How to ensure biodiversity data are FAIR, linked, open and future-proof?

Now concluded Horizon 2020-funded project BiCIKL shares lessons learned with policy-makers and research funders

Within the Biodiversity Community Integrated Knowledge Library (BiCIKL) project, 14 European institutions from ten countries, spent the last three years elaborating on services and high-tech digital tools, in order to improve the findability, accessibility, interoperability and reusability (FAIR-ness) of various types of data about the world’s biodiversity. These types of data include peer-reviewed scientific literature, occurrence records, natural history collections, DNA data and more.

By ensuring all those data are readily available and efficiently interlinked to each other, the project consortium’s intention is to provide better tools to the scientific community, so that it can more rapidly and effectively study, assess, monitor and preserve Earth’s biological diversity in line with the objectives of the likes of the EU Biodiversity Strategy for 2030 and the European Green Deal. Their targets require openly available, precise and harmonised data to underpin the design of effective measures for restoration and conservation, reminds the BiCIKL consortium.

Since 2021, the project partners at BiCIKL have been working together to elaborate existing workflows and links, as well as create brand new ones, so that their data resources, platforms and tools can seamlessly communicate with each other, thereby taking the burden off the shoulders of scientists and letting them focus on their actual mission: paving the way to healthy and sustainable ecosystems across Europe and beyond.

Now that the three-year project is officially over, the wider scientific community is yet to reap the fruits of the consortium’s efforts. In fact, the end of the BiCIKL project marks the actual beginning of a European- and global-wide revolution in the way biodiversity scientists access, use and produce data. It is time for the research community, as well as all actors involved in the study of biodiversity and the implementation of regulations necessary to protect and preserve it, to embrace the lessons learned, adopt the good practices identified and build on the knowledge in existence.

This is why amongst the BiCIKL’s major final research outputs, there are two Policy Briefs meant to summarise and highlight important recommendations addressed to key policy makers, research institutions and funders of research. After all, it is the regulatory bodies that are best equipped to share and implement best practices and guidelines.

Most recently, the BiCIKL consortium published two particularly important policy briefs, both addressed to the likes of the European Commission’s Directorate-General for Environment; the European Environment Agency; the Joint Research Centre; as well as science and policy interface platforms, such as the EU Biodiversity Platform; and also organisations and programmes, e.g. Biodiversa+ and EuropaBON, which are engaged in biodiversity monitoring, protection and restoration. The policy briefs are also to be of particular use to national research funds in the European Union.

One of the newly published policy briefs, titled “Uniting FAIR data through interlinked, machine-actionable infrastructures”, highlights the potential benefits derived from enhanced connectivity and interoperability among various types of biodiversity data. The publication includes a list of recommendations addressed to policy-makers, as well as nine key action points. Understandably, amongst the main themes are those of wider international cooperation; inclusivity and collaboration at scale; standardisation and bringing science and policy closer to industry. Another major outcome of the BiCIKL project: the Biodiversity Knowledge Hub portal is noted as central to many of these objectives and tasks in its role of a knowledge broker that will continue to be maintained and updated with additional FAIR data-compliant services as a living legacy of the collaborative efforts at BiCIKL.

The second policy brief, titled “Liberate the power of biodiversity literature as FAIR digital objects”, shares key actions that can liberate data published in non-machine actionable formats and non-interoperable platforms, so that those data can also be efficiently accessed and used; as well as ways to publish future data according to the best FAIR and linked data practices. The recommendations highlighted in the policy brief intend to support decision-making in Europe; expedite research by making biodiversity data immediately and globally accessible; provide curated data ready to use by AI applications; and bridge gaps in the life cycle of research data through digital-born data. Several new and innovative workflows, linkages and integrative mechanisms and services developed within BiCIKL are mentioned as key advancements created to access and disseminate data available from scientific literature. 

While all policy briefs and factsheets – both primarily targeted at non-expert decision-makers who play a central role in biodiversity research and conservation efforts – are openly and freely available on the project’s website, the most important contributions were published as permanent scientific records in a BiCIKL-branded dedicated collection in the peer-reviewed open-science journal Research Ideas and Outcomes (RIO). There, the policy briefs are provided as both a ready-to-print document (available as supplementary material) and an extensive academic publication.

