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New biodiversity research project launched in SA today

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The Greater Cape Floristic Region (GCFR) is home to a number of endangered and threatened species. The GCFR is one of the world's 36 biodiversity hotspots, which are regions with exceptionally high levels of biodiversity and a high proportion of endemic species. Image credit: Amy Harrison from Unsplash

New biodiversity research project launched in SA today

A new biodiversity research project called BioSCape will be launched in the Western Cape, South Africa today.

The project will link data collected from satellites and airplanes with field observations to better understand the biodiversity of the Greater Cape Floristic Region (GCFR) and nature’s contributions to people.

The GCFR is a region of southwestern South Africa that is home to a vast array of plant and animal life. The region is home to a number of endangered and threatened species. The GCFR is one of the world’s 36 biodiversity hotspots, which are regions with exceptionally high levels of biodiversity and a high proportion of endemic species. The associated marine ecosystems are similarly impressive, with four marine biomes and the 3rd highest marine endemism in the world.

The project, which was initiated in 2021, will run until 2024 with most of the data collection occurring from mid-October to mid-December 2023 to coincide with the aerial surveys conducted by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) aircraft and instrument teams.

The aircraft will take to the sky in Cape Town today. The airborne data will be accompanied by a vast range of biodiversity-related field observations from vegetation surveys, measures of plant and water spectral reflectance, phytoplankton samples, recordings of bird and frog calls and environmental DNA.

Insights into biodiversity (New biodiversity research project launched in SA today)

“BioSCape is a unique and exciting project that will help reveal new insights about the biodiversity of one of the most diverse regions on Earth and provide new tools for mapping and monitoring it,” says Dr Jasper Slingsby, the South African Lead Scientist and Lecturer at the University of Cape Town. “This information will be essential for supporting effective biodiversity conservation and management strategies for the region.”

“BioSCape will also benefit the world by improving our understanding of biodiversity and facilitate the development of new technologies to monitor and manage nature’s contributions to people, as well as help us to better understand the impacts of climate change on biodiversity,” adds Dr Slingsby.

“The National Research Foundation, through its South African Environmental Observation Network (NRF-SAEON) business unit, is proud to be a leading partner in BioSCape,” says Dr Mary-Jane Bopape, NRF-SAEON Managing Director.

“This cutting-edge project is a testament to the world-class biodiversity research that is being conducted in South Africa. We are committed to contributing to the collection of data and using the information generated by BioSCape to inform environmental management decisions in the region.

“An added benefit for us during the main collection period is that the NRF-SAEON Graduate Student Indibano will host some of the BioScape scientists as keynote speakers and workshop presenters, which will serve as a valuable platform for networking, knowledge exchange, and insights into cutting-edge research and tools.”

BioSCape is a collaborative project that brings together scientists from around the world to study the biodiversity of the Greater Cape Floristic Region. The project is committed to capacity building and education in South Africa, and it is expected to benefit the world by improving our understanding of biodiversity and developing new technologies for monitoring and managing nature’s contributions to people.

Collaboration between US and SA (New biodiversity research project launched in SA today)

BioSCape is a new biodiversity-focused collaborative research project that has launched in the Western Cape of South Africa. The project will link satellite and airborne data with field observations to better understand the biodiversity and nature’s contributions to people of the Greater Cape Floristic Region and associated marine and freshwater ecosystems.

BioSCape is a collaboration between the US and South Africa, funded by the United States government (NASA) and the South African government through the National Research Foundation (NRF) via the South African Environmental Observation Network (SAEON) and the joint NEOFrontiers funding instrument with the South African National Space Agency (SANSA). The project is led by scientists at the University of Cape Town, the University at Buffalo (NY, USA), the University of California Merced (CA, USA). More at www.bioscape.io/press

Promoting research through funding (New biodiversity research project launched in SA today)

The National Research Foundation (NRF) is an independent statutory body established in accordance with the National Research Foundation Act.

Its mandate is to support and promote research through funding, human resource development and the provision of the necessary research facilities in order to facilitate the creation of knowledge, innovation and development in all fields of science and technology, including indigenous knowledge; supporting and promoting public awareness of, and engagement with, science; and promoting the development and maintenance of the national science system and support of Government priorities, thereby contributing to the improvement of the quality of life of all South Africans.

Website: www.nrf.ac.za

New biodiversity research project launched in SA today

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New biodiversity research project launched in SA today

 

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