Research infrastructures supporting environmental sciences are increasingly crucial for advanced basic research and for contributing to the solution of global environmental problems. This holds specifically for our living natural environment: biodiversity and ecosystems.
Understanding these systems requires access to global data sets and the integration of a diversity of data categories. Fast running interoperable capabilities to analyse these data and to test very computationally demanding models of processes of change are essential.
The emerging LifeWatch infrastructure for biodiversity and ecosystem research has to cooperate with international partners to enhance global data facilities, to address bottlenecks for achieving interoperability, and to identify and implement common solutions.
The following initiatives support this approach and expressed their interest to cooperate in the CReATIVE-B project toward an international virtual environment for biodiversity.
LifeWatch, the ESFRI Infrastructure for Biodiversity and Ecosystem Research is meant to facilitate scientific breakthroughs and to contribute to addressing global environmental problems.
LifeWatch adds value to databases, sensor networks and observation systems with an e-infrastructure providing analytical and modelling capabilities with virtual laboratories and computational power.
We need such novel approaches to understand our living environment. The current availability of Earth habitat observations and species-level and ecosystem biodiversity data is however poor. And tools for processing the data are scattered over different organizations and not shared to promote collaborative large-scale projects.
Thanks to the emergence of international initiatives on grid computing, supercomputing and other IT catalysing new distributed environments (i.e. clouds), the scientific communities worldwide have been able to increase the span of vision for distributed information, data mining and use of subsequent data sets in a faster and more intuitive eenvironment.
LifeWatch identified the need for increasing the scope of the collaboration to other international biodiversity related infrastructures and initiatives as a pre-requisite to supporting policy making on biodiversity worldwide.
The Global Biodiversity Information Facility (GBIF) was established in 2001 and provided an internationally accepted mechanism to share (species level) biodiversity data with open and common access for users. This inhibited various other developments at international and national scales.
Biodiversity research also deals with the diversity on genomic and ecosystem level. Here are different communities active. For the genomic domain, the collaborating facilities of GenBank, EBI and the DNA Data bank of Japan have developed large data services, but larger data sets mainly for a few species and insufficiently for the wider biodiversity research community.
On the ecosystem level, the International Long Term Research network (ILTER) promoted a ‘network of networks’, a global network of research sites located in a wide array of ecosystems worldwide that can help understand environmental change across the globe. Similarly marine research facilities did this for coastal and ocean research. Increasingly also satellite observation data streams are offering output that can be interpreted as relevant for biodiversity and ecosystem research.
However, we are missing capabilities to integrate these data (taking into account different spatial and temporal resolutions) and to (re-) use analytical and modeling workflows to generate knowledge from the growing data richness.
The objective of LifeWatch is to offer scientists such capabilities in the framework of virtual laboratories and with computational support. Research infrastructures in other continents add their capabilities with intensive and remote instrumentation for monitoring, with real time data streaming technologies, with new data storage and sharing facilities, and by servicing the scientific community with solutions to access and integrate the data.
GEO BON started to consider the requirements to network biodiversity observation networks to meet its objectives in the framework of GEOSS.
Collaboration of existing and developing biodiversity research infrastructure is however urgent to meet these requirements and to serve interdisciplinary research. This also holds for identifying obstacles and opportunities of various kinds to address infrastructure interoperability and international policy implications.
As such, CReATIVE-B provides the platform for discussion on technological level, community integration level as well as governance, legal and financial levels to pave the way toward interoperability between biodiversity research infrastructures.
This contributes to the GEOSS 10-year implementation plan, in particular (i) enabling global, multi-system information capabilities for biodiversity conservation, and (ii) improving the coverage, quality and availability of essential information from the in situ networks and improving the integration of in situ and satellite data.
CReATIVE-B aims at supporting the coordination between Research Infrastructures on Biodiversity and Ecosystems Research worldwide through:
CReATIVE-B is not aiming at replacing existing infrastructures nor creating a new infrastructure, but wants to empower communities. The cooperation will serve the goals of GEOSS/GEOBON.
