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Results of a Workshop sponsored by
With assistance from
Creating a Ten-Year Global, Integrative, Multi-Dimensional Biodiversity Initiative Results of a Workshop sponsored by the National Science Foundation, December 1 – 2, 2009 David E. Blockstein1, Margaret Goud Collins2, James Edwards3, Terri Killeffer4, and David Schindel5
Copyright 2011 National Council for Science and the Environment. Permission to copy and/or distribute all or part of the information contained herein is granted, provided that such copies carry due attribution to the National Council for Science and the Environment (NCSE), 1101 17th St. NW, Washington, DC 20036; 202-530-5810; www.ncseonline.org/biodiversity This material is based upon work supported by the National Science Foundation under Grant No. 0970022.
National Council for Science and the Environment US National Academy of Sciences, US National Committee for DIVERSITAS Encyclopedia of Life, Smithsonian Institution Information International Associates, Inc. Consortium for the Barcode of Life, Smithsonian Institution
Executive Summary: A Multi-dimensional Research Program for Global Biodiversity ............................ 4 Introduction: Biodiversity in a Rapidly Changing World ......................................................................... 7 Section I. The Biodiversity Research Support Community: Capacity, Activities, and Needs ................. 10 A. Current Situation: Characterization of the Community ........................................................... 10 1. ...................................................................................................................................... Survey Results .................................................................................................................... 11 2. ...................................................................................................................................... Perspectives from the Workshop ........................................................................................ 20 B. Key Issues of Concern............................................................................................................. 26 1. ...................................................................................................................................... Barriers to Success .............................................................................................................. 26 2. ...................................................................................................................................... Unmet Needs ..................................................................................................................... 27 3. ...................................................................................................................................... Current Capacity ................................................................................................................. 27 4. ...................................................................................................................................... Gaps in Supporting Information .......................................................................................... 27 5. ...................................................................................................................................... Scientific Challenges ........................................................................................................... 28 Section II. Key Findings and Recommendations ................................................................................... 30 A. Goals and Deliverables of a Ten-year Initiative .......................................................................... 30 B. Community Actions Needed...................................................................................................... 32 C. Government Actions Needed .................................................................................................... 34 Section III. References .......................................................................................................................... 37 Appendices ........................................................................................................................................... 39 Appendix A. Workshop Participants ............................................................................................... 39 Appendix B. Mission statements of Biodiversity Support Organizations ......................................... 43 Appendix C. Respondents to Questionnaire .................................................................................. 51
Executive Summary: A Multi-dimensional Research Program for Global Biodiversity
The National Council for Science and the Environment (NCSE) and its partners, US National Committee for DIVERSITAS of the US National Academy of Sciences, and the Encyclopedia of Life of the Smithsonian Institution convened a two-day workshop, “Enabling Biodiversity Research: the Roles of Information and Support Networks” in December 2009 at the National Academy of Sciences in Washington, DC. The workshop was held in the context of “Dimensions of Biodiversity”, a 10-year research initiative being developed by the US National Science Foundation. The 60 participants represented national and international biodiversity research institutions, most of which focus on building the information and reference collection infrastructures and services that are critical for biodiversity research. The workshop followed up on issues raised at NCSE’s 9th National Conference on Science, Policy and the Environment in December 2008, which explored the challenges of Biodiversity in a Rapidly Changing World. The workshop and this report characterize the community that supports biodiversity research by housing scientific collections, generating and sharing information, and providing funding and other types of support. The community, while containing many dedicated individuals and excellent institutions, is not sufficiently funded, organized nor large enough to meet the challenges of understanding biodiversity in time to avoid catastrophic losses of life’s richness. There is a serious scarcity of biodiversity researchers and supporting organizations in the tropics, which contain the vast majority of biodiversity. It is important that researchers and supporting organizations around the world band together to enable and undertake a Multi-dimensional Research Program for Global Biodiversity. This document presents the basis for a global initiative to understand the fundamentals of biodiversity through cooperation among the institutions that enable research by providing research facilities, taxonomic and database resources, and otherwise supporting research.
The Status of Biodiversity Research
Participants in the workshop would like to know what they don’t know. While this statement may sound ridiculous, it is a valid concern. To completely understand the basic interactions of the world in which we all live, the starting point begins with “how many species exist?” The next problematic step is to define a species. Species-level diversity is a traditional core of biodiversity research, and continues to be the basic building block, but any definition of ‘biodiversity’ must extend much farther. Diversity is universal and evolution operates on the levels of genes, developmental pathways, physiology, populations, communities and ecosystems. National and international research communities have grown and thrived to focus on each of these levels of biodiversity. For each level, basic and applied research plus the necessary research infrastructure have grown interactively, including: Genetic • • GenBank European Molecular Biology Laboratory (EMBL) 4
DNA Data Bank of Japan (DDBJ) Barcode of Life
Species-level • Census of Marine Life • Tropical Ecology Assessment & Monitoring (TEAM) Network • All Taxa Biodiversity Inventories (ATBI) • Catalogue of Life/Integrated Taxonomic Information System (ITIS) • Global Biodiversity Information Facility (GBIF) • biodiversity informatics Applied research • Consultative Group for International Agricultural Research (CGIAR) Ecosystems • Long Term Ecological Research (LTER) Network • National Ecological Observatory Network (NEON) • LifeWatch • Group on Earth Observations Biodiversity Observatory Network (GEO BON)
A Ten-year Vision for Biodiversity Research
The coming decades will challenge research communities and the research infrastructures they have built to grow across the traditional boundaries that have separated them. Participants in the workshop agreed that a new generation of ‘multi-dimensional’ research is needed to understand the feedbacks and feed-forwards that link genes, gene expression, development, physiology, population and community ecology, speciation, ecosystem functioning, and other dimensions of biodiversity. Research infrastructures, especially reference collections and databases, will need to expand their missions and programs of work. In addition to providing access to comprehensive resources on one dimension of biodiversity, infrastructures will need to develop ways for researchers to navigate from the information sources they usually use into other dimensions, to support a new generation of research. The ‘interoperability challenge’ is already being addressed through broad initiatives such as e-Biosphere, NEON/LifeWatch, and the Barcode of Life. Information technology will be a critical component in enabling a new generation of multi-dimensional research on biodiversity. IT has vastly increased access to information within a research community, but much more will be required for multi-dimensional research. • • How will researchers link and retrieve information that reside in different databases and were built using different data standards? After we have retrieved and assembled these multi-dimensional data, how will researchers work with them?
Over the coming decade, the newly defined biodiversity research community will need to develop new research laboratories and environments that will enable: • • • • International and interdisciplinary collaboration in virtual laboratories created on the Web; Digitization and annotation of new families of information ranging across satellite imagery, ground-based monitoring, museum collections, social science surveys, and gene sequences; New approaches to knowledge representation in biology that render data not only interoperable and retrievable, but computable; and In-depth partnerships with computer scientists and informaticians devoted to creating computational approaches to a vastly expanded body of biodiversity data.
Additional information and background resources can be found at http://www.ncseonline.org/biodiversity/
Introduction: Biodiversity in a Rapidly Changing World
As the world moves on from the International Year of Biodiversity (2010), the global biodiversity situation is perilous. Unprecedented losses are continuing to accelerate on all scales and in all aspects of biodiversity. Global trends of population growth, climatic disruption and unsustainable economic activity are driving major losses of irretrievable knowledge and resources. Losses of biodiversity act synergistically with climate change. Globally, some 20% of carbon dioxide emissions are due to deforestation - particularly of tropical forests, the richest and most diverse terrestrial ecosystem. Ocean acidification is reducing the buffering capacity of the world’s largest source of carbon storage, disturbing the biological processes that drive the carbon cycle, damaging the bases of food webs, and leading to the endangerment of the biologically rich coral reef ecosystems. What we don’t know is hurting us. Large voids in knowledge are hampering our ability to use biodiversity sustainably and to conserve life’s richness for the long term. Scientists still know very little about most of the organisms that co-inhabit this planet. We do not know whether there are tens of millions or hundreds of millions of species. The vast majority of the Earth’s species of plants, animals and microorganisms still do not have scientific names, nor do we know their natural history, functional roles, or the genetic and biochemical resources they contain. Resolving these mysteries becomes more problematic with a continual drop in the number of scientists studying systematics and taxonomy. Organisms give us a livable planet by producing oxygen, degrading wastes, cleaning our air and water, providing us with food, building materials and pharmaceuticals, and a whole host of other ecosystem services. We desperately need to determine the dimensions of the unknown biodiversity that surrounds us. These issues have been made clear in reports over the past 20 plus years including by the National Science Board (NSB) (Loss of Biological Diversity: A Global Crisis Requiring International Solutions, 1989), the President’s Committee of Advisers on Science and Technology (PCAST) – (Teaming with Life, 1998), and the proposed action plan by Peter Raven and E. O. Wilson (Science, 1992) as well as more recent reports listed below. Despite the scope of the problem and the workforce challenges, a renewed sense of opportunity in the biodiversity science community has been generated by a tremendous flowering of new techniques for biodiversity observation, research, data storage, and analysis. Advances in molecular biology, genetics, cyberinfrastructure, computational biology and other fields have enabled biodiversity studies that were never previously possible. The scientific community can now begin a systematic re-assessment of the scientific capacity for biodiversity research, the challenges and opportunities posed by changes in biodiversity, biodiversity science and biodiversity support services. There are likewise new opportunities to rapidly characterize biodiversity, and advances in technology, collaboration, funding, permitting, etc. may allow the community to scale up its knowledge quickly.
