LifeWatchLifeWatch infrastructure for biodiversity and ecosystem research

Contact details:

Prof. Dr. Peter H. van Tienderen
P.O. Box 94248, 1090 GE Amsterdam

LifeWatch enables scientists to answer fundamental questions on the functioning and resilience of ecosystems and develops knowledge and innovative solutions for professionals active in the planning and management of our living environment. LifeWatch is a European infrastructure for biodiversity research that allows integration of data from (inter-)national research projects, monitoring data of governmental agencies, and modern observation methods (satellites, sensor networks, DNA sequencing). The Netherlands will host the LifeWatch Research and Innovation Center.

The LifeWatch e-infrastructure for biodiversity and ecosystem research, provides advanced capabilities for research on the interactions between living organisms and their environment. These capabilities allow scientists to tackle the fundamental questions in biodiversity research, and stakeholders to address urgent challenges concerning the sustainable use of our living planet. LifeWatch brings together data, tools, and people beyond national boundaries. Dedicated virtual labs (VLs) provide services to researchers and stakeholders, enabling integrated access to biodiversity resources by a solid ICT backbone, excellent computational, storage and networking platforms, analytical tools and modelling workflows, and user services for communication and training.
VLs are advanced interactive problem solving environments for (multi-disciplinary) user groups that facilitate (i) data access, either by communication links to sensors or through portals to a data base, (ii) data integrity and quality control, (iii) data post-processing, (iv) data storage and backup, (v) data merging, (vi) data sharing, (vii) interactive data visualization and exploration, (viii) data mining and annotation, and (ix) data analyses, model building and model improvement.
The LifeWatch infrastructure will lead to scientific progress and breakthroughs by much better and more efficient use of existing resources, by development of dynamic Virtual Laboratories at the interface of biodiversity research and eScience, by capacity and community building:
• Creating knowledge using new technologies; High throughput observation technologies call for new approaches to study processes in a rapidly changing world. This requires new developments in information management, quality control, data analyses as well as modelling strategies.
• Open Access to data and tools; At present, the options to also store data from research projects on biodiversity are still limited, with the exceptions of genomic data (the European Molecular Biology Laboratory's European Bioinformatics Institute EMBL-EBI) and species occurrence data (the Global Biodiversity Information Facility GBIF). A proper infrastructure is needed that can accommodate and merge heterogeneous data, with appropriate quality controls, criteria for inclusion, and adequate governance to ensure efficient and legitimate use of the data by the community.
• More effective use of data, continuity and coherence; LifeWatch will stimulate the use and re-use of data, but also the associated results, models and tools produced in projects and programs by the user community, by providing searchable catalogs with provenance information, and access to data and tools to be used in new projects.