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 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, with proceeds used to coordinate and disseminate funds to the WoRMS editors. With the funds raised, 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.

And there’s more! Check out all the stories below on the LifeWatch Belgium website in celebration of 15 years of WoRMS!

2 – Get to know the WoRMS editors here!

3 – The growth of WoRMS over the years

4 – Developing the database

5 – Setting priorities to address gaps

6 – Behind the scenes

7 – Taxonomy – a science, an art, or a battleground?

8 – The challenge of author names

9 – Dark literature

10 – Type localities

11 – Endless possibilities

12 – Supporting the volunteers

13 – Beyond classical taxonomy

14 – Who uses WoRMS?

15 – Not reinventing the wheel

LifeWatch ERIC at the International Conference on Ecological Sciences in 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.

“The Blue Crab” Wins International Prix Italia Festival

Prix Italia

Focused on sustainability, the 74th edition of the international Rai Festival of radio, TV and web productions took place from 4 – 8 October in Bari in southern Italy. The short film, realised by the students of University of Salento DAMS Filmmaking Laboratory in collaboration with LifeWatch ERIC, centres on the Blue Crab, an alien species that is increasingly replacing native species and changing the balance of the marine ecosystems in Europe.

Readers familiar with LifeWatch ERIC’s work will know that it spent its first five years focused on five validation cases on Non-indigenous and Invasive species in the development of its Virtual Research Environment. Students from the University of Salento, host of the LifeWatch Italy node and LifeWatch ERIC Service Centre, chose one of these validation cases as the premise for their submission to the “Sustainability” category of the Prix Italia festival this year: the infamous Blue Crab (Callinectes sapidus).

This year’s theme being sustainability, students of the DAMS course quickly accepted Rai’s invitation to participate in the festival’s YLAB challenge, with a documentary made in collaboration with LifeWatch ERIC, the infrastructure’s Multimedia Production Centre and the Master’s course e-Biodiversity and Ecosystem Sciences (EBES). The short film centres on the Blue Crab, an alien species that is increasingly replacing native species and changing the balance of the marine ecosystem in Europe – a focus for research supported by LifeWatch ERIC. It was produced by the University of Salento DAMS Filmmaking Laboratory under the technical supervision of Emiliano Carico by students Martina Di Noi, Immacolata Parisi, Mirko Clemente, Gaia Pascali, Federica Gianfreda, Alessia Merico, Valentina Capone, Cosimo Micelli, Stefania Bocco and Giorgia Chirico.

The students’ creative efforts paid off during the award ceremony at the Kursaal Theatre on Friday 7 October, where “The Blue Crab” won the YLAB challenge prize! To learn more about the effects of the Blue Crab in Europe, read the paper published in the Biodiversity Data Journal “An individual-based dataset of carbon and nitrogen isotopic data of Callinectes sapidus in invaded Mediterranean waters”.

Following this success, DAMS student Mirko Clemente went to the Italian Alliance for Sustainable Development (ASviS) Festival in Rome on Thursday 20 October to present the winning documentary in the session “Sustainability, Culture and Communication”. The aim of the Festival is to spread awareness about sustainability, make sustainable development a topical issue and draw national and local attention to the problems and opportunities related to the achievement of the SDGs (Sustainable Development Goals of the 2030 Agenda). The videos will soon also be broadcast on Sky.

Watch all the entries now on the LifeWatching Science Channel!

Il granchio blu (in Italian)

Our Earth, Our Home

Sonata breve (in Italian)

About the Prix Italia Festival

The 74th edition of the annual international Festival of radio, TV e web productions took place, organised by the Italian channel Rai, from 4 – 8 October in Bari in southern Italy, with the title “Sustainable Me”. Founded in Capri in 1948, the festival grows in influence each year, with 13 new members participating in the Prix Italia for the first time in 2022, among these Public Service broadcasters of Algeria, Bulgaria, Cameroon, Chile, Cuba, Jordan, Peru and the territory of Kosovo. This time round, the productions entered in the shortlists came from 31 different broadcasters and 23 different countries. Sixty-for competing products were selected by 86 jurors from the 321 works presented: 155 television programmes, 94 radio and 72 web projects. More than just a competition, Prix Italia is a celebration of creativity, with the three days full of conferences, shows, webinars and masterclasses, presented by a variety of international talents and attended by representatives from the UN, the Executive Board EBU (European Broadcasting Union) alongside the most noteworthy European broadcasters.

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!