Previous efforts to identify the resource needs and the activities that fill those needs have only addressed portions of the biodiversity community. There have been no attempts to examine the needs of the biodiversity research community as a whole, or to focus on the integrative efforts that will be needed to ascertain the dimensions of what scientists have yet to learn about biodiversity and its functioning in ecosystems around the world.. Some of these previous reports and ongoing activities include: • • Systematics Agenda 2000 (1994) examined the needs of the taxonomic community. The US National Science and Technology Council report on Scientific Collections: Mission-Critical Infrastructure for Federal Science Agencies (2009) focused on collections maintained by US federal agencies. The OECD’s Global Science Forum has compiled reports including Biological Resource Centres: Underpinning the Future of Life sciences and Biotechnology (2001) and Policy Issues Related to Scientific Research Collections (2008). e-Biosphere 09 (http://www.e-biosphere09.org/) was devoted to developing interoperable cyberinfrastructure for biodiversity. The Global Biodiversity Assessment (1995) attempted to examine biodiversity in all its aspects and in an international context, but is now badly out of date. The National Academy has addressed elements of these questions in a number of reports, including NEON: Addressing the Nation’s Environmental Challenges (2003), A Biological Survey for the Nation (1994), and Earth Science and Applications from Space: National Imperatives for the Next Decade and Beyond (2007) with a chapter on “Land-Use Change, Ecosystem Dynamics, and Biodiversity." The 2010 Biodiversity Indicators Partnership of over 40 international organizations (www.twentyten.net) is developed a set of 22 biodiversity indicators in preparation for the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) meeting in Nagoya, Japan in November 2010. The initiative is sponsored by the UNEP World Conservation Monitoring Centre (WCMC). Botanic Gardens Conservation International (BGCI) conducted a United States Botanical Capacity Assessment (http://www.bgci.org/usa/bcap) in 2009. Community efforts to identify top research questions in conservation biology have been conducted in the U.K. (Sutherland et al. 2006, 2009, 2010) the US (Fleishman et al, 2011) and Canada.
• • •
A large and vibrant international community of nongovernmental organizations supports biodiversity research by providing logistics, informatics, funding, and integrative services for biodiversity research. The US National Science Foundation (NSF), seeking to understand the extent and functions of biodiversity, have initiated plans for a decade-long campaign to characterize the key but understudied dimensions of biodiversity. “The Dimensions of Biodiversity initiative seeks to characterize biodiversity on Earth by using integrative, innovative approaches to fill rapidly the most substantial gaps in our understanding of the diversity of life on Earth. This campaign will take a broad view of biodiversity, and
in its initial phase will focus on the integration of genetic, taxonomic and functional dimensions of biodiversity… By 2020, the Dimensions of Biodiversity campaign is expected to have transformed how we describe and understand the scope and role of life on Earth. The campaign promotes novel, integrated approaches to identify and understand the evolutionary and ecological significance of the dimensions of biodiversity amidst the changing environment of the present day and geological past” (NSF 2010 – Program Solicitation 10-548 and NSF 2011 – Program Solicitation 11-518). Success of this initiative depends in large measure on coordination and support from a diverse community of organizations and institutions that maintain biodiversity databases and collections, develop new informatics tools and other cyberinfrastructure, and provide logistical support and funding for biodiversity researchers. This document presents the basis for a global initiative to understand the fundamentals of biodiversity through cooperation among the institutions that enable research by providing research facilities, taxonomic and database resources, and supporting research. It is based on a workshop funded by the NSF and held at the National Academy of Sciences in Washington, DC in December 2009. The major goal of the proposed workshop was to bring together representatives from this community to assess the institutional capacity for research support and develop approaches and collaborations for building increased capacity. Specific workshop activities included: • • • • Develop a compendium of the kinds of enabling support currently being provided; Identify significant gaps in this support; Propose mechanisms to fill those gaps; and Develop strategies for strengthening communication and cooperation among the elements of the community
The workshop was organized by a partnership of the National Council for Science and the Environment (NCSE), Encyclopedia of Life (EoL) and the US National Committee for DIVERSITAS. Information International Associates (IIa) provided analysis of the state of the biodiversity research community. Additional information and background resources can be found at http://www.ncseonline.org/biodiversity/
Section I. The Biodiversity Research Support Community: Capacity, Activities, and Needs
A. Current Situation: Characterization of the Community
Non-governmental organizations and institutions provide a large proportion of the infrastructure, coordination and support that serves as the foundation for biodiversity research. These institutions range from individual museums, botanical gardens, zoos, and other organizations to national and multinational networks established to enable greater understanding of biological diversity. They enable research by providing logistics, informatics, funding, and integrative services. They address the full range of biodiversity components and questions from molecules to ecosystems, and include genetic, taxonomic and functional elements of biodiversity. The community includes approximately 65 leading institutions, organizations and networks. Almost all of these are based in Europe and the United States (see Appendix B). Each of the 65 was invited to participate in the December 2009 workshop and in the pre-workshop questionnaire. More than 65% participated directly in the workshop (Appendix A) or indirectly by responding to the survey (Appendix C). Thus, this report represents the vast majority of the leadership of the international biodiversity support community. Although this community includes many organizations, partnerships, and dedicated individuals, it lacks unity and coherence as an international community. In general, the European organizations are much better networked and coordinated than their American counterparts. . With a few notable exceptions such as the well organized biodiversity research communities in Mexico and Brazil, there is an enormous and serious lack of organizations and individual capacity in the developing nations, where most of the world’s biodiversity resides. The following characterizes the organizations based on self-responses to a series of survey questions. The survey and analysis were conducted by Terri Killeffer of Information International Associates (Killeffer 2009). A list of respondents can be found in Appendix C.
1. Survey Results How much of the institutional budget is directed towards biodiversity? More than half (18) of 31 organizations responding to the question – devote 100% of their budget to biodiversity (Figure 1).
20 18 16 14 12 10 8 6 4 2 0 N/A Spend 100% Spend 80% Spend 50% Spend 35% 6 Spend 13% Spend 10% Spend 2% Spend 1% Spend 0%
Who is the primary funding source? Government (25 organizations) and foundations (20 organizations) are the primary funders for more than half of the organizations (Figure 2). Commerce was not a primary funding source for any of these groups.
Primary Funding Sources
30 25 20 15 10 5 0
Allowed t o sele ct up to three
Figure 2 How important is the US National Science Foundation as a funder for these organizations? Of 13 organizations that reported receiving funds from the US National Science Foundation (NSF), 4 organizations receive more than 65% of their funds from NSF, with the remainder receiving 33% or less (Figure 3). Many of the participating organizations were not based in the US and thus are not eligible for NSF funding.
What is the geographic focus of the organization? More than half (60%) have a global focus, with 18% having a continental focus, 12% nationally focused and 8% transnational.
What types of organizational activities are undertaken? A wide range of activities are carried out. More than 75% provide biodiversity data and half undertake educational activities. None of the respondents provide commercial products (Figure 4).
10 35 30 25 20 15 10 5 0
Allowed to select all that apply
What types of information are provided? Some 75% of the organizations provide biological information about species – especially species occurrence data. Nearly half provide ecological data, a variety of information tools, and other types of information (Figure 5).
Information Provided by Organization
11 35 30 25 20 15 10 5 0
Allowed to select all that apply
What taxonomic groups are addressed? Although nearly half of the community (17 organizations) includes at least some information on all taxonomic groups, only 4 organizations emphasize all taxonomic groups. The rest focus on one a few taxonomic groups; these specialized groups cover essentially all groups from microorganisms to vertebrates. What types of ecological data are provided? More than 20 types of ecological data are provided by organizations including: • Biogeographic Distribution • Climate Data • Demographic Data • Ecological Indicators • Ecological Thematic Layers • Ecosystem Type • Elevation Model (digital) • Environmental Preferences
• • • • • • • • •
Evolutionary Relationships International Ecological Classification Standard Life History Marine Environmental Parameters Physiochemical Characteristics Population Distribution and Dynamics Remotely Sensed Environmental Parameters Soil Map (digital) Trophic Ecology
How are data used for management? Almost all data providers make information available for management of a variety of types. Data from more than 75% of the sources were used with respect to ecosystem services, with data from half or fewer used for any other single type of natural resource management. Less than 10% provided data relevant to agriculture (Figure 6).
Biodiversity/Ecosystem Resource Management Data Types Provided
14 35 30 25 20 15 10 5 0
Allowed to select all that apply
What types of habitat are covered? The largest coverage is for marine (80%) and coastal (67%) with more than 50% of the organizations including information on terrestrial systems of a variety of types (Figure 7).
Habitat Types Covered
15 35 30 25 20 15 10 5 0
Allowed to select all that apply
What types of genetic data are provided? Genetic data provided includes sequences (14 organizations), bar codes (13), annotation (6) and “other” (13). Twelve organizations do not provide genetic data.
