At present, an estimated 80% of all species on Earth still await discovery. At the same time, we are losing biodiversity at an alarming rate. There is an urgent need to make sense of patterns and processes in biodiversity – while dealing with the unknown in an efficient way. Through LifePlan, we aim to establish the current state of biodiversity across the globe, and to use our insights for generating accurate predictions of its future state under future scenarios. In LifePlan, we thus characterize biological diversity through a worldwide sampling program, and develop the bioinformatic and statistical approaches needed to make the most out of these data. Together, we will generate the most ambitious, globally distributed and systematically collected data set to date on a broad range of taxonomical groups. Importantly, we will employ modern sampling methods that do not require taxonomical expertise from those collecting the data, and that will result in data that are directly comparable among different locations.
With more than 120 participants, data on the biodiversity of wild animals, birds, amphibians, flying insects as well as fungi and bacteria in soil and air are recorded. The direct comparison of biodiversity in natural and urban areas also plays a role. Throughout the year, recordings are made with wildlife cameras and audio recorders, insects are caught with the help of a malaise trap, fungal spores are collected from the air and soil and root samples are regularly examined for their fungal and bacterial communities.