Celebrating 15 years of WoRMS

WoRMS 15 years

In 2007, the digitally available European Register of Marine Species (ERMS) expanded into a World Register of Marine Species, et voila, WoRMS was born. WoRMS is hosted by VLIZ, which is the national focal point for LifeWatch Belgium. In 2022, WoRMS can be seen as the number one authoritative classification and catalogue of marine names.

WoRMS is managed by a small Data Management Team (DMT) and an elected Steering Committee (SC), but the actual driving force behind the high-quality content of WoRMS is the Editorial Board. Completing and correcting WoRMS requires an enormous continuing effort and is entirely dependent on the expertise and time of the editors. On top of that, it is a race against time as species are at risk of disappearing due to changing environmental conditions such as warming, pollution and acidification, before they are discovered.

To celebrate its 15th birthday and 15 years of collaboration with (taxonomic) experts all over the globe, WoRMS designed an exclusive t-shirt. By purchasing your WoRMS t-shirt, you support the sea; all profit goes to the VLIZ Philanthropy project “Support the WoRMS editors”. Your purchase will be used to coordinate and disseminate funds to the WoRMS editors, and in turn, editors will be able to continue to fill gaps in coverage, expand the content and enhance the quality of taxonomic databases, attract interns and students to assist in the verification of taxonomic information, and purchase scientific literature.

The WoRMS t-shirt consists of 100% organic cotton, is produced fair-trade and can be ordered until 10 December, with shipping worldwide taking place in January. Your package will be sent in a bio-based polymer PBAT mailer bag, certified to be biodegradable in the compost bin. Make sure you don’t miss out on this unique opportunity – order your T-shirt now!

Get to know the WoRMS editors here!

This article was adapted from the original on the website of LifeWatch Belgium.

LifeWatch ERIC to feature prominently at ICSOC 2022

ICSOC

ICSOC, the International Conference on Service-Oriented Computing, is the premier international forum for academics, industry researchers, developers, and practitioners to report and share groundbreaking work in service-oriented computing. ICSOC fosters cross-community scientific excellence by gathering experts from various disciplines, such as services science, data science, management science, business-process management, distributed systems, wireless and mobile computing, cloud and edge computing, cyber-physical systems, Internet-of-Things (IoT), scientific workflows, artificial intelligence, machine learning, and services and software engineering.

This congress provides a high-quality forum for presenting results and discussing ideas that further our knowledge and understanding of the various aspects (e.g. application and system aspects) related to Service Computing with particular focus on artificial intelligence, machine learning, big data analytics, IoT, and emerging technologies including quantum computing.

ICSOC 2022, the 20th event in this series, will take place in Seville, Spain from 29 November – 2 December 2022. Inkeeping with ICSOC tradition, it will feature visionary keynote presentations, research and industry presentations, a vision track, workshops, tutorials, and a PhD track.

LifeWatch ERIC is one of the main sponsors and will give two presentations. On Wednesday, 30 November, Antonio José Sáenz-Albanés, ICT Core Operations Coordinator at LifeWatch ERIC, will do a presentation on ‘LifeWatch ERIC distributed e-infrastructure, challenges and goals’. And on Friday, 2 December, Juan Miguel González-Aranda, LifeWatch ERIC CTO and head of LifeWatch Spain, will participate in a session in collaboration with the Digital Agency of Andalusia and will talk about ‘LifeWatch ERIC, an Open e-Science & Data Service Oriented distributed panEuropean Research Core Infrastructure: AstarteWatch, from Andalusia to the rest of the World’.

In the organising committee of ICSOC 2022, the honorary chair is Pablo Cortés, General Secretary of Research and Innovation of Junta de Andalucía, Spain. The general co-chairs are Pablo Fernández and Antonio Ruiz (University of Seville, Spain). The programme co-chairs are Brahim Medjahed (University of Michigan-Dearborn, United States); Mario Piattini (University of Castilla-La-Mancha, Spain) and Lina Yao (UNSW, Australia). The local chair is Jose Maria Garcia (University of Seville, Spain) and the finance chair is Bernd Krämer (Fern University, Germany). 