What types of digital library resources are provided? Secondary services (e.g. indexing and abstracting) are provided by 15 groups. Twelve provide access to the original literature or other types of digital library resources. Six provide policy and legal documents and another six groups do not provide digital library resources.
What types of web accessible data and information are provided? More than half the organizations provide online access to specimen or observational data or document standards and protocols or names catalogs. Controlled terminology is provided by 25% of the groups and other web accessible data are provided by 25% (10 groups). Only two groups do not provide web accessible data. A wide variety of web applications and tools are provided, with the vast majority being available through open sources (Figure 8).
Web Services – Applications/Tools
19 25 20 15 10 5 0 Apps/Tools Open source
Allowed to select all that apply
Is biodiversity information infrastructure provided? 64% of the organizations develop or provide standards, protocols, support, software, or other types of information infrastructure; whereas 28% do not (8% did not answer). 71% develop or provide data or metadata standards and protocols; 18% do not and 11% did not respond. Visualization tools are provided by 19 organizations, analytical tools by 18 and modeling by 9 groups. Other informatics tools are provided by 11 groups. 25 groups provide portals or websites with information from multiple sites whereas 14 only provide their own information.
Who are the target users? Almost all organizations (35) target the scientific community, with students (31), educators (30), the science-attentive public and policymakers (each 26), information intermediaries and natural resource managers (24 each), the general public (15) and other users (5) as lesser audiences.
Are products and services available without charge? All responders had some form of free products and services with eight having additional restrictions. What kinds of logistical support are provided? 67% of the organizations provide some logistical support; while 31% do not. The support includes: • Support o Financial o Policy o Education through publications o Lab space o Vehicles • Technology o Tools o Infrastructure o Standards • Training • Networking and Collaboration Do organizations assist with research permitting? Only 13% of the organizations help with permitting issues although other groups have member groups that are involved in permitting but do not participate themselves. Some organizations have blanket permits from particular countries related to threatened or protected species.
2. Perspectives from the Workshop The December 2009 workshop included a set of breakout groups aimed at defining the community and characterizing its activities. The participants were provided with a set of questions, and the following reports were provided as summaries of the main points of those discussions. a. Who are the members and key user constituencies of the groups and networks represented at the meeting? • Field station “community”: 200-300 field stations in North and South America • Ecological research community • Natural resource management community • Monographic taxonomic experts, delivering data through global standard databases; 515 sectors via 71 providers • 95 research institutes and universities doing research on marine biodiversity—taxonomy, species distributions, functional roles, physiology, socio-economic aspects of biodiversity. • Metagenomics (at community level) and genomics (at species level) researchers, and a broad range of consumers of these data. • Catalog of Life, 10 major users: 8-10 data portals like the Global Biodiversity Information Facility (GBIF), 40 national portals, 40,000 individual users of the site per year, first commercial users • 1000 governmental and non-governmental members of International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) • Bioinformatics, computer cyberinfrastructure, metadata developers (processors and ontologists), Long Term Ecological Research (LTER) sites and other organizations organizing data in standardized formats connected through the Committee on Data for Science and Technology (CODATA) • 4 million citizen scientists (through Cornell Laboratory of Ornithology), bird observation data (70 million records) • Suite of formal and informal science education projects in biodiversity, molecular biology and ecological research: 40,000-50,000 people/year • Frozen zoo includes 180 institutions, mostly zoological parks in the US, but also 20 other countries, and some species from wild populations. Contains 8700 cell cultures from over 800 vertebrate taxa. The purpose is conservation research, but resources are used by hundreds of investigators, especially evolutionary biologists and biomedical scientists. A major source of DNA for research. Contributors are from Association of Zoo and Aquariums (AZA). o AZA: 221 institutions, primarily in US, responsible to 175 million zoo visitors per year • Scientific community ((15 international institutions in Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research (CGIAR), each having their own network, thousands of people in total) working on research for food and agriculture for development. Representing 11 gene banks, agronomic associations, agricultural institutions, plant breeders. Focus on conservation and use of biodiversity for crops. 470,000 samples are exchanged among members annually. 650,000
accessions. Also manage databases of observation data and taxonomic data for identification. Working on developing data about crop threats. Contribute to GBIF. Cover 1500 crop species. • Developing country scientists (300-400) • InterAcademies Panel (IAP): a network of 100 national science academies • Network of data centers focused on species and ecosystem status and mapping: 15 universities, 10 NGOs, 70 state, federal and tribal government agencies. 4 million data requests per year, serving conservation planners, threatened and endangered (T&E) species, regulatory compliance, at-risk species and ecosystem management, and researchers on at-risk species and ecosystems. • Encyclopedia of Life (EOL): systematists and taxonomists, general lay community (public, citizen science), biologists, general, applied users (conservation, management and planning) o Other users: industrial, bioenergy, waste management, utilities, certification efforts for buildings (LEED), forestry and biomass production, and sustainable development • 120 marine labs; 10,000 scientists; remote places • National Ecological Observatory Network (NEON) producing 700 data products • Morphbank – place for morphologists to put their images, metadata catalog, specimen information, etc. • Plant Conservation International – plant search database, global tree specialist group of IUCN; red list assessment for trees; botanical capacity assessment project funded by National Fish and Wildlife Foundation • Data Mining for Global Trends in Mountain Biodiversity – a book From Global Mountain Biodiversity Assessment • Encyclopedia of the Earth (maintained by NCSE), peer-reviewed online hyperlinked encyclopedia aimed primarily at undergraduate students • Others b. How do the organizations set priorities and make decisions around biodiversity research? How does the biodiversity network community interact with the users of biodiversity data in defining an agenda? i. Overall challenges in prioritization: a. Balance between top down and bottom up: What is the appropriate balance between top-down global priority setting exercises based on assessments such as the Millennium Ecosystem Assessment and bottom-up approaches that begin with decisions of individual scientists and institutions? Although top-down approaches can stimulate investments and new research, often the impetus for global assessments or international policy mechanisms comes first from the bottom up. Without dedicated resources, the top-down approach has limited effectiveness. b. Understanding that there are 2 investment marketplaces (providers and users): Priorities are set by both the Academic Marketplace (scientific advancement) (providerdriven) and the Applications Marketplace (e.g. land use and management, conservation)
(user-driven). The connection between these 2 marketplaces is currently not very strong. The goals and motivations of the academic community often differ from those of the user community. Additionally there are cultural, communication and funding gaps. Mechanisms to connect researchers and users are relatively few. Funding sources are not systematically aligned to the needs of either community. Recognition of a matrix of approaches to science, such as Pasteur’s quadrant (use-inspired basic research) (Stokes 1997) may help to clarify the situation. In determining prioritization, funders and researchers should seek to maximize return on investment (maximize knowledge gained per investment), by enabling re-use of data being digitized, creating coordinated networks and other means of collaboration. They also need to consider the cost of not doing something, i.e., what is the cost of ignorance? ii. Specific approaches of organizations to prioritization include: • • • • American Zoo and Aquarium Association (AZA) prioritizes its work through taxonomic advisory groups that identify species needing attention. Catalog of Life user group works with identified user community. Cyberinfrastructure for Advanced Marine Microbial Ecology Research and Analysis (CAMERA) has a science advisory board made up of “super-users” CGIAR has an inter-center working group on genetic resources that helps to set priorities. Also led by “challenge programs” which link the centers to international initiatives (e.g., genomic challenge and climate change challenge program). The Global Crop Conservation Trust is building an endowment fund for conservation by Annex 1 crops, which is driving priorities for conservation and research. Treaty for the Protection of Genetic Resources for Agriculture (TPGRFA) provides the legal framework for collecting, preserving and exchanging crop samples. CODATA Taxonomic Data Working Group (TDWG) is typically organized around thematic working groups made up of scientific, informatics, and database experts. Frozen Zoo has an internal review group. Also has an internal committee that reviews requests for uses of genetic data. IUCN, Conservation International (CI), and NatureServe together with a number of other partner organizations (BirdLife International, Royal Botanic Gardens at Kew, WildScreen, Texas A&M University, Sapienza University of Rome, and Botanic Gardens Conservation International) work together to expand the geographic and taxonomic coverage of the IUCN Red List and ensure that these data are made widely available for information conservation planning, management, decision making, and monitoring. Marine Biodiversity and Ecosystem Functioning (MarBEF) network has a science advisory board that meets twice a year and gives directives. NatureServe has standing councils comprised of it member organizations. Also creates ad hoc work groups to tackle methodology issues. Also sets priorities through participation in international standards groups like TDWG.