Biodiversity & Ecosystem Research
Citizen Science(also known as crowd science, crowd-sourced science, or networked science) is scientific research conducted, in whole or in part, by amateur or nonprofessional scientists, often by crowdsourcing. Formally, citizen science has been defined as “the systematic collection and analysis of data; development of technology; testing of natural phenomena; and the dissemination of these activities by researchers on a primarily avocational basis”. Citizen science is sometimes called “public participation in scientific research.”
Community of Practice (CoP) A term coined to capture an activity system that includes individuals who are united in action and in the meaning that action has for them and for the larger collective. The communities of practice are virtual, i.e., they are not formal structures, such as departments or project teams. Instead, these communities exist in the minds of their members, are glued together by the connections they have with each other, as well as by their specific shared problems or areas of interest. The generation of knowledge in communities of practice occurs when people participate in problem solving and share the knowledge necessary to solve the problems.
Complex System present problems in mathematical modelling. Complex systems is a new approach to science that studies how relationships between parts give rise to the collective behaviors of a system and how the system interacts and forms relationships with its environment.The equations from which complex system models are developed generally derive from statistical physics, information theory and non-linear dynamics, and represent organized but unpredictable behaviors of systems of nature that are considered fundamentally complex. The physical manifestations of such systems cannot be defined, so the usual choice is to refer to “the system” as the mathematical information model, without referring to the undefined physical subject the model represents.
CReATIVE-B community It consists of CReATIVE-B community members or CReATIVE-B supporters and includes all the targeted audience of the project who have demonstrated an interest to be updated and informed about CReATIVE-B project evolutions. A number of benefits are presented for both the community members and the project, presented in the section outreach and CReATIVE-B Community in Directly Controlled Communication Channels.
CReATIVE-B Communication Network It includes all the indirectly-controlled communication channels that CReATIVE-B will build to disseminate the project, or else, the communication partners, including relevant organizations, networks, projects and initiatives. These will form a mailing list and will receive dissemination information to distribute further to their channels.
Dissemination Dissemination is defined as “the means through which project results are presented to the public (internal and external)”. It is the term generally used for communication of specific information to a targeted audience or general public, by means of press, TV, radio, and other large-scale media. It can also be associated with the dissemination process and means, and the communication activities at events, such as demonstration events, posters, and procurement lettering and mailing.
e-Infrastructure e-Infrastructure refers to a combination and interworking of digitally-based technology (hardware and software), resources (data, services, digital libraries), communications (protocols, access rights and networks), and the people and organizational structures needed to support modern, internationally leading collaborative research be it in the arts and humanities or the sciences.
Interoperability is the ability of diverse systems and organizations to work together (inter-operate). While the term was initially defined for information technology or systems engineering services to allow for information exchange, a more broad definition takes into account social, political, and organizational factors that impact system to system performance.
Stakeholder Any organization or individual being interested in the project or having an interest in the progress and/or outcomes of the project.
Target audience The term is used to describe the groups of stakeholders interested at some level to the project activities and results. These include the scientific, environmental and biodiversity communities, IT specialists, students, consumers, potential clients, lay public, press and media and politicians.
Usability The extent to which a product can be used by specified users to achieve specified goals with effectiveness, efficiency and satisfaction in a specified context of use (http://www.w3.org/WAI/).
Virtual Organization (VO) Refers to a dynamic set of individuals or institutions defined around a set of resource-sharing rules and conditions. All these virtual organizations share some commonality among them, including common concerns and requirements, but may vary in size, scope, duration, sociology, and structure.
Virtual Research Environment (VRE) A system with the following distinguishing features: (i) it is a Web-based working environment; (ii) it is tailored to serve the needs of a Community of Practice; (iii) it is expected to provide a community of practice with the whole array of commodities needed to accomplish the community’s goal(s); (iv) it is open and flexible with respect to the overall service offering and lifetime; and (v) it promotes fine-grained controlled sharing of both intermediate and final research results by guaranteeing ownership, provenance, and attribution.