Cloud Computing Protects Biodiversity

Brazil and European nations have successfully cooperated in building online biodiversity research tools and ecological niche mapping instruments, according to the European Union’s CORDIS news service.

One of the great challenges of the 21st century will be addressing biodiversity loss, which has major financial impact both in European and Latin America. Mitigating this requires cost-effective, cross-disciplinary research within the global biodiversity research community.

The EUR 1 million joint programme named EUBRAZILOPENBIO (EU-Brazil Open Data and Cloud Computing e-Infrastructure for Biodiversity), will help promote cross-border innovation and the sharing of best practice in a vitally important field of research.

Based on a list of species of Brazilian flora, containing over 43 000 species and around 30 000 synonyms, and the global Species2000/ITIS Catalogue of Life (CoL), which indexes about 250 000 plant species and 300 000 synonyms, the service allows the comparison of any pair of checklists. The tool can provide a list of species present in one checklist, but absent in the other, for example.

The project, which was completed this year, is aligned with the Open Access principles enshrined in the EC’s Horizon 2020 programme.

The project is very much in line with the Open Access Movement, which promotes the concept of openness for scientific research, and is aligned with the OpenAIRE initiative launched in 2010 to establish an infrastructure for EU-funded researchers to publish their work.

Tackling the complexity of biodiversity requires dealing with multiple multi-disciplinary datasets, from climatology to earth sciences. Much of this data is fragmented. This is why EUBRAZILOPENBIO has sought to develop a platform that will enable cross-border research, and support the needs of the biodiversity scientific community by reducing the time and costs needed to set up dedicated working environments and workflows.

EUBRAZILOPENBIO has also developed a number of useful research tools, such as a new version of the Catalogue of Life cross-mapping tool developed in the i4Life project. By using this EUBRAZILOPENBIO Crossmapper service, taxonomists and data curators can find relationships between their own regional lists of species and different information systems, within the same virtual research environment.

An Ecological Niche Modelling service has also been developed, providing researchers with an integrated working environment that enables the definition and execution of computing-intensive modelling tasks. It works by retrieving high-resolution environmental data collected from different biodiversity networks, such as the Global Diversity Information Facility (GBIF) and SpeciesLink. This makes the process easier to handle and allows biodiversity researchers to create models and run them under different conditions in a quicker and less fragmented way.

You can find out more about the programme from CORDIS by clicking here:

The EUBRAZILOPENBIO website can be reached by clicking here.

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