• • •
Organization of Biological Field Stations (OBFS) does not attempt to set a scientific agenda or priorities. They just support principal investigator (PI)-driven research of their members. Third World Academy of Sciences (TWAS) does not attempt to set an agenda. They respond to proposals that are reviewed by committees that may include outside researchers. •
c. What are the community strengths, assets and needs? i. Strengths & Assests • Considerable infrastructure, each with its own acronym – a lot of expertise and resources already in place • Continuity of organizations and efforts over time (remarkable, given lack of continuity in funding) • Ecological/habitat diversity • Existing, immense network of participants • Geographical diversity • International scope Links to national and international policy drivers • Links to national and international policy makers and influencers • Taxonomically broad (in many aspects) • Very broad audience of users, including the public
ii. Needs • More focus on ecosystem function • Geographic breadth: Need broader representation by developing countries • Diversity in genomic data, which are over-represented by “culturable” organisms • Paleontological expertise: mostly focused on extant biodiversity (rather than fossil record) • Greater involvement with policy makers • Standardized assessment methods and networks for collecting, disseminating and accessing biodiversity data • Standardized methods for sharing and integration of data (ontologies, and other technical aspects) • An expanded open-access culture with a protocol to track provenance of data that makes people more comfortable sharing data, knowing that they will receive credit for their work • Expanded human capacity to replace retiring scientists and to expand geographically and taxonomically • Standardized infrastructure for collecting and managing biodiversity data • Better tools for traversing between alternative taxonomies • Complete the inventory of life forms – and the computational infrastructure to handle it – there will be an explosion of data as genomics moves forward • Complete catalogs of known species • Better understanding of how biodiversity contributes to and influences ecosystem function • Stronger institutions: weakness is a dependence on “fragile” institutions, which have uncertain funding streams • Financial resources
d. Issues: i. Data Issues • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • Access to data and specimens Analytical tools Archiving and storage of data so they can be used in the future scaling of consortium models internationally Attribution Bar coding; everything tied to voucher specimen Baseline information Change detection Completeness: How much is enough? Data policy – data with metadata need to be made available to the world Digitization on a large scale of existing and legacy data Emphasizing data quality, usability, replication merit, as we go forward Environmental data insufficient Geographic data biases Incentives for data availability Interoperability/data integration: Most data sets weren’t designed to be integrated IT infrastructure Metadata and standards Quality control/fitness for use: too much data locked up by individuals or not in electronic format Scaling and coordination Taxonomic improvements Tracking use of data once they’re downloaded Value added information
ii. Community Issues • • • • • • • Community is lacking theory and consistent systems of representation: This will come from knowledge representation and computer science, not from biodiversity science community Educating consumers of taxonomic data Human resources Information in living collections (botanical gardens, zoos, aquariums) not fully utilized –need to mobilize the network of botanical gardens Internationalization, access in different languages and international coordination Maximizing potential of biodiversity knowledge sharing Mechanisms needed for getting people together and for networking activities
• • •
Reward and evaluation incentives (metrics) at the individual level and the institutional level Societal and political challenges Workflows become critical
iii. Community components Users: • • • • Need connections to policy decisions, decision-makers Need connections to users – what do they want? Need clearer outreach/marketing message to promote public understanding Need indicators of biodiversity and ecosystem studies
Researchers: • • • • Diversify coverage to include poorly known groups, microbes in particular Fight data entropy Create data standards, probably specific to sub-communities Need to overcome fractionation, capitalize on good local solutions that can be scaled up
Funders: • Focus on intrinsic merit over wider impact results in shorter-term grants to create new databases versus longer-term support; results in fragility of databases, organizations, initiatives; loss of the benefits of past investments Wider impact should also include longer-term impact: Need longer-term support for data archives, collections, infrastructure Create incentives to digitize resources, open sharing Require and enforce data policies that support openness, sharing; create systems for giving professional credit for contributions to data Provide access to data on current investments in biodiversity research and infrastructure
• • • •
iv. Other Issues • • • • • • • Lack of theoretical basis for knowledge representation Modeling, macroecological questions Evolutionary questions Biodiversity as a commodity Hardware: decide how much to spend on infrastructure vs. data What’s transformative in the thinking? Return on Investment: where are the low-cost opportunities?
v. Solutions • • • • • • • Have solved the problems on very small scales GEO BON set up to address many issues raised here GBIF set up to address these issues at the primary species information level GBIF’s strategic plan (GBIF 2006) and work plan (GBIF 210) are good reference documents for this process Funders need to consider applications to be as important as fundamental research Leveraging – as we go forward in this initiative, other currently funded projects will bear additional fruit Some of the innovation will come from integration
B. Key Issues of Concern
To identify challenges in providing the support for a major campaign to understand dimensions of biodiversity, we surveyed the community through a series of open-ended questions. The questions and a summary of responses are below. The complete set of responses (Killeffer 2009) is available at www.NCSEonline.org/biodiversity.
1. What are the largest barriers to success in accomplishing your organizational mission? • Data integration, sharing and access o Lack of infrastructure o Incompatibilities of data Willingness to share o Turf sensitivity o Individual competition o Publication first o Needs for proper attribution Lack of human capacity and expertise o Taxonomists o Field biologists o Staff Lack of financial resources o Erratic short-term funding
2. What are the largest unmet needs in providing information and support related to biodiversity research globally? Access and sharing of data Integration of biodiversity data with other data and tools Biodiversity indicators for general public as well as decision-makers Use and development of advanced web-technologies and tools Metadata
3. Is current capacity (including human resources) sufficient to support a major new research effort on Dimensions of Biodiversity? Majority of responders said “No” A few said “yes” Others weren’t quite sure • If capacity is insufficient, what are the largest unmet needs? Assessing the capacity of developing countries • More people o Taxonomists o Biodiversity informaticians o Curators • Support o Policies o Funding o Public 4. What are the top major gaps in the support infrastructure for biodiversity science? Limited or no access to data, information, specimens, etc. o Need digital conversion o Barriers (e.g. bandwidth, trust) Need for “Biobanks” or research/data centers o Capacity development, manage collections, data mining, taxonomic research, etc. Lack of training for: o Biologists in modeling, spatial statistics, etc. o Young researchers How can these gaps be filled? Increase bioinformatics and cyberinfrastructure o Data integration o Data digitization Creation of data centers o Supportive services o Outreach to developing countries
Increase in funding o Build a business model o Approach non-traditional funding Education o Policy & decision-makers, classroom, informal, media, etc.
5. Scientific Challenges a. What are the top scientific questions that need to be addressed in order to characterize the dimensions of biodiversity? Nearly 100 questions were suggested. These questions can be summarized as follows. A full list of questions and a more complete summary can be found in Killeffer (2009). • • • What species exist? How many species exist? How are species to be defined? o Taxonomic classification disputes o Relevant units of biological diversity (macro vs. micro) What are the influences of phylogeny and genetics to species diversity/evolution? o What role does the environment play? Where are the species? o Biogeography o Range, depth, and elevation o Landscape, habitat, etc. What changes are taking place with biodiversity? o Threats o Areas most at-risk o Loss of ecosystem services How can we predict, model, measure, or characterize the ecological processes of biodiversity in order to: o Assess impacts of anthropogenic or climatic changes o Create key mitigation/conservation/management plans Human aspect o Anthropogenic influence/disturbance o Livestock-agroecosystem interactions o International cooperation What do we already know? Technology o Normalizing information for synthesis and analysis o Digitization
o User interfaces o Development of composite indicators What is our baseline?
b. What are the top scientific questions that should guide exploration of the Earth’s unknown dimensions of biodiversity? • • • What don’t we know? o Undiscovered species, critical thresholds, ocean exploration, etc. What are the trends and how can we predict the future? o Impacts of climate change, invasions, adaptation, land-use, etc. What are the functions and services of ecosystems? o How does society depend upon these? o How do these affect decision-making? What are the spatial, temporal, genetic, and phenotypic patterns of diversity? o How are these defined and scaled?
c. In what fields of biodiversity science will additional funding be most likely to lead to breakthroughs in understanding of biodiversity? Informatics Genomics Field work Modeling Data intensive analysis Collections
Section II. Key Findings and Recommendations
Workshop participants were provided with an overview of NSF’s plans for a ten-year “Dimensions of Biodiversity” funding initiative http://www.nsf.gov/attachments/115335/public/firth_bioac_09_11_2009.pdf and were asked how it would benefit from, and provide benefits to, the existing global networks that provide infrastructure and support for biodiversity research. Participants welcomed the initiative and felt qualified to comment, based on their experience in creating and operating national and international networks of physical infrastructure, information resources, and systems that support biodiversity research. Discussion then focused on three central questions that confront this and any long-term research initiative: A. What new goals and deliverables for research and research infrastructure should form the centerpieces of the initiative? B. What new forms of activity, collaboration, and coordination will be needed from the community? C. What actions will be needed from US government agencies and their foreign counterparts? The results of those discussions follow.
