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Keywords:

  • transitional waters;
  • biodiversity;
  • information system;
  • data management;
  • quality control;
  • taxonomic distinctness index

Abstract

1. Transitional waters are ecosystems of special importance for a number of reasons and require effective management. In Greece, biodiversity and environmental data that help to manage these ecosystems do exist, although they are scattered and not easily accessible. An overarching, publicly accessible system combining all kinds of information has not been available until now.

2. The ElNet system was developed to serve these requirements. The system is a functional application consisting of a comprehensive database and an online interface with an interactive map, and search capabilities for biological and environmental data on Greek transitional waters. Nine datasets have already been integrated and are available online. Data and their metadata are documented and checked for quality to allow comparisons and reduce bias in resulting analyses.

3. The data assembled cover a broad geographical and temporal range, allowing large-scale analyses of transitional waters. These in turn produce new scientific knowledge and provide a sound basis of information for scientists, environmental managers and policy-makers.

4. Examination of the data revealed an overall insufficient quality control practice during data acquisition and digitization. A good data management and archive system can significantly improve the quality of data. To encourage scientists to submit their data to a data management centre, a clear data policy document regulating rights and duties could form an incentive for data sharing.

5. Results from a case study carried out on the macrobenthic inventories of the lagoonal systems included in the system demonstrate the potential use of this simple type of information by environmental managers and scientists.

6. The system, still in its initial phase, will be improved by integrating new datasets and developing tools for data retrieval and analyses. The database will be linked to other biodiversity databases to participate in a distributed information network and disseminate the information through other global biodiversity portals. Copyright © 2008 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.