To mark International Biodiversity Day 2023, scientific publisher Elsevier launched a report this week that takes an in-depth look at Dutch biodiversity research compared to that of other countries worldwide. The report compares the scope and impact of biodiversity research in the Netherlands and around the world, covering the academic landscape, collaboration with industry, how international policy is shaped, and an analysis of Dutch biodiversity research funding.
W. Daniel Kissling of the Institute for Biodiversity and Ecosystem Dynamics (IBED) at the University of Amsterdam (UvA) tops the list of 12 most prolific biodiversity researchers in the Netherlands. In the period from 2017 to 2022, he published 52 scientific articles within the search terms used by Elsevier. 57.7% of those publications are in the top 5% of scientific journals. "It's great to see that our biodiversity research at the UvA can make such a high impact internationally."
Netherlands in European Top 3
Another key finding of the report is that biodiversity research in the Netherlands is in the European Top 3, together with that in Sweden and Switzerland. This was measured in the so-called Field-Weighted Citation Impact, a widely used indicator to assess the quality of research. The Netherlands gets the grade 2.40, compared to an international score of 1.22 for biodiversity research. After Wageningen University, the UvA is the university with the highest impact rating of all Dutch universities and a high scholarly output.
According to the UvA scientist, biodiversity research increasingly relies on informatics, artificial intelligence and big data. “We should use the advances in computing, new technologies, large and diverse data sources, sophisticated statistics, satellite and airborne remote sensing, and automated data capture from digital sensors to scale up our biodiversity research. This is particularly relevant given the ongoing biodiversity crisis.”
Kissling stresses the value of good resources for research. “Recent investments into large-scale research infrastructures funded by the Dutch Research Council (NWO) under the National Roadmap are promising first steps, such as the ARISE infrastructure for species recognition and the LTER-LIFE digital twins of ecosystems. Also, European funding from the Horizon Europe framework program provides great support for developing modern approaches to the monitoring of biodiversity.”
European cooperation crucial to reduce biodiversity loss
In this regard, international cooperation is also key. “Biodiversity loss is pervasive and now very high on the political agenda”, Kissling says.
“The report provides an interesting perspective on biodiversity research in the last decade and shows that published academic research in the Netherlands has made an extraordinary international contribution, with a high scientific and policy impact and strong international embedding. To continue this important role, the Netherlands needs to be at the forefront of the digital transformation in biodiversity research.”
Academics, Kissling advocates, should also work together with, among others, EU institutions, national governments, non-governmental organizations, citizen science platforms, and the business sector. “This will help to improve the conservation, restoration, and sustainable use of biodiversity, crucial for reversing the loss of biodiversity and the degradation of ecosystems.”
'Biodiversity research in the Netherlands and worldwide; What published academic research tells us.'