Natural Science Collections Alliance

Our members are part of an international community of museums, botanical gardens, herbariums, universities and other institutions that house natural science collections and utilize them in research, exhibitions, academic and informal science education, and outreach activities.

Invitation: Global Consultation on Converging Digital and Extended Specimens

Over the past year several exciting conversations about the possibilities of digital representations of the billions of specimens currently held in the world’s natural history collections. Two concepts the Digital Specimen proposed by the Distributed System of Scientific Collections (DiSSCo) in Europe and the Extended Specimen emerging from the Biological Collections Network (BCoN) in the United States are now aligning towards a shared vision that connects all information related to a specimen, creating in effect digital twins for the materials held in scientific collections.

Beginning in February, the consultation will seek to engage the wider community on a handful of topics that have technical, financial, social, governance and professional implications that require broader discussion and consensus. The consultation aims to expand participation in the process, build support for further collaboration, identify key use cases, and develop an initial roadmap for community adoption and implementation.

Topics of the consultation will include:

  • Digitizing/mobilizing FAIR data for specimens
  • Extending, enriching and integrating data 
  • Annotating specimens and related data 
  • Crediting and attributing tasks like data and material curation 
  • Analyzing/mining specimen data for novel applications

The alliance for biodiversity knowledge invites other parties to participate in this process, to review the draft consultation outline and to sign the Letter of Intent. More details about the virtual consultation will become available after the holiday. If you have ideas, want to ask questions, or would like to co-moderate a topic, please contact us at

Invitation: Global Consultation on Converging Digital and Extended Specimens
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