / EEC and 98 (1.55%) in the Birds Directive 2009/409 / EC. Overall, this represents 10% of the species present on the Estate and in particular 40% of the sedentary or migratory avifauna in the area.

The dataset and its metadata are accessible through the LifeWatch Italy data portal and the LifeWatch ERIC metadata catalogue. The metadata is freely available, while access and use of the dataset is guaranteed by a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International license (“CC BY-NC-SA 4.0 International”).

CNR Senior Fellowship with PhD announced

The Italian National Research Council Research Institute on Terrestrial Ecosystems (CNR-IRET) has issued a call for applications for a new Senior Fellowship with PhD position, based at the Research Unit (URT) CNR-IRET at the University of Salento in Lecce, Italy, under the supervision of professor Alberto Basset.  Applications close on 30 November 2020.  With an initial research grant for two years, the successful candidate will conduct research activities within the Internal Joint Initiative of LifeWatch ERIC, on the topic of: “Short- and long-term responses of aquatic ecosystems to alien species colonisation and invasiveness”. The research program covers:

  1. Data mining on species and ecosystem responses to alien species patterns of ecosystem colonisation and invasion,
  2. Data aggregation, curation, analysis and modelling using the LifeWatch ERIC virtual research environments, and
  3. Developing models required for the scenario development of species and ecosystems responses to recent and growing Non-Indigenous Species (NIS) invasion on model aquatic ecosystems. 

 Applicants must have a Master’s and PhD in an appropriate discipline – Biology, Physics, Chemical Sciences, Sciences and Technologies Forestry and Environmental, Sciences and Technologies for the Environment and the Territory, Mathematics, Statistical Sciences – and two years of professional experience, documented with scientific publications. Knowledge of ecological theories, open access digital archives, a good command of the English language and proficiency in Italian (for overseas applicants) are also required. Please refer to the official Selection Procedures in English document and its Italian original. Look for Bando IRET162020LE on the CNR site here. Applications will not be accepted after 30 November 2020.

SItE Roundtable event

SItE Roundtable

When the annual Congress of the Italian Society of Ecology (Società Italiana di Ecologia – SItE), planned for 14-18 September in Lecce had to be postponed until next year because of Covid-19, the organising committee, in conjunction with LifeWatch Italy and the Ecology Laboratory at the University of Salento, decided to offer its members a day of online Roundtables entitled “SItE – Towards Lecce 2021” to celebrate Ecology Day on 14 September. Around 300 registrations were made to follow the 20 presentations offered across a comprehensive range of topics:

• Ecosystem health and chemical mixture risk assessment and management

• Ecosystems and their services for human well-being 

• Healthy Ecosystems, Healthy People

• Landscape ecology: sustainable landscape management, and

• Arctic and Alpine ecosystems in the face of climate change.

Dr Christos Arvanitidis was called up from LifeWatch ERIC to contribute to the Healthy Ecosystems, Healthy People session, which was organised by the European Ecological Federation and chaired by its President, Cristina Maguas. Dr Arvanitidis’ talk was on the topic of ‘Biodiversity and Emerging Infectious Diseases: the role of the RIs in combating threats to public health’, starting with the connection between environmental factors during the Plague of Athens (430 BC) and moving forward on to how modern European Research Infrastructures (RIs) contribute to analysing the connections between human and ecosystem health. An RI like LifeWatch ERIC offers a one-stop disruptive technology-based architecture combined with docker technology, that guarantees authentication, transparency and reproducibility, which form the cornerstones of the modern process of scientific knowledge production. In addition, Dr Arvanitidis argued, it enables “the linking of facts and fact-based theory across disciplines to create a common groundwork of explanation”. Click here to download the presentation. The 2021 Italian Society of Ecology congress will take place in Lecce, from 13 to 17 September.

Four post-doc positions at URT CNR IRET Lecce

Four post-doc positions have just been announced at URT-CNR IRET in Lecce for research activities in the framework of LifeWatch Italy.

The application deadline for all these calls is 10 September 2020.

Please check these attached documents for more information:

Development of data quality control and data analysis services in the context of e-Science 

Semantic technologies to support the distributed data centres of LifeWatch in biodiversity and ecosystem research

Development of a Virtual Research Environment for the implementation of scientific applications in a distributed cloud infrastructure

Harmonisation and analysis of morpho-functional trait data and the organisation of phytoplankton guilds.

