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The SCAR Antarctic Biodiversity Portal (biodiversity.aq) is an international effort that seeks to increase our knowledge and understanding of Antarctic and Southern Ocean biodiversity.
It is a community of researchers, data custodians and developers from around the world that supports the mobilisation publication, retrieval and analysis of Antarctic and Southern Ocean biodiversity data in a free and open manner in line with the Antarctic treaty and the FAIR data Principles (Finable, Accessible, Interoperable, Reusable). We aim to create an information ecosystem of various data bases, data systems, web services tools etc that can be used by anyone with an interest in Antarctic and Southern Ocean biodiversity.
Biodiversity.aq is an international initiative of the Scientific Committee on Antarctic Research (SCAR). It finds it roots in the Census of Antarctic Marine Life and started in 2005. The central facilities are hosted by the Royal Belgian Institute for Natural sciences (RBINS, www.naturalsciences.be) and the Belgian Biodiversity Platform (BBPf, www.biodiversity.be).
The SCAR Antarctic Biodiversity Portal is the regional thematic node of the Ocean Biodiversity Information System (OBIS, www.obis.org), the Global Biodiversity Information Facility (GBIF, www.gbif.org) and works closely together with the Southern Ocean Observation System (SOOS, www.soos.aq).
The origins of biodiversity.aq can be traced back to Census of Antarctic Marine Life (2005-2010) and the International Polar Year (2007-2008), and more precisely the SCAR-MarBIN (the Marine Biodiversity Information Network of SCAR, the Scientific committee on Antarctic Research) project. Claude De Broyer (Royal Belgian Institute of Natural Sciences) noted that, although the Southern Ocean is extremely rich in biodiversity and numerous studies have already been conducted on it, this mass of scientific and technical information was very widely dispersed, fragmented and often not easily accessible.
In order to make this wealth of information more accessible SCAR-MarBIN was initiated in 2005 at the Royal Belgian Institute of Natural Sciences (RBINS) and was implemented by the Belgian Biodiversity Platform (BBPF). SCAR-MarBIN received support from the Belgian Science Policy (BELSPO) and the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation (SLOAN) through the Census of Marine Life (CoML) and the Scientific Committee on Antarctic Research (SCAR).
The initial focus was to provide a single and easy access to relevant marine biodiversity information from the Southern Ocean and to maximize the exploitation of these resources. SCAR-MarBIN not only aggregated data but as the thematic regional node for the Southern Ocean for the Ocean Biodiversity Information System (OBIS) ensured that these data are discover ably through OBIS.
In 2010 we started expanding the scope of SCAR-MArBIN to also include information terrestrial biodiversity leading to the establishment of the SCAR Antarctic biodiversity Portal.
Just like SCAR-MArBIN, biodiversity.aq not only aggregates data but it also feeds this information into global biodiversity initiatives such as the Ocean Biodiversity Information system (OBIS), which offers access to marine species datasets from around the world, and the Global Biodiversity Information Facility (GBIF). The new data platform (data.biodiversity.aq) aggregates Antarctic biodiversity data from various providers, such as the German PANGAEA and the Australian Antarctic Data Centre and offers a data hosting and publishing service to nations or research institutes that lack such facilities. As such all publicly available biodiversity data can be searched and retrieved through this data platform.