Fourth Session of the IODE Steering Group for OBIS (SG-OBIS-IV) 10-12 February 2015
The call for baseline data and indicators on the status and change of biodiversity has never been greater with a standalone goal on the ocean as part of the post-2015 Sustainable Development Goals (SDG), the World Ocean Assessments as part of the UN regular process, the upcoming assessments of the Intergovernmental Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES), a potential new legally-binding instrument under the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea to conserve and sustainably use biodiversity in areas beyond national jurisdiction (BBNJ), with the start of deep sea mineral mining and with increased evidence of cumulative human impacts to ocean resources and system dynamics.
In order to be able to deliver to these international requirements, the new panel on Biology and Ecosystems of the Global Ocean Observing System (GOOS), in collaboration with the marine Biodiversity Observation Network of the Group on Earth Observations (GEO), is building a global coordinated framework for sustained biological ocean observations. OBIS will have a unique role in providing a coordinated global marine biodiversity data repository, providing easy access to data and information services, in sharing expertise in technology and innovation, and in supporting the development of international standards and protocols. OBIS will be an important neutral broker to deliver the data for unbiased scientific advice to these international processes.
A new project funded through the Flanders UNESCO Science Trust Fund, the Development of Information Products and Services for Ocean Assessment, is a timely endeavour to provide new tools and customised web portals based on data from OBIS.
The new 2015-2016 work plan is ambitious. OBIS will perform a market analysis to map stakeholder needs with existing information tools and services, which will drive content enhancement of new data types, expanding beyond simple species occurrence, such as absence data, biological measurements, abiotic environmental parameters, eDNA etc. OBIS aims to expand its community to gain better global coverage, with a special focus on the deep sea. In addition, a number of technical developments are planned to better serve our data users with easier access to higher quality data. In terms of capacity development, OBIS will continue train its community in marine biodiversity data management and data analysis, in collaboration with the Ocean Teacher Global Academy.
The expectations and challenges are high, but so far OBIS has been able to keep steady with the data flow (5 million species observations were added during the intersessional period) and has been able to secure funding for its OBIS secretariat. Prof. Eduardo Klein (OBIS Caribbean, Venezuela) is the new chair of the OBIS Steering Group replacing Dr Mark Fornwall (OBIS USA) who served as chair for 5 years.
Decisions and Recommendations
ELECTION NEW CHAIR OBIS STEERING GROUP
- The SG-OBIS accepted Prof. Eduardo Klein (Caribbean OBIS node manager, Venezuela) to become the new SG-OBIS chair and thanked him for taking up this new role.
STATUS OBIS NODES
- The SG-OBIS recommended that OBIS nodes should operate as NODCs or ADUs, but OBIS should not stop existing OBIS nodes to operate under OBIS if for administrative issues it is impossible for them to become an ADU.
- The SG-OBIS noted that many OBIS nodes seem to work on a voluntary basis and that a lack of funding does not necessarily mean there is no basis for a long-term commitment.
- The SG-OBIS decided that if because of technical or financial reasons an OBIS node becomes a bottle neck for data flow to OBIS, the OBIS Project Office will analyse the issue and look for a solution, which can either be training or setting up an IPT at the OBIS PO to allow data providers to submit data to OBIS directly. OBIS PO will then identify a tier 2 OBIS node to QC the data.
OBIS SCIENCE ADVISORY TASK TEAM
- The SG-OBIS thanked the SATT for these valuable recommendations, which are taken into account in the new OBIS work plan.
- The SG-OBIS requested the SATT to continue, but also suggested that the SATT may eventually transform into a larger OBIS Stakeholders Group.
OBIS GOVERNANCE TASK TEAM - INTERNATIONAL ACTIVITIES AND COLLABORATIONS
Sargasso Sea Commission
- The SG-OBIS agreed that this is an important opportunity to demonstrate how OBIS can play a role in the conservation, management, biodiversity assessment and monitoring of marine protected areas in ABNJ. The following OBIS nodes expressed interest in this collaboration and will provide input in this agreement of cooperation: MedOBIS, EurOBIS, OBIS-USA and OBIS-OTN.
International Seabed Authority
- The SG-OBIS agreed that this in an important collaboration and suggested that OBIS could develop a service for ISA (e.g. data gap reports, IPT training, etc.).
- The SG-OBIS also suggested liaising with INDEEP in coordinating a deep-sea OBIS node.
GEO BON – MBONs – GOOS Biology
- The SG-OBIS agreed that this is an important development, which gained momentum with the establishment of 3 MBONs in the USA. The SG-OBIS agreed that OBIS nodes could play an important role in the MBONs and could contribute to the development of this MBON in a box (e.g. in providing expertise in technology, standards and protocols, and data gap analysis).
Global Biodiversity Information Facility
- The SG-OBIS recommended to liaise with GBIF about DwC updates and to invite GBIF representatives to the Technical and data content task teams.
- The SG-OBIS recommended that GBIF should harvest OBIS tier 2 nodes if OBIS tier 2 nodes could also harvest marine datasets from their GBIF nodes. In this way OBIS could work directly with the entire marine community and promote its standards and best practices, and the data flow from OBIS to GBIF could be re-initiated. It was not recommended that iOBIS set up a separate IPT for GBIF to harvest, since this would mean a duplication of effort.
