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The LifeWatch Species Information Backbone (LW-SIBb) standardises species data and integrates biodiversity data from different repositories and operating facilities and is the driving force behind the species information services of the Belgian e-Lab.

Species Information Backbone

Because of its internationally recognized expertise in building taxonomic databases and related web services, the Flanders Marine Institute (VLIZ) was selected to set up the LifeWatch Species Information Backbone (LW-SIBb) as a central part of the European LifeWatch infrastructure. The aim of the LW-SIBb is to (virtually) bring together different component databases and data systems, all of them related to taxonomy, biogeography, ecology, genetics and literature. 

The scheme below represents the currently identified data systems that deal with one or more of these components. Ideally, a data flow can be established between all these systems, ensuring that there is a strong and continuously supported flow of data and information from (and between) the national and regional levels to the thematic and global levels. Some systems are already strongly interlinked, while for others the data flow mechanisms and links still need to be established. During the further construction and maintenance phase, these links will be further explored and developed.


Coordination of the LW-SIBb is practiced at three parallel levels:

  1. The first level aims at setting up a central species information backbone by integrating the existing taxonomic, biogeographical, ecological, genomic and literature databases as contributing components and build access services bringing the data to the LifeWatch infrastructure.
  1. The second level aims at completing and updating the taxonomic and species related data in the different component databases by supporting these communities with a central data management task force, which is providing technical, logistic and financial support for upgrading and expanding the component databases. An example are the LifeWatch data grants that were written out to fill the gaps in information in the World Register of Marine Species (WoRMS).
  1. The third level aims at organizing and mobilizing the taxonomic experts that provide the data by supporting the taxonomy societies in which they participate (e.g. TDWG, PESI, EDIT and MARBEF+). LifeWatch provides logistic and financial support for workshops and meetings with and between the societies.