There is a high need for up-to-date, reliable and comparable biodiversity data to efficiently manage global biodiversity. During the GLOBIS-B project, an international group of biodiversity researchers, together with ICT specialists from Research Infrastructures from all over the world now developed an interoperability framework for Essential Biodiversity Variable data products with ten principles to improve Essential Biodiversity Variable informatics. This framework was recently published in the scientific journal Ecological Informatics. You can find it here.
Essential Biodiversity Variables (EBVs) were first proposed in 2013 with the ultimate goal of deriving coordinated measurements that are needed to detect and report biodiversity change. Since then a key question has been how to prepare the needed data products for EBVs at a global scale. But it also remained unclear what is needed to build transparent and easily accessible EBV data products for any geographical area, over any required time period, for any species, assemblage, ecosystem, or biome of interest and with data that may be held by any (or across multiple) data repositories.
A key step to answer those questions includes the improvement of cooperation and interoperability among multiple stakeholders, including data and research infrastructure providers around the world such as GBIF, Atlas of Living Australia, DataONE, NEON, SAEON, SANBI, CRIA, the Biodiversity Committee of the Chinese Academy of Sciences, and many others. Building on discussions of informatics experts and representatives of such infrastructures during four workshops of the Horizon 2020 project GLOBIS-B funded by the European Commission, the published paper provides implementation guidelines of the emerging EBV operational framework.
‘Our publication suggests ten areas where data and informatics interoperability among infrastructures can be improved in support of EBVs. The ten areas cover data management planning, data structure, metadata, services, data quality, scientific workflows, provenance ontologies/vocabularies, data preservation and accessibility. For each area, a core interoperability principle is described and desired outcomes as well as short- and long-term goals are provided. Collectively, these ten principles aim to improve trans-national and cross-infrastructure workflows for EBV production,’ explains researcher W. Daniel Kissling, who is scientific coordinator of the GLOBIS-B project and works at the UvA Institute for Biodiversity and Ecosystem Dynamics.
The implementation guidelines are presented as the 'Bari Manifesto', named after the town in southern Italy where they were specified. ‘The Bari Manifesto provides a strong basis for supporting EBVs and the success of a global EBV framework’, says Alex Hardisty from Cardiff University who is the lead author of the paper. ‘The interoperability framework will also contribute towards a stronger infrastructural basis for biodiversity and ecological informatics more generally’, continues Hardisty.
The article also highlights specific actions to improve data interoperability. The recommendations are formulated separately for different stakeholders, including data standards bodies, research data infrastructures, the pertinent research communities, and funders. ‘While considerable progress has been made in understanding the operationalization of EBVs, we are still lacking sufficient technical, semantic and legal interoperability to actually build EBV data products at a global scale’, explains Kissling.
‘With the Bari Manifesto we have been able to bring many informatics experts and infrastructure operators together and we hope that our suggested implementation guidelines will allow to build scientific workflows for making reproducible and transparent EBV data products’, concludes Kissling.