Biodiversity data is crucial for obtaining a better understanding of species distribution and threats, necessary for setting conservation priorities. This is especially the case for freshwater environments, which are heavily affected by the global biodiversity crisis. Unfortunately, there are major gaps in the available data. Notwithstanding the fact that there is a huge body of data gathered by scientists and water managers, which could considerably improve large-scale biodiversity analyses and modeling work supporting and informing conservation.
BioFresh (EU-funded FP7) aims to mobilize freshwater biodiversity data, make them available through an on-line portal and integrate them in large-scale models and tools. The BioFresh portal, available at http://data.freshwaterbiodiversity.eu/ is constructed as a data discovery tool and will provide tools to visualize the effects of climatic and socioeconomic pressures. Models and tools will shed new light on how freshwater biodiversity responds to global, European, and local environmental change and its drivers, and help to improve the management of the services provided by aquatic ecosystems by incorporating biodiversity science into effective conservation strategy, environmental agreements or related policy instruments.
During the first two years of the project, our efforts have focused on linking different data sources and set up a system of interoperable databases building on existing standards and tools. We currently have documented around 100 datasets in our metadatabase and are receiving the first primary biodiversity datasets for integration in the BioFresh data portal and Global Biodiversity Information Facility (GBIF). In parallel, we have been working with journal editors to encourage the submission of biodiversity data and have published a number of data papers. At this stage, we are ready to increase our efforts in mobilizing data and become a central hub for freshwater biodiversity data and information.