Research

Focus of GLOBIS-B

The overall aim of GLOBIS-B is to support the global cooperation and interoperability of biodiversity research infrastructures towards the calculation of  Essential Biodiversity Variables (EBVs)(Kissling et al. 2015). EBVs have been proposed by GEO BON to identify a minimum set of essential measurements that are required for studying, monitoring and reporting biodiversity and ecosystem change. EBVs are conceptually located between primary observations and biodiversity indicators and could form the basis of a comprehensive worldwide monitoring network. However, this requires to integrate and harmonize available data across spatial scales (local, regional, global), temporal resolutions (daily, monthly, seasonal), and different organizational levels (ecological, taxonomic, institutional, political). Hence, there is an urgent need to identify the necessary primary data, analysis tools, methodologies, and legal and technical bottlenecks to be able to calculate, analyze, visualize and interpret EBVs across research infrastructures worldwide (Kissling et al. 2015). GLOBIS-B will work towards this goal by bringing together biodiversity scientists, global research infrastructure operators, and legal interoperability experts to develop a research and infrastructure agenda for continuously calculating EBVs on demand. This includes to identify whether and how it is possible to quantify EBVs for any place, at any time, with any relevant data, and by any person.

The data challenge

The data relevant for EBV calculation can include remote sensing data (and derived products such as land cover maps), taxonomic backbone data (e.g. nomenclatorial data), genetic and genomics data (e.g. DNA barcodes), long-term observational data from monitoring programs or biodiversity observatories (e.g. presence-absence, abundance, etc.), specimen data from scientific collections and information on functional and ecological traits or species interactions. However, many locally and nationally existing datasets are inaccessible to global and regional data integration. There are also many differences in methods, schemas, protocols, standards, and languages. Hence, the grand challenge is to put all these data together into a global framework (Kissling et al. 2015). This requires identification of which data can be realistically collected and how (data acquisition), how publishing and accessibility of data can be increased (mobilization, discovery, open access) and which common (standardized) protocols (methods) are needed for measuring data and calculating EBVs (e.g. standardized data exchange formats).

Tools and services

Several tools and services are needed for EBV calculation, analysis, visualization and interpretation. This includes semantic approaches and ontologies for data integration and interoperability, methods for data presentation and data visualization, scientific workflow systems for calculation, analysis and modeling and other ecoinformatics approaches such as up-scaling and down-scaling of biodiversity information and methods for modeling data collection processes. Hence, a prerequisites for the global implementation of EBVs is the standardization of data, metadata and data sharing (e.g. data repositories); automation of analytical tools (e.g. automated processing pipelines); and appropriate software packages. It should be possible to execute the calculation of EBVs in any research infrastructure, and from anywhere in the world.

Biodiversity information management across boundaries

The worldwide uniform implementation of EBVs implies the interoperability of research infrastructures. This presents challenges for both information technology (IT) and legal aspects (Kissling et al. 2015). The IT challenge requires interoperability of the biodiversity data infrastructures, the free accessibility of data and analysis tools (open access), standardization and automation in data management and sharing, and automated user friendly processing pipelines (e.g. virtual laboratories). The other challenge is related to legal interoperability, conditional for the automatic processing of data as supported by ‘machine–machine’ interactions across political and institutional boundaries. This is often difficult due to varying provenance of authorship and ownership of data and requires the identification of legal and policy bottlenecks. GLOBIS-B facilitates the sharing of data and resources, re-licensing of services and adoption of open/public access principles.

Workshops

To advance the worldwide uniform implementation of EBVs, GLOBIS-B will organize four integrated scientific and technical workshops (two on species distribution and abundance, one on species traits, and  one on species interactions. More information about these workshops can be found here.

Preceding project CReATIVE-B

GLOBIS-B benefits from the network of cooperating global research infrastructures (see liaisons) as brought together by the preceding FP7 project CReATIVE-B (Coordination of Research e-infrastructures Activities Toward an International Virtual Environment for Biodiversity 2011-2014). CReATIVE-B produced a roadmap for interoperability on 3 levels:

  1. Community Engagement, related to inclusion and serving the demands of the scientific community;
  2. Technology, related to data, information technology, e-science services, with best practices;
  3. Legal and Governance, related to property and access rights to data, global policy coordination

GLOBIS-B will follow this roadmap by integrating knowledge from (1) ecologists and biodiversity scientists, (2) biodiversity informaticians and infrastructure operators, and (3) legal interoperability experts, with a focus on EBVs.

References

Kissling, W.D., Hardisty, A., García, E.A., Santamaria, M., De Leo, F., Pesole, G., Freyhof, J., Manset, D., Wissel, S., Konijn, J. & Los, W. (2015) Towards global interoperability for supporting biodiversity research on essential biodiversity variables (EBVs). Biodiversity, in press. DOI: 10.1080/14888386.2015.1068709