Currently, the collection: “Towards interlinked FAIR biodiversity knowledge: The BiCIKL perspective” in the RIO journal contains 60 publications, including policy briefs, project reports, methods papers, conference abstracts, demonstrating and highlighting key milestones and project outcomes from along the BiCIKL’s journey in the last three years. The collection also features over 15 scientific publications authored by people not necessarily involved in BiCIKL, but whose research uses linked open data and tools created in BiCIKL. Their publications were published in a dedicated article collection in the Biodiversity Data Journal.

***

Visit the Biodiversity Community Integrated Knowledge Library (BiCIKL) project’s website at: https://bicikl-project.eu/.

Don’t forget to also explore the Biodiversity Knowledge Hub (BKH) for yourself at: https://biodiversityknowledgehub.eu/ and watch the BKH’s introduction video

Highlights from the BiCIKL project are also accessible on Twitter/X from the project’s hashtag: #BiCIKL_H2020 and handle: @BiCIKL_H2020.

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/ 

Providing solutions to restoring the natural water retention function of landscapes: Pensoft joins the SpongeBoost project

At SpongeBoost, Pensoft is to take charge of the project’s identity, while building a strong network, and providing comprehensive knowledge and well-packaged information.

In recent years, Europe’s landscapes have become the victims of extreme events – ranging from floods to droughts – that have caused considerable damage to nature as well as human society. 

With the aim to tackle such severe circumstances, the newly-started Horizon Europe-funded project SpongeBoost will be working towards protecting and promoting natural sponge landscapes

Within SpongeBoost, the functional capacity of sponge landscapes is to be enhanced through building upon existing solutions and their large-scale implementation, but also through innovative approaches.

Pensoft is among the partnering institutions within SpongeBoost and serves as the leader of Work Package #5: “Communication, dissemination, exploitation, showcasing best practices and networking”. WP5 will aim to contribute to the project’s mission by building the overall project identity, building a strong network, and providing comprehensive knowledge and well-packaged information to targeted stakeholders.

The project 

Funded by the European Union’s Horizon Europe research and innovation programme with a budget of EUR ~3 million, the project is coordinated by the Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research (UFZ) and will be developed with the active participation of 10 partnering institutions from seven countries across Europe. Having been officially launched in January 2024, SpongeBoost is to wrap up in December 2027. 

The project is part of the EU mission “Adaptation to Climate Change”, whose task is to support EU regions, cities and local authorities in their efforts to build resilience against the impacts of climate change.

The protection and revitalisation of wetlands, particularly through peatland rewetting and river floodplain restoration, plays a central role in this,

says project manager Mathias Scholz from the UFZ. 

SpongeBoost held its official kick-off meeting in late February (2024) in Leipzig, Germany.

To officially kickstart the project, the first consortium meeting took place on 21-23 February in Leipzig, Germany. The kick-off meeting saw all 10 partnering institutions meet in person to officially lay the foundation of a promising collaboration that will flourish over the next four years.

The joint mission before the newly formed consortium is to enhance the natural sponge function of wetlands and soils in Europe, aligning with EU policies for climate adaptation, disaster risk reduction and biodiversity. To achieve that, the project plans to employ both bottom-up and top-down approaches, which will foster networking and synergy at the regional and EU level.

SpongeBoost will focus on five main objectives over the next four years:

  1. Conduct a comprehensive literature review to create a standard reference catalogue for securing and enhancing sponge functions in adaptation to climate change. This catalogue will integrate social, economic, technical, and ecological effects and serve as a widely used resource across Europe and beyond.
  1. Build a knowledge base on existing approaches for enhancing sponge functions, and highlight the reasons for success or failure. The goal is to enable regions and communities to replicate effective transformative solutions. Meanwhile, the consortium is to facilitate networking initiatives with other projects and identify suitable pilot sites for monitoring long-term success using the results of previous projects.
  1. Work on the implementation, tests, refinement, and adjustment of best practices and innovative solutions through EU-wide case studies. The goal is to enhance climate resilience to extreme events and enable upscaling from local to EU levels.
  1. Develop a roadmap with practical tools to empower stakeholders, drive transformative change, and integrate sponge solutions into regional, national and European climate adaptation processes to achieve EU Green Deal targets.
  1. Connect communities and compile online resources for climate change adaptation. The goal is to facilitate access and combine a library of tools for restoration and share research findings on soil, water, and groundwater interconnection for replication across Europe.

