Raquel Gaião Silva is a graduate student in Biodiversity and Marine Conservation at the University of Algarve, and one of the two winners of the GBIF Young Investigators Award (2018). She is the first Portuguese to win this prize. The student has just completed her thesis for EMBC+ and her research uses species records from the GBIF.org network and other sources, to examine issues related to rising ocean temperatures and the distribution of macroalgae along the Atlantic Ocean coast, in Spain and Portugal.
The occurrences available in GBIF comprise about half of the data for Raquel’s study, the remainder coming from other online data sources such as the Ocean Biogeographic Information System - OBIS, MACOI collection of macroalgae, Portuguese herbarium collections of Porto, Aveiro, Lisbon, Faro and from the Marine Forests project, an open access citizen science platform that promotes collective and international monitoring of algae.
Raquel was the Portuguese nominee for this prize, after the selection performed at the national level by the Scientific Council for Natural and Environmental Sciences of the Fundação para a Ciência e a Tecnologia (FCT), which verifies the quality and eligibility of national applications.
In addition to Raquel, this year's award was also given to Kate Ingenloff, who is a PhD candidate from the University of Kansas's Biodiversity Institute, in the United States. Kate intends to combine occurrence records from GBIF with environmental and behavioral data, with specific time scales, in order to improve the biological and predictive accuracy of models for migratory and other highly mobile species. Both winners were selected by GBIF’s scientific committee from a pool of 14 candidates nominated by heads of delegation, from 11 GBIF participating countries.
The results from the investigations produced by Raquel and Kate could benefit researchers, decision makers and coastal residents, both within and outside study areas. In addition, it is essential to highlight the importance of these studies for biodiversity conservation and for the promotion on the use and for the mobilization of open access data from scientific collections worldwide. Read more here or see Raquel's video explaining her work.