In the five main thematic areas of this international conference, the Service-Oriented Technology Trends Chair is Marco Aiello (University of Stuttgart, Germany); the Machine Learning / Artificial Intelligence Chair is Xianzhi Wang (University of Technology Sydney, Australia); the Big Data Analytics Chair is Qi Yu (Rochester Institute of Technology, United States); the Internet of Things Chair is Azadeh Ghari Neiat (Deakin University, Australia); and the Emerging Technologies Chair is Manuel Resinas (University of Seville, Spain). 

LifeWatch ERIC at the International Conference on Ecological Sciences in Metz

Metz

The SFE2, GFÖ & EEF International Conference on Ecological Sciences is taking place in Metz this week, from 21–25 November, organised by the LIEC (University of Lorraine, CNRS) and other labs in northeastern France working in the fields of ecology and evolution. LifeWatch ERIC is not only there with a stand, but is contributing to the agenda with cutting-edge topics in the field of biodiversity– namely, Non-indigenous and Invasive Species (NIS), considered one of the major threats to ecosystem functioning and one of the main drivers of biodiversity loss.

The European Infrastructure for Biodiversity and Ecosystem Research is putting on two events at the Conference on Ecological Sciences, a Workshop on 21 November to train scientists in the use of e-tools and resources to address key ecological questions on Non-indigenous and Invasive Species, and a Symposium on European Research Infrastructures (RIs).

The Workshop consists of a 4-hour training session in which interested attendees learn how to access and use LifeWatch ERIC Virtual Research Environments (VREs) from their personal computers, in which NIS case studies and workflows are embedded. The hands-on session is introduced by an interactive session to guide the attendees on their first approach to the VREs and related e-tools.

At the Symposium on 24 November, the discussion focuses on major scientific and societal challenges presented by biodiversity loss. Speakers are to present their RIs, then illustrate the services and facilities that these RIs can provide to address major threats for biodiversity (e.g., alien species, habitat degradation and fragmentation, etc.) and tackle climate change impacts affecting ecosystem functioning and services. It is therefore also an occasion to explore multidisciplinary expertise and synergies on these key topics.

Please follow the links for more information on the Workshop and the Symposium.

New Synergies in the Cartuja Science and Technology Park

PCT Cartuja

At the LifeWatch ERIC ICT-Core & FEDERTECH headquarters in the Cartuja Science and Technology Park (PCT Cartuja) in Seville, a working meeting took place on Friday 18 November between Juan Miguel González-Aranda, LifeWatch ERIC CTO and Head of LifeWatch Spain, and Francisco Rodríguez Rubio, Director of the Higher Technical School of Engineering of Seville, whose headquarters are also in the PCT Cartuja. The aim of the meeting was to advance agreements between both entities in order to develop research and innovation initiatives in the field of e-biodiversity and the sustainable management of ecosystem services; a synergy that will promote the generation of knowledge and excellence from said science and technology park within the framework of the European Union, with a global vision.

The Higher Technical School of Engineering (ETSi) of the University of Seville is a university centre of international reference in the field of engineering research. Currently, the ETSi university community has more than 5,600 students, and over 500 professors and researchers. It is very well-positioned in international rankings, including the Shanghai ranking, where four of the School’s courses come in as the top positions in Spain, and are among the top 300 worldwide:

  • Instruments Science and Technology, position 50
  • Automation and Control, range 76-100
  • Electrical and Electronic Engineering and Mathematics, range 101-150
  • Energy Sciences and Engineering and Mechanical Engineering, range 201-300

ALL-Ready Regional Workshop Hosted by LifeWatch ERIC: Accelerating the Agroecology Transition

