Distributed System of Scientific Collections

Providing hard evidence of our planet’s natural diversity


A world-class research infrastructure

The Distributed System of Scientific Collections is a new world-class Research Infrastructure (RI) for natural science collections. The DiSSCo RI works for the digital unification of all European natural science assets under common curation, access, policies and practices, and aims to ensure that the data is easily Findable, Accessible, Interoperable and Reusable (FAIR). As such, DiSSCo will transform a fragmented landscape of crucial natural science collections into an integrated knowledge base that provides interconnected hard evidence of the natural world.

DiSSCo represents the largest ever formal agreement between natural history museums, botanic gardens and collection-holding universities in the world. 

Our objectives

What do we want to achieve?

Europe is a global leader in collections-based research and hosts 80% of the world’s known bio- and geodiversity represented in 1.5 billion specimens. Natural science collection (NSC) specimens are a unique and vital resource forming the foundational basis of bio- and geodiversity research that has historically been used to address fundamental questions in science, not to mention the urgent Anthropocene challenge, and is used to underpin countless discoveries and innovations, scholarly publications, official reports and public education.

  • DiSSCo will digitally unify European natural science assets under common curation and access, while ensuring data is easily Findable, Accessible, Interoperable and Reusable (FAIR).
  • DiSSCo will transform a fragmented landscape of natural science collections into a unified robust, quality ensured knowledge base of unprecedented scale for bio- and geodiversity.
  • DiSSCo will permanently link a digital specimen back to its related attributes in distributed resources ensuring robust science whose assertions can always be validated or reproduced.
  • DiSSCo will be a one-stop e-science shop for providing discovery, (physical) access, interpretation, and analysis of complex linked data.
  • Digital access will reduce the global carbon footprint, improve efficiency, make science more responsive to urgent needs, and accelerate biodiversity discovery.

Our collaborations

The projects of DiSSCo

Building a research infrastructure is an enormous and complex undertaking. For this reason, DiSSCo partners with other organizations who have created their own opportunities for projects that address specific parts of the research infrastructure. This carousel identifies all projects that directly support the development and objectives of DiSSCo. 


The SYNTHESYS programme might be best known for the access it provides to natural science collections since 15 years. But it does so much more than that! Networking Actions and Joint Research Activities are equally part of SYNTHESYS. In its latest iteration SYNTHESYS+ it also provides virtual access to digital collections – a big step towards DiSSCo.


Bringing together Environmental and Earth System Research Infrastructures to look for synergies is the ultimate goal of projects for the cluster of these RIs, the latest being ENVRI-FAIR. It started in January 2019 and will connect the cluster to the European Open Science Cloud.


ICEDIG – Innovation and consolidation for large scale digitisation of natural heritage – is the first official step towards DiSSCo. It refines certain elements of the DiSSCo research infrastructure. It addresses the technical, financial, policy and governance aspects necessary to operate such a large distributed initiative for natural sciences collections across Europe.



To build and extend the network that supports DiSSCo is the task of the MOBILISE COST Action. The far reaching networking and training project will strengthen knowledge exchange and capacity building. The best part: It is open to join for all institutions in COST countries involved in research for biodiversity and geodiversity informatics.

DiSSCo Prepare Logo

DiSSCo Prepare

How to build a Research Infrastructure? To find out is the objective of the latest addition to the portfolio of DiSSCo-linked projects, DiSSCo Prepare. It will improved DiSSCo’s readiness to deliver its services, e.g. in terms of adapting to user needs, serving high-quality and trustworthy data, and implement the technical infrastructure.

That’s what counts

DiSSCo by the Numbers


participating institutions

full-time scientists


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The latest news

DiSSCo’s first all-hands meeting: how it went

DiSSCo’s first all-hands meeting: how it went

8 February 2021   DiSSCo’s first all-hands meeting (AHM1) took place last 18-22 January. The event was a great opportunity for all of us to really look closely into DiSSCo: the scope of the project, its different dimensions, all the activities, the expectations... It...

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DiSSCo presents its PID consultation results

DiSSCo presents its PID consultation results

19 January 2021   Less than a week ago, we had the pleasure of welcoming more than 65 experts from all over the world to DiSSCo’s Digital Specimens PID Seminar. During the online event, DiSSCo’s technical team presented the outcomes of the Consultation on Digital...

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