Pensoft took a BiCIKL ride to Naturalis to report on a 3-year endeavour towards FAIR data

Three years ago, the BiCIKL consortium took to traverse obstacles to wider use and adoption of FAIR and linked biodiversity data.

Leiden – also known as the ‘City of Keys’ and the ‘City of Discoveries’ – was aptly chosen to host the third Empowering Biodiversity Research (EBR III) conference. The two-day conference – this time focusing on the utilisation of biodiversity data as a vehicle for biodiversity research to reach to Policy – was held in a no less fitting locality: the Naturalis Biodiversity Center

On 25th and 26th March 2024, the delegates got the chance to learn more about the latest discoveries, trends and innovations from scientists, as well as various stakeholders, including representatives of policy-making bodies, research institutions and infrastructures. The conference also ran a poster session and a Biodiversity Informatics market, where scientists, research teams, project consortia, and providers of biodiversity research-related services and tools could showcase their work and meet like-minded professionals.

BiCIKL stops at the Naturalis Biodiversity Center

The main outcome of the BiCIKL project: the Biodiversity Knowledge Hub, a one-stop knowledge portal to interlinked and machine-readable FAIR data.

The famous for its bicycle friendliness country also made a suitable stop for BiCIKL (an acronym for the Biodiversity Community Integrated Knowledge Library): a project funded under the European Commission’s Horizon 2020 programme that aimed at triggering a culture change in the way users access, (re)use, publish and share biodiversity data. To do this, the BiCIKL consortium set off on a 3-year journey to build on the existing biodiversity data infrastructures, workflows, standards and the linkages between them.

Many of the people who have been involved in the project over the last three years could be seen all around the beautiful venue. Above all, Naturalis is itself one of the partnering institutions at BiCIKL. Then, on Tuesday, on behalf of the BiCIKL consortium and the project’s coordinator: the scientific publisher and technology innovator: Pensoft, Iva Boyadzhieva presented the work done within the project one month ahead of its official conclusion at the end of April.

As she talked about the way the BiCIKL consortium took to traverse obstacles to wider use and adoption of FAIR and linked biodiversity data, she focused on BiCIKL’s main outcome: the Biodiversity Knowledge Hub (BKH).

Key results from the BiCIKL project three years into its existence presented by Pensoft’s Iva Boyadzhieva at the EBR III conference.

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, anyone can explore various biodiversity data tools and services by browsing by their main data type, e.g. specimens, sequences, taxon names, literature.

While the project might be coming to an end, she pointed out, the BKH is here to stay as a navigation system in a universe of interconnected biodiversity research infrastructures. To do this, not only will the partners continue to maintain it, but it will also remain open to any research infrastructure that wishes to feature its own tools and services compliant with the linked and FAIR data requirements set by the BiCIKL consortium.

On the event’s website you can access the BiCIKL’s slides presentation as presented at the EBR III conference.

What else was on at the EBR III?

Indisputably, the ‘hot’ topics at the EBR III were the novel technologies for remote and non-invasive, yet efficient biomonitoring; the utilisation of data and other input sourced by citizen scientists; as well as leveraging different types and sources of biodiversity data, in order to better inform decision-makers, but also future-proof the scientific knowledge we have collected and generated to date.

Project’s coordinator Dr Quentin Groom presents the B-Cubed’s approach towards standardised access to biodiversity data for the use of policy-making at the EBR III conference.

Amongst the other Horizon Europe projects presented at the EBR III conference was B-Cubed (Biodiversity Building Blocks for policy). On Monday, the project’s coordinator Dr Quentin Groom (Meise Botanic Garden) familiarised the conference participants with the project, which aims to standardise access to biodiversity data, in order to empower policymakers to proactively address the impacts of biodiversity change.

You can find more about B-Cubed and Pensoft’s role in it in this blog post.

On the event’s website you can access the B-Cubed’s slides presentation as presented at the EBR III conference.

***

Dr France Gerard (UK Centre for Ecology & Hydrology) talks about the challenges in using raw data – including those provided by drones – to derive habitat condition metrics.

MAMBO: another Horizon Europe project where Pensoft has been contributing with expertise in science communication, dissemination and exploitation, was also an active participant at the event. An acronym for Modern Approaches to the Monitoring of BiOdiversity, MAMBO had its own session on Tuesday morning, where Dr Vincent Kalkman (Naturalis Biodiversity Center), Dr France Gerard (UK Centre for Ecology & Hydrology) and Prof. Toke Høye (Aarhus University) each took to the stage to demonstrate how modern technology developed within the project is to improve biodiversity and habitat monitoring. Learn more about MAMBO and Pensoft’s involvement in this blog post.