In addition to leading the “Communication, dissemination, exploitation, showcasing best practices and networking” work package at SpongeBoost, Pensoft is to also assist the Environmental Action Germany (DUH) in the implementation of different innovative communications methods and ideas meant to support the project’s goals.

As part of the creative communication strategy, DUH will take the lead in the development of a “SpongeBooster superhero” character. By creating such a character that will be also featured in comics, the team will translate complex concepts into clear visuals and engaging narratives, thereby shaping the project’s visual identity and letting non-experts join the discourse. The Sponge Booster is to serve as an innovative method to disseminate project knowledge and address barriers with humour while fostering dialogue and avoiding potential conflicts. 

International Consortium 

The SpongeBoost project brings together a team of 10 partners from seven European countries, spanning research, policy, and management fields. The consortium members, who individually represent various restoration projects, will join forces and expertise to promote collaboration, knowledge exchange and synergies across European regions, to ultimately instil a lasting positive impact on sponge restoration for climate change adaptation.

  1. Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research (UFZ), Germany 
  2. Pensoft Publishers, Bulgaria
  3. Wetlands International, the Netherlands
  4. University of Tartu, Estonia
  5. Jan Evangelista Purkyně University in Ústí nad Labem, Czech Republic
  6. Iberian Center for River Restoration, Spain
  7. Portuguese Society for the Study of Birds, Portugal
  8. RWTH Aachen University, Germany
  9. Stroming BV, the Netherlands
  10. Environmental Action Germany, Germany

Stay tuned for more project information on the SpongeBoost website coming soon at: www.spongeboost.eu/. In the meantime, you can follow SpongeBoost on social media on X and Linkedin.

Moving towards a systems-based Environmental Risk Assessment for wild bees, butterflies, moths and hoverflies: Pensoft joins PollinERA

Pensoft will lead the communication, dissemination and exploitation activities of the Horizon Europe project, which aims to reverse pollinator population declines and reduce impacts of pesticides.

The European Green Deal, the EU biodiversity strategy, the EU zero pollution action plan, and the revised EU pollinators initiative all indicate the need to protect pollinators and address insect and pollinator declines.

Plant protection products (PPP), also known as pesticides, have been identified as one of the primary triggers of pollinator decline. However, significant knowledge gaps and critical procedural limitations to current pesticide risk assessment require attention before meaningful improvements can be realised. The functional group is currently represented by only one species, the honey bee, which does not necessarily share other species’ biological and ecological traits.

Coordinated by The Social-Ecological Systems Simulation (SESS) Centre, Aarhus University and Prof. Christopher J. Topping, PollinERA (Understanding pesticide-Pollinator interactions to support EU Environmental Risk Assessment and policy) aims to move the evaluation of the risk and impacts of pesticides and suggestions for mitigation beyond the current situation of assessing single pesticides in isolation on honey bees to an ecologically consistent assessment of effects on insect pollinators.

This will be achieved through the development of a new systems-based environmental risk assessment (ERA) scheme, tools and protocols for a broad range of toxicological testing, feeding to in silico models (QSARS, toxicokinetic/toxicodynamic, and ALMaSS agent-based population simulations). 

Using a strong stakeholder co-development approach, these models will be combined in a One System framework for risk assessment and policy evaluation including an international long-term monitoring scheme for pollinators and pesticides. 

The One System framework builds on the recent roadmap for action on the ERA of chemicals for insect pollinators, developed within the IPol‐ERA project, funded by the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA). The framework will expand the ERA tools currently used for honey bees to include wild bees, butterflies, moths and hoverflies.