ALL-Ready Workshop

LifeWatch ERIC is hosting a hybrid regional workshop on 2 November for the ALL-Ready Project, at its ICT-Core office in Seville, located in the Cartuja Science and Technology Park. It will be attended by the project partners and more than 50 experts from Spain, Portugal, Greece, Bulgaria and Italy, of which 50% of the attendees are members of the Andalusian agricultural and agri-food sectors. Presenting will be Consolación Vera, General Secretary of Agriculture, Livestock and Food of the Junta de Andalucía, and José Carlos Álvarez, Managing Director of AGAPA, the Andalusian Agricultural and Fisheries Management Agency, alongside representatives of workshop organisers LifeWatch ERIC (Juan Miguel González-Aranda, CTO) and INRAE (Heather McKhann, Muriel Mambrini-Doudet). The Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries, Water and Rural Development of the Junta de Andalucía and its organic farming working group are also collaborating in the organisation of the event, to involve the Andalusian community of farmers (through the SmartFood project). They will present as a success story their experience promoting and stimulating the creation of Living Labs in Agroecology to enhance the presence of Andalusian farmers in the European Association. More information on the workshop and attendees here.

The important news from this Horizon2020 project is that the European Commission, through Horizon Europe, is designing the European Association to Accelerate the Transition of Agricultural Systems through Living Labs (collaborative workspaces) and Research Infrastructures in Agroecology, formed of the ALL-Ready project consortium and the experts in attendance at the workshop. The aim is over the next seven years to mobilise more than 500 million euros in order to bring the green and digital revolution to fruition in the agricultural sector, in line with the European Green Deal, the Farm to Fork Strategy, the European Biodiversity Strategy 2030, the new Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) and the UN SDGs. At the workshop, the participants will work together to propose the focus, maturity and financing of their initiatives, taking into account the practices and values ​​of ALL-Ready, to define their respective roles in the network. Another goal is to boost the participation of local agents from Southern Europe in the initiatives that will be organised by the Association.

For its part, LifeWatch ERIC has been designated by the European Commission as the Reference Research Infrastructure for the management of knowledge, data and infrastructure of Information Technology Association, and to help contribute to a green and digital revolution across Europe. To this end, the infrastructure is developing an innovative Virtual Research Environment based on its Tesseract and LifeBlock (which uses Blockchain) platforms, which will support the tokenisation of ecosystem services to enable ecosystem monitoring and tracking and CAP schemes based on agroecological practices and low-carbon agriculture. These developments carried out from Andalusia through its AstarteWatch network will be duly federated at a pan-European level through the LifeWatch ERIC e-Infrastructure.

In the two days following the regional workshop on 2 November, the ALL-Ready Annual Meeting morning will take place between the 13 entities of the project consortium, hosted by LifeWatch ERIC. Together, they will analyse the achievements made in the first phases of the project, define and plan the next steps, organise the growing involvement of all sectors linked to agroecology and model the training courses that contribute to systematising the legacy of this project and its continuity.

To learn more about the projects in which LifeWatch ERIC is involved, please see the Related Projects page.

One Biodiversity Knowledge Hub to link them all: the II BiCIKL General Assembly

BiCIKL General Assembly


The Horizon 2020 – funded Project BiCIKL, in which LifeWatch ERIC is a partner, has reached its halfway stage. The partners gathered in Plovdiv (Bulgaria) from 22 – 25 October for the Second General Assembly, brilliantly organised by Pensoft Publishers

The BiCIKL project will launch a new European community of key research infrastructures, researchers, citizen scientists and other stakeholders in the biodiversity and life sciences based on open science practices through access to data, tools and services. BiCIKL’s goal is to create a centralised place to connect all key biodiversity data by interlinking 15 research infrastructures and their databases. The 3-year European Commission-supported initiative kicked off in 2021 and involves 14 key natural history institutions from 10 European countries.

BiCIKL is keeping pace as expected (16 out of 48 deliverables have been submitted, 9 are in progress/under review and due in a few days, 21 out of 48 milestones have been achieved).

The hybrid format of the meeting enabled a wider range of participants, which resulted in robust discussions on the next steps of the project, such as the implementation of additional technical features of the FAIR Data Place (FAIR being an abbreviation for Findable, Accessible, Interoperable and Reusable). This online platform – the key and final product of the partnership and the BiCIKL initiative – is meant to provide scientists with all types of biodiversity data “at their fingertips”. 