MAMBO’s project coordinator Prof. Toke T. Høye talked about smarter technologies for biodiversity monitoring, including camera traps able to count insects at a particular site.

On the event’s website you can access the MAMBO’s slides presentations by Kalkman, Gerard and Høye, as presented at the EBR III conference.

***

The EBR III conference also saw a presentation – albeit remote – from Prof. Dr. Florian Leese (Dean at the University of Duisburg-Essen, Germany, and Editor-in-Chief at the Metabarcoding and Metagenomics journal), where he talked about the promise, but also the challenges for DNA-based methods to empower biodiversity monitoring. 

Amongst the key tasks here, he pointed out, are the alignment of DNA-based methods with the Global Biodiversity Framework; central push and funding for standards and guidance; publication of data in portals that adhere to the best data practices and rules; and the mobilisation of existing resources such as the meteorological ones. 

Prof. Dr. Florian Leese talked about the promise, but also the challenges for DNA-based methods to empower biodiversity monitoring. He also referred to the 2022 Forum Paper: “Introducing guidelines for publishing DNA-derived occurrence data through biodiversity data platforms” by R. Henrik Nilsson et al.

He also made a reference to the Forum Paper “Introducing guidelines for publishing DNA-derived occurrence data through biodiversity data platforms” by R. Henrik Nilsson et al., where the international team provided a brief rationale and an overview of guidelines targeting the principles and approaches of exposing DNA-derived occurrence data in the context of broader biodiversity data. In the study, published in the Metabarcoding and Metagenomics journal in 2022, they also introduced a living version of these guidelines, which continues to encourage feedback and interaction as new techniques and best practices emerge.

***

You can find the programme on the conference website and see highlights on the conference hashtag: #EBR2024.

Don’t forget to also explore the Biodiversity Knowledge Hub for yourself at: https://biodiversityknowledgehub.eu/ 

Melting glaciers provide new ground for invasive species

A case study on the island of South Georgia.

Invasive species spread through human activities are one of the main causes of the ongoing biodiversity crisis.

Even on South Georgia, a remote island located in the very south of the Atlantic Ocean, exotic species are present. Many of which were inadvertently introduced by whalers and sealers in the 19th and early 20th century.

The invasive carabid ground beetle, Merizodus soledadinus, is present on sites that have been recently exposed by melting glaciers.

In a new study published in the open-access journal Neobiota and funded by Darwin Plus, researchers explored how living organisms colonise new ground provided by melting glaciers.

Like other cold regions of the world, South Georgia is losing its glaciers because of climate change, leaving behind large areas of newly uncovered bare ground.

Invasive annual meadow grass colonising ground only a few years after the glacier disappeared.
Invasive annual meadow grass colonising ground only a few years after the glacier disappeared.

Researchers surveyed the foreland biodiversity of six glaciers, creating an inventory of the flora and fauna that colonise forelands at different stages of glacial retreat.

A survey site near a former whaling station (Grytviken).
A survey site near a former whaling station (Grytviken).

They found that, just a few years after bare ground is exposed by a glacier melting, pioneer plants arrive, progressively covering more ground with time, followed by an increasing number of species.

Rocky terrain by Glacier Col.

Native and exotic plants, as well as invertebrates, take advantage of this opportunity. Surprisingly, two temperate plant species from the Northern Hemisphere, annual meadow grass and mouse-ear chickweed, colonise sites faster than any other species.

The team suggests their results indicate invasive species will likely spread on South Georgia as fast as glaciers are retreating. Whether this has or will have negative consequences on local species needs to be investigated to help protect this unique ecosystem.

Original Source

Tichit P, Brickle P, Newton RJ, Convey P, Dawson W (2024) Introduced species infiltrate recent stages of succession after glacial retreat on sub-Antarctic South Georgia. NeoBiota 92: 85-110. https://doi.org/10.3897/neobiota.92.117226

Follow NeoBiota on X and Facebook.

Harmonising invasion language: a new strategy for Australia’s alien plants

Researchers have outlined a methodology for integrating and standardising data on plant invasions in the federally managed country.

In a leap towards managing the ecological challenge posed by alien plant species, a recent study outlines a methodology for integrating and harmonising data on plant invasions across Australia.

Dr Irene Martín-Forés, from the Terrestrial Ecosystem Research Network and The University of Adelaide, Australia, and collaborators delved into the heart of the linguistic challenge of harmonising different frameworks on the invasion ecology language.