With an overall goal of reversing pollinator population declines and reducing the harmful impacts of pesticides, for the next four years, PollinERA will follow four specific objectives:

  1. Fill ecotoxicological data gaps to enable realistic prediction of the source and routes of exposure and the impact of pesticides on pollinators and their sensitivity to individual pesticides and mixtures.
  2. Develop and test a co-monitoring scheme for pesticides and pollinators across European cropping systems and landscapes, developing risk indicators and exposure information.
  3. Develop models for predicting pesticide toxicological effects on pollinators for chemicals and organisms, improve toxicokinetic/toxicodynamic (TKTD) and population models, and predict environment fate.
  4. Develop a population-level systems-based approach to risk and policy assessment considering multiple stressors and long-term spatiotemporal dynamics at a landscape scale and generate an open database for pollinator/pesticide data and tools.
Between 17 and 18 January 2024, experts from various realms of knowledge – from pollinator ecology, pesticide exposure and toxicological testing, to stakeholder engagement and communications – gathered in Aarhus, Denmark, to officially launch PollinERA. The two-day event seeded fruitful discussions on the project’s specific objectives, mission, methodology, outcomes and expected results.

With more than 20 years of experience in science communication, Pensoft is leading Work Package 6: Communication, Dissemination and Exploitation, that will ensure the effective outreach of PollinERA to its multiple target audiences. Based on the tailor-made communication, dissemination, exploitation and engagement strategies, Pensoft will provide a recognisable visual identity of the project, along with a user-friendly website, social media profiles, promotional materials, newsletters, infographics and videos. Pensoft will also contribute to the stakeholder mapping process and the organisation of various workshops and events.

To support the proactive, open-science transfer of results and scientific achievements, two PollinERA topical collections of articles will be established in Pensoft’s Food and Ecological Systems Modelling Journal (FESMJ) and the Research Ideas and Outcomes (RIO) journal.

PollinERA’s coordinator Prof. Christopher J. Topping (The Social-Ecological Systems Simulation Centre, Aarhus University) gave a warm welcome during the kick-off meeting of the project in Aarhus, Denmark.

In a joint effort to maximise impact and ensure sustainability of results, PollinERA will unfold in close collaboration with the sister Horizon Europe-funded project WildPosh, where Pensoft is also leading the Communication, dissemination and exploitation work package. 

Coordinated by Prof. Denis Michez (University of Mons), WildPosh aims to significantly improve the evaluation of risk to pesticide exposure of wild pollinators, and enhance the sustainable health of pollinators and pollination services in Europe.

Collaboration mechanisms between the PollinERA and the WildPosh projects include joint communication activities and events, joint data management strategy and alignment of activities to solidify the quality of final outputs.

Prof. Denis Michez (University of Mons), the coordinator of PollinERA’s sister-project WildPosh, presented the missions, objectives and methods, as well as the similarities, differences and collaboration potential between the two projects at PollinERA’s kick-off meeting in Aarhus, Denmark.

“It is fantastic that the European Commission puts so much effort into preserving wild pollinators and the countless benefits they bring to our society! The One System framework will hopefully become a fundamental part for the environmental risk assessment of chemicals for insect pollinators. I am really looking forward to implementing this insightful project, in close collaboration with its sister project WildPosh, where Pensoft is leading the dissemination efforts as well.”

says Teodor Metodiev, Principal Investigator for Pensoft at both PollinERA and WildPosh.

The PollinERA consortium comprises partners from eight European countries that represent a diverse range of scientific disciplines spanning from pollinator ecology, pesticide exposure and toxicological testing, to stakeholder engagement and communications.


Consortium:
  1. Aarhus University
  2. Jagiellonian University
  3. Lund University
  4. University of Bologna
  5. Osnabrück University
  6. Institute of Nature Conservation of the Polish Academy of Sciences
  7. Mario Negri Institute for Pharmacological Research
  8. BeeLife European Beekeeping Coordination
  9. Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences
  10. Pensoft Publishers
  11. Zip Solutions

Stay up to date with the PollinERA project’s progress on X/Twitter (@pollinERA_eu) and LinkedIn (/pollinera-eu).

  

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:

Earth Observation meets in-situ biodiversity monitoring: Pensoft joins the OBSGESSION project

As a leader of the Work Package 6: “Dissemination, Multi-stakeholder outreach and synergies,” Pensoft is tasked to build an involved community around OBSGESSION.

