Ambitious goals have been set by the European Union, in order to tackle the biodiversity conservation challenges over the coming decade. No less ambitious are the goals of the Horizon Europe project SELINA, which is one of the current major initiatives looking in the same direction.
SELINA (Science for Evidence-based and Sustainable Decisions about Natural Capital) is a transdisciplinary project aimed at promoting the conservation of biodiversity, enhancing ecosystem conditions, and supporting the sustainable use of the environment through evidence-based decision-making.
As an experienced science communicator and open-science publisher, Pensoft will be leading the project’s communication and dissemination activities.
SELINA was launched in July 2022 and will run for 5 years. Having received EUR 13 million in funding, the project is seen as an unprecedented opportunity for smart, cost-effective, and nature-based solutions to historic societal challenges such as climate change, biodiversity loss, and food security.
One of the project’s main objectives is to identify biodiversity, ecosystem condition, and ecosystem service factors that can be successfully integrated into decision-making processes in both the public and private sectors.
To achieve this objective, SELINA will develop, test, and integrate new and existing knowledge, including methodological approaches to improve biodiversity, ecosystem condition, and ecosystem service information uptake by decision-makers.
In addition, the project will utilise EU-wide workshops and multi-disciplinary Communities of Practice involving a wide range of stakeholders, including scientists, policymakers, business leaders, and civil society organisations.
The project will also organise Demonstration Projects on biodiversity, ecosystem condition, and ecosystem service integration in decision-making and co-create a Compendium of Guidance that will allow stakeholders to make full use of the project’s results and fit-for-purpose recommendations with real-world applications in policy-making and business decisions.
SELINA project brings together experts from 50 partnering organisations across all European Union member states, Norway, Switzerland, Israel, and the United Kingdom.
The project comprises a Pan-European and transdisciplinary network of professionals from the academic and non-academic sectors with various (inter)disciplinary backgrounds – including ecologists, economists, social scientists – who have agreed to work collaboratively to support transformative change based on evidence-based decision-making related to the management of natural resources.
While blacklists are an effective tool for preventing and managing new biological invasions, they don’t always raise public awareness of invasive alien species, a new study published in the open-access journal NeoBiota found. Important policy-making initiatives do not necessarily raise public awareness about biological invasions, and efforts should be more focused on supporting policy-making with well-planned communication campaigns, the research concludes.
Catchy news and viral videos work best to attract public attention to invasive alien species
Blacklists are one of the most common policy measures to limit biological invasions. They identify small groups of highly impactful invasive alien species: species introduced outside their native range that threaten biodiversity. By doing so, they inform key decision-makers, who then impose limitations or bans on their trade and introduction, or set requirements about specific actions to manage already established populations.
While they have been found to be effective at preventing and managing new biological invasions, we don’t know if blacklists actually raise public awareness of invasive alien species. In principle, they could do so, as they might attain a certain echo in the media and provide the general public with notorious examples of invasive alien species.
In 2016, the European Union published the List of Invasive Alien Species of Union concern, which contains species that are banned from import, trade, and release in Europe. It had a certain echo in the media, and having come at a time where Internet searches are so pervasive that they can be used to measure public attention, the Union List made a good case study for exploring blacklist impact on public awareness.
A research study, coordinated by Jacopo Cerri from theUniversity of Primorska, Slovenia, and Sandro Bertolino from theUniversity of Turin, Italy, explored if the publication of the Union List increased visits of the Italian Wikipedia pages about invasive alien mammals, many of which were included in the list. Wikipedia is the largest online encyclopedia and a major source of information for motivated Internet users who go beyond search engines such as Google. As a comparison, the researchers used visits to Wikipedia pages about native mammals in Italy, and adopted a causal impact analysis to quantify differences.
The study found no effect of the publication of the Union lists over visits to Italian Wikipedia pages of invasive alien mammals, compared to pages about native mammals. After 2016, there were single peaks of visits to pages of some of the species, probably caused by viral videos and news about large-scale control initiatives or mass escapes from captivity. In one instance, peaks in visits aligned with news about thecoypu – at the time, several national media outlets ran stories addressing the concerns of public administrations regarding the rodent’s impact on the stability of river banks. Similarly, a peak observed between late 2018 and February 2019 was likely caused by news about the release of 4,000 minks from a fur factory in Northern Italy, which attracted considerable attention in the national and regional media.