Published in NeoBiota, the researchers created a standardised and unified database at the Australian national level, known as the Alien Flora of Australia, which will help monitoring and early-warning of alien flora, prevent species introduction, streamline decision-making, and bolster biosecurity efforts.

Harmonised workflow to unify terminology on biological invasions across Australian data sources. Credit: Dr Irene Martín-Forés.

Focusing on Australia, a federally managed country, they identified mismatches in definitions and records of invasion status for vascular plant taxa across different jurisdictions. They then proposed prioritisation procedures to tackle those mismatches and to integrate information from ten data sources into a harmonised workflow at the national scale.

“The importance of harmonising terminology on biological invasions cannot be overstated. It is not merely an academic pursuit but a practical necessity, essential for realising meaningful advancements in invasion ecology.”

Dr Irene Martín-Forés

The authors recognise that the words used to describe alien species profoundly influence how humans perceive, study, and manage biological invasions. In federally managed countries, the problem is worse, as fragmented terminologies across different jurisdictions create confusion and inconsistencies in species classification and invasion statuses, therefore hindering effective communication among researchers, policymakers, and stakeholders.

Prioritisation procedure to assign the most conservative invasion status for a given species in a given Australian state after comparing the records in the corresponding state census and in the Australian Plant Census (APC). Credit: Dr Irene Martín-Forés.

The benefits of harmonising terminology on invasion ecology and combining contrasting data sources into a unified dataset at the Australian national scale extend far beyond semantic clarity. It enhances the accuracy of available datasets, and subsequently the reliability of scientific research focused on plant invasion. It also streamlines communication across jurisdictional borders and disciplines and empowers evidence-based decision-making in biosecurity management.

The workflow developed and its associated R script can be easily adapted to be used in any federally managed country, saving future efforts into trying to deal with inconsistencies in species’ invasion statuses.

Original source:

Martín-Forés I, Guerin GR, Lewis D, Gallagher RV, Vilà M, Catford JA, Pauchard A, Sparrow B (2024) Towards integrating and harmonising information on plant invasions across Australia. NeoBiota 92: 61-83. https://doi.org/10.3897/neobiota.92.113013

Follow NeoBiota on X and Facebook.

BiCIKL project sums up outcomes and future prospects at a Final GA in Cambridge

On multiple occasions, the participants agreed that the Biodiversity Knowledge Hub must be the flagship outcome of BiCIKL. 

The city of Cambridge and the Wellcome Campus hosted the Final General Assembly of the EU-funded project BiCIKL (acronym for Biodiversity Community Integrated Knowledge Library): a 36-month endeavour that saw 14 member institutions and 15 research infrastructures representing diverse actors from the biodiversity data realm come together to improve bi-directional links between different platforms, standards, formats and scientific fields. Consortium members who could not attend the meeting in Cambridge joined the meeting remotely.

The 3-day meeting was organised by local hosts European Molecular Biology Laboratory (EMBL) and ELIXIR in collaboration with Pensoft Publishers.

After a welcome cocktail reception on Monday evening at Hilton Cambridge City Centre, on Tuesday, the consortium made an early start with a recap of BiCIKL’s key milestones and outputs from the last three years. All Work Package leaders had their own timeslot to discuss the results of their collaborations.  

They all agreed that the Biodiversity Knowledge Hub – the one-stop portal for understanding the complex – yet increasingly interconnected landscape of biodiversity research infrastructures – is likely the flagship outcome of BiCIKL. 

Prof. Lyubomir Penev, project coordinator of BiCIKL and founder/CEO of Pensoft Publishers at the BiCIKL’s third and final General Assembly in Cambridge, United Kingdom.

In the afternoon, the participants focused on the services developed under BiCIKL. Amongst the many services resulting from the project some were not originally planned. Rather those were the ‘natural’ products of the dialogue and collaboration that flourished within the consortium throughout the project. “A symptom of passion,” said Prof. Lyubomir Penev, project coordinator of BiCIKL and founder/CEO of Pensoft Publishers.

An excellent example of one such service is what the partners call the “Biodiversity PMC”, which brings together biodiversity literature from thousands of scholarly journals and over 500,000 taxonomic treatments, in addition to the biomedical content available from NIH’s PubMed Central, into the SIB Literature Services (SIBiLS) database. What’s more, users at SIBiLS – be it human or AI – can now use advanced text- and data-mining tools, including AI-powered factoid question-answering capacities, to query all this full-text indexed content and seek out, for example, species traits and biotic interactions. Read more about the “Biodiversity PMC” in its recent official announcement.