This data includes information, such as detailed images, DNA, physiology and past studies concerning a specific species and its ‘relatives’, to name a few. Currently, the issue is that all those types of biodiversity data have so far been scattered across various databases, which in turn have been missing meaningful and efficient interconnectedness.

Additionally, the FAIR Data Place, developed within the BiCIKL project, is to give researchers access to plenty of training modules to guide them through the different services.

Halfway through the duration of BiCIKL, the project is at a turning point, where crucial discussions between the partners are playing a central role in the refinement of the FAIR Data Place design. Most importantly, they are tasked with ensuring that their technologies work efficiently with each other, in order to seamlessly exchange, update and share the biodiversity data every one of them is collecting and taking care of. 

By Year 3 of the BiCIKL project, the partners agree, when those infrastructures and databases become efficiently interconnected to each other, scientists studying the Earth’s biodiversity across the world will be in a much better position to build on existing research and improve the way and the pace at which nature is being explored and understood. At the end of the day, knowledge is the stepping stone for the preservation of biodiversity and humankind itself.

“Needless to say, it’s an honour and a pleasure to be the coordinator of such an amazing team spanning as many as 14 partnering natural history and biodiversity research institutions from across Europe, but also involving many global long-year collaborators and their infrastructures, such as Wikidata, GBIF, TDWG, Catalogue of Life to name a few. I see our meeting in Plovdiv as a practical demonstration of our eagerness and commitment to tackle the long-standing and technically complex challenge of breaking down the silos in the biodiversity data domain. It is time to start building freeways between all biodiversity data, across (digital) space, time and data types. After the last three days that we spent together in inspirational and productive discussions, I am as confident as ever that we are close to providing scientists with much more straightforward routes to not only generate more biodiversity data, but also build on the already existing knowledge to form new hypotheses and information ready to use by decision- and policy-makers. One cannot stress enough how important the role of biodiversity data is in preserving life on Earth. These data are indeed the groundwork for all that we know about the natural world” – said BiCIKL’s project coordinator Prof. Lyubomir Penev, CEO and founder of Pensoft, a scholarly publisher and technology provider company. 

“The point is: do we want an integrated structure or do we prefer federated structures?” – says Christos Arvanitidis, LifeWatch ERIC – “What are the pros and cons of the two options? It’s essential to keep the community united and allied because we can’t afford any information loss and the stakeholders should feel at home with the Project and the Biodiversity Knowledge Hub.”

“We are a brand new community, and we are in the middle of the growth process” – says Joe Miller, GBIF– “We would like to already have answers, but it’s good to have this kind of robust discussion to build on a good basis. We must find the best solution to have linkages between infrastructures and be able to maintain them in the future because the BKH is the location to gather the community around best practices, data and guidelines on how to use the BiCIKL services… In order to engage even more partners to fill the eventual gaps in our knowledge.”

“BiCIKL is leading data infrastructure communities through some exciting and important developments”, says Guy Cochrane, EMBL-EBI. “In an era of biodiversity change and loss, leveraging scientific data fully will allow the world to catalogue what we have now, to track and understand how things are changing and to build the tools that we will use to conserve or remediate. The challenge is that the data come from many streams – molecular biology, taxonomy, natural history collections, biodiversity observation – that need to be connected and intersected to allow scientists and others to ask real questions about the data. In its first year, BiCIKL has made some key advances to rise to this challenge.”

“As a partner, we, at  Biodiversity Information Standards – TDWG, are very enthusiastic that our standards are implemented in BiCIKL and serve to link biodiversity data.  We know that joining forces and working together is crucial to building efficient infrastructures and sharing knowledge”, says Deborah Paul, chair of the Biodiversity Information Standards-TDWG.

The project will go on with the first Round Table of experts in December and the publications of the projects who participated in the Open Call and will be founded (https://bicikl-project.eu/open-call-projects) at the beginning of the next year.

To learn more about projects in which LifeWatch ERIC is involved, please visit our Related Projects page.

