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The LifeWatch Italy national node has realised the Phytoplankton Virtual Research Environment (Phyto VRE) for supporting researchers to address basic and applied studies on phytoplankton ecology at a level of resolution going from individual cells to whole assemblages. The Phyto VRE enables researchers to: - produce harmonised data on taxonomy and morphological traits by using the Atlas of Phytoplankton, Atlas of Shapes and Phytoplankton Traits Thesaurus; - access, download, and select LifeWatch Italy datasets (published through the LifeWatch Italy Data Portal and distributed by the LifeWatch ERIC Metadata Catalogue) or upload their own datasets structured according to the Phyto template based on the LifeWatch Italy Data Schema in order to execute the services included in the VRE; - faciliatate the computation of morphological and demographic traits (such as hidden dimension, biovolume, surface area, surface-volume ratio, cell carbon content, etc.) and investigate their distribution patterns at different levels of data aggregation (i.e. spatial, temporal, taxonomic) by means of services, which automate a set of operations written in the R language.
To address the today’s ecological challenges, it is necessary to use data coming from different disciplines and providers. Discovery and integration of data, especially from the ecological domain, is highly labour-intensive and often ambiguous in semantic terms. To improve the location, interpretation and integration of data based on its inherent meaning vocabularies can help in harmonizing and enriching descriptions of data, providing a formal mechanism for the definition of terms and their relationships. To satisfy these emerging needs LifeWatch ERIC developed a Semantic Resources Catalogue (EcoPortal) focused on the Biodiversity and Ecosystem Research. This effort will help to support the community in the management and integration/alignment of their semantics and subsequently also of their data. The main goal of the EcoPortal initiative is to provide a unique platform for vocabularies in the ecological and domain for different kinds of stakeholders.