Far from being the only one, the “Biodiversity PMC” is in good company: from the blockchain-based technology of LifeBlock to the curation of the DNA sequences by PlutoF, the BiCIKL project consortium takes pride in having developed twelve services dedicated to FAIR and linked ready-to-use biodiversity data. 

All those services are already listed in the FAIR Data Place within the Biodiversity Knowledge Hub, where each is presented with its own video. For many services, from the same page, visitors can also download factsheets meant to serve as user guidelines. All will also be featured in the EOSC catalogue.

All services developed under BiCIKL with links to their explanatory videos:

On Wednesday, the consortium focused on BiCIKL’s activities from the Transnational and Virtual Access Pillar, which included both presentations by each open call leader and VA leader, as well as open discussions and a recap of what the teams have learnt from these experiences. 

A panel discussion took place on Thursday as part of an open event, where BiCIKL partners and ELIXIR Biodiversity and Plant Communities came together to discuss the Future of Biodiversity and Genomics data integration at the EMBL Wellcome Genome Campus.

Thursday was dedicated to an open event where BiCIKL partners and ELIXIR Biodiversity and Plant Communities came together to discuss the Future of Biodiversity and Genomics data integration at the EMBL Wellcome Genome Campus. You can find the agenda on BiCIKL’s website.

After 36 months of action, the BiCIKL project will officially end in April 2024, but does it mean that all will be done and dusted come May 2024? Certainly not, point out the partners. 

To ensure that the Biodiversity Knowledge Hub will not only continue to exist but will not cease to grow in both use and participation, the one-stop portal will remain under the maintenance of LifeWatch ERIC. 

In conclusion, we could say that an appropriate payoff for the project is “Stick together!” as put by BiCIKL’s Joint Research Activity Leader Dr. Quentin Groom.

Final words at the third and last General Assembly of the BiCIKL project.

You can find highlights from the BiCIKL General Assembly meeting on X via the #BiCIKL_H2020 hashtag (in association with #Cambridge and #finalGA)

All research outputs, including the approved grant proposal, policy briefs, guidelines papers and research articles associated with the project, remain openly accessible from the BiCIKL project outcomes collection in RIO Journal: https://doi.org/10.3897/rio.coll.105.

***

All BiCIKL project partners:

Gardeners on the front line: the key to early invasive plant detection?

A study from the United Kingdom suggests gardeners could partner with researchers to play a crucial role in preventing plant invasions.

The critical role of gardeners in identifying ‘future invaders’ – ornamental plants that could become invasive species – has been revealed by researchers from the University of Reading and the Royal Horticultural Society.

Looking to draw from the experience of Britain’s millions of gardeners, the team created an online survey where gardeners reported ornamentals that showed ‘invasive behaviour’ in their gardens.

Based on reports from 558 gardeners, 251 different plants were identified as potential invaders, reflecting the extensive variety and potential risks in domestic gardens. The team analysed the results, considering both domestic and global invasive status, and prioritised ornamental plants of concern. The result was a shortlist of plants which need their invasive potential in Britain and Ireland assessed.

The shortlisted plants include, for example: Mexican fleabane (Erigeron karvinskianus); cypress spurge (Euphorbia cyparissias); chameleon plant (Houttuynia cordata); Himalayan honeysuckle (Leycesteria formosa); and purple top (Verbena bonariensis).

The results, published in the open-access journal NeoBiota, highlight the role of gardeners in the early detection of invasive species, a key factor in the global nature crisis. Such proactive identification could prove invaluable for future risk assessments and prevention strategies.

“The simple yet structured scheme we developed was used to prioritise which of the around 70,000 ornamental plants available to buy in the UK could be future invaders. This is crucial for focusing research efforts and resources, such as conducting formal risk assessments to explore the invasive potential of those shortlisted.”

Tomos Jones, lead author

John David, RHS Head of Horticultural Taxonomy, said: “It’s important to remember that these shortlisted plants are not yet officially invasive, and that many non-native plants that occur in the wild present no threat to our native biodiversity.”

The research team encourages gardeners to get involved in helping identify future invaders. They can report ornamental plants showing ‘invasive behaviour’ through an ongoing project called Plant Alert, run by the Botanical Society of Britain and Ireland and Coventry University.

Original source:

Jones TS, Culham A, Pickles BJ, David J (2024) Can gardeners identify ‘future invaders’? NeoBiota 91: 125–144. https://doi.org/10.3897/neobiota.91.110560

Follow NeoBiota on X and Facebook.

Pensoft collaborates with R Discovery to elevate research discoverability

Pensoft and R Discovery’s innovative connection aims to change the way researchers find academic articles.

