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After more than seven years, the German Federation for Biological Data research data management project comes to an end – and celebrates the continuation of its work

Oct 21, 2021
Joint hybrid annual conference of GFBio and NFDI4Biodiversity.
Joint hybrid annual conference of GFBio and NFDI4Biodiversity.

Data on biological and ecological issues are collected in a wide variety of ways and from a wide variety of perspectives. Over the years, this has resulted in a diverse data landscape in which the availability, description and retrievability of data is often not guaranteed. The German Federation for Biological Data (GFBio), funded by the German Research Foundation (DFG), has dedicated the past 7.5 years to opening up this heterogeneous data landscape and mobilizing the existing data, as well as creating an awareness among researchers of the importance of research data management - and now celebrates the success that the results and services created form a basis for the consortium of the National Research Data Infrastructure for Biodiversity (NFDI4Biodiversity). Both projects are coordinated at MARUM.

The German Federation for Biological Data (GFBio) comprises around 20 partner institutions from the scientific community. Since 2013, it has been funded by the German Research Foundation (DFG) over three project phases with a total of around 12 million euros. The project partners, consisting of data centers, data management and IT specialists, were driven by the mission to make biological and environmental data permanently discoverable. Far too often, the participants had observed in the course of their scientific careers, collected research data from the fields of biology and ecology elude long-term use - because they are not collected and stored in a way that makes them accessible, reusable or interoperable with other data.

"GFBio has established a consortial infrastructure in Germany that ensures the long-term archiving and publication of biodiversity-relevant data. In addition, we have set the course to be able to reuse archived data more efficiently in the future," says Dr. Michael Diepenbroek, who looks back on the project as a long-time manager of the PANGAEA data center and GFBio project coordinator. One result of the collaboration is the data portal www.gfbio.org, which makes data from ten affiliated data centers accessible. It provides a central point of contact and support for services relating to standardization, publication, analysis and the management of biological and ecological research data, which are now being maintained and further developed in NFDI4Biodiversity.

Successes that were duly celebrated at the conclusion of the project: In September, members gathered for the final meeting. Together, the heads of the work areas in the project took stock, discussed challenges, stumbling blocks and achievements. At the same time, they looked to the future: A non-profit association had already been founded in 2016 to be able to ensure the continuation of the developed data management services. Now GFBio e.V. is the coordinating project partner of the large-scale project NFDI4Biodiversity, which started in October 2020 and builds on and expands the foundations of GFBio. Around 50 institutions from all over Germany are working together on this project, including GFBio project partners and other research institutions, as well as state offices and associations, natural history societies and civil society initiatives. Their goal is to make biodiversity, ecology and environmental data from the entire community sustainably available. Their drive: to enable better contributions to the conservation of global biodiversity – because actors in science, politics and nature conservation need a reliable data basis.

In addition to the continuity of services and data, there is also continuity in the coordination of the two large scale projects GFBio and NFDI4Biodiversity: both were and are scientifically managed at MARUM – Center for Marine Environmental Sciences at the University of Bremen. Dr. Michael Diepenbroek now passed the baton to the spokesperson of NFDI4Biodiversity, Prof. Dr. Frank Oliver Glöckner, who acknowledged the successes of GFBio as the cornerstone of NFDI4Biodiversity: "Without the valuable work of GFBio, NFDI4Biodiversity would not have been possible. GFBio pioneered the cultural change in research data management of biological data."


Dr. Judith Weber
GFBio Projekt manager
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Telephone: +49 421 218 65581

Prof. Dr. Frank Oliver Glöckner
Spokesperson NFDI4Biodiverstiy and GFBio e.V. Chair 
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Staffelübergabe von GFBio zu NFDI4Biodiversity auf der gemeinsamen Jahreskonferenz von GFBio und NFDI4Biodiversity: Dr. Michael Diepenbroek (links) und Prof. Dr. Frank Oliver Glöckner.
Passing the baton from GFBio to NFDI4Biodiversity at the joint annual conference of GFBio and NFDI4Biodiversity in Leipzig: Dr. Michael Diepenbroek (left) and Prof. Dr. Frank Oliver Glöckner.

More information: 

GFBio Since 2013, the German Federation for Biological Data (GFBio), funded in three phases by the DFG, has been working to mobilize and standardize data relating to biodiversity research, and to make it discoverable and reusable. The round about 20 partners developed a common infrastructure and a common understanding of the challenges surrounding the management of biological research data. The externally visible results of this collaboration are the central services that can be used via the portal (https://www.gfbio.org): advice on data management and information via a GFBio Knowledge Base; the possibility of submitting research data, which are curated, archived and interlinked by specialists; a data portal that enables searching of the more than 15.5 million data sets from the affiliated data centers, as well as tools for visualization and semantic enrichment. Internally, work processes were standardized, common standards and formats agreed upon, and technical interfaces created to enable accessibility, harmonization, and (semantic) enrichment of the data. Additionally, the Visualization, Analysis & Transformation Tool, which was developed within GFBio, has now been spun off under the name Geoengine. 

GFBio e.V. The GFBio e.V. was founded in 2016 to enable sustainable provision of the infrastructure and services developed in GFBio. With now 19 institutional and 18 personal members, the association takes responsibility for the operation and further development of the services developed in the project and is a partner in NFDI4Biodiversity. 

NFDI4Biodiversity NFDI4Biodiversity is a consortium within the National Research Data Infrastructure NFDI, which was jointly launched by the federal and state governments. The consortium has been funded since October 2020 as one of the first nine NFDI consortia with a total of €13.6 million for five years. The consortium bundles the scientific and technical competencies of the partner institutions in order to provide users from research and practice with a broad service portfolio for dealing with biodiversity and environmental data and to develop it further together with them.


Project partner in the GFBio consortium.
Project partner in the GFBio consortium.