A Focus on Gender-Responsive Policy at the Women for the Mediterranean Conference

Women for the Mediterranean

LifeWatch ERIC International Gender Officer, Africa Zanella, took part this week in the Women for the Mediterranean Conference in Madrid, where Union for the Mediterranean member states committed on Wednesday to strengthening the role of women in society in response to regional crises. Ms Zanella, who is also CEO of CGSE, as well as Observer and Gender Focal Point for the CIF, moderated the panel “Gender Equality and Climate Change: women as agents for change and stakeholders instead of vulnerable groups”, followed by participation in the panel “Gender-responsive finance at scale for climate and environment action”.

A recurring theme in her speeches throughout the day was calling for attention to language, and she opened by rejecting the ubiquitous term “climate change”, calling for the phenomenon to be referred to as the “climate crisis”. Also in common with her following presentations, she called for more gender analysis into research and policy, explaining her role within LifeWatch ERIC to implement a Gender Equity Plan, which is now a requirement for participation in EU research funding programmes, and use of tools such as IGAR to increase equality and wellbeing in the research infrastructure, which provides science research facilities and services to scientists investigating biodiversity and ecosystem functions towards addressing key societal challenges linked to climate change.

For the first panel, she introduced panellists: Saira Ahmed, Programme Management Officer at UNDRR, Blanca Moreno-Dodson, Director of the CMIUNOPS, Yasmine Seghirate, Policy and Communication Officer at CIHEAM, and Maggie Refaat, Regional Gender Specialist at FAO. Some of the key points the experts spoke about were the desegregation of data for effective gender analysis of policy, due to the large diversity within genders, and about increased information exchange between universities and research infrastructures in order to develop equality plans and support women who want to become scientists.

Next, Africa Zanella invited the panellists to choose the point of action from the Gender Declaration which they believe would make the best change for women. Points mentioned included training and research, due to the important of having data which reveals how climate change is affecting women; monitoring changes to legislation, which largely needs to be reviewed in order to incorporate gender component; the importance of having reliable data on climate financing, to encourage the private sector to collaborate with public sector; gender transformative approaches, such as increased reporting on women’s access to land ownership and access to knowledge; and increased investment in a gender-sensitiiveresponse to disasters, which would involve more resources made directly available to grassroots women’s organisations.

When as a panellist the Gender Officer was asked how the Union for the Mediterranean roadmap could be improved, she stated the stark fact that only 0.04% of climate funding is dedicated into gender, citing the problem as a bureaucratic resistance to change globally. Moreover, in line with her previous statements, Africa Zanella called for an end to tokenism, explaining that women are not are homogenous group, and further factors must be taken into account, such as sector, region, etc.: requiring a more thorough and detailed analytic approach to developing gender-responsive policy. Finally, Ms Zanella mentioned ongoing research being undertaken by CIF World Bank, for which she is part of the reference group, which shows that what women in developing countries want is a voice, so they can give their perspective and decide their own fate.

About Union for the Mediterranean

The Union for the Mediterranean (UfM) is an intergovernmental Euro-Mediterranean organisation which brings together all countries of the European Union and 15 countries of the Southern and Eastern Mediterranean. UfM’s mission is to enhance regional cooperation, dialogue and the implementation of projects and initiatives with tangible impact on our citizens, with an emphasis on young people and women, in order to address the three strategic objectives of the region: stability, human development and integration.

Women for the Mediterranean

Pathways to Improved Resilience through Digital and Remote Access

eRImote Workshop

The eRImote project kicked off in June this year, devoted to considering solutions for digital and remote service provision across Research Infrastructure domains and looking for transferable practices and new developments that will improve accessibility and resilience. The second eRImote workshop, on 24 and 25 October 2022, focused on Remote Operations of RI services, including quality management, and questions of data and access security. Coherent with eRImote’s mission the workshop was offered remotely.

The final panel discussion on the first day was moderated by Johanna Bischoff of Euro BioImaging and featured LifeWatch ERIC Chief Technology Officer Juan Miguel González-Aranda, alongside Christina Redfield from the University of Oxford and Robert Harmel of EU-OPENSCREEN. Dr González-Aranda’s presentation was entitled “Remote Operations of Infrastructure Services”, but the logic built up from a compelling and disturbing overview of the biodiversity crisis we all face.

