Motivation for WP4 on networking and mainlines of actions
Motivation for WP4 on networking and main lines of actions: many infrastructures for ecosystem research target at producing information about ecosystems trajectories beyond the time span of individual research projects. Long-term observations provide valuable information on trends in response to main drivers. Therefore, ExpeER was challenged to anchor its infrastructural elements in the landscape of related projects and infra-structures. Besides from developing an appropriate division of tasks with these projects and infrastructures, options for the permanent operation and funding of ExpeER´s elements needed to be explored. Recognising the fact that ExpeER was limited to sites owned by consortium members, but not based on a quantitative overview of European facilities, efforts were made to attract comparable sites, their primary investigators and institutions to the ExpeER, concepts and products. To this end a Related Sites Group was established.
Getting an overview ofthe strategic environment of ExpeER
A comprehensive inquiry of relevant networks, projects, infrastructures, strategic processes and funding mechanisms was carried out based on input from the ExpeER community, stock takes in the WEB and bilateral interviews with relevant coordinators and stakeholders. The elements of the resulting database were prioritised, grouped into main branches such as “in-situ observational research networks” and “in-situ experimental research networks” and graphically illustrated in a MindMap of the strategic environment of ExpeER.
The left side of the MindMap represents related research infrastructures, whereas the right side covers the strategic environment, services and users.
The Related Sites Group (RSG)
The Related Sites Group (RSG) is an outreach- and feedback-body consisting of primary investigators of highly instrumented sites, which are not working with one of the ExpeER partner institutions. It offers an opportunity to informally affiliate with ExpeER. The RSG provided valuable input to the conceptual and strategic work of ExpeER, including criteria for highly instrumented sites.
Networking towards sustainable infrastructures
The MindMap of ExpeER’s strategic environment gives evidence, that ExpeER could build on several initiatives (e.g. Climmani, AnaEE), networks (e.g. LTER) and projects (e.g. EnvEurope). It also shows that ExpeER represents a novel combination of peers from the experimental and observational research community, and provides a platform for identifying their common ground, specifically in the field of IT tools, standards and methods. Joint experts groups across projects were fostered and ExpeER introduced at most key events of relevant networks and projects since 2010, including the biodiversity research community and monitoring networks (nationally, in Europe and globally).
The ExpeER pyramid represents the conceptual elements of the project, comprising Ecotrons, highly instrumented experimental, highly instrumented observational research sites, modeling and analytical platforms. The hierarchical design of ExpeER also envisages strategic interactions between these actual research infrastructures and larger scale monitoring schemes.
Fostered by ExpeER, there are good chances for the successful implementation of its building blocks (AnaEE, LTER-Europe) in a coordinated manner and as part of a European environmental research infrastructures cluster. This will support highly integrated national ecosystem research infrastructure clusters, their efficient multiple use towards scientific targets and the joint development of further services. The AnaEE project was successful and entered its ESFRI preparatory phase (2012-2016). LTER-Europe is based on solid governance structures and national networks in 21 countries and prepares a H2020 I3 project.
ExpeER and the outside world - towards a division of tasks in the European Research Area
Intense discussions are ongoing with ICOS, LifeWatch, InterAct and other infrastructures and networks about the further structuring and design of the European infrastructures in the field of biodiversity and ecosystem research in preparation of the next ESFRI roadmap. The role of ExpeER in the interplay of observation, experimentation, the generation of large scale reference data and modeling need to be continued.