Events such as the COVID-19 pandemic have highlighted the crucial role played by biodiversity collections in enabling rapid responses to crises and in facilitating ongoing research across numerous fields. Despite the recognized value of this infrastructure, the community nevertheless has further opportunities to maximize its value to the scientific enterprise. A new Viewpoint article in BioScience discusses the necessary steps for the biodiversity collections community to position itself as an important catalyst of research.
The article, authored by members of the Biodiversity Collections Network (BCoN) Advisory Council and representatives from the National Academies of Science, Engineering, and Medicine (NASEM) panel on biological collections, draws on recommendations from BCoN’s Extended Specimen Network (ESN) report and the 2020 NASEM report, arguing that an implementation plan for the ESN is the logical next step for the community. BCoN was an NSF-funded project led by AIBS in partnership with the NSC Alliance and the Society for the Preservation of Natural History Collections.
The Viewpoint outlines five pillars derived from the NASEM and BCoN reports: collecting new samples, continued digitization, data integration, education and workforce training, and infrastructure and sustainability. With these themes in mind, the authors argue that biodiversity collections data stakeholders can now begin the work of creating a set of action items, a timeline, metrics for measuring success, and an oversight mechanism for the implementation of the ESN by 2030.