Pensoft is to contribute to the OBSGESSION consortium with expertise in science communication by taking care of stakeholders engagement, thereby supporting its goal of improved terrestrial and freshwater biodiversity monitoring. As a leader of the Work Package 6: “Dissemination, Multi-stakeholder outreach and synergies,” Pensoft is tasked to build an involved community around OBSGESSION.

Terrestrial and freshwater biodiversity has been declining at an alarming rate due various factors such as intensification of anthropogenic activities and climate change.

To help protect and preserve precious ecosystems, the new research project OBSGESSION (Observation of Ecosystem Changes for Action) launched, jointly funded under the EU programme Horizon Europe, the UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) and the University of Zurich (UZH). 

Coordinated by the Finnish Environmental Institute (Syke), OBSGESSION aims to reveal the drivers of biodiversity loss, pinpoint important indicators of ecosystem health and inform sustainability policy.

The project

OBSGESSION launched in January 2024 and will wrap up in December 2027 with the support of ~7.3 million EUR of funding, provided by the European Union’s Horizon Europe program, The UK Research and Innovation program (UKRI), and the University of Zurich (UZH).

The OBSGESSION consortium at the kick-off meeting in January 2024 (Tuusula, Finland).

The project officially kicked off with the first consortium meeting in Tuusula, Finland, between 30th January and 2nd February.

For the coming four years, the joint mission before the newly formed consortium is to integrate biodiversity data sources, such as Earth Observation, with in-situ research, and also cutting-edge ecological models. These will all be made into a comprehensive product for biodiversity management in both terrestrial and freshwater ecosystems. 

The project will also spearhead an innovative approach for assessing Essential Biodiversity Variables (EBVs) and their resilience to errors. Through purposely propagating error into biodiversity estimates and comparing the resulting models with ones using correct estimates, the EBV case studies aim to investigate model uncertainties and identify approaches that are more sensitive. Thus, they will inform policy and management about the optimal EBVs, and their key thresholds for conservation.

To demonstrate the implementation of the techniques and methodologies they are to develop within the project; and to respond to the needs of the EU Biodiversity Strategy for 2030, the consortium will focus on six distinct pilot activities:

  1. Investigating and predicting biodiversity change in the European Alps: multi-scale, multi-modal and multi-temporal investigation using remote and in-situ data integration.
  2. Improving habitat classification models: going beyond state-of-the-art in terms of accurate high-resolution mapping of Europe’s habitats, powered by machine learning.
  3. Forecasting ecosystem productivity under disturbances & climate change: incorporating remote sensing EBVs to assess metrics of ecosystem structure and health.
  4. Supporting temperate and boreal forest protection & restoration: through assessing ecosystem conditions via eDNA & image spectroscopy.
  5. Monitoring freshwater ecosystems under disturbances & climate change: utilizing the novel Thematic Ecosystem Change Indices (TECIs).
  6. Ecosystem functioning of the Kokemäenjoki estuary – assessing freshwater & transitional water quality incorporating both in-situ and Earth Observation data.

Through its pilot studies, methodological assessments, data stream integration, and investigating land use cover changes across Europe, OBSGESSION will help improve our understanding of ecosystem vulnerability across a range of specific habitat types, identify drivers and pressures to ecosystem change and improve planning and prioritization of restoration measures.

“At Pensoft, we are eager to be part of the bright OBSGESSION consortium and look forward to offering our expertise and experience in raising awareness towards the project and contributing to the high impact of the resulting outputs, methodologies and policy recommendations that aim to strengthen our understanding of biodiversity change,”

says Gabriela Popova, science communicator at Pensoft and leader of the Work Package #6: “Dissemination, Multi-stakeholder outreach and synergies” at OBSGESSION.

International Consortium

The interdisciplinary OBSGESSION consortium consists of 11 partnering organisations from seven European countries, who bring diverse expertise spanning from remote sensing and Earth observation, to freshwater ecosystems, programming and science communication. Many partners represent acclaimed scientific institutions with rich experience in collaborative EU projects.