Serious Games for Students of Sustainability

Serious Game

Next month, LifeWatch Italy and DiSTeBA (the ecology laboratory of the University of Salento) will be taking part in the 31st Conference of the Sea (XXXI Rassegna del mare) organised by Mareamico, an environmental protection and ecological agency. Together, they will be putting on an educational session for students aged 11–14, coordinated by Franca Sangiorgio of the LifeWatch Italy node. The Conference will take place in Gallipoli in the province of Lecce in southern Italy, and this year will revolve around the theme of ‘Safeguarding Biological Resources and the Blue Economy’. In order to increase their awareness and understanding of sustainability issues, the students will be involved in tournaments focused on marine ecosystem protection and sustainability. LifeWatch Italy has for many years been working on the creation and implementation of scientific content for so-called “serious game” competitions, using the Ecologicamente platform; the initiative aims to contribute to raising awareness of sustainability issues, so that future citizens will be more conscientious when it comes to the environment. All the students taking part in the competition will receive a participation certificate and the schools which perform the best will receive a prize.

You can find the full programme for the event on the Mareamico website.

LifeWatch Greece launches Marine Creatures Citizen Science platform for Nautilos project

Nautilos Marine Creatures

The Institute of Marine Biology, Biotechnology and Aquaculture at the Hellenic Centre for Marine Research –coordinator of the LifeWatch Greece node– has launched a new citizen science platform for the Horizon2020 project, Nautilos. Using the software Zooniverse, they have called their platform for Nautilos Marine Creatures, at the service of citizen scientists everywhere. The aim of the project is to help identify the sessile and often unnoticed benthic communities living on hard substrates using high-definition underwater images from artificial reefs, ports and natural sea caves. Morphological characters can be used to identify the taxonomic groups of these sophisticated marine communities.

If you would like to participate in this voluntary project and help out, please click here and get involved! A Tutorial and a Field Guide are available which will help you discover the project, be a Citizen Scientist and learn more about the marine environment.

New EU project MarineSABRES to tackle coastal and marine biodiversity decline

marine biodiversity loss

LifeWatch ERIC is pleased to announce that it is involved as a partner in a new, EU-funded research project called MarineSABRES. The project aims to address the continued and accelerated biodiversity loss caused by the intensification of human activities at land and sea. The project — coordinated by MaREI, the SFI Centre for Energy, Climate, and Marine Research at University College Cork — will bring together an international consortium of 22 partners across 11 countries and will receive €9.8m in funding from Horizon Europe, the EU’s key funding programme for research and innovation. Running for four years, MarineSABRES aims to enable stakeholders from government and policy, coastal and marine management, scientists, and the public to make informed decisions that balance human and ecosystem needs.

To set European marine management on a course to reverse biodiversity decline, MarineSABRES will bring together diverse audiences and perspectives to co-design a simple Socio-Ecological System (SES) framework. The aim of this approach is to strengthen interventions and measures for the protection and conservation of coastal and marine areas and improve the uptake of ecosystem-based management. The Simple SES will be tested in three areas: the Tuscan Archipelago, where research will focus on seagrass conservation and protection; the Arctic (Greenland, the Faroes, and Iceland), where work will address climate change and fisheries; and Macaronesia (Azores, Madeira, and the Canaries), where the emphasis will be on biodiversity conservation and the responsible use of the region for multiple maritime activities.

The coming decade will be critical in meeting the challenge of climate change, reversing trends in biodiversity loss, and developing a sustainable ocean economy. Effective marine environmental management and biodiversity protection are fundamental to achieving the transformation to a modern, resource-efficient, and competitive low-carbon sustainable ocean economy. MarineSABRES’ Simple SES approach aims to show how we can protect and maintain the natural structure and processes of marine ecosystems while simultaneously delivering the societal goods and benefits that people rely on. Successful development of this Simple SES will enable managers to make sustainable decisions; empower citizens to engage with marine biodiversity conservation; promote sustainable development in coastal and marine sectors and setting European marine management on a course to reverse biodiversity decline.

