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.

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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.

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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.

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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/ 

Exploring ‘sufficiency’: an overlooked strategy for protecting biodiversity?

Decision makers are urged to re-evaluate their priorities.

A study from the Technical University Berlin suggests ‘sufficiency’ should be a more prominent strategy for protecting biodiversity.

Published in the open-access journal Nature Conservation, the paper analyses the intersection between biodiversity conservation and sufficiency strategies aimed at reducing consumption and resource use.

Study author Marianne Hachtmann notes that despite the established connection between excessive resource use by humans and biodiversity loss, there is limited explicit focus on how sufficiency strategies can support biodiversity preservation.

Reviewing literature from 2017 to 2021 and publications by nature conservation associations, the research identifies a notable gap in discussions linking sufficiency directly with biodiversity outcomes. Possible reasons for this may be the term’s political implications, lack of descriptiveness, and the use of other terms.

Methodology diagram
Research methodology

Furthermore, the lack of connection between sufficiency and biodiversity could be because they belong to different ‘scientific spheres’. Linking the two terms thus requires a reflective, interdisciplinary perspective.

The study proposes a detailed sufficiency typology to foster a systematic approach towards integrating the term in biodiversity conservation efforts.

“The sufficiency typology developed here allows for a systematic integration of sufficiency into biodiversity conservation and thus a joint consideration of social and nature conservation concerns.”

Marianne Hachtmann, Technical University Berlin

Policymakers, conservationists, and researchers are urged to prioritise sufficiency for the broader strategy for biodiversity conservation and sustainable living. The paper calls for further investigation into how sufficiency strategies can be crucial in conserving biodiversity and promoting sustainability.

Original source:

Hachtmann M (2024) Linking sufficiency and the protection of biodiversity: An issue of political implications, framing, descriptiveness and interdisciplinarity? Nature Conservation 55: 83-102. https://doi.org/10.3897/natureconservation.55.118243

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Orchard meadows: reviving Europe’s forgotten landscapes

Researchers call for political and public support to protect these areas.

A study spearheaded by researchers at the Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research and Macquarie University has highlighted the important ecological role of traditional orchard meadows, calling for political and public support and incentives for farmers to protect these landscapes.

The paper, published in the open-access journal Nature Conservation, reviews the effects of management, habitat and landscape characteristics on the biodiversity of these areas in Central Europe.

Orchard meadow management graphic.
Schematic figure illustrating the effects of management intensification on species richness. The graph illustrates the potential effect of management intensity (from high over intermediate to abandonment/rewilding) on species richness in orchard meadows. 

Orchard meadows, characterised by the combination of cultivated grasslands and scattered fruit trees, exhibit high flora and fauna biodiversity. Despite their ecological value, these habitats have been in decline since the mid-19th century due their decreasing economic worth. They now face threats from land abandonment and intensification of agriculture.

The study emphasises the importance of moderate management intensity, connectivity to neighbouring habitats, and the preservation of structural diversity to maintain and enhance the conservation value of orchard meadows. The findings also advocate for a nuanced understanding of management impacts across taxonomic groups and points out the limitation of available studies on these habitats in Central Europe.

Currently loose in definition, the research team advocated for a clear definition of orchard meadows to create a common term in Europe, which would make their assessment and protection more straightforward. They suggest orchard meadows should be listed in the Habitats Directive of the Council of the European Union and farmers should get incentives for their maintenance. Finally, the research team calls for political and public support to prevent the loss and abandonment of these biodiverse landscapes.

“One way the public support the protection of these habitats is through consumer behaviour, specifically by purchasing local products from orchard meadows. However, it is crucial to subsidise these local products and prioritize them at local markets.

“As long as fruits from orchard meadows are treated as ‘by-products’ in the market, it will be challenging to convince people to buy local products. This change is necessary to close the economic gap between intensified fruit production and extensive orchard meadows.”

Cornelia Sattler, lead author.

