Cardiff University


Over 15 years, the School of Computer Science and Informatics (COMSC) at Cardiff University has developed novel techniques for representing, manipulating and processing information to support knowledgeable decision-making. In biodiversity and ecology this has included:

  • Prototyping architecture of a cyber/e-Infrastructure platform for biodiversity and ecosystems research that is adopted as the basis of the LifeWatch research infrastructure, and offered as a pilot service by Biodiversity Virtual e-Laboratory (BioVeL). This has addressed computer science research problems in workflow system integration and usability, security, interoperability and integration of heterogeneous, distributed and legacy systems and databases.
  • Building the distributed information system known as Species2000 / ITIS Catalogue of Life, which is index of the world’s known species of animals, plants, fungi and micro-organisms. This has addressed research problems in heterogeneous systems federation, data quality control and standards.

Implementing EBVs requires global cooperation of the different biodiversity research infrastructures to serve comparable data sets and analytical capabilities. The IT challenge requires technical interoperability of the biodiversity data infrastructures, based on widely accepted standards for data format and data transfer. It requires and targeted attention for standardised and widely accepted scientific protocols (i.e., workflows) capable of being executed in any research infrastructure, and from anywhere in the world, such that EBVs can be calculated and presented by any person for any place, at any time, with any relevant data. The role of Cardiff University in the GLOBIS-B project is to lead and coordinate the technical IT work, looking at these issues and planning to remove the technical obstacles identified.


Relevant previous projects or activities

BioVeL: Biodiversity Virtual e-Laboratory

Catalogue of Life: Index of the world’s species of animals, plants, fungi and micro-organisms

CReATIVE-B: Coordination of research e-infrastructure activities toward an international virtual environment for biodiversity

ENVRI/ENVRIplus: Common operations of environmental research infrastructures

LifeWatch: e-Science European infrastructure for biodiversity and ecosystem research.

Project Members

Alex Hardisty

Alex Hardisty is Director of Informatics Projects, a Chartered Information Systems Professional Fellow of the British Computer Society (BCS) and a Member of the Chartered Management Institute (CMI). His research interests span applications of computing to problems in environmental and ecological informatics, including engineering and interoperability of large-scale distributed computing systems (e-Infrastructures) for data management and processing, and the socio-technical issues of new technology adoption. He has led community efforts creating a decadal vision for biodiversity informatics, and deploying a pilot virtual laboratory (e-infrastructure) for biodiversity and ecology big data analysis.

Relevant publications

Kissling WD, Hardisty A, Alonso García E, Santamaria M, De Leo F, Pesol, G, Freyhof J, Manset D, Wissel S, Konijn J and Los L. (2015) Towards global interoperability for supporting biodiversity research on Essential Biodiversity Variables (EBVs). Biodiversity. doi:10.1080/14888386.2015.1068709.

Alonso E, Bellisari L, De Leo F, Hardisty A, Keuchkerian S, Konijn J, Los W, Manset D, Spinelli O, Vicario S. (2014) Flock Together with CReATIVE-B: A roadmap of global research data infrastructures supporting biodiversity and ecosystem science.

Hardisty A, Roberts D, The Bioinformatics Community (2013) A decadal view of biodiversity informatics: challenges and priorities. BMC Ecol 13:16. doi:10.1186/1472-6785-13-16