Leading scholarly publisher Pensoft has announced a strategic collaboration with R Discovery, the AI-powered research discovery platform by Cactus Communications, a renowned science communications and technology company. This partnership aims to revolutionize the accessibility and discoverability of research articles published by Pensoft, making them more readily available on R Discovery to its over three million researchers across the globe.

R Discovery, acclaimed for its advanced algorithms and an extensive database boasting over 120 million scholarly articles, empowers researchers with intelligent search capabilities and personalized recommendations. Through its innovative Reading Feed feature, R Discovery delivers tailored suggestions in a format reminiscent of social media, identifying articles based on individual research interests. This not only saves time but also keeps researchers updated with the latest and most relevant studies in their field.

Open Science is much more than cost-free access to research output.

Lyubomir Penev

One of R Discovery’s standout features is its ability to provide paper summaries, audio readings, and language translation, enabling users to quickly assess a paper’s relevance and enhance their research reading experience significantly.

With over 2.5 million app downloads and upwards of 80 million journal articles featured, the R Discovery database is one of the largest scholarly content repositories.

At Pensoft, we do realise that Open Science is much more than cost-free access to research outputs. It is also about easier discoverability and reusability, or, in other words, how likely it is for the reader to come across a particular scientific publication and, as a result, cite and build on those findings in his/her own studies. By feeding the content of our journals into R Discovery, we’re further facilitating the discoverability of the research done and shared by the authors who trust us with their work,” said ARPHA’s and Pensoft’s founder and CEO Prof. Lyubomir Penev.

Abhishek Goel, Co-Founder and CEO of Cactus Communications, commented on the collaboration, “We are delighted to work with Pensoft and offer researchers easy access to the publisher’s high-quality research articles on R Discovery. This is a milestone in our quest to support academia in advancing open science that can help researchers improve the world.

So far, R Discovery has successfully established partnership with over 20 publishers, enhancing the platform’s extensive repository of scholarly content. By joining forces with R Discovery, Pensoft solidifies its dedication to making scholarly publications from its open-access, peer-reviewed journal portfolio easily discoverable and accessible.

First database of the impacts of invasive plants in Europe

Freely accessible, the database provides useful contextual information and identifies key gaps in European invasive-plant research.

A team of experts has created the first database of field studies on the impacts of invasive plants on native species, communities and ecosystems in Europe.

The dataset comprises 266 peer-reviewed publications reporting 4,259 field studies on 104 invasive species across 29 European countries. It is the first harmonised database of its kind at continental scale, and is freely accessible to the scientific community for future studies. Notably, one third of the studies focused on just five species that invade several central European countries.

Japanese knotweed (Reynoutria japonica) in a garden in Brastad, Lysekil Municipality, Sweden.

Published in NeoBiota, the project was mainly funded through the European Regional Development Fund (SUMHAL, LIFEWATCH, POPE). It was executed by researchers from the Spanish institutes, Estación Biológica de Doñana, Universidad de Sevilla, Instituto Pirenaico de Ecología and Universidad de Alcalá, as well as the University of Fribourg, Switzerland.

The comprehensive database indicates that invasive plants impact other plants, animals and microbes, all trophic levels (herbivores, parasites, plants, pollinators, predators, omnivores, decomposers and symbionts) and numerous ecosystem processes.

Map of locations (red dots) of field studies on the ecological impacts of invasive plant species in Europe.
Map of locations (red dots) of field studies on the ecological impacts of invasive plant species in Europe. Credit: Vilà et al.

More than half of the studies were conducted in temperate and boreal forests and woodlands and temperate grasslands. Major knowledge gaps are found in Baltic and Balkan countries, in desert and semi-arid shrublands, subtropical forests and high mountains.

Prof. Montserrat Vilà, coordinator of this task, highlights that the database provides information on whether the invasive species increase, decrease or have a neutral effect on the ecological variable of study. This allows investigation into the circumstances in which the invader has contrasting effects.

Himalayan balsam (Impatiens glandulifera). Credit: Guptaele via Wikimedia Commons, CC BY-SA 4.0.

The database will be updated as new field studies on the ecological impacts of invasive species are published. “We hope for more studies on species that are still locally rare and with restricted distribution,” Prof. Montserrat Vilà says, “this database is of interest for academic, management and policy-related purposes.”

The PLANTIMPACTSEUROPE database can be accessed at: https://figshare.com/s/0a890d22bf5632fe5cb5

Research article:

Vilà M, Trillo A, Castro-Díez P, Gallardo B, Bacher S (2024) Field studies of the ecological impacts of invasive plants in Europe. NeoBiota 90: 139-159. https://doi.org/10.3897/neobiota.90.112368

Follow NeoBiota on X and Facebook.

