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Vissers J.,Clockwork | Van den Bosch F.,Clockwork | Bogaerts A.,Botanic Garden Meise | Cocquyt C.,Botanic Garden Meise | And 20 more authors.
PhytoKeys | Year: 2017

The digitization of herbaria and their online access will greatly facilitate access to plant collections around the world. This will improve the efficiency of taxonomy and help reduce inequalities between scientists. The Botanic Garden Meise, Belgium, is currently digitizing 1.2 million specimens including label data. In this paper we describe the user requirements analysis conducted for a new herbarium web portal. The aim was to identify the required functionality, but also to assist in the prioritization of software development and data acquisition. The Garden conducted the analysis in cooperation with Clockwork, the digital engagement agency of Ordina. Using a series of interactive interviews, potential users were consulted from universities, research institutions, science-policy initiatives and the Botanic Garden Meise. Although digital herbarium data have many potential stakeholders, we focused on the needs of taxonomists, ecologists and historians, who are currently the primary users of the Meise herbarium data portal. The three categories of user have similar needs, all wanted as much specimen data as possible, and for those data, to be interlinked with other digital resources within and outside the Garden. Many users wanted an interactive system that they could comment on, or correct online, particularly if such corrections and annotations could be used to rank the reliability of data. Many requirements depend on the quality of the digitized data associated with each specimen. The essential data fields are the taxonomic name; geographic location; country; collection date; collector name and collection number. Also all researchers valued linkage between biodiversity literature and specimens. Nevertheless, to verify digitized data the researchers still want access to high quality images, even if fully transcribed label information is provided. The only major point of disagreement is the level of access users should have and what they should be allowed to do with the data and images. Not all of the user requirements are feasible given the current technical and regulatory landscape, however, the potential of these suggestions is discussed. Currently, there is no off-the-shelf solution to satisfy all these user requirements, but the intention of this paper is to guide other herbaria who are prioritising their investment in digitization and online web functionality. © Jorick Vissers et al.


Keune H.,Research Institute for Nature and Forest INBO | Keune H.,University of Antwerp | Keune H.,University of Namur | Kretsch C.,Co Operation on Health and Biodiversity COHAB | And 23 more authors.
Environmental Research Letters | Year: 2013

Internationally, the importance of a coordinated effort to protect both biodiversity and public health is more and more recognized. These issues are often concentrated or particularly challenging in urban areas, and therefore on-going urbanization worldwide raises particular issues both for the conservation of living natural resources and for population health strategies. These challenges include significant difficulties associated with sustainable management of urban ecosystems, urban development planning, social cohesion and public health. An important element of the challenge is the need to interface between different forms of knowledge and different actors from science and policy. We illustrate this with examples from Belgium, showcasing concrete cases of human-nature interaction. To better tackle these challenges, since 2011, actors in science, policy and the broader Belgian society have launched a number of initiatives to deal in a more integrated manner with combined biodiversity and public health challenges in the face of ongoing urbanization. This emerging community of practice in Belgium exemplifies the importance of interfacing at different levels. (1) Bridges must be built between science and the complex biodiversity/ecosystem-human/public health-urbanization phenomena. (2) Bridges between different professional communities and disciplines are urgently needed. (3) Closer collaboration between science and policy, and between science and societal practice is needed. Moreover, within each of these communities closer collaboration between specialized sections is needed. © 2013 IOP Publishing Ltd.


Dedeurwaerdere T.,Catholic University of Leuven | Admiraal J.,Leiden University | Beringer A.,University of Greifsald | Bonaiuto F.,University of Rome La Sapienza | And 12 more authors.
Environmental Science and Policy | Year: 2016

This paper analyses the possibility of building a mutually supportive dynamics between internally and externally motivated behaviour for biodiversity conservation and ecosystem services provision. To this purpose a face to face survey amongst 169 key actors of 34 highly successful and prominent biodiversity arrangements in seven EU countries was conducted. The main finding of the paper is the feasibility of combining inherently intrinsically motivated behaviours (providing enjoyment, pleasure from experimentation and learning, aesthetic satisfaction) and internalized extrinsic motivations (related to the identification with the collective goals of conservation policy) through a common set of governance features. Successful initiatives that combine internal and external motivations share the following features: inclusive decision making processes, a broad monitoring by "peers" beyond the core staff of the initiatives, and a context that is supportive for the building of autonomous actor competences. These findings are in line with the psycho-sociological theory of motivation, which shows the importance of a psycho-social context leading to a subjective perception of autonomy and a sense of competence of the actors. © 2016.


