TREC on Twitter: a life-in-context journey through the social media lens

EMBL's latest expedition set sail to study coastal ecosystems and their response to the environment, from molecules to ecosystems. Here's a glance at the TREC journey so far, as told by the teams on the ground.

Collage of five photos depicting activities during the TREC expedition: sampling, collecting data and microscope analysis.
TREC scientists, outreach specialists, and a crucial support team have been on the road, exploring life at European coasts. Credit: Thomas Haize, Vincenzo Lullo, Joanna Zukowska, Creative Team/EMBL

Exploring coastal life from molecules to ecosystems and measuring human impact at the pan-European scale can help us find solutions to many pressing global problems. TREC – Traversing European Coastlines – is the first Europe-wide scientific expedition that aims to analyse life at land-sea transects from 120 coastal sites across the continent and across a range of biological scales.

Since the scientific expedition kicked off in March, a crew of scientists, outreach specialists, and a vital support team have been on the road, surveying the coasts of France, Belgium, The Netherlands, Germany, and Denmark, and engaging with the local scientific community and citizens. They’ve also been sharing their work and life on the road through social media. Here is an inside look at five main aspects of the mission, as captured in tweets by the expedition team.

Fostering collaboration

TREC combines collaborators’ varied scientific expertise with that from many partner institutions along the way, as the tweets below demonstrate. For a total of one and a half years, the expedition will move along European coasts to explore the land-sea interface, while collaborating with more than 70 institutions.

High-tech tools in the field

TREC brings cutting-edge scientific technologies into the field. This is possible thanks to new EMBL mobile laboratories and services, which give on-site support to the expedition by providing state-of-the-art technology for sample processing and metadata acquisition.

Sampling across European coasts

After several years of planning, preparation, and discussions, TREC expedition members started collecting the first samples in March this year.

Making connections and sharing science

The TREC stops also include different activities for the local public. They can join engaging programmes and activities, ranging from conferences and scientific workshops to games and exhibitions. Everybody is invited to experience how molecular biology can help find innovative solutions to protect the health of our planet.

The exploration continues

The TREC expedition set sail with its first samplings in Roscoff, France, in the spring of 2023, and is set to conclude its voyage in Malta by mid-2024, nearly 18 months on the road – and at sea. At this time, the expedition carries forward to the shores of the next European country: Germany.

EMBL’s new planetary biology flagship project’s scope is to reach a new and deeper understanding of coastal ecosystems and their responses to changing environments, from molecules to ecosystems. With this collective effort, TREC is currently documenting, examining, and probing coastal ecosystems at the molecular level, on land and by sea, in real time across Europe.

Through this highly collaborative expedition, it will be possible to enhance our understanding of ecosystem responses to both natural and human-induced challenges. By doing so, TREC will provide new knowledge and insights, enabling us to better anticipate the potential consequences of environmental changes and impacts.

The TREC team continues to capture their journey through the social media lens, allowing each and every one of us to take a small step into their shoes, one tweet at a time. 

Stay tuned and follow @EMBLtrec on Twitter to keep up with the TREC expedition!

Tags: expedition, outreach, planetary biology, Roscoff, tara, TREC


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