These attention peaks, however, did not last in time and don’t reflect a systematic change in public awareness about invasive alien species.
“Overall, our findings indicate that blacklists, despite having the potential to raise public awareness towards biological invasions, might fail to do so in practice,” the researchers conclude.
“Agencies who want to achieve this goal should rather develop tailored communication campaigns, or leverage on sensational news published in the media.”
Cerri J, Carnevali L, Monaco A, Genovesi P, Bertolino S (2022) Blacklists do not necessarily make people curious about invasive alien species. A case study with Bayesian structural time series and Wikipedia searches about invasive mammals in Italy. NeoBiota 71: 113-128. https://doi.org/10.3897/neobiota.71.69422
Following a recent integration with the novel, social network-style research discovery app Researcher, the scholarly platform ARPHA has taken yet another step to ensure scholarly publications from across its open-access, peer-reviewed journal portfolio are as easy to find and read as possible. Now, research papers published in all Pensoft’s and all other journals hosted on ARPHA Platform can reach the 1.8 million current users of Researcher directly on their smartphones.
Following a recent integration with the novel, social network-style research discovery app Researcher, the scholarly publishing platform ARPHA has taken yet another step to ensure scholarly publications from across its open-access, peer-reviewed journal portfolio are as easy to find and read as possible. Now, research papers published in all Pensoft’s, as well as all other journals hosted on ARPHA, can reach the 1.8 million current users of Researcher directly on their screens.
Similarly to the world’s best known and used social media networks: Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook, Researcher allows its users, scientists and academics, to follow their favourite scholarly journals and topics, in order to receive their content in a personalised newsfeed format, either on their phones or computers. Thus, they can stay up to date with the latest research in their scientific fields by simply scrolling down: much like what they are already used to in their everyday life outside academia.
Similarly to the well-known social network apps, Researcher lets users bookmark papers to go back to later on and even invite friends to join the platform. Furthermore, the users can also synchronise their accounts with their ORCID iDs, in order to load their own papers on their profiles on Researcher.
The Researcher app fetches new publications from all indexed journals several times a day, thus ensuring that a user’s newsfeed is updated in almost real time. Now, the ARPHA-hosted journals have joined the 17,000 academic outlets from across the sciences already sharing their publications on the app.
“At Pensoft, we are perfectly aware that good and open science practices go far beyond cost-free access to research articles. In reality, Open Science is also about easier findability and reusability, that is the probability one stumbles across a particular research publication, and consequently, cite and build on the findings in his/her own studies. By indexing our journals with Researcher, we’re further facilitating the discoverability of their content to the benefit of the authors who trust us with their work,”
says ARPHA’s and Pensoft’s founder and CEO Prof. Lyubomir Penev.
“We share ARPHA’s belief that Open Science means more than just free access – it means giving scholarly and scientific content the best chance to get in front the right reader at the right time. Our mission is to make sure that scientists and researchers never miss vital research. This partnership will ensure that distribution to our users across the world is built into the ARPHA platform – boosting discoverability and smoothing the path to impact,”
Acta Biologica Sibirica, an open-access, peer-reviewed journal of Altai State University, with its content on original research in the field of experimental and field biology, moves to Pensoft and the publisher’s scholarly platform ARPHA. The journal has been published since 2015 and follows all the standards in modern biological research and Open Access policy. The first papers published in 2020 are already available on a brand new user-friendly website, running on ARPHA publishing platform.
Acta Biologica Sibirica is an open-access, peer-reviewed journal on the biodiversity of Siberia and the adjacent lands by Altai State University. Since 2015, it has been publishing original research in the field of experimental and field biology.
Starting from 2020, Acta Biologica Sibirica moves to the full-featured technologically advanced platform ARPHA and will be published in collaboration with the scholarly publisher and technology provider Pensoft.
Pensoft’s original publishing system ARPHA allows Acta Biologica Sibirica to publish original research papers, reviews, short communications, letters and discussion papers, book reviews and memorial articles. The scholarly platform was designed to facilitate authors in the manuscript writing, submission and review process as end-to-end experience, including publication of the data and multimedia content in the form, suitable for both enhanced high-tech human and machine discoverability of the scholarly outputs.
Acta Biologica Sibirica accepts for publication papers in taxonomy, phylogeny, biogeography, faunistics, floristics, biological systematics, nature conservation and protected areas. In the fields of faunistics and floristics there are several types of articles, available for submission: floral and faunal lists on any region of the world, faunal and floral discoveries (e.g. species newly recorded in a particular region, additions to previously published inventories), papers on methodology of faunal and floral studies.