You can find more detailed information on this project at the following page

You can learn more about the projects in which LifeWatch ERIC is involved on the Related Projects page

Biodiversity Plenary at the UNGA77 Science Summit

Biodiversity Plenary


On Friday 16 September, LifeWatch ERIC and GBIF, the Global Biodiversity Information Facility, will organise a Biodiversity Plenary at the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) Science Summit in New York, which is taking place from 13 – 30 September to mark the 77th General Assembly of the UN. Together, they will present collaborative research systems and examples of innovative digital technologies to meet the challenge set by the SDGs to preserve ecosystems –specifically SDG 14 Life below Water and SDG 15 Life on Land– encouraging better informed decision-making that is firmly rooted in science. Their complementary experiences will be offered both to the national delegations in the General Assembly and to the international community, in order to increase understanding about the resources, procedures and examples of effective interventions that can halt biodiversity loss in the context of climate change – in fact, 40 speakers will participate: representatives and experts from world organisations such as the UN; regional institutions such as the European Commission; and directors of scientific centres and research consortia from all corners of the planet. In particular, the Biodiversity Plenary will call for special attention towards the contribution of agroecology to sustainable agriculture and biodiversity, also drawing on the knowledge of indigenous communities, and will contribute to the preparation of the 2023 UN Summit of the Future, which has the purpose of forging a great consensus in the face of global challenges.

The Plenary on Friday 16 September is one of the four Plenary Sessions of a programme that lasts over 18 days and includes more than 100 events, to examine the role of scientific research and cooperation in achieving the UN SDGs for 2030. It will be broadcast live on the UNGA Science Summit website. During the event, LifeWatch ERIC aims– both through the Biodiversity Plenary and the numerous meetings that it will hold in New York with authorities, diplomats, scientists, conservationists, administrators of resources and social agents– to create awareness of the 2030 Agenda. 

Biodiversity Plenary Programme

The hybrid Plenary, taking place on Friday 16 September in New York from 09:00  – 17:00 EDT, will be opened with contributions from representatives of supranational organisations, including European Commissioners, representatives from UNESCO, and national ministers.
It is split into two sessions; the first focuses on the growing importance of networked research infrastructures, with the data, services and resources that essentially provide the backbone for fundamental and applied science, and the definition of evidence-based policies. It will begin with the panel ‘Scientific Setting: How biodiversity is crucial to delivering UN’s SDGs and what has to happen now’. This will be followed by the panel entitled ‘Biodiversity Data: support for global policy optimisation’.
The second session, ‘Biodiversity Case Studies: Accessing global datasets and using new other forms of technology-enabled evidence to inform policy-making’, is focused on case studies of biodiversity that demonstrate the qualitative leap that access to global data sets brings, using new technologies as a way to broaden scientific evidence, which improves the orientation of policy to manage, preserve or recover ecosystems.

You can find more detailed information regarding speakers on the UNGA Science Summit website.

“A Window on Science” Renewed for Third Season


We are back for another season! The first LifeWatch ERIC podcast season focused on the Internal Joint Initiative, the construction of Virtual Research Environments (VREs), and the second drew on the five validation cases used to develop those VREs. Season Three starts up on 20 July 2022, moving a little outside the infrastructure itself into the broader world of Open Science, Invasive Alien Species and practical applications of the LifeWatch ERIC VRE. The first five episodes span the August holiday break:

  • Wednesday 20 July: WoRMS (World Register of Marine Species)
  • Wednesday 3 August: Ocean Optimism
  • Wednesday 7 September: The Critical Zone
  • Wednesday 21 September: Essential Biodiversity Variables, and
  • Wednesday 5 October: The ENVRI Project.

These LifeWatch ERIC podcasts will be embedded in our website portal at the following link (find all of Season 1 here and Season 2 here), and are also available on SpotifyGoogle PodcastsApple Podcasts, and Amazon Music. Our overall purpose is to raise awareness of the good work being done to understand and remedy the damage caused by climate change and anthropogenic pressures. So have a look at the video and take a note of the dates!

A Window on Science Season 3 | Podcast Trailer

Change the Channel – LifeWatching WebTV has Landed

LifeWatching Science Channel

Calling everyone with a thirst for knowledge! Introducing LifeWatching: the new WebTV for biodiversity research in Europe.

The LifeWatching Science Channel is a free, multi-themed platform, available on any device, at any time, providing you with your fill of up-to-date, on-the-ground videos from key players in the European research landscape.

On this new WebTV exclusively for video content on biodiversity and ecosystem research, you can learn about current projects and higher education programmes at national and European level, dive into the hidden worlds of wild creatures and the scientists who keep track of them, as well as follow high-level conferences and events, past and present.

Additonally, LifeWatching will soon be further enriched with videos with dedicated channels for the LifeWatch ERIC member states. Stay tuned!

Get your fill by heading over to www.lifewatching.tv.

The LifeWatching Science Channel is run by specialised personnel at the LifeWatch ERIC Multimedia Production Centre, based at the University of Salento in Lecce, Italy. Please send an enquiry to communications[at]lifewatch.eu if you would like your video to be featured on the platform, if you need technical assistance streaming a live event, or regarding potential collaborations on audiovisual content creation for your research infrastructure/project.