Research paper

Sattler C, Schrader J, Hüttner M-L, Henle K (2024) Effects of management, habitat and landscape characteristics on biodiversity of orchard meadows in Central Europe: A brief review. Nature Conservation 55: 103-134. https://doi.org/10.3897/natureconservation.55.108688

Rare bee species discovery links the French Alps to Turkey and Iraq

The new species has a narrow ecological niche, making it vulnerable to climate change and agricultural practices.

European researchers have discovered a new species of osmiine bee with an unusual geographic distribution.

Hoplitis onosmaevae is currently found exclusively in the Mercantour National Park in the French Alps and disparate mountainous regions in Turkey and Northern Iraq. The distance of more than 2000 km between these areas highlights a significant biogeographic disjunction.

New bee species distribution.
Distribution map of Hoplitis onosmaevae.

Described in the open-access journal Alpine Entomology, the new bee species demonstrates unique ecological characteristics such as its distinct nesting behaviour in dead wood.

Presumed to only harvest pollen from Onosma species, it has a long proboscis, which is likely an adaptation to collect nectar from the long-tubed flowers of this genus.

New bee species.
Male Hoplitis onosmaevae with unfolded proboscis.

The strongly disjunct distribution of Hoplitis onosmaevae has important implications for conservation. The species likely has a very narrow ecological niche, making it highly susceptible to future changes in its habitats, for example due to changes in agricultural practices or to climate change.

New bee species habitat.
Nesting habitat in the Alps, with dead trunks of larch.
New bee species in flower.
Female Hoplitis onosmaevae in a flower of Onosma tricerosperma.

“The consideration of the few known populations of this species in France is very important in the conservation field,” says lead author Matthieu Aubert, freelance entomologist and member of the Observatoire des Abeilles association.

“This study highlights the incredible diversity of wild bees and that we still have a lot to learn from our environment, even in western Europe,” he continues.

The researchers emphasise the need for detailed conservation plans in the southwestern Alps to ensure the survival of Hoplitis onosmaevae, considering its highly specialised ecological niche and consequently its vulnerability to habitat changes. Their proposals for initial conservation steps can be found in the full research paper.

Research paper

Aubert M, Müller A, Praz C (2024) A new osmiine bee with a spectacular geographic disjunction: Hoplitis (Hoplitis) onosmaevae sp. nov. (Hymenoptera, Anthophila, Megachilidae). Alpine Entomology 8: 65-79. https://doi.org/10.3897/alpento.8.118039

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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.

Eaten to extinction: breeding programmes begin for endangered turtles in Vietnam

Considered a delicacy in China and Vietnam, the spotted softshell turtle faces threats from overconsumption and habitat loss.

Conservationists have initiated breeding programmes in Vietnam to recover spotted softshell turtle populations threatened by overconsumption and habitat loss.

Based on a literature study, field surveys across Vietnam, and genetic screenings of collected samples, researchers estimated the range and conservation status of Pelodiscus variegatus, the spotted softshell turtle. The data were then used to model the species’ potential range in Vietnam.

Alarmingly, although several protected areas in Vietnam appear to harbour suitable habitats for the species, no populations were identified in any of the sites, indicating it is especially susceptible to extinction.

The research team releasing juvenile turtles into water.
Release of juveile turtles in Vietnaam. Credit: C. T. Pham and T. Ziegler

To recover natural populations of the species, the Institute of Ecology and Biological Resources and Cologne Zoo, Germany, initiated an in-country breeding programme. In late 2023, they released 50 young and healthy turtles to a site with suitable climate and habitat in northern Vietnam.

It is hoped that additional individuals will be reintroduced to protected areas in north-central Vietnam, the sanctuary of spotted softshell turtles, to reverse its declining trend and further contribute to the global Reverse the Red movement, a target best accomplished by applying the IUCN’s One Plan Approach to Conservation.

Softshell turtles of the genus Pelodiscus are broadly distributed from southeastern Siberia through China to Vietnam. However, their range is currently extended to Indonesia, northern Australia, western Europe, North America, Hawaii, and Mauritius as a result of human transportation and breeding activities.

The turtles are considered a delicacy in China and some Southeast Asian countries. In China alone, each year hundreds of million turtles are traded, making them the most widely consumed turtles in the world.