Full list of partners:

Find more on the OBSGESSION website: https://obsgession.eu, and follow the project on X/Twitter (@obsgession_) and Linkedin (/obsgession-horizoneurope).

Towards the “Biodiversity PMC”: a literature database supporting advanced content queries

The indexing is one of the major outcomes from the partnerships within the Horizon 2020-funded project Biodiversity Community Integrated Knowledge Library (BiCIKL)

Amongst the major outcomes from the currently nearly completed Horizon 2020-funded project Biodiversity Community Integrated Knowledge Library (BiCIKL) – dedicated to making biodiversity data FAIR and bi-directionally linked – brings the SIB Literature Services (SIBiLS) database one step closer to solidifying its “Biodiversity PMC” portal and working title.

In a joint effort between the Swiss-based Text Mining group of Patrick Ruch at SIB (developing SIBiLS), the text- and data-mining association Plazi and scientific publisher Pensoft, the long-time collaborators have started feeding full-text content of over 500,000 taxonomic treatments extracted by Plazi and tens of thousands full-text articles from 40 well-renowned biodiversity journals published by Pensoft to the SIBiLS database. 

What this means is that users at SIBiLS – be it human or AI – have now gained access to 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.

To index and directly feed the content from its 40+ academic outlets at SIBiLS, Pensoft relies on advanced and full-text TaxPub JATS XML journal publication workflow, powered by the ARPHA publishing platform. Meanwhile, Plazi uses its GoldenGate text- and data-mining software to harvest taxon treatments from over 80 journals stored at TreatmentBank and the Biodiversity Literature Repository, and then further re-used by GBIF, OpenBiodiv and now by SiBILS.

Seen as a pilot, the indexing – the partners believe – could soon be extended with other journals relying on modern publishing or converted legacy publications. 

In fact, ever since its launch in 2020, the queryable database SIBiLS has been retrieving relevant full-text papers directly from the NIH’s PubMed Central, including Pensoft’s ZooKeysPhytoKeysMycoKeysBiodiversity Data Journal and Comparative Cytogenetics

However, there were still gaps left to bridge before SIBiLS could indeed be dubbed “the Biodiversity PMC”, and those have mostly been about volume and breadth of content. While the above-mentioned five journals by Pensoft had long been indexed by SIBiLS through harvesting PMC, those had been quite an exception since, several years ago, a reorganisation at PMC moved the focus of the database to almost exclusively biomedical content, thus leaving biodiversity journals out of the scope of the database.

In the meantime, while Plazi has been feeding SIBiLS a growing volume of taxonomic treatments and visual data, as it was exponentially increasing the number of publishers and journals it mined data from, a lot of biodiversity data (e.g. genetic, molecular, ecological) published in the article narratives that were not taxon treatments could not make it to the portal.

“We all know the advantages and practical uses PMC offers to its users, so we cannot miss the opportunity to incorporate this well-proven approach to navigate the data deluge in biodiversity science. Undoubtedly, it is an extremely ambitious and demanding task. Yet, I believe that, at the BiCIKL consortium, we have made it pretty clear we have the necessary expertise, know-how and aspiration to take on the challenge,”

said Prof. Lyubomir Penev, founder/CEO at Pensoft and project coordinator of BiCIKL.

“For far too long, scientific knowledge about biodiversity has been imprisoned in a continuously growing corpus of scientific outputs, which – most of the time – are published in unstructured formats, such as PDF, or as paywalled content, and often locked by both! This means that they are – at best – difficult to access and comprehend by computer algorithms. In the meantime, we need all that knowledge, in order to accelerate our understanding of the dynamics of the global biodiversity crisis and to efficiently assess the impact of climate change. This is why the need for advanced workflows and tools to annotate, mine, query and discover new facts from the available literature is more than obvious,”

added Dr. Donat Agosti, President at Plazi.