D'hondt B.,Belgian Biodiversity Platform | D'hondt B.,Research Institute for Nature and Forest | Vanderhoeven S.,Belgian Biodiversity Platform | Roelandt S.,Veterinary and Agrochemical Research Center | And 11 more authors.
Biological Invasions | Year: 2015

Given the large number of alien species that may potentially develop into invasives, there is a clear need for robust schemes that allow to screen species for such risks. The Harmonia+ framework presented here brings together 30 questions that refer to distinct components of invasion. Together, they cover the stages of introduction, establishment, spread, and multiple kinds of impacts, viz. referring to the health of the environment (including wild species), cultivated plants, domesticated animals and man. In a complete assessment, input is provided by choosing among predefined ordinal answers and by supplementing these with textual clarification. Uncertainty is covered by indicating levels of confidence. By converting answers into scores, which are then condensed into summary statistics, Harmonia+ allows for quantitative output on stage-specific and general risks. Test assessments on five species emerging in Belgium showed the perceived environmental risks of Procambarus clarkii to be highest (0.72), and that of Threskiornis aethiopicus to be lowest (0.13). Given the considerable parallels that exist between invasive alien species and emerging infectious diseases, we additionally created Pandora, which is a risk analysis scheme for pathogens and parasites. It consists of 13 key questions and has the same structure as Harmonia+. Since diseases play a paramount role in biological invasions, results of Pandora assessments may feed into Harmonia+ through a slightly adapted, host-specific version named Pandora+. Harmonia+, Pandora and Pandora+ may be used both for prioritization purposes and for underpinning detailed risk analyses, and can be consulted online through http://ias.biodiversity.be. © 2015, Springer International Publishing Switzerland.


Carnol M.,University of Liège | Baeten L.,Ghent University | Branquart E.,Belgian Biodiversity Platform | Gregoire J.-C.,Free University of Brussels | And 4 more authors.
Forestry | Year: 2014

Mixed species stands might contribute to important goals of sustainable forest management, such as higher biological diversity,more resistance and resilience to disturbances and higher carbon storage. Knowledge of stakeholders perceptions of such ecosystemservices inmixed species stands is required for effective policy development. We showed that practitioners and scientists perceptions of ecosystem services in mixed species stands in Belgium differed from formal scientific knowledge derived from a synthesis of published studies. The positive perception of supporting, regulating and cultural services in mixed species stands contrasted with less conclusive results from the literature, where positive, negative and neutral effects were reported. Many respondents also signified a lack of information about regulating services. Furthermore, provisioning services were perceived as equal in mixed species stands and monocultures, in contrast to higher productivity demonstrated in mixed species stands in the literature. The regional (Flanders and Wallonia) ecological and socio-economic context influenced both the perception of ecosystem services and of the importance of management objectives. Our results highlighted the need to address the lack of scientific data, to adapt communication to the ecological and socio-economic context, as well as to improve information flow on regulating services and productivity. © Institute of Chartered Foresters, 2014. All rights reserved.


Verheyen K.,Ghent University | Ceunen K.,Ghent University | Ampoorter E.,Ghent University | Baeten L.,Ghent University | And 10 more authors.
Plant Ecology and Evolution | Year: 2013

Context - During the last two decades, functional biodiversity research has provided strong support for the hypothesis that more biodiverse ecosystems have the potential to deliver more and better services. However, most empirical support for this hypothesis comes from simple structured communities that are relatively easy to manipulate. The impact of forest biodiversity on forest ecosystem functioning has been far less studied. Experiment design - In this paper, we present the recently established, large-scale FORBIO experiment (FORest BIOdiversity and Ecosystem Functioning), specifically designed to test the effects of tree species diversity on forest ecosystem functioning. FORBIO's design matches with that of the few other tree diversity experiments worldwide, but at the same time, the FORBIO experiment is unique as it consists of a similar experimental set-up at three sites in Belgium (Zedelgem, Hechtel-Eksel and Gedinne) with contrasting edaphic and climatological characteristics. This design will help to provide answers to one of the most interesting unresolved questions in functional biodiversity research, notably whether the effects of complementarity on ecosystem functioning decrease in less stressful and more productive environments. At each site, FORBIO consists of 41 to 44 plots (127 plots in total) planted with monocultures and mixtures up to four species, selected from a pool of five site-adapted, functionally different tree species. When allocating the treatments to the plots, we maximally avoided any possible covariation between environmental factors. Monitoring of ecosystem functioning already started at the Zedelgem and Gedinne sites and will start soon in Hechtel-Eksel. Multiple processes are being measured and as the trees grow older, we plan to add even more processes. Expected results - Not only basic science, but also forest management will benefit from the results coming from the FORBIO experiment, as FORBIO is, for instance, also a test case for uncommon, not well-known tree species mixtures. To conclude, FORBIO is an important ecosystem experiment that has the potential to deliver badly needed insights into the multiple relationships between biodiversity and ecosystem functioning, which will be valuable for both science and practice. © 2013 National Botanic Garden of Belgium and Royal Botanical Society of Belgium.


