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An expert from the University of Navarra highlights the rich biodiversity of the Autonomous Community of Navarre

Professor Arturo Ariño leads the scientific team of the international platform GBIF (Global Biodiversity Information Infrastructure).

28/11/11 14:28
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Arturo Ariño PHOTO: Manuel Castells

Arturo Ariño, expert in Biodiversity at the University of Navarra, assures that the region "is a land rich in biodiversity in comparison with the European average , mainly due to the extension and variety of its natural spaces and its status as a crossroads, which is becoming better known thanks to the patient work of numerous researchers".

Specifically, the Pyrenees is an environment of which there are still relatively few data on this topic which, moreover, are concentrated in some emblematic groups such as plants, birds or mammals, studied mainly from the 60s. This was one of the conclusions exposed by Arturo Ariño on the occasion of the I International congress Contamination and Pyrenees, which brought together 50 Spanish and French experts in the academic center.

This specialist, professor and researcher of the department of Zoology and Ecology, has just been elected vice-president of the scientific committee of the Global Biodiversity Information Infrastructure (GBIF), an organization that brings together 57 countries and 47 organizations with the goal to facilitate universal access to all the information on the different species of living beingsthat exist.

Elected member of the scientific committee in 2006, he now leads this team together with three other researchers from USA, Canada and Benin. His task is to lead the area digitization and data analysis for use by all academic community, administrations, etc., who need this information for research, management, conservation and environmental policy.

We know only 10% of the species

goal The first aim of the international GBIF network is to connect all the information scattered in different institutions, museums, conservation centers or universities around the world to a large database. In this way, it is clear that knowledge on the diversity of the planet, which, according to this specialist, is still limited:"According to the data we have so far, about two million species have been catalogued, representing 10% of the estimated total. Also, less than 4% corresponds to vertebrates, a very well studied group (more than half of the primary data ) which, however, is a minority on Earth in terms of variety".

development GBIF, initially promoted by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), is one of the 'Megascience projects' involving thousands of scientists, including, for example, the project Human Genome, the laboratory European Particle Facility (CERN) and the Earth Observation System (EOS).

In addition to the partnership of Professor Arturo Ariño in the scientific committee of the organization, the department of Zoology and Ecology of the University of Navarra frequently publishes research on biodiversity. In addition, it is digitizing its collection of more than 200,000 specimens, contributing nearly 80,000 records, mainly from its small mammal collection and the Natural Sciences Collection, to the GBIF's worldwide database .