This project is funded by the European Union
The project for GBIF BID (Global Biodiversity Information Facility, Biodiversity Information for Developent) aims to address the gap in freshwater biodiversity knowledge for the Indian Ocean Islands.
Freshwater biodiversity remains relatively understudied in Sub-Saharan Africa and especially the Indian Ocean Islands. The islands are characterised by unique biodiversity which exhibit high levels of endemism and are vulnerable to threats from invasive alien species, anthropogenic impacts and global climate change. The project will address the need to manage the collation, digitisation, amendment and uploading of existing data for EPT (Ephemeroptera, Plecoptera and Trichoptera) taxa and diatoms from the Indian Ocean Islands to GBIF.
Furthermore, focused sampling efforts will be coordinated on the islands. Citizen science tools (specifically miniSASS) will also be used to create awareness and obtain new distribution records where possible. The collated data can be used to assist conservation efforts and monitor threatened or alien invasive taxa.
By focusing on both capacity development and the delivery of integrated data to end-users, this project, aligned with platforms such as GBIF and FIP (Freshwater Information Platform), will create the means to improve knowledge of Indian Ocean Islands freshwater biodiversity and assist freshwater conservationists and policy makers.
A Knowledge Dissemination Session will be held at GroundTruth's offices in Hilton, KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa, on 05 February 2018 (as per the Capacity Building Workshop requirements). Further sessions will be held throughout the remainder of the year as well as at a specialist workshop - AFRESH.IO (African Freshwater Entomology Workshop, Indian Ocean) in Madagascar.
Update on the GBIF BID (Global Biodiversity Information Facility, Biodiversity Information for Development) Project:
The AFRESH.IO team at Groundtruth, together with our Madagascan counterparts and partners from various institutions around the world, are geared for the workshop, which has been confirmed to kick off on the 16th of July 2018! All flights have been booked, accommodation and workshop agenda are finalised, Skype planning meetings have been held with project partners and a GBIF Dissemination session (Workshop 1) has been held internally at GroundTruth for project staff.
In terms of an update on the hard work that has been conducted behind the scenes, one of our primary goals was to ensure that the primary set of EPT from the Indian Ocean Islands region (Ephemeroptera, Plecoptera and Trichoptera) data would be published to GBIF, in conjunction with the submission of our midterm report, and we are excited to announce that this first dataset, comprising 186 of records of Trichoptera, has been published online (metadata available here).
Construction of this dataset has relied very heavily on the wonderful support of our partners from various institutions: Dr Lyndall Pereira da Conceicoa and Dr Benjamin Price from the Natural History Museum, London; and Dr Astrid Schmidt-Kloiber form the University of Natural Resources and Life Sciences, Vienna. We have also received records from the Paris Natural History Museum, Albany Museum and Texas A&M. Together we have thoroughly checked specimen records and gleaned and verified additional data records from the literature. We are continuing to check through Ephemeroptera records and are excited at the prospect of receiving a large dataset from Dr Michel Sartori from the Cantonal Museum of Zoology- Lausanne (CMZL), as well as additional diatom records and Plecoptera, although the records for these latter two groups are limited and the quantity at this stage remains unknown.
In terms of data use going forward, we propose that the University of Toamasina will use the existing data sets and new data (collected through voluntary sampling) to form the basis for future on-going student research projects, which can be aimed at developing local ecosystem health metrics/indices. Projects can be undertaken in collaboration with and under the supervision of experts from SA, the broader AFRESH network and other international partners – for continued sustainability. CNRE, a project partner based in Madagascar (which is linked to MadBIF) will hopefully be able to use the data to develop a regional river ecosystem monitoring programme and database (for use by scientists, researchers, students etc). This would support IUCN global efforts, to assist ISSEDD/Toamasina in the development of national river health monitoring metrics/indices, using diatoms and EPT taxa. From a broader perspective, an outcome from the AFRESH.IO workshop, will be the drafting of a proposal to develop a long-term monitoring programme which incorporates citizen science-based monitoring in the region.
In terms of expanding out network to link up with other important institutions and actions, we have identified other research partners, who have done extensive collecting and research on Madagascar, and who will provide vital insights into us with the ‘Gaps’ in biodiversity on Indian Ocean Island, and capacity building and extension of the project.