LifeWatch ERIC facilitates the sharing and aggregation of open data and the integration and analysis into advanced models. Its VREs (Virtual Research Environments), together with its computational capacity and disruptive technologies, make it possible to test changing scenarios in the organisation and conservation of biodiversity, ecosystems and their services.
Italy is one of the founding states of LifeWatch ERIC, the Consortium for a European e-Science Infrastructure for Biodiversity and Ecosystem Research. Our country is a biodiversity hotspot and this issue occupies a fundamental position in national environmental policies. This commitment has led to the creation of the LifeWatch Italy Joint Research Unit (JRU), of which the National Institute of Oceanography and Applied Geophysics - OGS - is a member. The JRU coordinates the Italian contribution to LifeWatch, the national activities of its Service Centre and the National Distributed Biodiversity Research Institute of LifeWatch Italy. These include the activities of specific Working Groups responsible for ICT, Modelling, Citizen Science and specific case studies.
The e–Biodiversity Research Institute is present on the whole Italian territory. Its activities focus on building a functional framework and aims at enhancing integrated scientific research in the field of biodiversity. The Institute is organised into four Thematic Centres: Biomolecular, Collections, Interactions and Mediterranean, which deal with species and their genetic and phenotypic traits (including behavioural aspects), their niches and interactions. The Collections Thematic Centre aims at supporting the creation of the taxonomic structure of the LifeWatch Italy platform and will contribute to the updating, standardisation and refinement of the data hosted within the infrastructure, making the already existing databases and resources interoperable and accessible through the portal.
OGS is contributing to the implementation of the Collections Thematic Centre by making available the data and information collected in its infrastructure, CoSMi, the Collection of Sea Microorganisms, which specialises in isolating, keeping in cultivation and identifying marine microorganisms. The Biomolecular Thematic Centre integrates expertise and infrastructure for molecular and bioinformatic analysis with the main aim of offering the scientific community services and advice for the study of biodiversity. The Centre aims to provide tools for the analysis of genomic, metagenomic, phylogenetic, phylogeographic and DNA barcoding and meta-barcoding data, and to make available specially structured databases to ensure integrated access to molecular information and associated metadata.
LifeWatch Italia creates and develops Virtual Research Environments (VRE) to serve the scientific community. The VRE Alien Species (LifeWatch Alien Species Virtual Research Environment - AS-VRE) was created to support scientists in conducting experimental research on alien species in different types of ecosystems (aquatic and terrestrial). The Phytoplankton VRE (Phyto VRE) was created to support researchers on phytoplanktonic communities and their structure, organisation and ecological function.