The Mediterranean Thematic Centre

The Mediterranean Thematic Centre (MTC) promotes the study of biodiversity and ecological processes at ecosystem level. It brings together biodiversity data, abiotic data and ecological descriptors at the same spatial and functional scale. The structure of the MTC is based on a network of institutions that make it possible to tackle several topics, a wide range of organisms and long-term data series, focusing on basic questions of biodiversity and ecosystem changes. The sites of the Italian Long-Term Ecological Research network (LTER-Italy) ensure the continuous provision and maintenance of long-term series of field- and nature-based biodiversity and ecosystem data. The MTC will promote tools, services and case studies to investigate the relationship between biodiversity and the environment.

Long-term goals

  1. The goal of the Mediterranean Thematic Centre is to propose and coordinate case studies of biodiversity and ecosystems (tackling biodiversity loss, climate change, anthropic pressures, ecosystem protection, changes in ecosystem processes), assessing the interaction between biotic and abiotic data.
  2. The Mediterranean Thematic Centre focuses on the implementation of interoperability tools for the consultation of data on abiotic variables at all levels, interacting with the other Thematic Centres and with the ICT Working Group, promoting and supporting services for the study of biodiversity.
  3. The Thematic Centre will implement the habitat-oriented species database set up in the framework of the Alien Species Showcase (see below), providing tools for ecological analyses, increasing the homogeneity of the data (distribution, taxonomy, and historical series) and providing new insights for the scientific community interested in the study of biodiversity at all levels.
  4. Moreover, the Thematic Centre will implement and update an Alien Species Portal as part of the Showcase, by creating fact sheets on alien species (metadata, distribution, occurrence, invasiveness etc.).
  5. In addition, the Thematic Centre will support the ceation of an Abiotic Data Catalogue as an interoperability service supporting the Interactive Species Catalogue.
The Italian scientific community will be integrated with the LifeWatch Infrastructure by involving it in the construction of the infrastructure itself and by encouraging it to actively take advantage of the tools it provides. To this end, the Mediterranean Thematic Centre will:
  • Inform the stakeholders (Scientific Societies, Federations, Associations, Research Councils and Data provider platforms interested in biodiversity and ecosystems) about the availability of biotic and abiotic diversity databases hosted by the LifeWatch infrastructure;
  • Test the availability of ontologies and reference standards for data providers, amending and adapting them, developing new ontologies when necessary and supplying services to external data providers;
  • Develop and maintain an Abiotic Database Catalogue containing most of the abiotic data resources available on the web. The catalogue will include analysis tools for the integration of biodiversity data with abiotic data;
  • Develop connections with the LTER-Italy network, whose sites will contribute to the provision and maintenance of long-term biodiversity and ecosystem data series.
Development of the Alien Species (AS) showcase – “Patterns of ecosystem fragility to alien and invasive species in Europe” – which uses biodiversity data on species occurrence provided by sites of the LTER-Italy network and LifeWatch partners to investigate the pattern of susceptibility of different EUNIS habitats to invasive ASs. The example of the showcase confirms the true value of the scientific innovations and achievements arising from the Thematic Centre’s activities, offering new knowledge and new ways to address biodiversity conservation and management (e.g. prioritising conservation measures for habitat and ecosystem fragility). The results will also be quantified bibliometrically
  1. The Alien Species Virtual Lab (AS_lab), developed in cooperation with the LifeWatch Service Centre and all the Thematic Centres to produce a virtual environment for the management and analysis of data. The virtual lab provides a shared resource available to researchers involved in the Alien Species showcase. The data collected within the Virtual Lab has enabled the creation of a database with more than 32,000 records of species occurrence from 334 sites, both aquatic (sea, lagoon and freshwater) and terrestrial (from coastal dunes up to mountain habitats), most of them belonging to the LTER-Italy network.
  2. The Virtual Lab has the potential to be further developed within the LTER-Italy network and the the National Biodiversity Network (NBN) into a larger species cadastre, including ecological traits.
  3. The Abiotic Data Catalogue, containing most of the abiotic data resources available on the web. The catalogue will include analysis tools for the integration of biodiversity data with abiotic data.

Giuseppe Corriero – Coordinator
Giorgio Matteucci – Coordinator
Alessandra Pugnetti – Researcher
Cataldo Pierri – Research Assistant

Contact Details
+39 0984 84 14 84