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Scientists build a virtual laboratory for modelling biodiversity patterns


Scientists at the University of Reading are leading a consortium (universities of Reading, Cardiff and Southampton, and the Natural History Museum) that is developing a "virtual laboratory" to help researchers around the world make sense of the mass of diverse, incomplete and often incompatible databases available on different species, according to an article published in the July edition of BBSRC business.

One species covered by the scientists is the yellow-flowered Spanish Broom which is now well established by roadsides in the UK, but it has also travelled to Latin America and South Africa. The “virtual laboratory” will help scientists around the world better understand whether this present distribution represents the natural spread of the species to fill its bioclimatic envelope, or if it is simply the work of Spanish or British colonialists transferring a favourite plant. Researchers will also be able to investigate how distributions of species will be affected by the predicted climate change scenarios.

BiodiversityWorld is one of BBSRC’’s Government-funded e-Science GRID pilot projects - it will use the GRID to provide a distributed computing environment able to collate data from around the world and to use an array of biodiversity modelling and analytical tools. As a virtual laboratory it will also provide a collaborative environment in which research groups and resource providers can work together.

Dr Neil Caithness | alfa
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