Environmental, climatic and anthropogenic modifications constantly impact worldwide ecosystems resulting in global scale biological responses across all ecological levels (individual, population, species and community). As a consequence living organisms can adapt their niche breadth either via genetic evolution and phenotypic plasticity or through distributional shifts, which may alter the communities, lead to novel host–vector species pairings and to the emergence of infectious disease. To detect and investigate these responses on wildlife, animals often require long-term monitoring studies or (possibly) retrospective spatio-temporal longitudinal studies across environmental gradients. Small mammals are an elusive group of animals particularly important for their ecological and epidemiological role, and for their capability to track environmental and climatic changes through functional and numerical responses. In this context, data sharing and reuse can play a crucial role to address unforeseen questions on global changes across a broad range of habitats and species. In 2019 within the collaborative network “EUROMAMMALS´’ (https://euromammals.org), we have initiated a new branch specifically dedicated to small mammals named EUROSMALLMAMMALS. Our aim is to promote collaborative open science and networking among scientists involved in small mammal ecology across Europe, for connecting different species-specific bottom-up projects. From 2019, we contacted 20 European researchers involved in small mammal projects and 4 had requested to join the network later. In order to promote data sharing of reliable, standardized and harmonized data, partners were encouraged to fill a specific questionnaire in which they can provide the metadata of their projects. These metadata served as reference to translate small mammal data collection protocols into a relational database built under open-software platforms (PostgreSQL, PostGIS, Django, OpenLayers, Bootstrap, jQuery). Data included all the aspects covered during a small mammal study: study area characteristics, type of experimental designs, local environmental and climatic data, descriptors of capture events, data derived from laboratory and epidemiological analyses. Further, the partners shared their raw data which passed through quality check and harmonization process and then included in the database. At December 2021, 15 partners belonging to 9 countries across Europe (Spain and Andorra, France, Germany, Italy, Norway, Poland, Czech Republic, Albania) joined the network. The data, spanning from 1990 to 2019, included 48 small mammal species (e.g. voles, mice, glirids, lemmings and shrews), 70562 captures, 113 study areas and 7 pathogens (e.g. hantavirus, Leptospira spp., Borrelia spp., Babesia spp., TBEv, Anaplasma phagocytophilum and Hepatozoon spp.). Generally, the animals were captured applying live or snap-trapping methods. Moreover, some small mammal data derived from owl pellets analyses are included. We created a EUROSMALLMAMMALS website (https://eurosmallmammals.org) which includes project aim, scientific purposes and outputs, and a mailing list dedicated to the partners (eurosmallmammals@googlegroups.com) to improve communication. EUROSMALLMAMMALS collaborative network is constantly expanding throughout European countries, involving partners that cover different fields of interest, e.g. population demography and dynamics, epidemiology, conservation genetics, community composition, prey-predator dynamics and landscape ecology. By scaling up the knowledge from the individual to the ecosystem and by sharing data and expertise on small mammals’ populations, this initiative could give the opportunity to fill some important knowledge gaps and provide novel perspectives to evaluate the effect of global changes on species distribution, ecosystems functioning and epidemiological aspects.

Ferrari, G.; Delucchi, L.; Tagliapietra, V.; Urbano, F.; Devineau, O.; Cagnacci, F. (2022). EUROSMALLMAMMALS: a network for collaborative science in small mammal ecology. HYSTRIX, 33 (suppl.): 76. handle: http://hdl.handle.net/10449/75799

EUROSMALLMAMMALS: a network for collaborative science in small mammal ecology

Ferrari, G.;Delucchi, L.;Tagliapietra, V.;Cagnacci, F.
Supervision
2022

Abstract

Environmental, climatic and anthropogenic modifications constantly impact worldwide ecosystems resulting in global scale biological responses across all ecological levels (individual, population, species and community). As a consequence living organisms can adapt their niche breadth either via genetic evolution and phenotypic plasticity or through distributional shifts, which may alter the communities, lead to novel host–vector species pairings and to the emergence of infectious disease. To detect and investigate these responses on wildlife, animals often require long-term monitoring studies or (possibly) retrospective spatio-temporal longitudinal studies across environmental gradients. Small mammals are an elusive group of animals particularly important for their ecological and epidemiological role, and for their capability to track environmental and climatic changes through functional and numerical responses. In this context, data sharing and reuse can play a crucial role to address unforeseen questions on global changes across a broad range of habitats and species. In 2019 within the collaborative network “EUROMAMMALS´’ (https://euromammals.org), we have initiated a new branch specifically dedicated to small mammals named EUROSMALLMAMMALS. Our aim is to promote collaborative open science and networking among scientists involved in small mammal ecology across Europe, for connecting different species-specific bottom-up projects. From 2019, we contacted 20 European researchers involved in small mammal projects and 4 had requested to join the network later. In order to promote data sharing of reliable, standardized and harmonized data, partners were encouraged to fill a specific questionnaire in which they can provide the metadata of their projects. These metadata served as reference to translate small mammal data collection protocols into a relational database built under open-software platforms (PostgreSQL, PostGIS, Django, OpenLayers, Bootstrap, jQuery). Data included all the aspects covered during a small mammal study: study area characteristics, type of experimental designs, local environmental and climatic data, descriptors of capture events, data derived from laboratory and epidemiological analyses. Further, the partners shared their raw data which passed through quality check and harmonization process and then included in the database. At December 2021, 15 partners belonging to 9 countries across Europe (Spain and Andorra, France, Germany, Italy, Norway, Poland, Czech Republic, Albania) joined the network. The data, spanning from 1990 to 2019, included 48 small mammal species (e.g. voles, mice, glirids, lemmings and shrews), 70562 captures, 113 study areas and 7 pathogens (e.g. hantavirus, Leptospira spp., Borrelia spp., Babesia spp., TBEv, Anaplasma phagocytophilum and Hepatozoon spp.). Generally, the animals were captured applying live or snap-trapping methods. Moreover, some small mammal data derived from owl pellets analyses are included. We created a EUROSMALLMAMMALS website (https://eurosmallmammals.org) which includes project aim, scientific purposes and outputs, and a mailing list dedicated to the partners (eurosmallmammals@googlegroups.com) to improve communication. EUROSMALLMAMMALS collaborative network is constantly expanding throughout European countries, involving partners that cover different fields of interest, e.g. population demography and dynamics, epidemiology, conservation genetics, community composition, prey-predator dynamics and landscape ecology. By scaling up the knowledge from the individual to the ecosystem and by sharing data and expertise on small mammals’ populations, this initiative could give the opportunity to fill some important knowledge gaps and provide novel perspectives to evaluate the effect of global changes on species distribution, ecosystems functioning and epidemiological aspects.
Settore BIO/07 - ECOLOGIA
Ferrari, G.; Delucchi, L.; Tagliapietra, V.; Urbano, F.; Devineau, O.; Cagnacci, F. (2022). EUROSMALLMAMMALS: a network for collaborative science in small mammal ecology. HYSTRIX, 33 (suppl.): 76. handle: http://hdl.handle.net/10449/75799
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