UNCLOS: Biodiversity in Areas Beyond National Jurisdiction
- The SG-OBIS recommended that OBIS should have a prominent role in this potential new agreement and that it should take action to promote this as much as possible.
- The SG-OBIS recommended performing a mapping of all collaborations (links with international networks), on-going developments, data products and services and data flow within the OBIS network.
OBIS DATA POLICY AND DATA USE LICENSES
- The SG-OBIS adopted the OBIS guidelines on the sharing and use of data in OBIS, which is based on the principles of the IOC data exchange policy.
- The SG-OBIS also asked each OBIS node to inform their data providers on the changes in the data policy (e.g. use of Creative Common licenses) before the end of 2015 and to report on progress at the next SG meeting.
OBIS TRAINING AND DOCUMENTATION TASK TEAM
- The SG-OBIS recommended to set-up a space in Ocean Teacher to post presentations (lectures, teaching material) related to OBIS and to translate these presentations in different languages.
- The SG-OBIS recommended to liaise with iDigBio (e.g. cross know-how on taxon matching) and to explore the possibility for an R package for OBIS and to link with the R OpenSci community.
- The SG-OBIS recommended organizing a training course in 2015 based on the needs identified in the survey and to request support from IODE in organizing and hosting such a training course.
OBIS TECHNICAL TASK TEAM
- The SG-OBIS recommended organizing a technical workshop in 2015 and to request funding from IODE for this, in order to advance a number of technical developments. Two of the priorities are (i) exploring the weblogs to learn more about users behaviour, service usage, what data are used, how and why and (ii) look into having a txt file with citation downloaded with the data.
- The SG-OBIS recommended to publish a “toolbox” of services/modules developed by or used within the OBIS community through the OBIS website.
- The SG-OBIS recommended drafting a note on the potential for geospatial customized web portal products (using e.g. ArcGIS online, or CartoDB).
- The SG-OBIS recommended that a summary of the QC results should be used in the feedback to nodes, and to data providers, and that only those checks on mandatory fields should be taken into account for accepting or rejecting records in OBIS.
- The SG-OBIS reiterated its recommendation that OBIS nodes should make use of at least the WoRMS taxon match tool before uploading data to their IPT.
OBIS DATA CONTENT ENHANCEMENT TASK TEAM
- The SG-OBIS recommended sharing notes about DwC updates with the steering group in order to better stay informed on recent developments.
- The SG-OBIS recommended publishing an “MBG” extensions and “Measurement of fact” documentation (including examples) in the repository of best practices in ocean data and information management (http://www.oceandatapractices.net) hosted by IODE.
- The SG-OBIS recommended that a draft roadmap to implement new data types should be written, and suggested to reactivate JIRA as a platform for discussion on new data types.
OBIS OUTREACH & COMMUNICATION TASK TEAM
- The SG-OBIS recommended to prepare and circulate a bulletproof set of arguments (as a note) to brief national representatives on OBIS, customizable in function of context.
- The SG-OBIS decided to prepare and circulate a flyer on OBIS to potential “clients”.
- The SG-OBIS recommended that OBIS nodes should more often represent OBIS at relevant events, and that it should complete the list of relevant events.
- The SG-OBIS decided that it needs to identify an OBIS representative at UNFCCC COP21, Paris.
POTENTIAL NEW ACTIVITIES
DATA REPOSITORY FOR JOURNAL PUBLICATIONS
- The SG-OBIS agreed that having journal publishers promoting OBIS as a trustworthy repository for marine biological observations (for records that are not yet in OBIS) and establishing traceability of data use through linking papers and datasets would be a great asset, and decided to set up a small inter-sessional team to investigate the requirements and workload involved.
- The SG-OBIS recommended joining forces with a Research Data Alliance group that is working on many of the same issues (https://rd-alliance.org/groups/data-citation-wg.html) as a forum to explore the problem.
OCEAN SAMPLING DAY
- The SG-OBIS concluded that there are many initiatives already, such as reef.org, iNaturalist, paddy aware, Etc. and recommended that OBIS should not take the lead in setting up a new citizen science programme, but should try to work with the existing one with the aim of setting up a thematic OBIS node.
DATA RESCUE ACTIVITIES
- SG-OBIS recommended to set-up an inter-sessional team to draft a concept note on data rescue/archaeology, recognizing the need to find an array of solutions to deal with the complexity to digitize historic resources.
OBIS COMMUNITY LANDSCAPE MAPPING
- The SG-OBIS decided that OBIS nodes should complete the contact information (addresses) of all data providers, in order to ensure a complete mapping of the OBIS network.
IDENTIFICATION OF KEY CLIENTS (AND THEIR NEEDS) FOR OBIS PRODUCTS
- The SG-OBIS agreed to develop and publish an inventory of services/modules on the OBIS website and to develop a data user behaviour analysis tool.
BUSINESS MODEL CANVAS AND VALUE PROPOSITIONS
- The SG-OBIS recommended to fill-in the Business Model Canvas to conduct a reality-check exercise of OBIS.
- The SG-OBIS recommended exploring funding opportunities and starting drafting a vision note identifying candidate developments/scoping to prepare a big project, addressing specific OBIS needs as a wider community.
DATE AND PLACE OF NEXT SESSION
- The fifth SG-OBIS session will take place at the IODE/OBIS project office in Oostende (Belgium) on 15-17 March 2016, and could be organized back-to-back with the Science Advisory Task Team/stakeholders meeting.