«Our basic task is to turn our journal into a high-quality world-class publication. Without the help of modern publishers, this is almost impossible. The choice of the publisher was perfectly logical – the reputation of Pensoft Publishers and its founder, the famous Bulgarian zoologist Lubomir Penev, is impeccable. To stand in one cohort with powerful publications with a long history is an honor for us. High standards of editing and reviewing manuscripts, the absolute level of originality and scientific novelty – these are the criteria on which we will rely»,
comments the Editor-in-Chief of the journal, Professor of Altai University Roman Yakovlev.
«At Pensoft, we are delighted to initiate this wonderful partnership with yet another renowned research institution in Russia, namely Altai State University. With our long-year experience in zoological and biodiversity research publishing and dissemination, I am certain that the journal has found a fitting place in the family of Pensoft and ARPHA»,
comments Prof. Lyubomir Penev, CEO and founder of Pensoft and ARPHA.
Within the pioneering papers published in the renewed journal, there is a research article about the first result of DNA-studies on the Central Asiatic owlet moths in the genus Euchalcia. The studied specimens were collected in Kyrgyzstan and Kazakhstan during the expeditions of the Russian Entomological Society in 2017-2019. When comparing a specific mitochondrial gene (cytochrome C oxidase subunit I or COI) between various species, the scientists revealed that the difference amongst European Euchalcia species is smaller than the one amongst high-mountainous Central Asiatic species.
Another study records the first occurrence of the moorland clouded yellow in Altai Region. The butterfly was found to share a mitochondrial barcode with some specimens from mountain populations from the Alps and the Czech Republic.
Altai State University is one of the leading Russian classical higher education institutions established in 1973. It is a major educational, research and cultural center located in the Asian part of the country, integrated into the international academic community, training the intellectual elite and conducting high-impact research.
The unique geographical position of Altai region, located in the center of Asia predestinates the University’s mission – to appear as an international research and educational center that integrates, develops and spreads the modern Western, Russian and Asian knowledge in education, science and culture within the Asian region.
ARPHA is the first end-to-end, narrative- and data-integrated publishing solution that supports the full life cycle of a manuscript, from authoring to reviewing, publishing and dissemination. ARPHA provides accomplished and streamlined production workflows that can be customized according to the journal’s needs. The platform enables a variety of publishing models through a number of options for branding, production and revenue models to choose from.
Large carnivores (e.g. bears, big cats, wolves and elephant seals) and zoos should be utilised as powerful catalysts for public engagement with nature and pro-environmental behaviour, highlights a new study in the journal Nature Conservation.
Large carnivores (e.g. bears, big cats, wolves and elephant seals) and zoos should be utilised as powerful catalysts for public engagement with nature and pro-environmental behaviour, suggests a paper published in the scholarly open-access journal Nature Conservation by an international multidisciplinary team, led by Dr Adriana Consorte-McCrea, Canterbury Christ Church University, UK.
The paper, which offers a synthesis of contributions, presented at the symposium “Large carnivores and zoos as catalysts for biodiversity conservation: how do we engage the public in the protection of biodiversity?” at the 5th European Congress for Conservation Biology (ECCB), Finland 2018, highlights the wide-reaching influence of the institutions visited by over 700 million people a year worldwide and combining knowledge with emotions and social values. Bringing together natural and social sciences, as well as psychology and education, it provides a rich multifaceted approach to the conservation of biodiversity by exploring the connections between people, large carnivores and zoos.
“[Zoos] may provide a space where field conservation and human dimensions can combine to foster a commitment between people, from all backgrounds, and the rest of the living world, and break down key barriers to biodiversity conservation, catalysed by the charismatic keystone species housed within their facilities,” concludes the team.
According to the scientists, large carnivores are essential to engage the public in the urgent need to arrest biodiversity loss due to the many links between wild predators and enhanced biodiversity. They acknowledge that the interactions between people and carnivores are complex and can give rise to conflicts such as concerns related to fears for own safety, fear of loss of other favoured species, material interests, or socio-economic tensions formed by an urban-rural divide.
