EBR Abstracts


BirdWatch – a satellite-supported service to monitor the habitat suitability of agricultural land and to evaluate the impact of agri-environmental policies on farmland birds

Natasja Scholz

The ambition of BirdWatch, a Horizon Europe project, is to improve farmland bird habitats in the agricultural landscape of the EU. It puts its focus especially on agri-environmental policies, including the eco schemes of the current Common Agricultural Policy, including on their effectiveness, impact and consistency with bird species-specific habitat requirements. In practice, BirdWatch uses Earth Observation data from the EU’s Copernicus program to assess agricultural areas with respect to their farmland bird habitat suitability and to identify options for appropriate measures.
In order to assess the habitat suitability of the agricultural landscape, BirdWatch quantifies which essential environmental parameters are present on agricultural land and which are missing. This information subsequently flows into habitat models, which return the suitability of the habitat and thereby state how likely it is that a piece of farmland could be used as a habitat by a particular farmland bird species.
In order to facilitate the selection the agri-environmental measures, appropriate with respect to the local context, and to ensure that the selected measure does not conflict with habitat requirements or indeed support bird species with opposing habitat preferences, BirdWatch established spatial optimization models. These models can take into account both the habitat requirements and the economic and operational constraints of the farmers and landowners, who carry out the measures. Due to the high temporal resolution of the Copernicus satellite data, the impact of agro- environmental measures can be evaluated and the specific measure can then, if necessary, be adjusted.
At the end of the project phase, BirdWatch will make this service available via a web-based application in all its test regions, i.e., in Flanders, Germany, Lithuania and South Tyrol, and an extension of the service to more EU Member States is of great interest to the project partners.

Mapping RI landscape: the role of Biodiversa+

Rob Hendriks

Biodiversa+, the European Biodiversity Partnership, aims at increasing the use of Research Infrastructures. In 2022-2023 a survey was conducted and a dialogue meeting held. This resulted in a report offering recommendations on how Biodiversa+ can facilitate the use of research infrastructures by biodiversity researchers. A brief presentation of these recommendations and of the results of the survey will be provided. One of the concrete recommendations is to have capacity-building workshops aimed at the research teams of the Biodiversa+ funded projects.
Also some other potential Biodiversa+ activities to help overcome barriers to the use of research infrastructures by biodiversity scientists in the European Research Area will be discussed. Priorities identified so far are: to help enhance the findability and (free) availability of data; to provide an overview of research infrastructures; to help lift the lack of coherence among research infrastructures and of long term commitments.

In early 2025 a follow up dialogue event with research infrastructures is foreseen which will feed the mid-term update of the Strategic Research and Innovation Agenda (SRIA) of Biodiversa+.

GBIF’s role in empowering biodiversity research and policy

Tim Hirsch

GBIF recently highlighted a significant milestone with the publication of the 10,000th peer-reviewed research study citing substantive use of the global infrastructure as a source of data within its methodology. The GBIF Secretariat has invested considerable effort and human resources in tracking, analysing and communicating research citations for over a decade, recognizing this as an essential means of demonstrating the importance and value of the global collaboration, especially to research funders. An economic valuation of the GBIF infrastructure has demonstrated that the availability of biodiversity data through the GBIF platform saved researchers an average of 64 hours for each published study, compared with the time required to obtain such data from multiple sources – and that around half of studies would have been impossible without GBIF. Such analysis enables numerical values to be placed on the minimal direct value of GBIF for individual countries, when average time saved is applied to national researcher costs and multiplied by the number of GBIF-enabled studies per country. Demonstrating GBIF’s value to policy and decisions can be much more challenging, as the role of primary data in supporting the information and advice used directly by governments and businesses can often get lost in the data value chain – for example as a foundation for species Red List assessments, conservation planning tools, biodiversity indicators and impact metrics for business. This talk will outline how GBIF is engaging with global policy audiences to communicate the critical importance of the GBIF network and infrastructure to underpin processes such as the Kunming-Montreal Global Biodiversity Framework, the Sustainable Development Goals, the UNESCO Open Science Recommendation and, in collaboration with OBIS, the UN Decade on Ocean Science.


