The DiSSCo consortium in
The history of floristic and faunistic research of the area of Slovaki is rather long. The oldest herbarium collection in Slovakia is the herbarium of the Camaldulian monk Cyprian, whose civil name was Frantz lgnatz Jaschke, who in 1756-1774 resided in the Red Monastery (Červený Kláštor) in the Pieniny Mts. on the former Hungarian-Polish border on its Hungarian side (today part of Slovakia). However, with the exception of several local museums and one small national museum, there was no institution organizing regular taxonomic research in this country until the middle of the last century. The floristic and faunistic study of Slovakia was performed especially by local amateurs and secondary school teachers, and professionals from the Budapest, Vienna and Prague Universities and Museums of Natural History, where large collections of specimens from Slovakia are now deposited.
The history of the biodiversity collections of the present Slovak National Museum in Bratislava dates back to 1893, when the Slovak Museological Society was established in the town of Martin and started to build up collections for the Slovak National Museum. In 1961 the natural history collections of the Slovak National Museum were moved from Martin to Bratislava and, together with those of Bratislava’s Slovak Museum (originally established in 1924 as the Slovak Museum of National History), they served as the basis of collections for the current Museum of Natural History of the Slovak National Museum. Zoological collections of the Museum contain about 1.7 million specimens and botanical ones more than 0.5 million specimens.
Other major biodiversity collections in Slovakia are deposited at the Universities in Bratislava, Košice, Nitra and Zvolen, at the Plant Science and Biodiversity Centre of the Slovak Academy of Sciences, as well as in numerous small regional museum collections.
Last census of the herbarium collections in Slovakia was done in 2001.
At that time there were 723 000 specimens deposited in museum collections, 423 000 specimens in other institutions (Universities, Academy of Sciences) and more than 20 000 specimens in private collections.
Plant Science and Biodiversity Centre, Institute of Botany, Slovak Academy of Sciences
The Plant Science and Biodiversity Centre of the Slovak Academy of Sciences is currently the leading Slovak institution dealing with the research in taxonomy, systematics and phylogeny of vascular and non-vascular plants and fungi. The history of the Centre and its collections is relatively short. It was established as the Laboratory of Geobotany and Systematics in 1953 and was renamed the Institute of Botany in 1963. In 2017 Institute of Botany, together with the Institute of Plant Genetics and Biotechnology formed Plant Science and Biodiversity Centre.
The Centre serves as the National Nodes of the Global Biodiversity Information Facility and Global Taxonomic Initiative. It leads the Slovak Consortium within the Consortium of European Taxonomic Facilities (CETAF) and also in the DiSSCo Prepare project. The Institute of Botany of the Centre actively participated in numerous EU Framework Programme Projects: EU BON – Building the European Biodiversity Observation Network; OpenUp! – Opening up the Natural History Heritage for Europeana; PESI – A Pan-European Species-directories Infrastructure; EDIT – Toward the European Institute of Taxonomy; ENSCONET – European Native Seed Conservation Network; ENBI – European Network for Biodiversity Information; INTRABIODIV – Tracking surrogates for infraspecific biodiversity: towards efficient selection strategies for the conservation of natural genetic resources using comparative mapping and modelling approaches; BioCASE – A biodiversity collection access service for Europe; and European initiative for the Euro+Med PlantBase.
Floristic and systematic research of the Slovak flora at the Institute of botany of the Plant Science and Biodiversity Centre and its collections of herbarium specimens were connected from the same beginning with Ján Futák (1914-1980), the first head of the Department of Systematic Botany of the Institute of Botany. The herbarium of the Institute was built on the basis of staff collections, however, serious contribution was made by the donations and bequeathals of herbaria and several purchases of old herbaria. At present the herbarium contains approximately 110 000 herbarium specimens of vascular plants, 15 000 specimens of lichens, 25 000 specimens of fungi, and more than 5 000 specimens of bryophytes.
The collections of the staff were focused on the floristic studies in various parts of Slovakia, and on the detailed taxonomic studies of the genera Alyssum, Biscutella, Cardamine, Galium, Ondontarrhena, Picris, Pulsatilla, and Senecio within Europe and partly also in other parts of the world, particularly in the Eastern Asia.
