What is EUROSMALLMAMMALS?

ABOUT THE SPECIES

EUROSMALLMAMMALS does not focus only on one species but it covers diverse taxonomic groups whose ensemble defines small mammals. The term small mammal included nominally animals with body mass < 5 kg, therefore for example marmot can be considered the largest small mammal. This group ensembles essentially rodents (from small mice and voles, lemmings and squirrels to bigger marmots), previous insectivores (i.e. moles, shrews, hedgehogs), and eventually small lagomorphs and bats.

Of the 5,416 mammalian species recognized, more than 90% weight less than 5 kg. They occupy widespread environments across the globe and are found in aquatic, subnivean and subterranean environments, in the air, as well as in trees and on the ground, from arid deserts up to higher mountains. Small mammals are considered good and informative model species to track ecological processes, because:

  1. they play a key role in ecosystem functioning (e.g. forest regeneration and vegetation composition, soil aeration, being preys and predators, competent host for parasite and reservoirs for pathogens)
  2. they experience climatic and environmental changes by rapid functional and numerical responses
  3. their small size and 'fast' life facilitate the achievement of reliable data on ecological processes

ABOUT THE PROJECT

The EUROSMALLMAMMALS is an open network of researchers who collaborate sharing data and knowledge to produce better science, based on a relational database that stores shared small mammal ecology data. This relational database, built upon open source software (PostgreSQL + PostGIS  and hosted at Fondazione Edmund Mach) can be connected to a large set of client applications (GIS, web interfaces, statistics) to help storing, managing, accessing and analysing harmonized data from several research groups throughout Europe.

GOALS

The ultimate goal of the EUROSMALLMAMMALS project is to:

  • investigate ecological aspects that require the collaboration and data sharing of multiple institutes and researchers
  • joining knowledge and information from different study areas and research projects open up many perspectives for scientists at both global and local scale
  • the final goal is to produce knowledge and in particular to support a science-driven sustainable management of environmental resources and conservation

In a nutshell:

EUROSMALLMAMMALS IS ABOUT COLLABORATIVE SCIENCE

Data sharing is only one of the elements. In fact, what is peculiar to EUROSMALLMAMMALS as compared to other data sharing projects is that the collection, quality control, standardization and sharing of data and of the e-infrastructure to manage and analyze them is not an objective per se, for example to make available raw data and tools to third parties, but  rather tasks needed to create a scientific network of scientists that collaborate to produce science.

The activities of the project that underpin the intense and motivating collaboration between researchers based on the shared data and tools can be summarized as follow:

  • Effectively store and archive small mammal capture data across Europe
  • Encourage collaborations to work on several aspects of animal ecology jointly
  • Inspire discussions to identify research gaps
  • Promote accessibility of large scale datasets to address research questions at multiple spatio-temporal scales, as approved by data owners
  • Promote education of young researchers, particularly on topics related to data management, small mammal ecology and collaborative science
  • Promote an open approach to science, which include both data sharing and use and development of open-source tools

EUROSMALLMAMMALS SPECIFITIES

What is specific to EUROSMALLMAMMALS is that the main goal is not to share data per se or to make them available to the general public but rather to create a scientific network to investigate biological aspects that can be disclosed only analyzing data coming from different study areas and with the support of field knowledge gained by researchers working with animals in different conditions.

As a direct consequence, data store in the database are specific to small mammals and are based on animal capture event. Additional information like trapping design, study area, population, laboratory etc. are not seen as metadata of capture data but as proper data sets with lots of information standardized among groups. Ultimately, the database and related tools for data management and analysis, are one of the tools needed for collaborative science but it is not the final output of the project.

THE ORIGIN OF EUROSMALLMAMMALS

The EUROSMALLMAMMALS project had origin when 2 groups (Research and Innovation Centre, Fondazione Edmund Mach, Italy and Inland Norway University of Applied Sciences, Norway) wished to compare small mammal community data across latitudes, while envisioning the advantages of data sharing on a common and efficient platform.

Therefore, inspired by the example and success of the EURODEER network, it was decided that a research network focused on small mammals should be founded. With the support of the EUROMAMMALS team, we have been able to put together the infrastructure for the network together.

If you are curious to check the list of current network partners, see here.

GET IN CONTACT WITH US!

EUROSMALLMAMMALS is a dynamic project and we are all very open to new interesting perspectives and ways to explore the ecology of small mammals. Any contribution and active participation to the project are very welcome! You are very welcome to contact us.