Report of a very successful LifeWatch Data Analysis Workshop (November 26th-27th 2015, Ostend)

Added on 2015-12-02 13:58:18 by Dekeyzer, Stefanie
Biodiversity data preparation and analysis using the LifeWatch virtual labs and web services.
In the aftermath of the Empowering Biodiversity Research Conference (May 21st 2015, Brussels), a series of workshops were organized. During these workshops the tools presented and described during the conference were demonstrated into more detail during hands-on training sessions.

In this framework, the Flanders Marine Institute (VLIZ) organized the LifeWatch Data Analysis Workshop on November 26th-27th 2015 in Ostend. LifeWatch is building an European infrastructure to support biodiversity research and ecosystem studies. Within the envisaged e-infrastructure of LifeWatch, data exchange and data analysis are largely based on the use of web services. Building on the LifeWatch Taxonomic Backbone, a growing number of these web services is being set up. Workflows or Virtual Labs are being developed making use of these services to automate recurring data preparation and analysis tasks.

The goal of the LifeWatch Data Analysis Workshop was to convince researchers of the advantages of using web services, and to get them acquainted with the existing LifeWatch Virtual Labs and workflows.

On Thursday morning November 26th 2015, a pre-workshop was organized about the use of “R”, a statistical processing environment widely used by scientists working in many biodiversity-related disciplines. During this pre-workshop, which was intended for scientists who had no prior knowledge of R, workshop participants were introduced to the statistical environment through the open source software RStudio.

The afternoon session started with a general introduction to web services: what are they, where can you find them, how can you access them, etc. After this more theoretical session, the LifeWatch Marine Virtual Research Environment (VRE) and the Belgian LifeWatch e-Lab were demonstrated. The remainder of day 1 of the workshop was filled with practical, hands-on exercises to use the web services of the Belgian LifeWatch e-Lab to standardize and quality control data, and to retrieve and access data.

On Friday November 27th 2015, the workshop continued with data exploration, processing and analysis, using RStudio and the RvLab developed by LifeWatch Greece. The RvLab supports an integrated and optimized (in respect to computational speed-up and data manipulation) online R environment.

The workshop was attended by scientists from several universities and institutes: the Flanders Marine Institute (VLIZ, Belgium), the Research Institute for Nature and Forest (INBO, Belgium), Ghent University (Belgium), Natuurpunt Studie (NPS, Belgium),  the Belgian Marine Data Centre (BMDC), the Royal Belgian Institute of Natural Sciences (RBINS), IOC-UNESCO (Belgium) and the Hellenic Centre for Marine Research (HCMR, Crete, Greece).


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