Among acquired historical herbaria the most important are those of Karol Mergl, Klement Ptačovský, and brothers Vojtěch and Fratišek Nábělek. Karol Mergl (1878-1953) was a teacher and librarian of the Society for Medicine and Natural Sciences in Bratislava. His private herbarium, especially from the second half of the 19th century and the beginning of the last century, contains mainly specimens from the vicinity of Bratislava, connected with the preparation of the unpublished Flora Posoniensis (1903), kept in the municipal archives in Bratislava. However, there are also many specimens from other parts of Central Europe collected by M. Jabornegg, A. Kerner, G. Moesz, J. Pantocsek, Resch, A. Scherfel, J. Ullepitsch and other mainly Austrian and Hungarian botanists in this herbarium. Klement Ptačovský (1886-1963) an amateur botanist, collected mainly in the vicinity of Bratislava and in the Záhorská nížina Lowlands. However, his herbarium also contains many specimens from abroad, especially from the Austrian Alps. Probably the most interesting and valuable collection in the herbarium SAV is that of František Nábělek (1884-1965). In 1909-1911 he visited the Near East – Turkey, Palestine and Iraq – and in the five parts of his work Iter Turcico-Persicum he described 4 new genera, 78 species, 69 varieties and 38 formas. Thanks to the bequeathal of Professor Alois Zlatník (1902-1979) the genus Hieracium, especially sect. Alpina and Prenanthoidea, is probably the best represented genus in the herbarium SA V. This collection includes all type specimens of the names of species described in his monograph Hieracia Alpina Sudetorum Occidentalium. Zlatník collected and studied plants of this genus for many years, but most of the results of his study remain unpublished and his specimens still await critical evaluation.
Pavol Jozef Šafárik University in Košice
The tradition of higher education in Košice (Slovakia) begins with the foundation of Academia Cassoviensis by Bishop Benedict Kisdy as early as in 1657. A Golden Bull issued by the Holy Roman Emperor Leopold I has granted this university similar privileges to those enjoyed by universities in Vienna, Prague and other European cities. The university in various forms, first as a Royal Academy and later as a Law Academy, lasted until 1921. The University in Košice in its modern form was established in 1959 as the second university in Slovakia. Its foundation was an important contribution to the development of the educational and research activities in the second largest Slovak city. The University is named after an outstanding personality of Slovak history, Pavol Jozef Šafárik (1795 – 1861), who was a scientist, poet, linguist, ethnographer, archaeologist, and educator. The current structure of P. J. Šafárik University includes five faculties – Faculty of Medicine, Faculty of Science, Faculty of Law, Faculty of Public Administration and Faculty of Arts. At our University more than 7500 students are studying.
The Faculty of Science is a remarkable institution of higher education and research, offering education in different branches of science (biology, chemistry, physics, mathematics, computer science, geography, and ecology), which may be studied either as single (one-subject) or joint (two-subject) degree programmes. Due to its fruitful results in research, mirrored in publications in renowned scientific journals and presented at important international conferences, and also due to the intensive international collaboration and participation in international projects, the faculty has become a recognized academic institution not only in Slovakia but also in Europe and other parts of the world. Among priority tasks of the faculty in science and research are the support of grant projects, the strengthening of the multidisciplinary and interdisciplinary research and further deepening of international collaboration, particularly by joining diverse existing networks of projects and programmes both in fundamental and applied research and by cooperating with industry.
The Botanical Garden in Košice (BG) was established on May 5, 1950 as the Botanical Institute of the University of Agricultural and Forest Engineering. Later it belonged to the Slovak Academy of Sciences and the Pedagogical Institute, until it became a part of Pavol Jozef Šafárik University in Košice (UPJŠ) in 1964. From its beginning it has played a role of a scientific and pedagogical institution. A lot of plants were planted in the originally almost bare area, greenhouses were built, which were open on October 14, 1958. At that time, they belonged among the largest ones in Central Europe. At present, Botanical Garden is a protected area with a total of 30 ha, greenhouses on an area of 3200 m2 and more than 4000 species, subspecies, and cultivars of plants. It is thus the largest botanical garden in Slovakia with the richest collection of cacti and cycads in Slovakia, as well as with various unique plant species from around the world. The main scope of the activities of the BG is the scientific research aimed at the concentrating and studying of the gene pool of endangered and common species.
Herbarium of the Botanical garden was established in 1884 as a part of Seed Station of the Royal Hungarian Seed Inspection Institute in Budapest and Košice. It gathered collections of wild plants from the vicinity of Košice and eastern Slovakia, including exsiccates of the collectors like Degen, Thaisz and later Deyl. In 1964, Botanical garden (established in 1950) with herbarium became a part of the Pavol Jozef Šafárik University in Košice. In September 2020 the herbarium included about 55,000 specimens, of which more than 35,600 were registered in local database and some of them (more than 9,000) are digitized. From the point of view of geographical provenance, the herbarium collection in Košice focuses on Central and Eastern Europe. These collections are further completed by the specimens from all over Europe, and by smaller number of specimens from the region of Southwest and Central Asia and Antarctica. Collections of lichens from Antarctica (collector M. Bačkor) and from the Alps (collector M. Marcinčinová) can be considered special collections, as well as the collections of higher plants – the exsicates of Alchemilla from the collector P. Frost-Olsen from Denmark, the Mediterranean collection of the collector M. Nydegger and the specimens from Scotland from P. Mártonfi. In the herbarium there are specimens from a total of about 400 collectors. From this point of view, the group of first five collectors with at least 1,000 specimens had consisted of V. Mikoláš (more than 14,000 specimens), then A. Vojtuň, M. Maloch, P. Mártonfi and J. Rigler.
