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Swedish Species Information Center to lead SEK 45-million project biological diversity available on the Internet

30.06.2010 - (idw) Schwedischer Forschungsrat - The Swedish Research Council

In three years it will be possible to freely retrieve information about the occurrence of species in Sweden directly from one and the same portal, LifeWatch. Via LifeWatch, it will then be possible to analyze species population changes and occurrence in relation to climate, chemical conditions, and other factors and to present the results as maps, diagrams, and models. Researchers, environmental analysts, and governmental authorities as well as interested private individuals will then not have to request special extracts from separate databases of varying format.

With just a few clicks you will be able to directly find out if a species has decreased or increased, what happens if the climate or the water quality changes, or what environmental factors are key to forest species in Götaland, says Ulf Gärdenfors, professor at the Swedish Species Information Center, Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences (SLU), initiator, and head of the project.

Researchers will be able to perform advanced analyses and create models with the aid of freely available computer tools without first having to put a lot of work into compiling and formatting data from various sources.

The Swedish Research Council is granting SEK 36 million for the Swedish Species Information Center at SLU, together with the universities of Umeå, Lund, and Gothenburg, the Swedish Museum of Natural History, the Swedish Meteorological and Hydrological Institute (SMHI), and the Swedish Board of Fisheries, to set up an Internet portal where all information will be available about species and factors affecting them.

The participating parties are also contributing SEK 10 million, to show how urgent this work is.

This research infrastructure is part of a planned pan-European distributed research infrastructure for biological diversity and the environment called LifeWatch, which will have nodes in each individual country.

The Swedish part is now the first node in Europe to have been granted funding, and its expected to be a core foundation in the entire European structure, says Lars Börjesson, Secretary General of the Committee for Research Infrastructures at the Swedish Research Council.

It is hoped that all universities, authorities, and other players with data about biological diversity will eventually connect with LifeWatch. Initially the focus is mostly on species information, but in the long run other data about genes and habitats will be presented.

We are delighted that the Swedish Species Information Center took the initiative for this major IT infrastructure commitment, which will provide unique opportunities for research on how biological diversity and the environment are inter-related, says Lisa Sennerby Forsse, Vice-Chancellor of SLU.

More information:

Ulf Gärdenfors, professor, Swedish Species Information Center, SLU, mobile: +46 (0)70-678 5432 ulf.gardenfors@artdata.slu.se

Johan Bodegård, director, Swedish Species Information Center, SLU, mobile: +46 (0)70-266 8600 johan.bodegard@artdata.slu.se

Magnus Friberg, research secretary, Swedish Research Council, phone: +46 (0)8-546 441 22 magnus.friberg@vr.se

Pressofficer Carin Wrange, Carin.Wrange@adm.slu.se, +46 70-247 84 22

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