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The DiSSCo consortium in


In Germany, around 120 public institutions preserve a unique heritage of an estimated 150 million natural history specimens from all over the world. However, this unique research infrastructure is not yet sufficiently digitally accessible. A recent survey of the state of digitisation in the seven largest natural history collections in Germany has shown that currently only 10% of the objects are digitally represented.

participating institutions


Bavarian Natural History Collections (SNSB)

The Bavarian Natural History Collections (Staatliche Naturwissenschaftliche Sammlungen Bayerns, SNSB) are a research institution for natural history in Bavaria. They encompass five State Collections (zoology, botany, paleontology and geology, mineralogy, anthropology and paleoanatomy), the Botanical Garden Munich-Nymphenburg and eight museums with public exhibitions in Munich, Bamberg, Bayreuth, Eichstätt and Nördlingen. Our research focuses mainly on the past and present bio- and geodiversity and the evolution of animals and plants. To achieve this, we have large scientific collections (almost 35,000,000 specimens). Collections and museums also play an instrumental role in public and academic education. The SNSB employ more than 250 people, thereof more than 30 permanent and around 30 third-party funded scientists.

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The Botanic Garden and Botanical Museum Berlin (BGBM)

The Botanic Garden and Botanical Museum Berlin (BGBM) builds upon a history of three centuries and constitutes a Central Facility of Freie Universität Berlin. BGBM holds the largest botanical collections in Germany (plants, fungi and algae) including ca. 20.000 species of living plants, the herbarium (ca. 4 Mio specimens), the Dahlem Seed Bank and the DNA-bank. Research aims at documenting and understanding biodiversity and evolution emphasizing integrated taxonomy, networking collection and research data (biodiversity informatics) and providing a scientific base to conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity. BGBM is a major hub for disseminating information on plant diversity (ca. 40 online sources).

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Center of Natural History (CeNak)

The Center of Natural History (CeNak) at Universität Hamburg was founded in 2014. It encompasses biodiversity and evolution research and houses significant scientific collections at three locations: The Zoological, the Mineralogical, and the Geological-Paleontological Museums with over 10 million specimens. The CeNak is based on the museum of natural history, the Naturhistorisches Museum Hamburg, which was one of the largest Natural History Museums in Germany. The magnificent building was destroyed in the Second World War, although a large part of the valuable collections could be saved. CeNak would like to replace the one destroyed in the Second World War by an “Evolutioneum”. A modern, integrated research center will consolidate research, collections and exhibitions and educate the public on new findings about life on Earth.

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Museum für Naturkunde Berlin – Leibniz Institute for Evolution and Biodiversity Science (MfN)

The collection of the Museum für Naturkunde Berlin, Leibniz – Institute for Evolution and Biodiversity Science, comprises 30 million objects from zoology, palaeontology, geology and mineralogy. The collection is the core infrastructure of the integrated research museum. As a reference collection for various actual global research activities and questions, the collection is used permanently on an international level with a high degree of interest (600-700 visiting researchers and approx. 2,200 research and lending requests per year). The digital transformation of the collection will further increase its potential for future use and actively promote answers to major societal questions such as biodiversity loss, the availability of resources and climate change. By combining different disciplines and tasks, the collection is also explored as cultural heritage and facilitates dialogue with society.

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Senckenberg Gesellschaft für Naturforschung (SGN)

The Senckenberg Gesellschaft für Naturforschung (, with its headquarter in Frankfurt am Main, was founded in 1817 and conducts research in the bio- and geosciences. The focus is on biodiversity and evolution research, ecosystem research and the study of the earth-human system. Senckenberg maintains extensive scientific collections and operates three natural history museums.
With about 300 scientists among a total of about 750 empleyees working at 11 locations, Senckenberg is one of the largest institutes of the Leibniz Association. The scientific collections of the Senckenberg Institutes hold about 40 million so-called series from the fields of zoology, botany, geology and paleontology.

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Zoological Research Museum Alexander Koenig – Leibniz Institute for Animal Biodiversity (ZFMK)

The Zoological Research Museum Alexander Koenig (ZFMK) – Leibniz Institute for Animal Biodiversity – is one of the major natural history research museums in Germany and has earned international reputation in the documentation, research, and interpretation of animal biodiversity.

Research is traditionally based on the extensive scientific collections with about 5.8 Million objects including voucher specimens and biobank material. A classical domain of ZFMK is taxonomy with a special focus on systematics and evolutionary research.

More recently, the ZFMK has extended its scope to molecular biodiversity research and biodiversity monitoring. In view of the global biodiversity crisis, the ZFMK has dedicated its work to the application of taxonomic knowledge to better understand biodiversity change and is leading developments of innovative technologies for automated genomic and biodiversity assessments.

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Staatliches Museum für Naturkunde Stuttgart (SMNS)

The collections of the SMNS are based on the Kunst- and Naturalienkabinett of the dukes of Württemberg which became an independent institution in 1791 already. Since the early 19th century, the collections serve as a basis for research and exhibitions and get extended purposefully. Today, our collections contain about 12 million objects/series from botany, zoology, paleontology, mineralogy and geology and are of international importance. With our research, we engage in the big challenges of our time: a drastic biodiversity crisis under rapid global warming.

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Participating institutions in


The German DiSSCo partner institutions cooperate closely through existing national networks. There is currently no formal agreement on a German NTF node.

Everything on one screen

Collection Dashboard

The dashboard you can see below contains data on the collections of natural science institutions across Europe. Page one shows the approximate number of collections per category for all of the 89 institutes who participated in an initial DiSSCo survey and page two the national contributions to the European collection. The selection boxes allow filtering for country and institutions. The data in this dashboard is populated with information as sent by the DiSSCo partners through an initial survey in November 2017 and should therefore be considered as preliminary Following that survey, we went through a rigorous process of identifying obvious errors and contacting individuals to correct those. Nevertheless it will probably still contain some errors and information might be outdated. Please contact Niels Raes if you detect any issues so the data can be updated.

If you would like to see a full screen version of the dashboard, please click here.