Traditionally, this genus had been considered monotypic with only one recognised species, the Chinese softshell turtle (Pelodiscus sinensis). However, recent research has shown that the genus is much more diverse with at least seven species known to science.

Due to their morphological similarity, widespread farming activities, overharvesting, and their aquatic lifestyle, it is often difficult to study them in their natural habitat to better understand their distribution as well as their population and conservation status.

Like other congeners, the spotted softshell turtle is facing tremendous threats, from habitat loss to overharvesting for food and genetic pollution because the Chinese softshell turtle has been farmed across the country, imperilling the native genetic sources.

As the result, the Turtle Taxonomy Working Group, the global authority on taxonomic and conservation status of turtles worldwide, provisionally classifies the species as Critically Endangered, the highest ranking for taxa most vulnerable to extinction.

Original post:

Le MD, Rödder D, Nguyen TT, The Pham C, Nguyen TQ, Ong AV, McCormack TEM, Nguyen TT, Le MH, Ngo HT, Ziegler T (2024) Climatic niche modelling and genetic analyses highlight conservation priorities for the Spotted Softshell Turtle (Pelodiscus variegatus). Nature Conservation 55: 67-82. https://doi.org/10.3897/natureconservation.55.114746

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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).

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)

Brand new journal Estuarine Management and Technologies streamlines innovation in ecosystems conservation

There has been an increasing need to support the exchange of research related to the conservation and sustainable management of estuarine ecosystems by means of new-age technologies and approaches.

Where freshwater rivers meet seas and oceans lies a scientifically intriguing and ecologically important type of ecosystem. As estuarine ecosystems provide various and diverse services to humanity and the planet at large, including food security and natural buffers and filters in the events of storms and water pollution, there has been an increasing need to facilitate and support the exchange of research findings and ideas related to their conservation and sustainable management by means of new-age technology and novel approaches.

This is how a team of renowned and passionate scientists, headed by Dr. Soufiane Haddout (Ibn Tofail University, Morocco), took the decision to launch a brand new open-access, peer-reviewed scholarly, aptly titled Estuarine Management and Technologies. They explain the rationale behind the journal in a new editorial, published to mark the official launch of the journal.

Having already worked closely with the scientific publisher and technology provider Pensoft on the fine touches of the concept of the new academic title, the team opted to use Pensoft’s publishing platform of ARPHA. As a result, the new journal provides a seamless, end-to-end publishing experience, encompassing all stages between manuscript submission and article publication, indexation, dissemination and permanent archiving. 

Within the collaboration between the journal’s and Pensoft’s teams, Estuarine Management and Technologies will take advantage of various services offered by the ARPHA platform, including full-text automated export in machine-readable and minable JATS-XML format to over 60 relevant databases for scientific literature and data; semantically enriched and multimedia-friendly publications accessible in HTML; and rich statistics about the outreach and usage of each published article and its elements (e.g. figures and tables), including views, downloads, online mentions, and citations. 

The publishing platform’s in-house indexing team will continue their close work with the journal’s editors to ensure that the scholarly outlet retains highest quality and integrity, so that it covers the criteria for indexation at additional key databases that require individual evaluation. In the meantime, ARPHA’s technical and editorial teams will provide technical and customer support to authors, editors and reviewers. The marketing and promotion team of ARPHA will be also joining forces with the journal to boost the visibility and image of the new academic title.

During the launch phase, content accepted for publication following double-blinded peer review will be made public right away for free to both authors and readers, where the journal will be operating under a continuous publication model.

Estuarine Management and Technologies welcomes studies from a wide spectrum of disciplines, including physics, chemistry, geology, biology, and hydrology, with a focus on interdisciplinarity, multifaceted approaches and holistic perspectives.

“One crucial aspect of estuarine management is the sustainable use of resources to balance conservation with human needs. Striking this delicate equilibrium requires a holistic understanding of the intricate web of ecological interactions within estuarine environments. Advanced technologies, such as isotopic techniques, environmental DNA (eDNA) analysis, can provide insights into the biodiversity of estuarine ecosystems with unprecedented precision,”

explain Dr Haddout and his colleagues in the opening editorial.