A. Goals and Deliverables of a Ten-year Initiative
NSF is to be congratulated for proposing an initiative that not only focuses on biodiversity, but does so in a way that overcomes traditional disciplinary boundaries and could generate results that are particularly ‘fit for use’ by society at a critical time. The term ‘biodiversity’ is most often equated with species richness, the number and diversity of species of plants, animals and microbes found alive or as fossils. By terming its initiative ‘Dimensions of Biodiversity’, NSF has signaled its recognition that 21st Century biodiversity scientists must conduct research that integrates across the many dimensions of biodiversity, including but not limited to: • Genetic variation and its distribution in time and space • Variation of phenotypic traits that together constitute biomechanics, physiology, and ecological role • Taxonomic variation within and among species • Diversity of ecological communities within and among landscapes • Variation within and among ecosystems and their functions • Diversity of social systems and their interactions with biodiversity • Historical variation of the different dimensions of biodiversity
The overall research goal of a ten-year initiative, then, would be a clearer understanding of the multidimensional workings of biodiversity, especially those that are critical to a sustainable human society on Earth. The complexity inherent to each dimension will be multiplied enormously as research becomes multidimensional so a significant upgrade in research capabilities will be essential. Participants identified the following key elements needed as part of this upgrade: 1. Make biodiversity data accessible and computable. Some forms of biodiversity data are digital from birth (e.g., nucleotide sequences, remote sensing images) but most come in analog form: o Taxonomic names o Phylogenetic relationships o Protein structures o Specimen data and metadata from biological repositories (collections, cultures) Converting data to digital form, making them web-accessible, and indexing them in ways that make them navigable and interoperable among dimensions of biodiversity will be an enormous challenge. For example, lists of taxonomic names would become web-based taxonomic name services that would resolve ambiguities about the name and would connect users to literature resources on that species. Phylogenetic trees would become navigable frameworks for organizing biodiversity data from different dimensions. 2. Integrate modeling and computational science into biodiversity research. The higher dimensionality of biodiversity data will require new ways of representing and connecting knowledge. Computer and semantic modeling of this knowledge will enable researchers to explore concepts, formulate unifying theories, and test predictive models of how biodiversity behaves across dimensions 3. Make biodiversity data understandable. Policy-makers and the public need simple, easy-to understand indicators of the status and health of local and global biodiversity. Creating concise, understandable, reliable and meaningful indicators from complex data and trends will be an important step in connecting biodiversity research to the general public and public policy. To create and maintain these indicators, data on the many dimensions of biodiversity will be needed. In addition, broad consensus will be required regarding how they are formulated and communicated. 4. A Global Virtual Laboratory. These upgraded research capabilities, taken together, would create a global, virtual laboratory for multi-dimensional research on biodiversity. This laboratory would be more than a collection of online tools and databases. It would provide the biodiversity research community with generalized analytical capabilities and the complex workflows needed to handle heterogeneous data and concepts. Equipped in this way, we can hope to determine: • How many species are there on Earth, where do they live, and how do they function and interact? • How do ecosystems work based on the species they contain and how they interact with each other and the environment?
What are the triggers and predictive indicators to ecosystem collapse? How will global biodiversity on different levels respond to: o climate change? o changing land use? o urbanization? o population growth?
B. Community Actions Needed
Leaders in biodiversity research all agree that “business as usual is not an option” if the ambitious goals described above are to be obtained. The next-generation tools, processed and policies envisioned here will have an impact only if practitioners also change both their work products and their mode of working. The different dimensions of biodiversity have been pursued, for the most part, by different research communities working independently of each other. Many projects have developed into globally integrated large-scale initiatives that share major research infrastructure. The Human Genome Project is the best known example but there are many others and they are all to be commended for scaling up, accelerating, and standardizing their activities in significant ways. The rapidly growing field of Biodiversity Informatics is integrating diverse components of previously ‘stove-piped’ research into globally comprehensive knowledge resources. This e-Biosphere initiative is building operational connections among projects such as: 1. The Census of Marine Life is integrating biodiversity inventories across the ocean’s realms from shallow water and coral reefs to the deep sea and the poles; 2. The Consortium for the Barcode of Life is promoting the use of short standardized gene sequences as cost-effective tools for species identification. The DNA barcode database has already grown to 800,000 records representing almost 100,000 species and the International Barcode of Life Project aims to barcode 5 million specimens from 500,000 species in five years. 3. The Catalog of Life and the Global Names Architecture are constructing a name-based framework of taxonomic diversity around which knowledge of species can be constructed; 4. The Assembling the Tree of Life Project is constructing the phylogenetic framework through which the evolution of characters, character states, and major lineages can be studied; 5. The Encyclopedia of Life and Biodiversity Heritage Library are creating web pages for every known species with linkages to the entire corpus of biological literature not constrained by copyrights; 6. The National Ecological Observation Network (NEON) in the US and LifeWatch in Europe are developing as integrated monitoring systems in nature that rely on automated sensors, analytical instrumentation, geographic information systems, and long-term data archiving to study complex ecosystem and community processes;
7. The Plant Genome Research Program began with intense genomic and developmental study Arabidopsis and then expanded rapidly to include many species critical to the human food supply. These projects share the characteristics that will be critical for multi-dimensional research in biodiversity: • • • • Large scale and long duration; Genuine collaboration and routine mobility among participating countries; Reliance on shared information platforms; Commitment to early and open sharing of data while providing attribution to contributors.
The projects described above demonstrate the rapid changes underway in biodiversity reach and they set the stage for a period of truly new and innovative multi-dimensional research. Additional changes will be required of the research community in order to reach the goals described above: 1. Study the nature and relationships among data types in different dimensions of biodiversity. Ontologies will be needed for knowledge on different dimensions before we can design interoperable systems of data management, analysis, modeling or visualization. 2. Adopt, implement, and rely on data standards. Ontologies will clarify the use of data on different dimensions and allow us to create data standards that will render them interoperable. Research communities will need discipline in using standards to maintain the integrity of relationships among different data types. 3. Controlled perturbation experiments will be needed as an adjunct to field-based monitoring and observational studies. Seeing how systems respond to perturbations will be crucial tests of our understanding of how multi-dimensional processes actually work. 4. New systems will be needed to attribute credit for contributions to complex data systems and assessing the values of the contributions of an individual. As multi-dimensional research becomes more complex and team-based, there is a danger of undermining incentives for individuals to contribute their data without attribution. The community will need a new system for valuating data contributions in ways similar to the current system of article-based citation and Impact Factors. 5. Establish and maintain closer and more sustained linkages with students, young researchers, policymakers and the general public. Outreach to non-researchers must grow to be a stable, well-supported part of the professional workforce in biodiversity research. Linkage to policymakers will be especially critical as new science-based goals for conservation of biodiversity and ecosystem services are developed under the Convention on Biological Diversity. Ecological niche modeling and the use of geographic information systems are a leading example of tools that are connecting research to policy and the community needs to expand cross-sector connections such as these.
6. End the “Biorepository Irony”. The greatest concentrations of living biodiversity are in places other than the greatest repositories of biological specimens, creating the ‘biorepository irony’. Great museums in industrialized countries are filled with specimens from developing countries, in which there are far fewer and smaller biorepositories, or none at all. For notable exceptions, see Mexico’s National Commission for the knowledge and use of biodiversity (CONABIO) and the Biota Program of the Sao Paulo Science Foundation (FAPESP), from Brazil (Joly et al. 2010), The next generation of multi-dimensional biodiversity research will need to end this irony and build on the models created by Mexico and Brazil. A much broader network is needed to create open web access to images and data from ex situ collections and to accelerate the growth of new repositories in countries with high biodiversity. These new repositories will include frozen tissues and DNA and will become part of a seamless global data network.
C. Government Actions Needed
There are many examples of the innovative, forward-looking, flexible government actions that will be needed to achieve the goals described above. These all involve partnerships that cross traditional boundaries. 1. Interagency partnerships. Biodiversity research is a topic shared across many US government agencies and the goals described above will serve their missions in diverse ways. There is therefore mutual benefit to be realized from interagency collaboration in a Dimensions of Biodiversity initiative. For example, there are already Interagency Working Groups on Scientific Collections and Digital Data and their initial reports have recommended developments of standards and common policies across agencies. Interagency research programs are not common but there are a few highly successful examples such as the Plant Genome Research Project (including the National Science Foundation (NSF), US Department of Agriculture (USDA), National Institutes of Health (NIH), Department of Energy (DOE). Future collaborative funding programs could provide support for: • Biomaterials banking • Public understanding of biodiversity • Simplifying permitting and access to study material for non-commercial research • Education of the next generation of biodiversity researchers There no doubt is both need and opportunities for inter-ministerial partnerships in most countries. 2. Inter-sectoral partnerships.
Government agencies share an interest in biodiversity and biodiversity research with non-profit organizations and the private sector. NSF has developed a partnership with the Gates Foundation for a research program relevant to food security (the BREAD Program) and this approach could be expanded to NGO research programs and industrial research. 3. International partnerships. Global research projects require cooperation among participants and coordination of funding, often from different national funding sources. Most funding bodies have restrictions on international use of funds. The difficulty of arranging financial support for a large project increases non-linearly with the number of funding sources and the duration of the project. Short-term international funding of bilateral planning workshops is easier to obtain than longerterm support for a multilateral project. Inter-institutional funding can be difficult to arrange but it is generally easier than obtaining support from inter-governmental agreements such as the Global Environmental Facility (GEF). National government agencies that support biodiversity research and depend on its research projects are critical partners. Having flexible, forward-looking policies and practices toward interlocking support of multinational projects will make it possible to attain the goals described above. Organizations like DIVERSITAS, IIASA, and OECD’s Global Science Forum can act as neutral sites and incubators that facilitate the planning of international projects, development of partnerships, and identification of potential funding sources. They also act as a reservoir of experience in launching complex international projects and models for doing so. 4. Modes of implementation. A sustained multi-dimensional initiative on biodiversity research would be a wholly new component in the research landscape. Participants in the workshop urge government agencies to create inter-sectoral funding programs and a more flexible approach to international cofunding. Doing so will not only generate much greater impact than the traditional mode of funding; it will leverage investments by all partners. Many US government mission agencies (e.g., in Department of Interior (DOI), National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and USDA,) depend on basic biodiversity research. Workshop participants agreed that co-funding by these agencies and NSF would be mutually beneficial.