Building Digital twins: from data pipeline to ecosystem insights

Geerten M. Hengeveld, Ioannis Athanasiadis, Elisabeth S. Bakker, W. Daniel Kissling, Katja Philippart, Astrid Souren, Karline Soetaert, Zhiming Zhao, Cherine Jantzen, Qing Zhang, Stefan Vriend & Marcel E. Visser; NIOO-KNAW & LTER-LIFE

Digital twins are dynamic model-data fusion tools that can help revolutionize ecological research. But what does a digital twin of an ecosystem look like, and how would you build one? The LTER-LIFE infrastructure (www.lter-life.nl) started in 2023 to address these questions and – in doing so –build an infrastructure that allows ecologists to create digital twins for their own research. We illustrate the concept of digital twins, and the infrastructural needs to flexibly assemble them, using two proto-DTs – workflows that have characteristics of full digital twins but are still in their developmental stages.
The first proto-DT builds upon the well-established relationship between tree phenology and temperature at the Veluwe, whilst the second provides a near-continuous view on primary production in the Wadden Sea. These proto-DTs illustrate how Digital Twins can be used to gain insights into the functioning of ecosystems. We highlight pros and cons of different approaches, discuss tools currently available and identify the gaps in the infrastructure needed for digital twinning.

TETTRIs - a community response for the betterment of taxonomy

Marta León Monedero

TETTRIs (Transforming European Taxonomy through Training, Research and Innovations) is a Horizon EU-funded project born from the European Taxonomy community gathered around CETAF. It runs until 2026, and it’s conceived to develop innovative engagement methods and technical solutions for taxonomists. One unique mechanism to establish positive change in the community are Third-Party Projects.
These projects applied for a cascading grant within TETTRIs. 12 projects across Europe received a total of 1.8 million Euros. Topics include opening access to reference collections, validation of novel tool as well as citizen science monitoring of hotspots. The outcomes of TETTRIs are important to the transformation of taxonomy research and will be fundamental to increasing awareness about this science.

The BiCIKL project traverses obstacles to FAIR and linked biodiversity data usage

Lyubomir Penev, Iva Boyadzhieva and the BiCIKL consortium

Started in May 2021, the Horizon 2020 project Biodiversity Community Integrated Knowledge Library (BiCIKL) brought together 14 partners and 15 research infrastructures from 10 European countries, representing some of the world’s key players in biodiversity research and data management.
For the next three years, they would work together to improve their own and partnering infrastructures, in order to bridge gaps between each other’s biodiversity data types and classes in line with FAIR (Findable, Accessible, Interoperable and Reusable) data principles. The existing services provided by the participating infrastructures would expand through development and adoption of shared, common or interoperable domain standards, resulting in liberated and enhanced flows of data and knowledge across these domains. In 2023, we saw the official release of the Biodiversity Knowledge Hub (BKH): the main outcome of BiCIKL, intended to act as a knowledge broker for users who wish to navigate and access sources of open and FAIR biodiversity data, guidelines, tools and services. In practicality, the BKH is a one-stop portal for understanding the complex but increasingly interconnected landscape of biodiversity research infrastructures in Europe and beyond. It collates information, guidelines, recommendations and best practices in usage of FAIR and linked biodiversity data, as well as a continuously expanded catalogue of compliant relevant services and tools.
At the core of the BKH is the FAIR Data Place (FDP), where users can familiarise themselves with each of the participating biodiversity infrastructures and network organisations, and also learn about the specific services they provide. There, users can explore various biodiversity data tools and services by browsing by their main data type, e.g. specimens, sequences, taxon names, literature.
The BKH serves as a navigation system in a universe of interconnected biodiversity research infrastructures and is open to new contributors and collaborators enabling the access of open data and knowledge by anybody, anywhere, at any time.

Unlocking the Hidden Treasure: MIRRI-ERIC's Role in Facilitating Access to Culture Collection Data