Did European insects invade the world because settlers carried plants?

Researchers suggest European insect invaders may be so abundant due to colonial introductions of non-native plants.

Insects are among the most prolific and successful invaders of new habitats, but not all regions are equal in the numbers of insects that have spread beyond their borders.


Flows of non-native insects between N. America, Europe, and Australasia. Numbers are the total count of species established from donor to recipient.

European insects, in particular, stand out as highly successful invaders into other world regions. Why? Biologists have long understood that species are spread through international trade: insects are frequent stowaways in trade goods, and the value of international trade between world regions can be a good predictor of how many non-native species are exchanged.

However, recent research led by Dr. Rylee Isitt of the University of New Brunswick, and published in the journal NeoBiota, shows that after accounting for patterns of international trade, the number of insects that have spread from Europe into North America, Australia, and New Zealand far exceeds expectations.

Since patterns in international trade can’t explain these insect invasions, the researchers looked for other potential explanations. It’s possible that European insects are simply more numerous or better invaders than their North American or Australasian counterparts. However, Dr. Isitt and his collaborators didn’t find evidence for that – at most, there are only slightly more European species with the capacity to invade compared to North American and Australasian species.

Another possibility is North American and Australasian habitats are easier to invade than European ones. But prior research has shown that Europe has been heavily invaded by Asian insects, suggesting that it is no more resistant to invasion than North America or Australasia.

Instead, Dr. Isitt and collaborators have proposed that the abundance of European insect invaders may be a result of deliberate introductions of non-native plants into Europe’s colonies. Plants introduced into European colonies could have promoted the spread of European insects into North America and Australia by two different means.

First, insects may have been introduced along with the plants. Second, introduced plants may have provided suitable food and habitat for subsequent arrivals of non-native insects, who might have otherwise found the native flora to be unpalatable or unsuitable as a habitat.

Cumulative discoveries (observed and modelled) and establishments (modelled) of non-native insects exchanged between Europe (EU), North America (NA), and Australasia (AU) versus cumulative import value (inflation-corrected to 2020 British pounds sterling, billions), 1827–2014. Alternating background shading indicates decadal increments, with shading omitted prior to the 1940s for clarity.

Although the researchers haven’t completely resolved the mystery of the overabundance of European insects, they have ruled out several possibilities, leaving the connection to introduced plants as the prime suspect. The next steps? Determining to what extent European insects spread through introduced plants compared to insects from other world regions.

Because invasive species are reshaping our world, we need to understand how they move and establish. Evidence is mounting that trade in plants and plant products is responsible for a large proportion of insect invasions. If the researchers’ hypothesis is correct, the spread of European insects may be a remarkable example of the unintended consequences of deliberate plant introductions.

Research article:

Isitt R, Liebhold AM, Turner RM, Battisti A, Bertelsmeier C, Blake R, Brockerhoff EG, Heard SB, Krokene P, Økland B, Nahrung HF, Rassati D, Roques A, Yamanaka T, Pureswaran DS (2024) Asymmetrical insect invasions between three world regions. NeoBiota 90: 35-51. https://doi.org/10.3897/neobiota.90.110942

Follow NeoBiota on X and Facebook.

Pensoft 2023 review: A year of pioneering research

To celebrate a successful year, Pensoft gives thanks and reflects on the achievements of key journals in 2023.

As the new year approaches, we take a moment to look back on a great year for several of Pensoft‘s key journals.

The following videos were created as part of the #Pensoft2023Review campaign and present the journals’ achievements this year.

ZooKeys

PhytoKeys

MycoKeys

Biodiversity Data Journal

NeoBiota

Nature Conservation

One Ecosystem

Metabarcoding and Metagenomics

Evolutionary Systematics

Looking forward to 2024

Despite the success of 2023, the Pensoft team is keener than ever to improve in every aspect in the coming year. A massive thank you to every author, editor, reviewer and reader of Pensoft’s journals, and a very happy New Year!

***

Follow Pensoft on social media:

Conferences across the continents: Pensoft’s events in Autumn 2023

Pensoft participated in several events all around the world in October and November 2023.

October and November 2023 were active months for the Pensoft team, who represented the publisher’s journals and projects at conferences in Europe, North America, South America, Oceania and Asia.

Let’s take a look back at all the events of the past two months.

The Biodiversity Information Standards Conference 2023

The Biodiversity Information Standards (TDWG) Conference, held from October 9-13 in Tasmania, Australia, brought together experts and stakeholders from the global biodiversity research community.

