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GLOBal Infrastructures for Supporting Biodiversity research

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Global collaboration to measure biosphere change

One of the greatest questions currently facing our society is how the biosphere, which contains all life on our planet, will respond to global environmental change. An EU-funded initiative has united world-class research infrastructures that provide data on biodiversity change.

Climate Change and Environment

At present, it is cumbersome to make predictions about biodiversity loss, even for a specific region of the world, or a few species, let alone for the entire biosphere. One reason is the difficulty in acquiring relevant data as they are scattered over numerous repositories and have many gaps. The EU-funded Horizon 2020 GLOBIS-B project addressed this challenge by developing the research approaches and infrastructure services required to calculate Essential Biodiversity Variables (EBVs). These EBVs comprise the key datasets for computing the indicators expressing changes in the various dimensions of biodiversity (like genes, species and communities). The Group on Earth Observations Biodiversity Observation Network GEO BON proposed a set of relevant EBVs to increase scientific understanding of the complexity of natural systems. The GLOBIS-B project assisted them to promote world-wide cooperation among research infrastructures, utilising essential data at different temporal and spatial scales, as well as the services needed for deploying the data for specific applications. Better cooperation This collaboration helped provide the requisite capabilities for processing large datasets in computational workflows via data and web services from different research infrastructures. “GLOBIS-B promoted global cooperation among world-class scientific infrastructures, focusing on targeted services to support frontier research that deals with measuring indicators of biodiversity change,” says Wouter Los, scientific researcher and coordinator of the preceding CReATIVE-B project. Use of EBVs will facilitate biodiversity monitoring around the world by producing harmonised and standardised biodiversity data from disparate sources. It will be possible to establish a minimum set of critical variables for studying, reporting and managing biodiversity change. “These EBVs cover multidimensional aspects of biodiversity, including genetic diversity of selected wild and domestic species, population abundances of representative species, three-dimensional habitat structures, and nutrient retention rates in sensitive ecosystems,” explains Los. Expertise brought together The initiative brought together leading scientists with global research infrastructure operators, technical experts, and legal interoperability experts to address research needs and technical solutions and support the understanding of biodiversity and ecosystem change. “A key issue was how to streamline the legal bottlenecks for the reciprocal use of data and software tools from different origins and in interaction with national, supra-national and global policy bodies,” Los comments. Project partners focused on practical ways to address the scientific questions underpinning the concept of EBVs, related data and the technical requirements to compute them. This applied to accessing relevant data sets, harmonising data for a specific EBV purpose, filling data gaps, and finally publishing computational results and composing different indicators of biodiversity change. Researchers also addressed the legal interoperability of data and software. After analysing current practices, researchers recommended practical options for data owners, based on open (Creative Commons) licences. A workshop with representatives from policy and funding bodies resulted in joint recommendations for policy and research infrastructures regarding the next steps to be taken in implementing the project results. Greater understanding and benefits GLOBIS-B increased understanding of the EBV concept and how research infrastructures can work together to implement computational workflows for EBV development. This initiative also highlighted how both policy authorities and scientific communities may benefit from EBV data. Los claims: “A coordinated test on computing EBVs for measuring biodiversity change related to the distribution of invasive species showed that the GLOBIS-B results are feasible in practice.” The project will benefit the managers and policy makers concerned with biodiversity decline. “Apart from local and national agencies they include the major international policy bodies such as the Convention on Biological Diversity and the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services. GLOBIS-B also contributed to scientific international networks such as the Research Data Alliance and the International Conference on Research Infrastructures,” Los points out.

Keywords

GLOBIS-B, biodiversity, research, Essential Biodiversity Variables (EBVs), infrastructure, indicator

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