LifeWatch | Flanders Marine Institute

Flanders Marine Institute

Platform for marine research


LifeWatch is a European infrastructure for biodiversity research. It is a virtual laboratory consisting of observation stations, databases, web services and modelling tools installed across Europe. This network facilitates the generation, processing, integration and analysis of biodiversity data.

The Flemish contribution to the European LifeWatch infrastructure is coordinated by VLIZ as far as the marine scientific section is concerned and by the Research Institute for Nature and Forest (INBO) as far as the freshwater and terrestrial section is concerned. The Flemish LifeWatch consortium is funded through the FWO (Research Foundation Flanders/Fonds Wetenschappelijk Onderzoek) (formerly through the Hercules Foundation).

This contribution consists in the construction of a central species information backbone, which facilitates the standardisation of species information and the integration of the different biodiversity facilities.

In addition, Flanders is developing a regional marine (VLIZ) and a freshwater-terrestrial (INBO) observation station. The marine observation station gathers data generated by monthly monitoring campaigns with the research vessel Simon Stevin as well as data generated by a sensor network installed in the Belgian part of the North Sea. VLIZ also supports part of the freshwater-terrestrial observation station, including equipping birds with GPS tags (herring gulls, lesser black-backed gulls and marsh harriers), which allows to study the behaviour of these animals in detail.

Furthermore, VLIZ and INBO manage numerous databases that make a significant contribution to biodiversity research in Flanders (EurOBIS, EMODnet, Marine Regions, Broedvogel, Florabank, VIS, Vlinder, Watervogels, Wildbeheer). These databases are further completed and integrated in the central LifeWatch infrastructure.

The final Flemish contribution is the development of online web services, models and applications so as to disclose all available data as well as the species information backbone. These developments will also be put at the disposal of the scientific community for processing their own data.

The 'LifeWatch' expert group supports the development of the marine observatory and data archeology within the Flemish Life Watch project.

LifeWatch is part of the European Strategy Forum on Research Infrastructures (ESFRI).

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