The annual gathering is a crucial platform for sharing insights, innovations, and knowledge related to biodiversity data standards and practices. Key figures from Pensoft took part in the event, presenting new ways to improve the management, accessibility, and usability of biodiversity data. 

Prof. Lyubomir Penev, founder and Chief Executive Officer of Pensoft, gave two talks that highlighted the importance of data publishing. His presentation on “The Biodiversity Knowledge Hub (BKH): A Crosspoint and Knowledge Broker for FAIR and Linked Biodiversity Data” underscored the significance of FAIR (Findable, Accessible, Interoperable, and Reusable) data standards. BKH is the major output from the Horizon 2020 project BiCIKL (Biodiversity Community Integrated Knowledge Library) dedicated to linked and FAIR data in biodiversity, and coordinated by Pensoft.

Prof. Lyubomir Penev, Pensoft founder and CEO.

He also introduced the Nanopublications for Biodiversity workflow and format: a promising new tool developed by Knowledge Pixels and Pensoft to communicate key scientific statements in a way that is human-readable, machine-actionable, and in line with FAIR principles. Earlier this year, Biodiversity Data Journal integrated nanopublications into its workflow to allow authors to share their findings even more efficiently.

Chief Technology Officer of Pensoft Teodor Georgiev contributed to the conference by presenting “OpenBiodiv for Users: Applications and Approaches to Explore a Biodiversity Knowledge Graph.” His session highlighted the innovative approaches being taken to explore and leverage a biodiversity knowledge graph, showcasing the importance of technology in advancing biodiversity research.

Teodor Georgiev (right), Pensoft CTO.

Many authors and editors at Biodiversity Data Journal also spoke at the TDWG conference, including Vince Smith, the journal’s editor-in-chief, who is Head of Digital, Data, and Informatics at the Natural History Museum. He delivered insightful presentations on digitising natural science collections and utilising AI for insect collections.

GEO BON Global Conference 2023

GEO BON’s Global Conference on Biodiversity and Monitoring took place from 10-13 October 2023 in Montreal, Canada.

Metabarcoding and Metagenomics editor-in-chief, Florian Leese.

The theme of the conference was “Monitoring Biodiversity for Action” and there was particular emphasis on the development of best practices and new technologies for biodiversity observations and monitoring to support transformative policy and conservation action.

Metabarcoding & Metagenomics’ editor-in-chief, Florian Leese, was one of the organisers of the “Standardized eDNA-Based Biodiversity Monitoring to Inform Environmental Stewardship Programs” session. Furthermore, the journal was represented at Pensoft’s exhibition booth, where conference participants were able to discuss metabarcoding and metagenomics research.

Following the conference, Metabarcoding & Metagenomics announced a new special issue titled “Towards Standardized Molecular Biodiversity Monitoring.” The special issue is accepting submissions until 15th March 2024.

Asian Mycological Congress 2023

The Asian Mycological Congress welcomed researchers from around the world to Busan, Republic of Korea, for an exploration of all things fungi from 10-13 October. 

MycoKeys Best Talk award (winner not pictured).

Titled “Fungal World and Its Bioexploitation – in all areas of basic and applied mycology,” the conference covered a range of topics related to all theoretical and practical aspects of mycology. There was a particular emphasis on the development of mycology through various activities associated with mycological education, training, research, and service in countries and regions within Asia.

As one of the sponsors of the congress, Pensoft proudly presented a Best Talk award to Dr Sinang Hongsanan of Chiang Mai University, Thailand. The award entitles the winner to a free publication in Pensoft’s flagship mycology journal, MycoKeys.

Joint ESENIAS and DIAS Scientific Conference 2023

The ESENIAS and DIAS conference took place from 11-14 October and focused on “globalisation and invasive alien species in the Black Sea and Mediterranean regions.” Pensoft shared information on their NeoBiota journal and the important REST-COAST and B-Cubed projects.

Polina Nikova receiving the NeoBiota Best Talk Award.

Polina Nikova of the Bulgarian Academy of Sciences received the NeoBiota Best Talk Award for her presentation titled “First documented records in the wild of American mink (Neogale vision von Schreber, 1776) in Bulgaria.” The award entitles her to a free publication in the NeoBiota journal.

XII European Congress of Entomology

Pensoft took part in the XII European Congress of Entomology (ECE 2023) in Heraklion, Crete, from 16-20 October. The event provided a forum for entomologists from all over the world, bringing together over 900 scientists from 60 countries.

Carla Stoyanova, Teodor Metodiev and Boriana Ovcharova representing Pensoft.

