The Data Portal aims at making available information and data relevant for the ECOlogical observing system in the Adriatic Sea, in short ECOAdS, with the goal of supporting and informing the conservation of the Natura 2000 Network in the Adriatic Sea. Various information, data, observing systems, web platforms and portals already exist dealing with elements of relevance for marine conservation purposes and Natura 2000 sites. The ECOAdS Data Portal is not meant to substitute these resources, but instead it builds upon them and capitalizes all relevant experiences.
The establishment of Marine Ecological Observatories (MEOs), able to arrange and maintain integrated, harmonized and coherent long-term ecological observations, is stressed as a relevant step at the European level, for sustaining European marine policies and for addressing societal needs.
The ecological observatory “ECOAdS” is a first operative pilot proposal of MEO at the Adriatic Sea scale, under development in the framework of the Interreg Italy-Croatia project ECOSS. The main aim of ECOAdS is the integration of different typologies and scales of observations, linking ecological and oceanographic research and monitoring with Natura 2000 (N2K) conservation strategies, for improving the conservation status of the habitat types and species of the marine N2K sites. Different spatial and temporal scales are actually at the foundation of the ecological connectivity (EC) concept, crucial for the development of effective conservation tools. EC is defined as “the degree to which landscapes and seascapes allow species to move freely and ecological processes to function unimpeded”: actually, during their life-cycle, most animals and plants are largely dependent on more than one habitat and need to freely move from land to sea and vice versa, as well as in the entire marine environment to accomplish their vital functions (e.g. feeding and breeding), in synergy with all the natural ecological processes. Effective biodiversity protection should therefore be able to preserve ecological connectivity, thus including different scales and adopting innovative and dynamic area–based management tools, till the creation of mobile and adaptive marine protected areas.