This Network of Excellence (NoE) will create a European long-term inter-disciplinary research facility for research on the complex relationship between ecosystems, biodiversity and society. It will provide research support for policy assessment and development on the conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity in the European Union, and a stable facility for information retrieval and reporting on biodiversity-related issues.
It will achieve this by implementing research, management and cultural changes within and between its component organisations, and through the development of integrated research agendas that will focus the research activities of its members on priority policy issues. The result will be a unique inter-disciplinary network linking a variety of stakeholders including research scientists, science communicators, policy makers and the public. In order to ensure durable integration of 24 partners from 17 countries, this NoE will build on 4 existing co-operative programmes that deal with complementary aspects of biodiversity research. These are PEER/CONNECTJLTER, ECSITE and ECNC. A novel approach to integration of ecological and socio-environmental methodologies will be developed, recognising the fact that biodiversity research should be done only in the context of ecosystems and their long- term dynamics.
To achieve this, the core research undertaken by the NoE will be structured around a common framework based on the Drivers-Pressures-State-Impact-Response (DPSIR) model. This framework will ensure that research contributes directly to our understanding of the inter-relationship between biodiversity and the services it provides to society, and vice versa. The framework, and the research it supports, will also facilitate the long-term institutional changes that will be necessary to accomplish the ALTER-net objectives for durable integration.
Environmental quality and pressures assessment across Europe: the LTER network as an integrated and shared system for ecosystem monitoring (Life+ EnvEurope) was the first project completely dedicated to the LTER-Europe network.
It was conceived as a means addressing the complexity of the network, by harmonizing and improving LTER-Europe’s operations, and at the same time dealing with several of the network’s key aims. The project had a cross domain approach, using 67 LTER-Europe sites covering terrestrial, wetland, continental water, transitional and marine ecosystems in 11 LTER-Europe countries. The project involved 17 beneficiaries and many other institutions as external partners, all committed to the management of LTER-Europe sites.
The main tasks in the project concerned:
- Establishing a conceptual framework allowing comparability and ranking of ecological parameters and data gained at LTER sites across Europe
- Testing the LTER network as a harmonized set of sites, through measurements in the field of a broad spectrum of parameters and environmental quality indicators with common methodologies
- Gathering in a structured way, managing and making available information (the “metadata”) about sites, persons and datasets across LTER-Europe
- Defining and providing tools and recommendations for LTER dataset reporting and sharing, and for integrated data management in the domain of long-term ecological research
- Investigating scientific hypotheses within the LTER community, through case studies aimed at long-term metadata and data analysis, involving as many sites as possible
- Producing better information about the organization of LTER-Europe, to improve information flow and increase the visibility of LTER-Europe as a reference network for scientists, policy makers and environmental managers at the European level.
ExpeER (Experimentation in Ecosystem Research) is an European project which aimed to bring together the major observational, experimental, analytical and modelling facilities in ecosystem science in Europe. By uniting these highly instrumented ecosystem research facilities under the same umbrella and with a common vision, ExpeER intended to contribute to structuring the still fragmented research community on terrestrial ecosystems within the European Research Area. ExpeER was improving quality and performance of these infrastructure components in a sustainable manner and stimulating their international use.
ExpeER did contribute to the development of a state-of-the-art research infrastructure by:
- enabling collaboration and integration across experimental, observational and modeling approaches in ecosystem research;
- improving the technology and metho-dology at play in ExpeER infrastructures through specific research programs;
- hosting research teams within its 30 sites and platforms through a strong and coordinated program for Transnational Access;
- linking these highly instrumented facilities to existing networks of long-term research sites across Europe (e.g. LTER-Europe);
- developing a “model toolbox” allowing the scientific community within and outside the ExpeER network to better use modelling platforms. This will allow easy access to models for experimentalists and improve forecasting of ecosystem function and ser-vices under different future climate scenarios.
Scientists involved in the project consortium ranged from physiologists to environmental scientists, with a large number of participants involved in agronomy, ecology and biochemistry. This range of disciplines is essential to the long-term development of ecosystem science, in that detailed studies of small, rapid processes need to be embedded in longer term, larger scale experiments in order to develop a true systems approach, resulting in models that transfer information across scales. Much progress in environ-mental research has been the result of disciplinary and reductionist attempts to analyse separate compartments of the environmental system. However, the complexity of problems created by global change, land use changes, ecosystem services, food security issues, etc. needs an integrated interdisciplinary approach to solve environ-mental problems raised by today’s society.
ECOPOTENTIAL was a large European-funded H2020 project that focused its activities on a targeted set of internationally recognised Protected Areas, blending Earth Observations from remote sensing and field measurements, data analysis and modelling of current and future ecosystem conditions and services. ECOPOTENTIAL considered cross-scale geosphere-biosphere interactions at regional to continental scales, addressing long-term and large-scale environmental and ecological challenges.
eLTER H2020 was a major project on the path to developing European Long-Term Ecosystem Research infrastructures. The overall aim of the eLTER H2020 project was to advance the European network of Long-Term Ecosystem Research sites and socio-ecological research platforms to provide highest quality services for multiple use of a distributed research infrastructure.
To achieve this, the LTER-Europe network and the European Critical Zone Observatories (CZO) community collaborated in eLTER H2020. During the project, 162 sites in 22 countries provided data on long-term trends in environmental change. Test cases using these data were used to address a range of environmental and social issues to push innovation in network level services and steer conceptual developments.
The project (Jan-Dec 2017) conducted important conceptual work and preparatory steps towards enabling European-scale investigation of the “Critical Zone”, major ecosystems and socio-ecological systems, targeted at supporting knowledge-based decision making concerning ecosystem services and biodiversity. The objectives of Advance_eLTER were firmly anchored to the strategic long-term goals of the eLTER RI, but focussed on the challenges identified by the ESFRI review. Advance_eLTER cooperated closely with other LTER-related processes and projects, leading to a second eLTER RI proposal that was submitted to ESFRI in August 2017. As a result, eLTER RI is on the ESFRI 2018 Roadmap.