The LifeWatch Alien Species Virtual Research Environment (Alien Species VRE) has been built and equipped in order to developing systems that support the scientist's work for experimental researches on alien species arrival and spread into different types of ecosystems (aquatic and terrestrial). The Alien Species VRE is an example of the types of scientific studies that researchers on biodiversity and alien species could undertake. The goal is to obtain a list of capabilities on the topic to be shared through the LifeWatch portal with all those interested in alien and invasive species.
This type of study requires the assemblage of a vaste data set from multiple biological communities.
To address this research the Alien Species VRE provides access to data resources and species lists, which are the backbone to address intrinsic habitat/ecosystem vulnerability to biological invasions, and which are generally unorganized and unavailable as on-line services. The Alien Species VRE was conceived and built as easily accessible to stakeholders to overcome these obstacles.
The Alien Species VRE allows the study of the presence and distribution of Alien Species, and their relationships with native species through a macroecological approach. It considers different taxonomic groups, ecosystem functions and properties, patterns and vectors of Alien Species introduction, and impacts influencing their presence and distribution at local/global level.
Within the Alien Species VRE users have access to environmental and climatic data, and numerous other layers of information for the study of Alien Species distribution. Stakeholder can reproduce the same type of research using their own data, but only after uploading them into the system and after passing the quality control for biological data offered by the LifeWatch portal.
The structure of the Alien Species VRE gives access to biodiversity data, to the Alien Species Thesaurus for the definition of alien species, to additional metadata, workflows, tools for statistical analysis, and on line services.
The list of capabilities offered is as follow: data interoperability, quality assurance, definition of process and metadata for the domains of interest, niche modelling techniques and tools, biological distribution maps, environmental suitability maps.