Community Research and Development Information Service - CORDIS

Final Activity Report Summary - BIOSEB (Summer Schools in Ecology and Biodiversity - Understanding Patterns and Processes)

In the frames of BIOSEB project (2006-2010), a coherent series of annual scientific trainings entitled "Summer Schools in Ecology and Biodiversity - Understanding Patterns and Processes" for graduate and PhD students starting their scientific carriers was prepared and executed. In total, 265 young researchers took part in four events organised by Mammal Research Institute of the Polish Academy of Sciences (hereafter MRI PAS) in the middle of Bialowieza Primeval Forest, Poland. Summer Schools were intensive, diverse, one-week courses combining various methods of training (lectures, field training, hands-on laboratory classes, free discussion evenings, and staff-guided excursions to Bialowieza and Biebrza National Parks).

The main objective was providing the participants with state-of-the-art knowledge, expertise, and skills in forefront sub-disciplines of ecology, with a special emphasis on their multidisciplinary character. It was achieved by inviting renowned researchers from around the world as keynote speakers, utilising expertise of MRI PAS research staff in ecological studies and by creating a coherent, diverse and multi-disciplinary training programme, embracing themes of ecological and conservation genetics, population ecology, biogeography, physiological ecology, conservation of biodiversity, GIS in ecology, and methods of ecological research on animals.

The project had thus a significant positive impact on the education of a new generation of European scientists, and prepared them to tackle critical, environmental problems such as the global change and loss of biodiversity, contributing to the achievement of EU Biodiversity Target 2010. Summer Schools opened new lines of communication between leading experienced scientists and young researchers at the early stage of their careers. Event participants took advantage of the presence and contacts with the invited experienced European, North and South American scientists, and the staff of the MRI PAS. Additionally, Summer School was a platform for contact building between participants themselves.

Attendees were offered a wide range of opportunities for direct interactions and appraised highly the contact building outcome of events in evaluation forms: 91% of participants have answered "yes" to the question: "Have you established contact with scientists you did not know before?", and estimated the potential of these contacts to lead to follow up actions and scientific collaborations to the mean value of 3.52 in the 5-point scale. Educational materials for participants were published in the form of four books ("European Bison: The Nature Monograph", "Animals and Roads. Methods of limiting the negative impact of roads on wild animal populations", "The art of tracking animals" in Polish and English) and one booklet ("Educational materials for lab and field trainings").

All materials were disseminated among participants free of charge and were offered to European schools and universities as a support material for their educational programme. The impact of Summer Schools organised in the frames of BIOSEB project on participants' scientific careers will be most probably visible in the nearest future, when they will be able to use the contacts built in Bialowieza to start research collaborations, prepare common grant proposals, or apply for post-doc fellowships. Based on participants' evaluation forms, around 2/3 plans to work in research for more than 10 years, and the similar ratio plans to work in EU or Associated States, thus contributing to the development of European Research Area.

Hopefully, the communication platform developed during Summer Schools will also have a positive impact on the rate of grant obtaining success of young researchers from Central and East European countries, as special attention was paid to maintaining the balance in the percentage of participants from European Union's new member states (38% of the overall number of attendees).

Reported by

MAMMAL RESEARCH INSTITUTE POLISH ACADEMY OF SCIENCES
BIALOWIEZA
Poland
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