DEVOTES: Exploring High-Edge Tools for Marine Biodiversity Assessment
After four years of collaboration with more than 250 researchers from the European Union, the DEVOTES or Development of Innovative Tools for Understanding Marine Biodiversity and Assessing Good Environmental Status Project has officially ended, producing several useful tools for environmental assessments.
Utilizing a budget of £12 million, the project has developed, collected, refined, and tested tools that can provide an overview of the status of site-specific environments in the European region. Led by researchers from AZTI (Spain) as coordinated by Dr. Angel Borja who is specializing in biology, the team has designed models that incorporated factors in analyzing the complexities of the systems' functions, linking the potential effects and implications to human welfare and resource management as featured in a press release.
Within the four-year project, a free software called DEVOtool was initially launched, utilizing more than 600 indicators which were identified under the Marine Strategy Framework Derivative (MSFD) being implemented in the European Union. This tool was used in the marine biodiversity and marine ecosystem assessments. This includes a wide range of activities involved also in ecosystem processes such as biodiversity and food-web alterations, introdution of non native species, sea floor integrity, commercial fishes and more. Anthropogenic or human activities were also considered in the model specifically for those that have direct and high impact on oceans and seas, as complemented by socio-economic factors than may trigger various social aspects.
Together with the incorporation of the social and physical component of the environment, the research team has also included designs and proposed new innovative assessment approaches to monitor environmental conditions. These are the use of metabarcoding applicable to different microbe species, including planktons and the use of biosensors as an early means of detecting water pollution.
By the end of this project, the DEVOTES Project has also launched the NEAT or Nested Environmental Status Assessment Tool which is also a free software that focuses on marine ecosystems' health status. The project has also helped in aiding the analysis of data from the produced 165 published scientific papers, provided training to 15 PhD students, provided 21 post-graduate courses and four summer schools, and contributed around 400 articles on international conferences.