Referencing IUCN Red List categories of endangered species data and extinctions since 1500, the presentation emphasised the essential importance of addressing the big environmental challenges by supporting knowledge-based strategic solutions to biodiversity loss. Only though large-scale monitoring can we understand the ecosystem functions and services that nourish life and benefit humans.  

LifeWatch ERIC is the structural tool within the European Research Area that supplies scientific knowledge complete enough to support political decision-making. Combining datasets, service and tools in state-of-the-art virtual research environments, LifeWatch ERIC’s Big Data, AI, HPC-Grid Cloud computing, backed with Blockchain, working with other Research Infrastructures, can deliver the goods.

LifeWatch Greece integrated into GOOS Biology and Ecosystems GeoNode

GeoNode BioEco Portal

The LifeWatch Greece national node, led by HCMR, hosts a large and continuously updated database with biodiversity data collected from monitoring projects throughout the Mediterranean (MedOBIS). As of September, it has been integrated as a layer of GeoNode BioEco Portal as a monitoring project for Greek Bioversity.

The GOOS BioEco Portal is a publicly available tool to monitor the status of the marine biological observing system. The GEONODE is the back-end interface where registered users can upload, edit and manage their monitoring program details including which EOVs (Essential Ocean Variables) and EBVs (Essential Biodiversity Variables) are monitored; spatial and temporal information; status of the program; data availability and licences; standardisation and protocols; as well as links to applications, tools and outputs based on the collected observations. This GeoNode is hosted and maintained by the secretariat of the Ocean Biodiversity Information System (OBIS) based at the IOC Project Office for IODE in Ostend, Belgium as a service to support the Global Ocean Observing System Biology and Ecosystem Panel.

You can find the original article on the LifeWatch Greece website.

Second open access data paper published in the Biodiversity Data Journal

procambarus clarkii

The “LifeWatch ERIC Collection of Data and Services Papers” published in the Biodiversity Data Journal is dedicated to the resources and assets developed, upgraded and used during the implementation of the Internal Joint Initiative (IJI), our flagship project focused non-indigenous and invasive species (NIS). Following the debut paper “An individual-based dataset of carbon and nitrogen isotopic data of Callinectes sapidus in invaded Mediterranean waters” (Di Muri et al.) in January, a second open-access data paper in this series was published on 20 October 2022, entitled “Individual and population-scale carbon and nitrogen isotopic values of Procambarus clarkii in invaded freshwater ecosystems” (Di Muri et al.).

Freshwater ecosystems are amongst the most threatened habitats on Earth; nevertheless, they support about 9.5% of known global biodiversity while covering less than 1% of the globe’s surface. One such threat are NIS such as the Louisiana crayfish, Procambarus clarkii. Crayfish species are widely-distributed freshwater invaders and, while alien species introductions occur mostly accidentally, alien crayfish are often released deliberately into new areas for commercial purposes. Native to the south United States and north Mexico, P. clarkii has been introduced in Europe, Asia and Africa, having negative impacts in the majority of invaded habitats where it became dominant, meaning it had become essential to evaluate the ecological consequences and quantify its impact.

The paper presents two geo-referenced datasets of isotopic signatures of the Louisiana crayfish and its animal and vegetable prey in invaded inland and brackish waters. To the best of the authors’ knowledge, this effort represents the first attempt to collate in standardised datasets the sparse isotopic information of P. clarkii available in literature. The datasets provide a spatially explicit resolution of its trophic ecology and can be used to address a variety of ecological questions concerning its ecological impact on recipient aquatic food webs.

The research was carried out within the context of the IJI, more specifically the ‘Crustaceans Workflow’, one of the validation cases used to develop an interdisciplinary Virtual Research Environment that utilises disruptive technologies to deal with the impacts of NIS on native species, genetic diversity, habitats, ecosystem functioning and services, and to inform current practices in environmental management and policy implementation. Stay tuned for the next paper!


ACCESS THE PAPER HERE