A new megaproject called ARISE will use leading-edge scientific infrastructure to assess all multicellular flora and fauna in the Netherlands in the next decade.
“ARISE will give a big boost to our understanding of food webs and ecosystems, as well as the status and trends of our biodiversity,” said Dr. Koos Biesmeijer, who is leading the ARISE research consortium in Netherlands. Biesmeijer is also head of Naturalis Biodiversity Center’s pollinator ecology research group and a professor at Leiden University.
The 18 million Euro consortium is led by the Naturalis Biodiversity Center, the University of Amsterdam, the University of Twente, and the Westerdijk Fungal Biodiversity Institute. It is one of seven projects funded by the Netherlands Research Council’s 93-million-euro National Roadmap for Largescale Scientific Infrastructure.
By employing rapidly evolving DNA-based methods and technologies, audio and visual recognition tools, and radar data, ARISE will assess biodiversity across the Netherlands’ 41,550 km2 landscape. It will have tremendous impact not only in the Netherlands, but will also contribute greatly to the global research program, BIOSCAN – a six-year project launched last June by the International Barcode of Life (iBOL) Consortium to track multicellular life in 2,000 sites across the planet.
“COVID-19 has provided us with a harsh reminder that we must become much better at managing biodiversity. As a result, the news that Naturalis and its partner organizations have secured this major award from the Dutch Roadmap program is thrilling,” said Prof. Paul Hebert, iBOL’s Scientific Director, and the Director of the Centre for Biodiversity Genomics where the DNA technologies and methods used in ARISE are being developed. “One thing is certain, it will allow the Netherlands to extend its distinguished history of contributions to biodiversity science. The new facilities will certainly also help to power BIOSCAN towards its goals so this is an exceptionally good day for the species that share our planet.”
“BIOSCAN – and Paul Hebert in particular – have been instrumental in developing the ARISE proposal, and we will work with BIOSCAN as closely as possible to try to develop this project into a stable part of the BIOSCAN landscape,” said Edwin van Huis, General Manager of Naturalis Biodiversity Center, and member of iBOL’s Board of Directors.
Funding for ARISE will support the development of an integrated research infrastructure and state-of-the-art facility that will provide Dutch researchers, nature conservation organizations, government bodies, and the business community with access to the most advanced near-real-time identification service for monitoring biodiversity and species detection. The proposed infrastructure also brings together many new insights in the fields of artificial intelligence and data science. “This wouldn’t have been feasible even ten years ago,” said Joost Kok, Dean at the Faculty of Electrical Engineering, Mathematics and Computer Science at the University of Twente.
The ARISE data will open up new opportunities for understanding ecosystem function, identifying trends, and informing biodiversity-based solutions for major societal challenges such as the circular economy, nature-inclusive cities, and the agricultural cycle.
“The loss of biodiversity is one of the chief threats to humanity’s survival. For this reason, we urgently need better instruments for species identification and for monitoring biodiversity. Because only if we know what is, we can make an effort to preserve it,” said van Huis.
International Barcode of Life Consortium
The International Barcode of Life (iBOL) Consortium is a research alliance with a mission to develop and apply a globally accessible, DNA-based system for the discovery and identification of all multicellular life. Our vision is to illuminate biodiversity for the benefit of our living planet.