Distributed System

of Scientific Collections

Providing hard evidence of

our planet’s natural diversity

DiSSCo

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 towards digitally unifying 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 goals

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 and  underpin countless discoveries and innovations, policy reports and public education. However, to 

address today’s pressing issues like climate change, data from one individual museum, institution or private collection is insufficient. For these large-scale research questions, the current mosaic of scattered related institutional data resources including those spawned by recent technologies (genomics, 3D imaging, GPS, etc.) needs to be integrated into a cohesive whole that mirrors the complexity and wholeness of nature itself so that it may be properly understood in its rightful context.

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Digitally unify European natural science assets under FAIR

DiSSCo will digitally unify European natural science assets under common curation and access, while ensuring data is easily Findable, Accessible, Interoperable and Reusable (FAIR).

Permanently link a digital specimen to its related attributes

DiSSCo will permanently link a digital specimen back to its related attributes in distributed resources (GBIF, GenBank, MorphoBank, GeoCASE, TraitBank, PLAZI, BHL, etc.), ensuring robust science whose assertions can always be validated or reproduced.

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A one-stop e-science shop of services

DiSSCo will be a one-stop e-science shop for providing discovery, (physical) access, interpretation, analysis of complex linked data, digitization on demand, and support and training services.

Reduce the global carbon footprint with digital access

Digital access will reduce the global carbon footprint (by 25,000 annual international trips and 800,000 global shipments of specimens), improve efficiency, make science more responsive to urgent needs, and accelerate biodiversity discovery.

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Optimize collection curation and management

Institutions will be able to better monitor the use and impact of their collections and its data, enabling specialisation and prioritisation strategies that harmonize common research agendas.

With digital access, collection managers and curators will benefit from digital scientific curation and annotation using external scientific expertise.

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.

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. 

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.

ENVRI-FAIR

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

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.

SYNTHESYS+

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.

Logo MOBILISE

MOBILISE

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.

Our European

Consortium partners

DiSSCo represents the largest ever formal agreement between natural history museums, botanic gardens and collection-holding universities in the world, and forms an extensive European network of 120 institutions.

Stay up to date!

The latest news

The CETAF-DiSSCo COVID-19 Taskforce Reports

The CETAF-DiSSCo COVID-19 Taskforce Reports

After three months of intensive collaboration, the CETAF-DiSSCo Covid-19 Task Force presented preliminary results of the work of more than 60 international dedicated scientists and bioinformatics professionals on 17 jul 2020.

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TDWG 2020 – A Virtual Conference

TDWG 2020 – A Virtual Conference

TDWG 2020 will be a virtual conference divided into working sessions (Sep 21-25) followed by a second week dedicated to dissemination and sharing (Oct 19-23).

read more

DiSSCo

By the numbers

specimens

participating institutions

full-time scientists

countries