Amongst the unique features of the new journal are several additional publication types, such as Expert View, Video Paper, Rapid Communication, Mini Review and Estuarine Scientists, where these have been added to traditional publication outputs (e.g. Research Paper, Review Paper, Data Paper) to foster collaboration between researchers and other stakeholders in the field.

The journal is also running an annual Trailblazing Talent in Estuarine Management and Technologies award intended to recognise and encourage young scientists and engineers at the forefront of cutting-edge research in estuarine management and technologies. Nominations and applications are currently open.

Estuarine Management and Technologies also welcomes applications for guest editors in order to further expand the journal and its immediate expert network.

“I am delighted to see the Estuarine Management and Technologies journal already live on the ARPHA platform. We are confident that this particularly important, yet so far quite overlooked area of study will greatly benefit from this highly promising journal,”

says Prof. Lyubomir Penev, CEO and founder of Pensoft and ARPHA.

“I am pleased to announce the launch of the Estuarine Management and Technologies journal on ARPHA, a decision rooted in our commitment to advancing the field. We believe that this strategic partnership will not only enhance the visibility and accessibility of our journal, but will also foster collaboration and innovation within the estuarine management and technologies community. We expect this alliance to be a catalyst for scholarly excellence, providing a robust platform for researchers and practitioners to share insights, address challenges, and propel the field forward. Together with ARPHA, we are confident in the positive impact our journal will have on shaping the future of estuarine management and technologies.”

says Dr. Soufiane Haddout, Editor-in-Chief and founder, Estuarine Management and Technologies.

***

You can visit the journal website and sign up for its newsletter from the homepage.

You can also follow Estuarine Management and Technologies on X (formerly Twitter).

New coffee snake species discovered in Ecuador’s cloud forests

Found by biologist Alejandro Arteaga, this species lives in coffee plantations and is endemic to northwestern Ecuador

Researchers of Khamai Foundation and Liberty University have discovered a new species of coffee snake endemic to the cloud forests of northwestern Ecuador.

The new species is named Ninia guytudori, in honor of naturalist Guy Tudor, in recognition of the impact he has had on the conservation of South America’s birds through his artistry. Photo by Alejandro Arteaga.

Biologist Alejandro Arteaga first found the snake in Ecuador’s Pichincha province, while looking for animals to include in a book on the Reptiles of Ecuador.

“This is species number 30 that I have discovered, out of a target of 100,” he says.

Ninia guytudori from Santa Lucía Cloud Forest Reserve, Pichincha province. Photo by Jose Vieira

Like other coffee snakes, Tudors’s Coffee-Snake often inhabits coffee plantations, especially in areas where its cloud forest habitat has been destroyed. It is endemic to the Pacific slopes of the Andes in northwestern Ecuador, where it lives at elevations of between 1,000 and 1,500 m above sea level.

While it faces no major immediate extinction threats, some of its populations are likely to be declining due to deforestation by logging and large-scale mining.

Photo by Jose Vieira

The researchers hope that its discovery will highlight the importance of preserving the cloud forest ecosystem, and focus research attention on human-modified habitats that surround it such as coffee plantations and pastures.

Photographs of some specimens of Ninia guytudori: top, from Santa Lucía Cloud Forest Reserve, Pichincha province. Bottom, from Río Manduriacu Reserve, Imbabura province. Photos by Jose Vieira

The name of the new snake species honors Guy Tudor, “an all-around naturalist and scientific illustrator with a deep fondness for birds and all animals, in recognition of the impact he has had on the conservation of South America’s birds through his artistry,” the researchers write in their paper, which was recently published in Evolutionary Systematics.

“We are trying to raise funds for conservation through the naming of new species. This one helped us protect Buenaventura Reserve.

Research article:

Arteaga A, Harris KJ (2023) A new species of Ninia (Serpentes, Colubridae) from western Ecuador and revalidation of N. schmidti. Evolutionary Systematics 7(2): 317-334. https://doi.org/10.3897/evolsyst.7.112476

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