Due to continuous changes in land use, areas of healthy habitat and protected areas are usually small and fragmented and cannot sustain wild carnivores, the paper explains, so it is necessary to coexist with large carnivores. Large carnivores show capabilities to adapt to different human-dominated ecosystems across the world which supports the idea that separation is not a necessary condition for large carnivore conservation. The bigger challenge remains whether human societies can accept and adapt to non-predator-free landscapes.
“Considering that the occurrence of predator attacks on humans is rare, tolerance of risks is affected by norms, culture, spiritual beliefs, cognitive and emotional factors, including risk perception,” elaborated the specialists and added that, “[p]eople’s progressive amnesia of what the landscapes were like before large carnivores disappeared may result in acceptance of natural spaces devoid of carnivore species.”
Research also points to the lack of interest in nature and reduced commitment to biodiversity conservation as being linked cognitive elements such as misconceptions and negative messages about wildlife in formative years and declining opportunities to engage with nature from childhood. This phenomenon has been described as the extinction of experience.
“Support for the conservation of large carnivores and for biodiversity is more likely when people have an emotional appreciation for diverse species, not just understanding. Both aspects are likely to be enhanced by direct experiences, such as visits to zoos and aquariums that provide an increasingly important opportunity for contact with other species,” add the scientists.
Recognising the role of zoos as a catalyst for conservation for their contributions in skills and expertise that span animal care and husbandry, public engagement, education and research, is vital for biodiversity conservation. Though education programmes based on knowledge gain are not enough to change people’s perceptions, opportunities for emotional engagement and reduction of fear, combined with social context provided by the zoo are great assets in promoting tolerance of large carnivores and biodiversity among visitors who are typically estranged from the wildlife.
Consorte-McCrea A, Fernandez A, Bainbridge A, Moss A, Prévot A-C, Clayton S, Glikman JA, Johansson M, López-Bao JV, Bath A, Frank B, Marchini S (2019) Large carnivores and zoos as catalysts for engaging the public in the protection of biodiversity. Nature Conservation 37: 133-150. https://doi.org/10.3897/natureconservation.37.39501
With a research output mentioned online every 1.8 seconds, it only makes sense for the science community to grow curious of how they could access the knowledge of this public interest to better and build on their work.
Journal publishing platform ARPHA, developed by academic publisher Pensoft, has partnered with Altmetric to enable authors, readers and other users to track the online shares and discussions relating to each research output in journals published on ARPHA.
Thanks to the integration, a single click in the top menu of an article reveals the Altmetric donut visualisation, which provides an at-a-glance summary of the attention the item has received. The colours of the donut reflect the source of the attention, and the user can click on the image to be taken to the Altmetric details page, which provides a record of all of the mentions. Data is updated in real-time to provide insight into how the item is being received and shared.
To deliver such detailed information, Altmetric follows 2,000 mainstream media outlets in over 30 languages, social networks, public policy documents, post-publication peer-review forums, online reference managers, blogs, and Wikipedia.
As a result, all authors, readers, editors and funders can easily and immediately track the popularity, reception and impact of each of their studies.
“Having built an extensive portfolio of innovations as a technological provider, we are always looking forward to making yet another effort at providing our users with the best-quality experience. The integration of Altmetric data provides us with another opportunity to do exactly this,” says Pensoft’s founder and CEO Prof Lyubomir Penev.
“Furthermore, the science community has long been in need of a more adequate measure of the influence and engagement of individual research outputs, and Altmetric provides this.”
Altmetric’s Founder Euan Adie adds, “We’re excited to see the Altmetric badges being implemented across the ARPHA platform. Helping researchers get credit for their work and demonstrate its reach and influence is a core part of what we do, and this integration provides new opportunities to do so.”
The Altmetric badges and associated details pages are now available for all articles within Pensoft’s journals, as well as the journals using the white-label publishing available from ARPHA.
Altmetric was founded in 2011 and has made it a mission to track and analyze the online activity around scholarly literature. Altmetric tracks what people are saying about research outputs online and works with some of the biggest publishers, funders, and institutions around the world to deliver this data in an accessible and reliable format. Altmetric is supported by Digital Science. Visit http://www.altmetric.com for more information, and follow on Twitter @altmetric.
ARPHA is the first end-to-end journal publishing solution that supports the full life cycle of a manuscript, from authoring through submission, peer review, publication and dissemination. With ARPHA, journals and publishers enjoy a complete set of services, which enable tailored, technologically advanced publishing solutions. The platform enables a variety of publishing models through a number of options for branding, production and revenue models to choose from.