In addition to large research projects, international coordination networks (similar to NSF’s Research Coordination Networks (RCNs)) will get the initiative off to a faster and more successful start. After a period of planning, the international community will need higher levels of support for centers of research and education devoted to multi-dimensional biodiversity research. The NSF-funded National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR), a federallyfunded R&D Center, is a model to consider. NCAR has been pivotal in generating and synthesizing observational research, theoretical modeling, plus partnerships between domain specialists and computer/information scientists, as well as supporting international collaboration.
SECTION III. References
Committee on the National Ecological Observatory Network, Board on Life Sciences, Division on Earth and Life Studies, National Research Council. 2003. NEON: Addressing the Nation's Environmental Challenges. The National Academies Press. Committee on Earth Science and Applications from Space, Space Studies Board, Division on Engineering and Physical Sciences, National Research Council. 2007. Earth Science and Applications from Space: National Imperatives for the Next Decade and Beyond. The National Academies Press. Committee on the Formation of the National Biological Survey and Commission on the Formation of the National Biological Survey, National Research Council. A Biological Survey for the Nation. 1993. National Academy Press. Fleishman, E. et al 2011. Top 40 priorities for science to inform conservation and management policy in the United States. Bioscience: in press. Global Biodiversity Assessment. 1995. United Nations Environment Programme and Cambridge University Press. Global Biodiversity Information Facility. 2006. GBIF Plans 2007 - 2011. www2.gbif.org/strategic_plans.pdf Global Biodiversity Information Facility. 2010. GBIF Work Programme 2011. www2.gbif.org/WP20111.pdf Joly, CA, RR Rodrigues, JP Metzger, CFB Haddad, LM Verdade, MC Oliveira & VS Bolzani. 2010. Biodiversity Conservation Research, Training, and Policy in São Paulo. Science 328:1358-1359. Killleffer, T. 2009. Results of Pre-Workshop Questionnaire for Enabling Biodiversity Research: The Roles of Information and Support Networks, November 30, 2009, Information International Associates, Oak Ridge, TN posted at www.ncseonline.org/biodiversity National Science and Technology Council, Committee on Science, Interagency Working Group on Scientific Collections. 2009. Scientific Collections: Mission-Critical Infrastructure of Federal Science Agencies. Office of Science and Technology Policy, Washington, DC. (http://www.ostp.gov/galleries/NSTC%20Reports/Revision_1-22_09_CL.pdf) National Science Board (NSB). 1989. Loss of Biological Diversity: A Global Crisis Requiring International Solutions. Report NSB-89-171. Washington: D.C.: National Science Foundation. National Science Foundation, Directorate for Biological Sciences, Directorate for Geosciences. 2010. Dimensions of Biodiversity. PROGRAM SOLICITATION 10-548. National Science Foundation, Directorate for Biological Sciences, Directorate for Geosciences, Office of Polar Programs. 2011. Dimensions of Biodiversity. PROGRAM SOLICITATION 11-518.
OECD. 2001. Biological Resource Centres: underpinning the future of life sciences and biotechnology. (http://www.oecd.org/dataoecd/55/48/2487422.pdf) OECD Global Science Forum. 2008. Second Activity on Policy Issues Related to Scientific Research Collections. Washington DC. (http://www.oecd.org/dataoecd/7/58/42237442.pdf) President’s Committee of Advisers on Science and Technology (PCAST). 1998. Teaming with life: investing in science to understand and use America’s living capital. Office of Science and Technology Policy, Washington, DC. (http://www.ostp.gov/cs/biodiversity_cover) Raven, P. H., and E. O. Wilson. 1992. A fifty-year plan for biodiversity surveys. Science 258: 1099-1100. Stokes, D.E. 1997. Pasteur's Quadrant: Basic Science and Technological Innovation. Brookings Institution Press, Washington, DC. 196 pp. Sutherland, W.J., et al. 2006. The identification of one hundred ecological questions of high policy relevance in the UK. Journal of Applied Ecology 43:617–627. Sutherland, W.J., et al. 2009. An assessment of the 100 questions of greatest importance to the conservation of global biological diversity. Conservation Biology 53:557-567. Sutherland, W.J. et al. 2010. The identification of priority opportunities for UK nature conservation policy. Journal of Applied Ecology 45: 955-965. Systematics Agenda 2000. 1994. Charting the biosphere: A global initiative to discover, describe and classify the world's species. Technical report. American Society of Plant Taxonomy, Society of Systematic Biologists, and the Willi Hennig Society, New York.
A. Participants at workshop B. Mission statements of biodiversity support organizations C. Organizational respondents to questionnaire
Appendix A. Workshop Participants (affiliations as of December 2009)
Sandy Andelman Vice President & Executive Director Tropical Ecology Assessment & Monitoring Network (TEAM) firstname.lastname@example.org Elizabeth Arnaud Biodiversity Informatics Coordinator Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research (CGIAR) email@example.com Frank Bisby Co-Chair Catalogue of Life firstname.lastname@example.org David Blockstein Senior Scientist National Council for Science and the Environment email@example.com William Y. Brown President Natural Science Collections Alliance (NSCA) firstname.lastname@example.org Sara Chun AAAS Science & Technology Policy Fellow National Science Foundation email@example.com Don Church Senior Vice President, Science and Knowledge Conservation International firstname.lastname@example.org Margaret Goud Collins Program Officer US National Academy of Sciences – US National Committee for DIVERSITAS email@example.com John Dickie Head of Information Section Millennium Seedbank (Kew) firstname.lastname@example.org Dan Distel Executive Director Ocean Genome Legacy email@example.com Mark Doyle AAAS Science & Technology Policy Fellow National Science Foundation firstname.lastname@example.org James L. Edwards Executive Director Encyclopedia of Life email@example.com Penny Firth Acting Director, Division of Environmental Biology National Science Foundation firstname.lastname@example.org Heidi Fuchs Program Coordinator National Council for Science and the Environment email@example.com
Thomas Garnett Director Biodiversity Heritage Library firstname.lastname@example.org George Gilchrist Program Director, Division of Environmental Biology National Science Foundation email@example.com Shelly Grow Conservation Biologist Association of Zoos and Aquariums firstname.lastname@example.org James Hanken Director, Museom of Comparative Zoology, Harvard University Chair, Steering Committee Encyclopedia of Life email@example.com Michael Hoffman Manager, IUCN/SSC - CI/CABS Biodiversity Assessment Unit International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) firstname.lastname@example.org Adrianna Ianora Naples Zoological Station Marine Biodiversity and Ecosystem Function (MARBEF) Ianora@szn.it Richard Inouye Program Director, Division of Environmental Biology National Science Foundation email@example.com Mark Jacobs Project Consultant LifeWatch firstname.lastname@example.org Yde de Jong Coordinator Pan-European Species-directory Infrastructure (PESI) email@example.com
Matt Kane Program Director, Division of Environmental Biology National Science Foundation firstname.lastname@example.org Steve Kelling Co-Chair of Biodiversity: Observation and Specimen Records International Council of Science (ICSU) Committee on Data for Science and Technology (CODATA) email@example.com Terri Killeffer Biodiversity Informatics Specialist Information International Associates, Inc. firstname.lastname@example.org Nicholas King Executive Secretary/Director Global Biodiversity Information Facility (GBIF) email@example.com Mary Klein President & CEO NatureServe firstname.lastname@example.org Meredith Lane National Biological Information Infrastructure U.S. Geological Survey email@example.com Elizabeth Losos President and CEO Organization for Tropical Studies (OTS) firstname.lastname@example.org Mary Maxon Initiative Lead for Marine Microbiology Initiative Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation on detail to Office of Science and Technology Policy email@example.com Peter McGrath Programme Assistant Third World Academy of Sciences (TWAS) firstname.lastname@example.org
Norman Morrison Board Member Genomic Standards Consortium email@example.com Eric Nagy Associate Director, Mountain Lake Biological Station Organization of Biological Field Stations (OBFS) firstname.lastname@example.org Sara Oldfield Secretary General Botanic Gardens Conservation International (BGCI) email@example.com Avihai Ostchega Senior Program Assistant National Academy of Sciences firstname.lastname@example.org Luvie Paglinawan Research Assistant FishBase email@example.com Margaret A. Palmer Chair, Freshwater BIODIVERSITY Cross-cutting Network DIVERSITAS firstname.lastname@example.org David Patterson Senior Taxonomist Global Names Architecture email@example.com William Piel Curator TreeBASE firstname.lastname@example.org Christopher Prince Meetings Manager National Council for Science and the Environment email@example.com Thomas Parker Redick President-Elect Council on Agricultural Science and Technology firstname.lastname@example.org
Jim Regetz Scientific Programmer/Analyst, National Center for Ecological Analysis and Synthesis Ecoinformatics.org email@example.com Ann Reid Senior Program Officer US National Academy of Sciences – Board on Life Sciences firstname.lastname@example.org Greg Riccardi Director Morph Bank email@example.com Joann Roskoski Acting Assistant Director for Biology National Science Foundation firstname.lastname@example.org Oliver Ryder Director of Genetics, San Diego Zoo's Institute for Conservation Research Frozen Zoo email@example.com Rafael O. de Sa Program Director, Division of Environmental Biology National Science Foundation firstname.lastname@example.org Inigo San Gil Metadata Program Coordinator Long Term Ecological Research Network (LTER) email@example.com David Schindel Executive Secretary Consortium for the Barcode of Life (CBOL) firstname.lastname@example.org Scott Snyder Program Director, Systematic Biology and Biodiversity Inventories Division of Environmental Biology National Science Foundation email@example.com
Jorge Soberon Chair of Grants Committee JRS Biodiversity Foundation firstname.lastname@example.org Eva Spehn Executive Director Global Mountain Biodiversity Assessment (GMBA) email@example.com Karen Stocks Assistant Research Scientist, San Diego Supercomputer Center Community Cyberinfrastructure for Advanced Marine Microbial Ecology Research and Analysis (CAMERA) firstname.lastname@example.org Deborah Strauss Lynch Diversity 2.0 email@example.com Simon Tillier Director European Distributed Institute of Taxonomy (EDIT) firstname.lastname@example.org John W. (Wes) Tunnell, Jr. President, Southern Association of Marine Laboratories National Association of Marine Labs (NAML) email@example.com Woody Turner Co-Lead, NASA Group on Earth Observations Biodiversity Observation Network (GEO BON) firstname.lastname@example.org Edward Vanden Berghe Executive Director, Ocean Biogeographic Information System Census of Marine Life (CoML) email@example.com Luciano Martins Verdade Member of the Steering Committee State of Sao Paulo Research Foundation Virtual Institute of Biodiversity (BIOTA-FAPESP) firstname.lastname@example.org
