Integration of biodiversity monitoring data into the Digital Twin Ocean






May 12 2022


Sep 27 2022



Project results are expected to contribute to all of the following expected outcomes:

  • Identified relevant “sleeping” or inaccessible biodiversity data and establishment of partnerships with data owners to unlock data on marine life, and human activities that affect it, through the digital ocean twin;
  • Harmonised data, protocols and vocabularies, amongst biodiversity monitoring networks and actors, including citizens science programmes, and national authorities monitoring programmes;
  • Secured, sustained and reliable data flows from biodiversity monitoring programmes, including research projects, national and international monitoring programmes, into DTO data repositories, from data collectors to data integrators, and their integration/assimilation in existing models;
  • Economies of scale and enhanced standardisation through pilot sea-basin scale monitoring for species across the trophic chains (plankton, including microbes, fishes, marine mammals, reptiles and birds, other if considered important);
  • Tools to better support assessment of multiple human activities pressures on biodiversity through exploring and assessing different modes of operation, different policies development and their effect on biodiversity;
  • Support to the Mission’s Blue Parks and biodiversity actions in the Mission Lighthouses.

Proposals should expand the collection of ocean datasets related to biodiversity (species, habitats, ecological interactions, human activities, and their impacts), possibly using the cascading grant scheme, putting in place agreements with owners of previously inaccessible or neglected data including biodiversity, fisheries, international programmes (e.g.: ICOS, OBIS, MBON, ARGOS, (marine GEO BON[1]), Nature Directives and MSFD reports, citizen science, national monitoring programmes, as well as ocean weather data, observations related to blue carbon, etc. Proposals should collect, process or reformat as necessary, and feed existing ocean and future datasets into the DTO infrastructure.

Proposals should address all activities and tasks as described below, in cooperation and complementarity with the linked actions and other relevant actions.

1. Increasing flow of relevant biodiversity data based on literature, evaluations of EU regulations and results of relevant EU projects and studies and data collected by industry for regulatory purposes (Environmental Impact Assessment Directives):

  • Identify existing, but restricted or hard to access, data on marine biodiversity and pressures;
  • List and assess efforts to define biodiversity monitoring priorities, their effectiveness and their follow-up;
  • Assess the impact of missing data on the ability of digital solutions (biodiversity / ecosystem models and applications) to represent reality and forecast future scenarios ;
  • Unlock existing identified barriers and opportunities to ensure a sustained access to new sources of biodiversity data and its further integration and use specially in the mission and EU policies implementation;
  • Assess innovative cost-effective technologies (e.g. High-throughput DNA sequencing), automatic recognition of electromagnetic or acoustic images) for large scale monitoring of biodiversity changes in key habitats. This is not aiming in developing new technologies or testing sensors, but assessing the potential of cost-effective technologies to provide large scale monitoring, by test casing them and achieving substantial data contributions.

2. Development of the biodiversity digital component and its integration in the DTO architecture:

  • Consolidate data standards, near-real time data quality control procedures, communication protocols between data centres for instant data access, create new standards if necessary;
  • Place agreements with data owners to Integrate more biodiversity data sources into the DTO architecture and environment with focus on data that presently are not available under FAIR principles identified in point 1.
  • Extract and harmonise those data to feed the DTO data repository and allowing the flow of data to continue and remain sustained after the end of the project;
  • Develop to the extent possible data models to facilitate their future automatic integration/assimilation, allowing the flow of data to continue and remain sustained after the end of the project;
  • Develop and improve the data ingestion and assimilation mechanisms to feed into biodiversity/ecosystem models.

3. Case-studies:

  • Demonstrate the end-to-end approach for biodiversity monitoring based on the digital environment provided by the DTO and the proposed biodiversity data sources by:
  • Integrating and assimilating new data sources into existing models and artificial intelligence algorithms, assessing the outcomes, and implementing required quality control. It should help assess the overall easiness, identify levels of improvement, etc. and map the additional biodiversity data needs to be prioritised. The end-to-end approach could address fishing practices to reduce by-catches or habitat damage, adaptation to climate change, species migrations, impact of human activities (e.g.: tourism, transportation, renewable energy, etc.), development and monitoring of marine protected areas, adapting human activities to migrations of cetaceans and birds, etc.
  • Develop digital tools and services (e.g. through AI, socio-ecological modelling, etc.) to support policy-making and to be integrated in DTO environment.
  • Open calls (cascading grants to data holders (international networks, citizen science networks, universities –under specific conditions- favouring providers from data-poor regions, covering important data gaps) to facilitate sustained and long-term ingestion of locked data (indicate conditions).

4. Define performance indicators to measure the success of the project and define achievable targets regarding increasing biodiversity data flows into the DTO by 2030.

Specific Topic Conditions:

Activities are expected to achieve TRL 5 to 7 by the end of the project – see General Annex B.

Cross-cutting Priorities:

Ocean sustainability and blue economy
EOSC and FAIR data