Ana Portugal Melo

Microbial Resource Research Infrastructure - MIRRI-ERIC, recognized as an ESFRI Landmark, serves as a linchpin for advancing Bioscience and Bioindustry endeavors, offering a centralized platform for accessing diverse high-quality bioresources and associated data in full compliance with European-level data policies. Supported by a global network of microbial research centers and experts, MIRRI-ERIC fosters collaboration aimed at safeguarding microbial biodiversity, driving scientific inquiry, and nurturing professional development within the field.
Formally designated as an ESFRI Landmark in June 2022, MIRRI-ERIC was established as a legal entity in Portugal, headquartered at the University of Minho, Braga, in May 2023, and commenced operations in September of the same year. Presently, MIRRI- ERIC boasts a membership comprising five Member States: Belgium, France, Latvia, Portugal, and Spain, with Romania serving as an Observer, demonstrating its alignment with European policies on collaboration and resource-sharing.
In its early operational phase, MIRRI-ERIC undertook a comprehensive review of its strategic objectives for the 2024-2028 period, anchored in European biodiversity and data policies. These objectives centered on Consolidation and Growth; Strengthening; Empowerment; and Leveraging, align closely with the objectives outlined in European Union Biodiversity Strategy for 2030 and the European Commission's Open Science Policy.
Concurrently, MIRRI-ERIC leads the Microbes4Climate Horizon Europe (HE) project, in collaboration with other Research Infrastructures (RIs) such as AnaEE-ERIC, LifeWatch ERIC, ELIXIR, and EMPHASIS. This initiative, launched in February, aims to provide researchers worldwide, including those focused on biodiversity, with streamlined access to a suite of integrated services, in harmony with the European Green Deal and the Digital Single Market Strategy.
Furthermore, MIRRI-ERIC plays a pivotal role in various Horizon Europe projects, showcasing the richness of its culture collection catalog and associated data, in line with European initiatives promoting biodiversity research and conservation.
Internally, MIRRI-ERIC is committed to enhancing its informatics infrastructure and data management capabilities, ensuring that biodiversity data associated with its culture collections adhere to FAIR principles—findable, accessible, interoperable, and reusable. These efforts are in lockstep with the European Union's Digital Agenda and the European Strategy for Data, fostering innovation and knowledge exchange while safeguarding biodiversity for future generations.

The LifeWatch Species Information Backbone

Stefanie Dekeyzer, Leen Vandepitte, WoRMS Data Management Team, EurOBIS Data Management Team, Marine Regions Data Management Team, Lennert Schepers

The Flanders Marine Institute (VLIZ) set up the LifeWatch Species Information Backbone (LW-SIBb), strengthening the LifeWatch ERIC with core biodiversity services and databases. Within the LW-SIBb, information from 5 different domains is (virtually) linked: (1) taxonomy [regional, national, global and thematic databases], (2) biogeography [species occurrences], (3) ecology, [species-specific traits and attributes], (4) genetics and (5) literature. Major components of the LW-SIBb are a.o. the World Register of Marine Species (WoRMS), the European node of the Ocean Biodiversity Information System (EurOBIS) and the Marine Regions gazetteer. These systems have a strong link and collaboration agreements with several international initiatives and ESFRIs. The LW-SIBb offers a wide variety of tools, functionalities and data services enabling users to have free and easy access to data and information from a variety of resources, to standardize and quality control their data, and to cross-check and link with other data available. Users of the LW-SIBb consist of all four pillars of the quadruple helix (science – industry – policy – civil society). During this presentation we will have a closer look at how policy-related actions such as the World Ocean Assessment, Marine Heritage Sites and State of the Ocean make use of the LifeWatch Species Information Backbone.

Integration of biodiversity monitoring data into the Digital Twin Ocean (DTO-BioFlow)

Carlota Muñiz, Klaas Deneudt

Access to comprehensive and accessible marine biodiversity data is essential to understand the current state and pressures of marine systems. The Horizon Europe Mission restore our oceans and waters by 2030 aims to restore ecosystems and biodiversity. To support these goals the EU aims to build a digital environment, the EU Digital Twin Ocean (DTO), that will allow to create a digital replica of ocean processes to improve their understanding, their response to changes in the system, and to simulate alternative “what-if” scenarios that support decision making. The DTO-BioFlow project will increase the flow of marine biodiversity data into the EU DTO to support the EU Biodiversity 2030 targets. For this, the project will focus on identifying missing “sleeping” biodiversity data and their existing barriers for ingestion, and it will work to build sustained flows for ingestion of these and new biodiversity monitoring data into the EU DTO, to ultimately support policy relevant applications. A variety of reasons exist that may prevent biodiversity data from flowing into digital repositories, including technical limitations. DTO-BioFlow will target observation networks producing biodiversity data using new instruments and technologies, such as environmental DNA, plankton imaging techniques, passive acoustics and animal biologging, to build sustained flows into the EU DTO. Within this goal, developed initial sensor data pipelines from the LifeWatch Belgium biodiversity observatory will be elaborated upon and upscaled in a broader European context to deliver data to the EU DTO infrastructure for related or similar observation networks.