A new Viewpoint article in BioScience, authored by members of the BCoN Advisory Council and representatives from the Academies’ panel on biological collections, discusses the necessary steps for the biodiversity collections community to position itself as an important catalyst of research.
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.
The authors draw on recommendations from BCoN’s Extended Specimen Network (ESN) report and the National Academies of Science, Engineering, and Medicine (NASEM) report on biological collections, arguing that an implementation plan for the ESN is the logical next step for the community. The article 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.”