“In the course of the BiCIKL project, at SIBiLS, we started indexing a larger set of biodiversity-related contents in the broad sense, including environmental sciences and ecology, to build a new literature database, or what we now call ‘Biodiversity PMC’. Now, with the help of Plazi and Pensoft, we provide a unique entry point to half a million taxonomic treatments, which were not included into the original PubMed Central. Next on the list is to expand our network of literature sources and continue this exponential growth of queryable biodiversity knowledge to turn Biodiversity PMC into the “One Health” library. We promise to keep you posted,”

said Dr. Patrick Ruch, Group Leader at SIB and Head of Research at HES-SO, HEG Geneva, Switzerland. 

***

Follow BiCIKL Project on Twitter and Facebook. Join the conversation on Twitter at #BiCIKL_H2020.

***

About the SIB Swiss Institute of Bioinformatics:

SIB is an internationally recognized non-profit organisation, dedicated to biological and biomedical data science. SIB’s data scientists are passionate about creating knowledge and solving complex questions in many fields, from biodiversity and evolution to medicine. They provide essential databases and software platforms as well as bioinformatics expertise and services to academic, clinical, and industry groups. With the recent creation of the Environmental Bioinformatics group, led by Robert Waterhouse, SIB is engaged in an unprecedented effort to streamline data across molecular biology, health and biodiversity. SIB also federates the Swiss bioinformatics community of some 900 scientists, encouraging collaboration and knowledge sharing.

***

About Plazi:

Plazi is an association supporting and promoting the development of persistent and openly accessible digital taxonomic literature. To this end, Plazi maintains TreatmentBank, a digital taxonomic literature repository to enable archiving of taxonomic treatments; develops and maintains TaxPub, an extension of the National Library of Medicine / National Center for Biotechnology Informatics Journal Article Tag Suite for taxonomic treatments; is co-founder of the Biodiversity Literature Repository at Zenodo, participates in the development of new models for publishing taxonomic treatments in order to maximise interoperability with other relevant cyberinfrastructure components such as name servers and biodiversity resources; and advocates and educates about the vital importance of maintaining free and open access to scientific discourse and data. Plazi is a major contributor to the Global Biodiversity Information Facility.

Assessment, monitoring, and mitigation of chemical stressors on the health of wild pollinators: Pensoft joins WildPosh

Pensoft is amongst the participants of a new Horizon Europe project aiming to better evaluate the risk to wild pollinators of pesticide exposure, enhancing their health & pollination services.

Wild fauna and flora are facing variable and challenging environmental disturbances. One of the animal groups that is most impacted by these disturbances are pollinators, which face multiple threats, driven to a huge extent by the spread of anthropogenic chemicals, such as pesticides. 

WildPosh (Pan-european assessment, monitoring, and mitigation of chemical stressors on the health of wild pollinators) is a multi-actor, transdisciplinary project whose overarching mission and ambition are to significantly improve the evaluation of the risk to wild pollinators of pesticide exposure, and enhance the sustainable health of pollinators and pollination services in Europe.

On 25 and 26 January 2024, project partners from across Europe met for the first time in Mons, Belgium and marked the beginning of the 4-year endeavour that is WildPosh. During the two days of the meeting, the partners had the chance to discuss objectives and strategies and plan their work ahead. 

This aligns with the objectives of the European Green Deal and EU biodiversity strategy for 2030, emphasising the need to reduce pollution and safeguard pollinators. WildPosh focuses on understanding the routes of chemical exposure, evaluating toxicological effects, and developing preventive measures. By addressing knowledge gaps in pesticide risk assessment for wild pollinators, the project contributes to broader efforts in biodiversity conservation.

During the kick-off meeting in Mons, WildPosh’s project coordinator Prof. Denis Michez (University of Mons, Belgium) gave an introductory presentation.

As a leader of Work Package #7: “Communication, knowledge exchange and impact”, Pensoft is dedicated to maximising the project’s impact by employing a mix of channels in order to inform stakeholders about the results from WildPosh and raise further public awareness of wild and managed bees’ health.

Pensoft is also tasked with creating and maintaining a clear and recognisable project brand, promotional materials, website, social network profiles, internal communication platform, and online libraries. Another key responsibility is the development, implementation and regular updates of the project’s communication, dissemination and exploitation plans, that WildPosh is set to follow for the next four years.