S4BioDiv 2020

3rd International Workshop on Semantics for Biodiversity

The S4BioDiv 3rd International Workshop on Semantics for Biodiversity, to be held in Bolzano, Italy, on 16 September, has issued a call for papers. Authors are invited to submit for inclusion topics related the application and development of semantic technologies to support research in the biodiversity and related domains. In the light of the coronavirus crisis, the conference may need to be held virtually. The final format of the conference will be determined in June.

Biodiversity deals with heterogeneous data and concepts generated from a large number of disciplines in order to build a coherent picture of the extent of life on earth. The presence of such a myriad of data resources makes integrative biodiversity research increasingly important, as well as challenging given the variety of ways in which data and information are produced and made available. The Semantic Web approach enhances data discoverability, sharing, interoperability and integration through a formalised conceptual environment providing common formats, standards, and terminological resources.

The S4BioDiv 2020 Workshop, which is supported by LifeWatch ERIC, aims to bring together computer scientists and biologists, working on Semantic Web approaches for biodiversity, ecology and related areas such as plant sciences, agronomy, agroecology or citizen science related to biodiversity. The goal is to exchange experiences, build a state of the art of realizations and challenges, and reuse and adapt solutions that have been proposed in other domains. The workshop focuses will be on presenting challenging issues and solutions for the design of high-quality biodiversity information systems leveraging Semantic Web techniques.

Click here for conference details and important dates.

European Researchers’ Night

September is a busy month in the LifeWatch ERIC calendar, not only for the many scientific congresses, but also because of the increased outreach to the general public, students and families in particular, to interest them in the science behind biodiversity and ecosystem research. Within the framework of the European Researchers’ Night, on 27 September 2019, events were staged in member countries to highlight the impact of research on our daily lives.

As a record 7.6 million people took to the streets in Climate Strike protests around the world, universities, laboratories and museums across Europe were opening their doors to promote how scientific researchers contribute to society by displaying their work in interactive and engaging ways, with the ultimate aim of motivating young people to embark on research careers of their own. 

The LifeWatch Greece team participated in a European Researchers’ Night in the Hellenic Centre for Marine Research, Heraklion. Hundreds of people attended and had the opportunity to learn about marine research and aquatic biodiversity in different thematic pavilions and hands-on activities, including Virtual Reality, interactive games and demonstrations.

In Lecce, Italy, professors Alberto Basset (LifeWatch ERIC) and Giuseppe Corriero (LifeWatch Italy) joined “A Pint with Science”, an open event in a popular bar, talking about ‘Biodiversity Emergency, Objective Sustainability’ to a responsive crowd of followers on Thursday. 

The following day, LifeWatch ERIC Service Centre at the University of Salento opened its premises to young people and families, to play dedicated serious games on biodiversity and make enquiries about the infrastructure and its activities. Listening to videos of key scientists explaining how ecological science builds an understanding of the issues we face globally, visitors were guided to learn more about the key challenges ahead in the field of biodiversity and ecosystem research 

In the midst of popular calls to deal with current climate issues, these outreach events showcase the diversity of research, bring researchers closer to the public, mobilise citizens, and increase general awareness and understanding of how important research and innovation are in addressing societal challenges.

LifeWatch Italy

LifeWatch Italy

Italy is a founding member of LifeWatch ERIC and has always been strongly supported by a broad and transdisciplinary national scientific community. The involvement of the Italian scientific community resulted in the establishment of a Joint Research Unit, coordinated and led by the National Research Council (CNR). The JRU is composed of 34 active members, including high level institutions, scientific academies, national research institutes, international organisations, 20 universities, regional agencies, and an array of consortia and corporations (please see here for the full list). The prominence, quantity and diversity of our members represent the foundation of a national network that is pre-eminently capable of tackling the key topics of scientific debates of our days: biodiversity, ecosystems and e-Science.

Since its establishment in 2010, LifeWatch Italy has created the national e-Science infrastructure for biodiversity and ecosystem research. Today, thanks to the ambitious LifeWatchPLUS project freshly granted by the Ministry for Education, Universities and Research (MIUR) with an investment of about 8 million euros in only three years, LifeWatch Italy is working to reinforce its national Infrastructure. Thanks to this action, LW-ITA will be capable of providing unprecedented computational power to advance the application of semantic resources, and the elaboration of data & metadata. This investment specifically aims at providing tools and platforms to support citizen science & education initiatives, while ensuring at the same time a tremendous expansion in the Infrastructure’s communication ability, which will soon include an advanced multimedia production centre and a museum. The latter makes it possible to virtually visit four types of ecosystems (mountain, semi-arid, polar and coastal/marine) accessing research data, information sheets, multimedia and 3D contents, supported by learning tools presented as serious games.

To find out more, please visit www.lifewatchitaly.eu.