The DiSSCo consortium in


The Estonian members of DiSSCo represent all major natural history collections of the country hosted at the University of Tartu (lead partner), Estonian University of Natural Sciences, Tallinn University of Technology, and the Estonian Museum of Natural History. The national collections and databases are organized into four major categories – zoology, mycology, botany and geology as follows:

  • The main three zoological collections are in the Estonian University of Life Sciences (IZBE), in the Estonian Museum of Natural History (TAMZ) and in the Natural History Museum of the University of Tartu (TUZ).
  • The fungal collections are maintained in the Natural History Museum of the University of Tartu (TUM), in the Estonian University of Life Sciences (TAAM, EAA) ands in the Tallinn Botanic Garden (TALL).
  • The plant collections are in the herbarium of the Natural History Museum of the University of Tartu (TU), the herbarium of the Institute of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences of the Estonian University of Life Sciences (TAA), the herbarium of the Tallinn Botanic Garden (TALL) and the herbarium of the Estonian Museum of Natural History (TAM).
  • The databases of the zoological, mycological and botanical collections are managed in the platform PlutoF ( More than 3 million taxon occurrences (including ca 2 million specimens) are managed and published through digital services provided by PlutoF. Estonian taxon occurrences are published in the eBiodiversity portal ( ) which is based on Atlas of Living Australia software and all open data are published in GBIF portal.
  • Estonian main geoscience collections are held by Tallinn University of Technology (GIT), the University of Tartu (TUG) and the Estonian Museum of Natural History (TAMG). Data are managed in common national geoscience data platform SARV, which as of 2019 holds more than 360000 records of individual fossil and rock specimens and samples, and over 100000 digital images and other files. These data are accessible via the national portal of geoscience collections, portal of fossil taxa, public API and other interfaces, as well as international data networks (GeoCASe, GBIF, et al).

Information systems and applications based on botanical, geological, microbiological, mycological and zoological collections are interrelated both through metadata, location, ecology, DNA sequence and other data. The data management and published datasets are fully machine-readable and quotable in accordance with the principles of FAIR data. Based on the collections and information system PlutoF, a data management system developed under The Estonian Research Infrastructure Roadmap “Natural history archives and information network (NATARC)” and providing top-level e-services based on collections, interdisciplinary research and natural education applications can be established and the state of threatened species and ecosystems can be assessed.To be the competence center for developing pan-European data management and analysis services. Participation in the DiSSCo network, together with Europe’s leading research and development institutions, Estonia offers the competitive advantage and competence to develop global IT solutions.

participating institutions

Urmas Kõljalg

Director of the Natural History Museum and Botanical Garden
University of Tartu

Estonian Museum of Natural History

The Estonian Museum of Natural History is an autonomous museum that is governed by Ministry of the Environment. The foundation of the the museum was laid by naturalists of the XIX century. Nowadays, the Estonian Museum of Natural History has grown to a museum with about 50 000 annual visitors. The museum’s collections include botanical, geological and zoological collections (we have approximately over 300 000 specimens). About 98% of our collections is digitalized and all the data can be found in two databases – PlutoF and SARV. Our curators contribute to different researches leaded by several universities and scientists in Estonia. The museum houses numerous events every month and welcomes hundreds of school children every week.

Estonian University of Life Sciences

The Estonian University of Life Sciences is the only university in Estonia whose priorities in academic and research activities provide the sustainable development of natural resources necessary for the existence of Man as well as the preservation of heritage and habitat. According to QS World University Rankings by Subject (2017), the Estonian University of Life Sciences is one of top 100 universities in the world in the field of agriculture and forestry, ranked 51 to 100.
The department on Nature Collections unites collections which serve as a basis in teaching agronomy, forestry and veterinary medicine and classic nature colletions. The latter group came under university governance as a result of restructuring process from former Institute of Zoology and Botany. There are four major collections which have served as a basis for compiling number of scientific monographs mainly for Estonia but also for other regions: entomological collections (IZBE), fungal collection (TAAM), herbarium of vascular plants and mosses (TAA) and hydrobiological collection (EMHC).

University of Tartu

University of Tartu is Estonia’s leading centre of research and training and belongs to the top 1.2% of world’s best universities. As Estonia’s national university, UT stresses the importance of international co-operation and partnerships with reputable research universities all over the world. The robust research potential of the university is evidenced by the fact that the University of Tartu has been invited to join the Coimbra Group, a prestigious club of renowned research universities. University of Tartu Natural History Museum, one of the autonomous institution of the University of Tartu, affiliates zoological, geological, botanical and mycological collections. We collect and preserve specimens of plant, fungus and animal kingdom, also minerals, rocks and fossils, develop public online databases based on research and Citizen Science. Distributed infrastructure services develop by University of Tartu Natural History Museum, consisting of digital (data management platform PlutoF and data portal eElurikkus) and physical (scientific) collections and laboratories provide excellent research opportunities for bio-sciences and geo-sciences both in Estonia and globally.

Tallinn University of Technology

Tallinn University of Technology (TalTech) is the main institution in teaching and research in the fields of engineering and technology in Estonia, but also having a strong sciences division (School of Science). The latter includes the Department of Geology, which was historically part of the Estonian Academy of Sciences and the leading geological research institution in the country since the 1940s. The Department of Geology at TalTech holds the largest geological collections in Estonia, with the main focus on the Early Paleozoic fossils and rocks of the Baltic region as well as the former Soviet Union. The total number of collection holdings exceeds 0.4 million pieces suchs as fossils, minerals, rocks, drill cores, photo archives etc. The Division of Scientific Collections at the Department of Geology is leading the national geological collection development, including the development of common geoscience data management platform SARV. The collection-based data are freely accessible via user interfaces, such as the Estonian Geocollections Portal. The physical collections are also heavily used by researchers from the Department of Geology as well as from other institutions in Estonia and abroad.

Participating institutions in



National Funding

A roadmap, released by The Ministry of Education and Research of Estonia, is a long-term (with the perspective of 10–20 years) planning tool in Estonia that contains a list of Research Infrastructures (RIs) of national importance for their strategic importance for the sustainable development of the country. Among these key RIs, DiSSCo stands as the infrastructure that allows Estonia to become one of Europe’s competence and innovation centres for developing data management and analysis services for biodiversity and other natural history data.

The central element in this is the PlutoF data management platform that offers collection-based high-quality e-services developed within the framework of NATARC. Participation in the work of the DiSSCo network enables Estonia to offer the competitive advantage and competence acquired in implementing NATARC to develop global IT solutions. One of Estonia’s main goals is to make PlutoF part of the European Open Science Cloud, which would increase the visibility and availability of the Estonian digital infrastructure for open data in Europe and worldwide.

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.