Case Study: Antares Network, South America

The Antares Network of South America is an ideal case of a network that had very modest beginnings, and is now growing into a significant global effort in capacity building in marine and coastal marine ecosystems.

It began with a training course in Chile. The University of Concepción, Chile, organizes Austral Summer Institutes every year designed to provide high-level training to Chilean students and scientists in various aspects of marine sciences. In 2001, one such training program in primary production and remote sensing was organized with additional modest financial support from the International Ocean-Colour Coordinating Group (IOCCG) and the Partnership for Observation of the Global Oceans (POGO), which allowed participants from Latin American and other neighboring countries to make use of the training opportunity in Chile.

The trainees in the course were mostly young, dynamic, and keen to make good use of the knowledge gained during the course. But their resources at home were modest, and there was pessimism about what could be gained by solitary efforts in their hometowns. The course instructors recommended that they form a network, join forces, and share resources and ideas.

That was achieved under the leadership of Vivian Lutz, from Argentina. In two workshops in Argentina and in Venezuela (with modest support from IOCCG and POGO), the members deliberated on the next steps. At the Argentina meeting, members prepared a proposal, which was submitted successfully to the Inter-American Institute for Global Change Research, for a small grant to support the establishment of a Web site to serve the network; this resulted in a tri-lingual website.

Members of the network share data at time-series stations around South America. The network has common elements, but its loose-knit structure allows the members to add elements to local nodes that best suit their needs in spanning such diverse topics as harmful algal blooms, aquaculture and fisheries, and global change.

Membership in the network is increasing, and colleagues inform one another of training and funding opportunities and share discoveries and results. The network has fostered participation of members in each other’s cruises with free sharing of data. The coordination efforts and successes of the modest Antares Network has drawn international attention, and it has been held up as a model by important international bodies and organizations, such as the Global Ocean Observing System and the Group on Earth Observations. A global network of people with similar interests, called ChloroGIN, has now been formed.