The LifeWatch project
LifeWatch is an EU funded ESFRI research infrastructure that aims at constructing facilities, hardware, software and governance structures for all aspects of biodiversity research. A total of 30 universities and research institutes from 18 countries participated in the LifeWatch preparatory phase. IBED is initiator and co-ordinator of LifeWatch.
After completion of the three year preparatory phase, LifeWatch enterred a new phase on 19 January 2011 when representatives from the Netherlands, Spain, Italy, Romania and Hungary signed a Memorandum of Understanding that pavedthe way for the realisation of the LifeWatch research infrastructure. In addition to these five ‘founding fathers’ of the European infrastructure, four other European countries signed a Memorandum of Intent, in which they pledge their support for LifeWatch.
The LifeWatch project follows a three-step research strategy :
- Collection and integration of biodiversity data from participating universities and (research) institutes.
- Construction of virtual ‘e-laboratories' that enable access to and analysis of the collected data.
- Exploration of the collected data through data mining and advanced analyses with a goal of finding answers to existing research questions as well as generating new ones.
On a smaller scale, IBED already successfully applied this strategy in the last few years in the EcoGRID and FlySafe projects where the first two steps are now completed and the third is currently in the process of being implemented. Only recently commenced, the larger scale LifeWatch project is currently in the phase of implementing the first two steps. Once these are completed, the project will combine a plethora of biodiversity data on an unprecedented scale that supersedes boundaries of countries and organisations.
For the first time the LifeWatch project will allow for analysis, interpretation and prediction of global patterns of biodiversity data in a manner similar to the way that global meteorological data and models are currently combined, analyzed and applied. IBED will use the new data infrastructure to explore the response of biodiversity to external factors such as land-use practises and global change, and use the insights gained to develop and test new macro-ecological theories.
In The Netherlands, LifeWatch is led by Prof. dr. Peter van Tienderen, Director of the Institute for Biodiversity and Ecosystem Dynamics (IBED) of the UvA. Together with other Dutch parties he signed a Memorandum of Understanding pledging a joint Dutch contribution to LifeWatch. In addition to IBED, these Dutch participants comprise several other universities and research institutions in the area of biology/biodiversity research (NIOO, NIOZ, NCB Naturalis), and in the area of eSciences (CWI, SARA, e-Science Research Center, DANS, BigGrid). As well as several other parties active in this field of research such as NLBIF, ‘Gegevensautoriteit Natuur (GaN) and KWR Watercylce Research.