Requirements and guiding questions to set priorities

Attendees at GBIC2 identified the broad goals for an alliance for biodiversity knowledge but also acknowledged the need for some more tightly defined priorities. The proposal from the workshop was to develop a set of “defining questions” which can serve as a benchmark for progress towards the broader goals. The intention was to work with stakeholders dependent on access to biodiversity knowledge to capture a range of important questions or use cases that cannot readily be addressed by today’s biodiversity data infrastructures but which could be answered if relevant data sources and knowledge systems communicated more effectively. At the same time, we should develop a set of requirements or use cases that reflect the challenges that data providers and knowledge holders face today in contributing their data or expertise as part of a global knowledge resource. The aim should be to develop a set of perhaps 15-25 clearly-defined needs reflecting priorities both of contributors and of users, as far as possible with quantitative aspects or measures of precision against which progress can be assessed.

The following examples were offered during GBIC2. These are not intended as part of the defining questions for the alliance, but simply to indicate the types of questions or use cases that may be relevant:

  • Capability goals, e.g. A knowledgeable taxonomist should be able to gain access directly to correct mistakes in handling of scientific names
  • Exemplar research questions, e.g. Is there a latitudinal signal in insect wing-lengths, and is it consistent across insect orders?
  • Policy/societal questions, e.g. Given existing land use and expected effects of climate change in the next 25 years, which of two possible configurations of protected areas and arable use areas is expected best to maximise survival of wild species currently found in the area? At what scales can this question be addressed in different regions?
  • Questions to assess coverage and completeness, e.g. Do existing data allow comparison across at least two time periods of the area of occupancy on a 5kmx5km grid for at least 75% of reptile species recorded from a region, at greater than 95% confidence?

Ideally, the chosen defining questions should be based on the needs of a range of stakeholders that are not directly responsible for operating the infrastructures that can contribute to answers. It would therefore be beneficial to identify a set of suitable bodies from which to seek proposals for suitable questions. International and intergovernmental bodies such as the CBD, FAO, CMS, IPBES, IUCN, GEO, ICZN, IAPT, CETAF and BGCI should be consulted to ensure that the focus of the alliance is towards delivering tools and services that deliver wide benefits. At the same time, it is important to include representative views from stakeholders with other scales of interest, including support for the needs of local communities.

This thread is to discuss the development of a set of defining questions for an alliance for biodiversity knowledge. In particular:

  • What bodies should be consulted to contribute perspectives to these defining questions?
  • What topics should be covered?

Feel free also to suggest possible defining questions, ideally with measurable criteria for progress. Comments in questions other than English are welcome.


Thanks for asking for other possible questions Kyle, here are two:

I’m involved in a big effort to build an open knowledge network for spatial decision support (OKN-SDS), with several thematic emphases including biodiversity conservation (OKN-SDS-BIO).

Some of the questions I am very interested in, and that seem to align well with the alliance for biodiversity knowledge (and your policy/societal example above)

  1. What are the top 10-30 questions like the above societal question (i.e. that have a biodiversity conservation element and a spatial component) that the alliance for biodiversity knowledge would want answered by the Open KN-SDS-BIO prototype?

  2. What are some existing biodiversity conservation ontologies and/or knowledge graphs that can help with building both ABK and OKN-SDS-BIO? (a close but not quite example is the Open Standards for the Practice of Conservation)


Reviewing these pages again, I note the above link doesn’t resolve. I did find these:

This topic is highly relevant to the continuing conversation of the Alliance-for-Bio about Partnerships for Collaboration needed to build a worldwide biodiversity data commons to support the needs outlined in this thread. At the upcoming TDWG2021, this will be one of the threads of our discussion.

Hi Debbie,

Yes, that is right, specifically:

and the associated .pdf:

And, regarding the Open Knowledge Network I mentioned, here is where that phase of the work landed: We did not get the highly competitive Phase 2 award, but a core group of us are still meeting regularly moving the idea forward and looking for funding opportunities.

Thanks for your interest,


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Hi @earthdoc
Do any of your core group participate in TDWG? and / or perhaps RDA? It’s possible our groups might help / or know of initiatives that could help or are synergystic.

It would be great to hear about your needs in our upcoming TDWG2021 Conference! See FUNDING Support for Registration to Attend #TDWG2021 - Hurry! Details Inside for details.