Michael Wach Managing Director, Science and Regulatory Affairs Biotechnology Industry Organization (BIO) email@example.com Brian Wee Chief of External Affairs National Ecological Observatory Network, Inc. firstname.lastname@example.org
Appendix B. Mission Statements of Biodiversity Support Organizations
Name of Organization: A Pan-European Species directories Infrastructure (PESI) Alfred P. Sloan Foundation Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) BioBankSA, NZG, NRF Mission: PESI provides standardised and authoritative taxonomic information by integrating and securing Europe’s taxonomically authoritative species name registers and nomenclators (name databases) and associated expertise networks that underpin the management of biodiversity in Europe. To support research in science, technology, and the health of American industries AZA is dedicated to providing its members the services, high standards, and best practices that maximize their effectiveness in animal care, wildlife science, and public education. We will focus on acquiring, value enhancing, banking, using and distributing good quality biomaterials that are safe from contamination and disease transmission. This will be conducted on behalf of the owners and custodians of animals from which the biomaterials are collected. We will in addition also create the largest single-port entry network database of biomaterials through partnerships with relevant organisations. Samples of banked biomaterials will be supplied, with written consent from the owners or custodians and in accordance with national, regional and global policy and legislation, to national, regional and global organizations for ethical research, biotechnology development, biodiversity conservation and in such a way as to capture the maximum benefit to society The Biodiversity Heritage Library (BHL) is an international library collaboration of natural history museum, botanical garden, and biological research libraries working together to digitize the published literature of biodiversity held in their respective collections and to make that literature available for open access and responsible use as a part of a global “biodiversity commons.” The BHL consortium is working with the global taxonomic community, rights holders and other interested parties to ensure that this biodiversity heritage available to all. Created in 1999 the Virtual Institute of Biodiversity (http://www.biota.org.br), known as BIOTA/FAPESP Program, has the mission of inventory and characterize the biodiversity of the State of São Paulo, defining mechanisms for its conservation, restoration and sustainable use. The BIOTA program is run by FAPESP (www.fapesp.br/english), a public foundation funded by taxpayers in the State of São Paulo and charged with enabling scientific research in all areas of knowledge.
Biodiversity Heritage Library (BHL)
BIOTA/FAPESP Program: The Virtual Institute of Biodiversity
Board on Research Data and Information, National Research Council Botanic Gardens Conservation International (BGCI) Cyberinfrastructure for Advanced Marine Microbial Ecology Research and Analysis (CAMERA)
The Board's mission is to improve the management, policy, and use of digital data and information for science and the broader society. To mobilize botanic gardens and engage partners in securing plant diversity for the well-being of people and the planet. The vision and overarching goal of CAMERA is the creation of a community resource to facilitate revolutionary knowledge advances in marine microbial ecology, the microbial ecology of other natural environments, and evolutionary biology. To achieve this goal, CAMERA has developed a new resource to collect, maintain and disseminate raw environmental sequence data, associated metadata, annotations and other pre-computed analyses, and associated tools that enable researchers to unravel the discreet biology of organisms and environments. CIESIN's mission is to provide access to and enhance the use of information worldwide, advancing understanding of human interactions in the environment and serving the needs of science and public and private decision making. The mission of CODATA is to strengthen international science for the benefit of society by promoting improved scientific and technical data management and use Promote DNA barcoding as a global standard for identifying species by: (1) Catalyzing projects that populate the public database of barcode records in BOLD, GenBank, EMBL and DDBJ; (2) Developing and implementing community standards for data and laboratory protocols; (3) promoting global participation; (4) promoting linkages and partnerships with other biodiversity informatics initiatives; and (5) promoting interest and investment by potential users of barcode data and barcoding services.
Center for International Earth Science Information Network (CIESIN), The Earth Institute, Columbia University Committee on Data for Science and Technology (CODATA) Consortium for the Barcode of Life (CBOL)
Consultative Group on International Agriculture Research (CGIAR)
To achieve sustainable food security and reduce poverty in developing countries through scientific research and research-related activities in the fields of agriculture, forestry, fisheries, policy, and environment. The priorities of CGIAR research are: Reducing hunger and malnutrition by producing more and better food through genetic improvement; Sustaining agriculture biodiversity both in situ and ex situ; Promoting opportunities for economic development and through agricultural diversification and high-value commodities and products; Ensuring sustainable management and conservation of water, land and forests; Improving policies and facilitating institutional innovation A critical task for 11 of the CGIAR Centers is to maintain international gene banks, which preserve and make readily available the plant genetic resources that form the basis of food security worldwide.
Council for Agricultural Science & Technology (CAST)
The primary work of CAST is the publication of task force reports, commentary papers, special publications, and issue papers written by scientists from many disciplines. The CAST Board is responsible for the policies and procedures followed in developing, processing, and disseminating the documents produced. These publications and their distribution are fundamental activities that accomplish our mission to assemble, interpret, and communicate credible science-based information regionally, nationally, and internationally to legislators, regulators, policymakers, the media, the private sector, and the public. The wide distribution of CAST publications to nonscientists enhances the education and understanding of the general public. The objective of the Corporation shall be to advance in the public interest the understanding and use of the science and technology of the production, processing, and utilization of food and fiber. The objective shall be accomplished by (a) serving as a resource group from which the public and government may seek information, (b) independently identifying subjects on which scientists and technologists can provide useful information, (c) drawing on the expertise of qualified scientists and technologists in relevant disciplines to assemble and interpret the factual information available on the subjects identified, and (d) disseminating the information in usable and effective form to the public, the news media, and the government, as appropriate CAST addresses issues of animal sciences, food sciences and agricultural technology, plant and soil sciences, and plant protection sciences with inputs from economists, social scientists, toxicologists or plant pathologists and entomologists, weed scientists, nematologists, and legal experts
European Distributed Institute of Taxonomy (EDIT)
Encyclopedia of Life (EOL)
 To reduce fragmentation and to transform taxonomy into an integrated science  To strengthen the scientific, technological and information capacities needed for Europe to understand how biodiversity is modified through Global change  To progress toward a transnational entity by encouraging durable integration of the most important European taxonomic institutions To promote the undertaking of collaborative research developing, improving and utilising the bio-informatics technologies needed  To create a forum for stakeholders and end-users for taxonomy in biodiversity and ecosystem research  To promote the spreading of excellence to fulfill the needs of biodiversity and ecosystem research for taxonomy based information. Produce a website for every species of living organism, which will serve as a portal for all information regarding that species that is available in digital form. EOL is a data aggregator that develops informatics tools that enable data capture, organization and display. It promotes synthetic use of these data in basic and applied research, and in educational activities. Provide authoritative, standardized key information for all fish species on Earth, with free online access in many languages. Community-driven standards have the best chance of success if developed within the auspices of international working groups. Participants in the GSC include biologists, computer scientists, those building genomic databases and conducting large-scale comparative genomic analyses, and those with experience of building community-based standards. The mission of the Global Biodiversity Information Facility (GBIF) is to facilitate free and open access to biodiversity data worldwide via the Internet to underpin sustainable development. Priorities, with an emphasis on promoting participation and working through partners, include mobilising biodiversity data, developing protocols and standards to ensure scientific integrity and interoperability, building an informatics architecture to allow the interlinking of diverse data types from disparate sources, promoting capacity building and catalysing development of analytical tools for improved decisionmaking
FishBase Genomic Standards Consortium (GSC)
Global Biodiversity Information Facility (GBIF)
Global Mountain Biodiversity Assessment (GMBA) of DIVERSITAS
The Global Mountain Biodiversity Assessment (GMBA) network of DIVERSITAS actively explores and explains the great and unique biological richness of the mountains of the world. GMBA seeks to provide input to policy makers and stakeholders for the protection and sustainable use of biodiversity in mountain regions in a science-based adaptive management framework. Inventory and assessment of biodiversity have become essential for policy-making and management strategies as well as for developing and testing scientific hypotheses to progress science. There is an increasing need for availability, accessibility and improvement of high quality online mountain biodiversity databases, an initiative led by the Global Mountain Biodiversity Assessment of DIVERSITAS in cooperation with the Global Biodiversity Information Facility (GBIF). GMBA will soon offer the first thematic mountain portal on GBIF geo-referenced biodiversity data, for integrated analysis and spatial visualization of biodiversity information in relation to mountain life zones, climate, and other important parameters. This is to be used for synthesis, for facilitating sustainability decisions and for forming advanced hypothesis on Mountain biodiversity.