Comenius University, Bratislava
Comenius University in Bratislava is a modern European university which in 2019 celebrated its 100th anniversary. With its thirteen faculties, it offers the widest selection of study programmes (over 800) at three levels, and several of these study programmes are the only ones of their kind offered in Slovakia. There is a wide range of areas of human knowledge to choose from when studying, be it in medicine, the humanities and social sciences, the natural sciences, mathematics, theology, and much more. Comenius University is a research institution that runs hundreds of domestic and international research projects. Every year Comenius University sends the highest number of students abroad out of all Slovak universities, and it receives the most international students, including from such countries as Germany, Norway, Greece, Iran, Austria, and Iceland.
The herbarium collection of the Department of Botany of the Comenius University in Bratislava (SLO), the second biggest herbarium in Slovakia, was founded at the same time as the Botanical Institute of the University, in 1940. It comprises at present 156 000 specimens of higher plants mainly from Slovakia, 12 000 bryophytes, 5 000 lichens, and 2 000 fungi from the same region. The most important historical collections are the herbaria of Izabela Textorisová (1866-1949) and Jozef Scheffer (1903-1949).
Izabela Textorisová is considered as the first Slovak lady botanist. Her herbarium in SLO consists of 3,707 sheets collected mainly by herself in the region of the Veľká Fatra Mts. and Malá Fatra Mts. A quarter of her herbarium was acquired by exchange with well-known botanists such as K. Brančík, J.L. Holuby, J. Hulják, S. Jávorka, A. Kmeť, S. Trapl, V. Vraný, and J. Wagner. The unpublished work of Textorisová, «Turčianska flóra» (Flora of the Turiec Region), now kept in the Slovak National Library.
Jozef Scheffer, who worked as physician in the town of Topoľčany, collected together with K.H. Rechinger from Vienna, rich material containing about 3 000 specimens mainly from Slovakia (Flora Posoniensis, Flora Comitatus Nitriensis, Flora Carpatorum Occidentalum), Moldavia, the Romanian Carpathians, Transylvania and localities near the Albanian border. His herbarium, originally bought by the University Botanical Garden, was incorporated into the collections of SLO in 1962. The best represented genus in his collection is Rubus to which he paid great attention.
Among phanerogamic collections worth mentioning is rich material collected in the Podunajská and Východoslovenská nížina Lowlands and voucher specimens of the Karyological survey of the Slovak flora, all collected by famous Slovak botanist Jozef Májovský and his pupils and successors.
The main part of the bryological collection has been gathered by Vojtech Peciar and his pupils. The herbarium contains voucher specimens of Studia bryof loristica Slovaca, a series published in Acta Facultatis, Rerum Naturalium Universitatis Comenianae, series Botanica.
Participating institutions in
DiSSCo is among the projects included in the National Roadmap of Research Infrastructures (SK VI Roadmap 2020 – 2030), which was approved by the Government of the Slovak Republic in April 2021. The funding of the project on the national level will be, however, subject of decisions made during the preparation of the Action Plan of the Implementation of the Roadmap of Research Infrastructures for 2021 – 2025.
The Czech botanist František Nábělek (1884−1965) explored the Middle East in 1909-1910, visiting what are now Israel, Palestine, Jordan, Syria, Lebanon, Iraq, Bahrain, Iran and Turkey. He described four new genera, 78 species, 69 varieties and 38 forms of vascular plants, most of these in his work Iter Turcico-Persicum (1923−1929). The main herbarium collection of Iter Turcico-Persicum comprises 4163 collection numbers (some with duplicates), altogether 6465 specimens. It is currently deposited in the herbarium SAV. In addition, some fragments and duplicates are found in B, E, W and WU. With the financial support of the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, the whole of Nábělek’s Iter Turcico-Persicum collection at SAV was recently digitized. The process of digitization was performed in compliance with the JSTOR Plant Science Handbook (http://about.jstor.org/content/jstor-plant-science-handbook-english). Both images and metadata are available via web portal www.nabelek.sav.sk, and through JSTOR Global Plants and the Biological Collection Access Service. Most localities were georeferenced and the web portal provides a mapping facility. Annotation of specimens is available via the AnnoSys facility. For each specimen a CETAF stable identifier is provided enabling the correct reference to the image and metadata.
More details in: Kempa, M., Edmondson, J., Lack, H.W., Smatanová, J. & Marhold, K., 2016: František Nábělek’s Iter Turcico-Persicum 1909–1910 – database and digitized herbarium collection. – PhytoKeys 75: 69–79. https://doi.org/10.3897/phytokeys.75.9780
Everything on one screen
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.