TrIAS Newsletter

1 | Newly published checklists of Belgian Alien Biodiversity 2 | Manual of the Alien Plants of Belgium 3 | Inventory of alien macroinvertebrates in Flanders 4 | Checklist of non-native freshwater fishes in Flanders 5 | Catalogue of the Rust Fungi of Belgium 6 | Improvements to data standards 7 | TrIAS in public 8 | What's next for TrIAS? 9 | Three researchers have been hired to work on TrIAS



June 2018

TrIAS is a Belspo-funded project running from 2017 to 2020. The project aims to build an open data-driven framework to support policy on invasive species. 

1 | Newly published checklists of Belgian Alien Biodiversity

Four checklists of plant, fungi and animals have been published to Global Biodiversity Information Facility (GBIF). Each had their own unique challenges of data structure and standards compliance. Each checklist has been formatted into Darwin Core using bespoke R scripts that are openly available on the TrIAS GitHub repository.

During the process we have learnt much about the suitability of biodiversity standards and the ambiguities of checklists. Note the version numbers in the data sets below. Iterations of validation, mapping, correction and republication are an essential parts of the data processing workflow.

2 | Manual of the Alien Plants of Belgium 

The Manual of Alien Plants is one of the most comprehensive and actively curated national checklists of alien plants. As it is updated regularly it needs a simple and robust publication workflow to ensure rapid, repeatable and sustainable publication.

Checklist Dataset accessed via GBIF.

3 | Inventory of alien macroinvertebrates in Flanders 

Invasions of freshwater ecosystems are plenty, but are often unnoticed. The Inventory of alien macroinvertebrates is a species checklist that contains information on 73 alien macroinvertebrate species occurring in aquatic habitats, from inland lakes to coastal harbours. Most species are crustaceans and molluscs, but it also has roundworms and flatworms alien to Belgium. Most of them originate from North America or the Ponto-Caspian region and the main vectors of introduction are the hull of ships (biofouling) and ballast water.

Checklist Dataset accessed via GBIF.

4 | Checklist of non-native freshwater fishes in Flanders 

The non-native freshwater fishes are a small but important group of alien species. They are a potential cause and indicator of environmental change in Flemish freshwater. This checklist includes the vernacular names of the fish in Dutch and English. Vernacular names can be an important tool when discussing invasive species with the general public.

Checklist Dataset accessed via GBIF.

5 | Catalogue of the Rust Fungi of Belgium

Invasive diseases are some of the most impactful of species invasions. The rust fungi are obligate parasites and a number are invasive as diseases on crops, garden and wild plants. Rust fungi have a complicated life cycle, often alternating between different hosts. Therefore, details of the host organism are important to understanding their impact. We believe that this is the first dataset on GBIF to uses the resourceRelationship extension of Darwin core to express the relationship between a pathogenic fungus and its host plant.

Checklist Dataset  accessed via GBIF.

6 | Improvements to data standards 

This year the executive of the Biodiversity Information Standards Organization (TDWG) approved a new task group on alien species data that will be led by Quentin Groom. This is needed because certain critical data types have no suitable terms or controlled vocabularies in Darwin Core. The task group will be working on terms such as occurrenceStatus and establishmentMeans, but also proposing new terms such as degreeOfEstablishment. These terms will be used by TrIAS in checklists and observations, because they will help us build better indicators of alien species invasion.

7 | TrIAS in public

TrIAS has been represented at several scientific meetings, but we aim to communicate our aims widely. 

Sonia Vanderhoeven, plant biologist specialised in biological invasions at the Belgian Biodiversity Platform, and Lien Reyserhove (pictured) presented TrIAS at the Fourth Annual Meeting on Plant Ecology and Evolution at Meise Botanic Garden. Sonia presented the whole project and the policy case, while Lien detailed how she was generating machine readable checklists in an open and reproducible manner.

TrIAS has also been represented at the Biodiversity Information Standards meeting in Ottawa; at the 2017 Eionet Workshop in Copenhagen; at the 9th European GBIF nodes meeting in Stockholm; at the Citizen Science Symposium in Ghent and a symposium on the Mobilization of Structured Biodiversity Data, Co-hosted by iDiv, GEO BON, GBIF in Leipzig. All the details of these presentations are available on the outreach page of the website.

8 | What's next for TrIAS?

  • Alien CSI

A new COST Action has just been announced with the formal title “Increasing understanding of alien species through citizen science”. Tim Adriaens and Quentin Groom contributed to the writing of this action and TrIAS hopes to be leading two of the working groups. COST Actions provide money for meetings, international coordination, short-term scientific missions and training. The action’s aims are well aligned with the aims of TrIAS and we hope we can use the additional funding to promote TrIAS across Europe. Furthermore, this is an opportunity for all TrIAS partners to make contacts across Europe doing similar research.

  • Modelling distributions

TrIAS will first develop coarse scaled ecological niche models using globally available climate data to delineate the potential geographic area within Belgium at risk of invasion by a given alien species. The selection of the most relevant climate predictors will be guided by data and expert opinion on the physiological constraints of the organism. TrIAS will refine the coarse scaled model, by using species occurrence data from the invaded range and a suite of predictors reflecting climate, habitat, and human-assisted dispersal via proxies of propagule pressure, and human modification. The impacts of the pseudo absence sampling strategy on model uncertainty will be assessed with the goal of choosing the optimal strategy with the highest accuracy with the lowest uncertainty. Finally, maps delineating the forecasted distribution of invasive species will be generated for future climate change scenarios through the year 2100 using an ensemble of dynamically downscaled regional climate models provided by Royal Meteorological Institute of Belgium.

  • Next consortium meeting

The core members of the consortium meet each month, and if you are ever interested to join TrIAS please feel free to let us know. For most of you your work starts in the second half of the project and gradually that is approaching. The next full consortium meeting will be at the end of the year and we look forward to see you, hopefully with lots of fresh ideas for 2019.

9 | Three researchers have been hired to work on TrIAS

Meet Lien Reyserhove
Lien likes to designate herself as a new-generation biologist: a biologist using open data science principles and tools. Lien is passionate about ecology, global change biology, open data publication and evolutionary subjects. Next to that, she plays the flute and piano and enjoys cooking.

Meet Damiano Oldoni
Research Software Engineer with a past as applied physicist, acoustician and programmer. As being always involved in multidisciplinary research, he took up the biodiversity challenge without any hesitation! Hobbies: photography, playing piano and organ, bikes, cooking

Meet Amy JS Davis
Amy has expertise in environmental data science, ecological modeling and biogeography. She applies computational and statistical techniques to address questions in macroscale invasion ecology and to predict species distributions. She recently moved to Belgium from the U.S.A. where she was employed as an Oak Ridge Institute for Science and Engineering (ORISE) postdoctoral fellow at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.
Item 2 "Manual of the Alien Plants of Belgium" flower picture by Leo Vaes
Item 3 "Inventory of alien macroinvertebrates in Flanders", picture of Procambarus clarkii by Melissa McMasters 
Item 4 "Checklist of non-native freshwater fishes in Flanders", Pimephales by Rollin Verlinde, Vildaphoto
Item 5 "Catalogue of the Rust Fungi of Belgium", Puccinia lagenophorae on Senecio vulgaris by Peter de Lange, License CC0
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