Global Names Architecture International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation
To provide a names based semantic architecture to underpin biodiversity information management services IUCN's mission is to influence, encourage and assist societies throughout the world to conserve the integrity and diversity of nature and to ensure that any use of natural resources is equitable and ecologically sustainable. The MacArthur Foundation supports creative people and effective institutions committed to building a more just, verdant, and peaceful world. MacArthur’s conservation grantmaking protects the biodiversity of the planet, while balancing the needs of communities that depend upon natural resources for their survival. With the increasing threat of climate change, the Foundation also supports efforts to adapt conservation strategies to a rapidly changing environment, particularly in eight hotspots around the world. Mission: the Foundation defined a mission within the field of biodiversity: to enhance knowledge and promote the understanding of biological diversity for the benefit and sustainability of life on earth. To prepare for the construction of a pan-European research infrastructure serving the science community in conducting first class Biodiversity research in order to provide for answers to political problems and questions concerning Biodiversity in its broadest sense.
JRS Biodiversity Foundation LifeWatch infrastructure for biodiversity research
Marine Biodiversity and Ecosystem Functioning (MarBEF) Morphbank Image Repository
MarBEF, a network of excellence funded by the European Union and consisting of 94 European marine institutes, is a platform to integrate and disseminate knowledge and expertise on marine biodiversity, with links to researchers, industry, stakeholders and the general public. Morphbank provides an image and metadata repository for biodiversity researchers. The goals of the repository include creating a system for sharing images and metadata among researchers and with other users, and allowing users to carefully annotate their images and to link those annotations to controlled vocabularies and ontologies. The system includes an extensive Web site and search and data exchange services. The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) is the civilian space agency of the USA. Its Earth Science Division uses satellite, airborne, and in situ platforms to study the Earth system and its components, how they are changing over time, and the drivers of these changes. Recently, NASA established a Biodiversity program that funds research using data products from its observation platforms and associated models to understand the patterns and processes of terrestrial and aquatic biodiversity. NASA is also one of three organizations co-leading the development of the Group on Earth Observations Biodiversity Observation Network (GEO BON). NAML is a nonprofit organization of over 120 members employing more than 10,000 scientists, engineers, and professionals and representing marine and Great lakes labs stretching from Guam to Bermuda and Alaska to Puerto Rico. Member institutions of NAML work together to improve quality and effectiveness of ocean, coastal, and Great Lakes research in the natural and social sciences, education, and outreach. Member organizations are considered as unique "windows on the sea". NAML is composed of three regional associations: 1) Northeastern Association of Marine & Great Lakes Laboratories (NEAMGLL); 2) Southern Association of Marine Laboratories (SAML); and, 3) Western Association of Marine Laboratories (WAML). NAML’s mission is to: 1) Promote and support basic and applied research of the highest quality from the unique perspective of coastal laboratories; 2) Assist local, regional, and state entities with information related to the use and conservation of marine and coastal resources using ecosystem-based management approaches; 3) Recognize, encourage, and support the unique role that coastal laboratories play in conduction education, outreach, and public service; and, 4) Facilitate the exchange of information and relevant expertise between NAML member institutions, government agencies, and the private sector.
National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA)
National Association of Marine Laboratories (NAML)
A large core of the nation’s marine biodiversity expertise resides in NAML labs around the coasts of the United States.
National Center for Ecological Analysis & Synthesis
* Advance the state of ecological knowledge through the search for general patterns and principles in existing data; * Organize and synthesize ecological information in a manner useful to researchers, resource managers, and policy makers addressing important environmental issues; * Influence the way ecological research is conducted and promote a culture of synthesis, collaboration, and data sharing The Natural Science Collections Alliance is a Washington, D.C.-based nonprofit association that supports natural science collections, their human resources, the institutions that house them, and their research activities for the benefit of science and society. Our members are part of an international community of museums, botanical gardens, herbariums, universities and other institutions that house natural science collections and utilize them in research, exhibitions, academic and informal science education, and outreach activities. Membership in the NSC Alliance links you to a network of institutions, scientists and other professionals in North America through which you can share news, information and common concerns - and help shape the future of our community.
Natural Science Collections Alliance (NSCA)
NatureServe Ocean Biogeographic Information System
Provide the scientific basis for effective conservation action. The Ocean Biogeographic Information System (OBIS; http://www.iobis.org), and its global network of Regional and Thematic OBIS Nodes, integrates data from many sources, over a wide range of marine themes, from the poles to the equator, and from microbes to whales. All OBIS data is made available free and open, and contributes to management of the marine environment, and to the creation of scientific knowledge.
Ocean Genome Legacy, Inc.
Organization of Tropical Studies Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew (Incl. Millennium Seed Bank Project) TreeBASE: A Database of Phylogenetic Knowledge
The Ocean Genome Legacy is a non-profit marine research institution and biological specimen repository dedicated to exploring and preserving the wealth of information contained in the genes (DNA) of marine organisms, with special emphasis on endangered, rare, unusual and ecologically critical species and ecosystems. Its mission is to acquire, authenticate, study, preserve, develop, and distribute genetic materials, biological specimens, information, technology, and standards needed to advance basic and applied research in marine conservation, medicine and biotechnology. OGL's aim is to promote marine species and ecosystem conservation by providing research materials, technology, policy, educational materials and educational opportunities to academic, governmental, and nongovernmental research organizations and to private industry. To provide leadership in education, research, and the responsible use of natural resources in the tropics Kew’s mission is: to inspire and deliver science-based plant conservation worldwide, enhancing the quality of life. TreeBASE has the mission to capture, preserve, and share phylogenetic trees and morphological and molecular phylogenetic datasets published in peer-reviewed scientific publications. Data are distributed freely to the scientific community using digital serializations to promote meta-analyses, synthetic analyses, and the reuse of phylogenetic data. Nearly all data objects in TreeBASE can be referenced with URIs and a web service API that allows annotation and integration with third-party data services in order to promote the use of phylogenetic knowledge in biodiversity informatics.
The Academy of Sciences for the Developing World (TWAS)
* Recognize, support and promote excellence in scientific research in the developing world; * Respond to the needs of young scientists in S&T-lagging developing countries; * Promote South-South and South-North cooperation in science, technology and innovation; * Encourage scientific research and sharing of experiences in solving major problems facing developing countries. San Diego Zoo’s Institute for Conservation Research Mission: We generate, share, and apply scientific knowledge vital to the conservation of animals, plants, and habitats. We help shape the vision of the San Diego Zoo and lead in fulfilling its conservation mission.
Zoological Society of San Diego
Appendix C. Respondents to Questionnaire
• • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • A Pan-European Species Directories Infrastructure (PESI) Alfred P. Sloan Foundation Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) BioBankSA, NZG, NRF Biodiversity Heritage Library (BHL) BIOTA/FAPESP Program: The Virtual Institute of Biodiversity Board on Research Data and Information, National Research Council Botanic Gardens Conservation International (BGCI) Community Cyberinfrastructure for Advanced Marine Microbial Ecology Research and Analysis (CAMERA) Center for International Earth Science Information Network (CIESIN), The Earth Institute, Columbia University Committee on Data for Science and Technology (CODATA) Consortium for the Barcode of Life (CBOL) Consultative Group on International Agriculture Research (CGIAR) Council for Agricultural Science & Technology Encyclopedia of Life (EOL) European Distributed Institute of Taxonomy (EDIT)
• • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • •
FishBase Genomic Standards Consortium (GSC) Global Biodiversity Information Facility (GBIF) Global Mountain Biodiversity Assessment (GMBA) of DIVERSITAS Global Names Architecture International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation JRS Biodiversity Foundation LifeWatch Infrastructure for Biodiversity Research Marine Biodiversity and Ecosystem Functioning (MarBEF) Morphbank Image Repository National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) National Association of Marine Laboratories (NAML) National Center for Ecological Analysis & Synthesis Natural Science Collections Alliance (NSCA) NatureServe Ocean Biogeographic Information System Ocean Genome Legacy, Inc.
• • • • •
Organization for Tropical Studies Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew (Incl. Millennium Seed Bank Project) The Academy of Sciences for the Developing World (TWAS) TreeBASE: A Database of Phylogenetic Knowledge Zoological Society of San Diego
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