“It is very exciting to build on the recently concluded PoshBee project, which set out to provide a holistic understanding of how chemicals affect health in honey bees, bumble bees, and solitary bees, and reveal how stressors interact to threaten bee health. WildPosh will continue this insightful work by investigating these effects on wild pollinators, such as butterflies, hoverflies and wild bee species, with the ultimate goal of protecting these small heroes who benefit the well-being of our planet,”

says Teodor Metodiev, WildPosh Principal Investigator for Pensoft.

For the next four years, WildPosh will be working towards five core objectives: 

1) Determine the real-world agrochemical exposure profile of wild pollinators at landscape level within and among sites 

2) Characterise causal relationships between pesticides and pollinator health 

3) Build open database on pollinator traits/distribution and chemicals to define exposure and toxicity scenario

4) Propose new tools for risk assessment on wild pollinators

5) Drive policy and practice.


Consortium:

The consortium consists of 17 partners coming from 10 European countries. Together, they bring extensive experience in Research and Innovation projects conducted within the Horizon programmes, as well as excellent scientific knowledge of chemistry, modelling, nutritional ecology, proteomics, environmental chemistry and nutritional biology.

  1. University of Mons
  2. Pensoft Publishers
  3. Eesti Maaülikool (Estonian University of Life Sciences)
  4. BioPark Archamps
  5. French National Agency for Food, Environmental and Occupational Health & Safety
  6. French National Centre for Scientific Research
  7. Martin Luther University Halle-Wittenburg
  8. Albert Ludwigs University Freiburg
  9. UFZ Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research
  10. University of Turin
  11. Italian National Institute of Health
  12. National Veterinary Research Institute – State Research Institute
  13. University of Novi Sad Faculty of Sciences
  14. University of Novi Sad, BioSense Institute-Research Institute for Information Technologies in Biosystems
  15. University of Murcia
  16. Royal Holloway and Bedford New College
  17. The University of Reading

Visit can follow WildPosh on X/Twitter (@WildPoshProject), Instagram (/wildposhproject) and Linkedin (/wildposh-eu)

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:

Maximising the impact of standardised biodiversity data: Pensoft’s role in the EU project B-Cubed

In line with its commitment to providing open-access biodiversity data, Pensoft has joined forces with 12 organisations to form the B-Cubed project.

The problem at hand

Measuring the extent and dynamics of the global biodiversity crisis is a challenging task that demands rapid, reliable and repeatable biodiversity monitoring data. Such data is essential for policymakers to be able to assess policy options effectively and accurately. To achieve this, however, there is a need to enhance the integration of biodiversity data from various sources, including citizen scientists, museums, herbaria, and researchers.

B-Cubed’s response

B-Cubed (Biodiversity Building Blocks for policy) hopes to tackle this challenge by reimagining the process of biodiversity monitoring, making it more adaptable and responsive. 

B-Cubed’s approach rests on six pillars: 

  • Improved alignment between policy and biodiversity data. Working closely with existing biodiversity initiatives to identify and meet policy needs.
  • Evidence base. Leveraging data cubes to standardise access to biodiversity data using the Essential Biodiversity Variables framework. These cubes are the basis for models and indicators of biodiversity.
  • Cloud computing environment. Providing users with access to the models in real-time and on demand.
  • Automated workflows. Developing exemplary automated workflows for modelling using biodiversity data cubes and for calculating change indicators.
  • Case studies. Demonstrating the effectiveness of B-Cubed’s tools.
  • Capacity building. Ensuring that the solutions meet openness standards and training end-users to employ them.

Pensoft’s role

Harnessing its experience in the communication, dissemination and exploitation of numerous EU projects, Pensoft focuses on maximising B-Cubed’s impact and ensuring the adoption and long-term legacy of its results. This encompasses a wide array of activities, ranging all the way from building the project’s visual and online presence to translating its results into policy recommendations. Pensoft also oversees B-Cubed’s data management by developing a Data Management Plan which ensures the implementation of the FAIR data principles and maximises the access to and re-use of the project’s research outputs.

Full list of partners

Visit B-Cubed’s website at https://b-cubed.eu/. You can also follow the project on X @BCubedProject and LinkedIn /B-Cubed Project, as well as by subscribing to its newsletter here.