Halford M.,University of Liège | Heemers L.,Proefcentrum voor Sierteelt | van Wesemael D.,Proefcentrum voor Sierteelt | Mathys C.,Center Technique Horticole | And 5 more authors.
EPPO Bulletin | Year: 2014

Voluntary approaches have been recently used in the horticultural sector to deal with the introduction and spread of invasive alien plants. In Belgium, the first Code of conduct has been developed within the frame of the AlterIAS project, a LIFE+ "Information & Communication" project aiming at raising the awareness of horticulture professionals and gardeners on the invasive plants issue. The Belgian Code was prepared in consultation with representatives from the ornamental sector, public authorities and the scientific community. The Code was promoted throughout the country with a specific communication campaign entitled "Plant different". Thanks to communication efforts, a positive dynamic of involvement was observed over time. Surveys were performed to assess the changes of attitudes and the perception of the Code by the target audience of the project. Positive results were achieved for horticulture professionals. However, the Code will require more time to be widely adopted by the ornamental sector in Belgium. © 2014 OEPP/EPPO.


Lepoint G.,University of Liège | Heughebaert A.,Belgian Biodiversity Platform | Michel L.N.,University of Liège
ZooKeys | Year: 2016

Background The seagrass Posidonia oceanica L. Delile, commonly known as Neptune grass, is an endemic species of the Mediterranean Sea. It hosts a distinctive and diverse epiphytic community, dominated by various macroalgal and animal organisms. Mediterranean bryozoans have been extensively studied but quantitative data assessing temporal and spatial variability have rarely been documented. In Lepoint et al. (2014a, b) occurrence and abundance data of epiphytic bryozoan communities on leaves of P. oceanica inhabiting Revellata Bay (Corsica, Mediterranean Sea) were reported and trophic ecology of Electra posidoniae Gautier assessed. New information Here, metadata information is provided on the data set discussed in Lepoint et al. (2014a) and published on the GBIF portal as a sampling-event data set: http://ipt.biodiversity.be/resource?r=ulg_bryozoa&v=1.0). The data set is enriched by data concerning species settled on Posidonia scales (dead petiole of Posidonia leaves, remaining after limb abscission). © Gilles Lepoint et al.


PubMed | Belgian Biodiversity Platform and University of Liège
Type: | Journal: Biodiversity data journal | Year: 2016

The Neptune grass, Posidonia oceanica (L.) Delile, 1813, is the most widespread seagrass of the Mediterranean Sea. This foundation species forms large meadows that, through habitat and trophic services, act as biodiversity hotspots. In Neptune grass meadows, amphipod crustaceans are one of the dominant groups of vagile invertebrates, forming an abundant and diverse taxocenosis. They are key ecological components of the complex, pivotal, yet critically endangered Neptune grass ecosystems. Nevertheless, comprehensive qualitative and quantitative data about amphipod fauna found in Mediterranean Neptune grass meadows remain scarce, especially in insular locations.Here, we provide in-depth metadata about AxIOM, a sample-based dataset published on the GBIF portal. AxIOM is based on an extensive and spatially hierarchized sampling design with multiple years, seasons, day periods, and methods. Samples were taken along the coasts of Calvi Bay (Corsica, France) and of the Tavolara-Punta Coda Cavallo Marine Protected Area (Sardinia, Italy). In total, AxIOM contains 187 samples documenting occurrence (1775 records) and abundance (10720 specimens) of amphipod crustaceans belonging to 72 species spanning 29 families. The dataset is available at http://ipt.biodiversity.be/resource?r=axiom.

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