The ECE 2023, organised by the Hellenic Entomological Society, addressed the pressing challenges facing entomology, including climate change, vector-borne diseases, biodiversity loss, and the need to sustainably feed a growing world population. The program featured symposia, lectures, poster sessions, and other types of activities aimed at fostering innovation in entomology. For Pensoft, they were a great opportunity to interact with scientists and share their commitment to advancing entomological research and addressing the critical challenges in the field.

Throughout the event, conference participants could find Pensoft’s team at thir booth, and learn more about the scholarly publisher’s open-access journals in entomology. In addition, the Pensoft team presented the latest outcomes from the Horizon 2020 projects B-GOOD, Safeguard, and PoshBee, where the publisher takes care of science communication and dissemination as a partner.

XIV International Congress of Orthopterology 2023

The XIV International Congress of Orthopterology, held from 16-19 October in Mérida, Yucatán, México, was a landmark event in the field of orthopterology.

Group photo of XIV International Congress of Orthopterology 2023 participants.

Hosted for the first time in Mexico, it attracted experts and enthusiasts from around the world. The congress featured plenary speakers who presented cutting-edge research and insights on various aspects of grasshoppers, crickets, and related insects.

Pensoft’s Journal of Orthoptera Research was represented by Tony Robillard, the editor-in-chief, who presented the latest developments of the journal to attendees.

Symposia, workshops, and meetings facilitated discussions on topics like climate change impacts, conservation, and management of Orthoptera. The event also included introductions to new digital and geospatial tools for Orthoptera research.

The 16th International Conference on Ecology and Management of Alien Plant Invasions

The 16th International Conference on Ecology and Management of Alien Plant Invasions (EMAPI 2023) took place in Pucón, Chile, from 23-25 October . The conference focused on the promotion of diversity in the science and management of biological invasions. Several NeoBiota authors ran sessions at the conference, and the journal also presented a Best Talk Award.

4th International ESP Latin America and Caribbean Conference

The 4th International ESP Latin America and Caribbean Conference (ESP LAC 2023) was held in La Serena, Chile, from 6-10 November. Focused on “Sharing knowledge about ecosystem services and natural capital to build a sustainable future,” the event attracted experts in ecosystem services, particularly from Latin America and the Caribbean.

Organised by the Ecosystem Services Partnership, this bi-annual conference was open to both ESP members and non-members, featuring a hybrid format in English and Spanish. Attendees enjoyed an excursion to La Serena’s historical center, adding a cultural dimension to the event.

The conference included diverse sessions and a special recognition by Pensoft’s One Ecosystem journal, which awarded full waivers for publication to the authors of the three best posters.

Magaly Aldave receiving the Best Poster Award.

Magaly Aldave of the Transdisciplinary Center for FES-Systemic Studies claimed first prize with “The voice of children in the conservation of the urban wetland and Ramsar Site Pantanos de Villa in Metropolitan Lima, Peru.” Ana Catalina Copier Guerrero and Gabriela Mallea-Rebolledo, both of the University of Chile, were awarded second and third prize respectively.

Biosystematics 2023

Biosystematics 2023, held from 26-30 November at the Australian National University in Canberra, was a collaborative effort of the Australian Biological Resources Study, Society of Australian Systematic Biologists, Australasian Mycological Society, and Australasian Systematic Botany Society. Themed “Celebrating the Past | Planning the Future,” the conference provided a platform for exploring advancements in biosystematics.

The event featured in-person and online participation, catering to a wide audience of researchers, academics, and students. It included workshops, presentations, and discussions, with a focus on enhancing understanding in biosystematics.

Pensoft awarded three student prizes at the event. Putter Tiatragu, Australian National University, received the Best Student Talk award and a free publication in any Pensoft journal for “A big burst of blindsnakes: Phylogenomics and historical biogeography of Australia’s most species-rich snake genus.”

Helen Armstrong, Murdoch University, received the Best Student Lightning Talk for “An enigmatic snapper parasite (Trematoda: Cryptogonimidae) found in an unexpected host.” Patricia Chan, University of Wisconsin-Madison, was the Best Student Lightning Talk runner-up for “Drivers of Diversity of Darwinia’s Common Scents and Inflorescences with Style: Phylogenomics, Pollination Biology, and Floral Chemical Ecology of Western Australian Darwinia (Myrtaceae).”

As we approach the end of 2023, Pensoft looks back on its most prolific and meaningful year of conferences and events. Thank you to everyone who contributed to or engaged with Pensoft’s open-access journals, and here’s to another year of attending events, rewarding important research, and connecting with the scientific community.

***

Follow Pensoft on social media: