Accelerating the discovery of biocollections data


Biocollections institutions therefore face a challenging dilemma: how to prioritize and fund the digitization of massive amounts of data associated with billions of voucher specimens of animals, plants, fungi and other organisms that document the planet’s biodiversity and undergird natural and human ecosystems.

To examine this issue, and as part of a broader global strategy for mobilizing primary biodiversity data, GBIF convened this task force to help accelerate the discovery, digitization and access to biocollections data. 

The task force’s main objectives were to:

  1. Document best practices from ongoing content mobilization initiatives for small, large, and different kinds of collections
  2. Document successful business models for mobilizing resources for digitization
  3. Consult with ongoing capacity-building and content-mobilization initiatives
  4. Provide guidance in the development of training and outreach materials to help institutions and interested stakeholders to implement a metadata approach for content mobilization
  5. Provide guidance on establishing priorities for digitizing biocollections in order to serve institutional, national and global needs and achieve the greatest economies of scale
  6. Make recommendations for achieving long-term sustainability of mobilizing and providing access to biocollections data.


Leonard Krishtalka
Eduardo Dalcin
Shari Ellis
Jean Cossi Ganglo
Tsuyoshi Hosoya
Masanori Nakae
Ian Owens
Deborah Paul
Marc Pignal
Barbara Thiers


This report is licensed under Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 Supported License.


Krishtalka L, Dalcin E,  Ellis S, Ganglo JC, Hosoya T, Nakae M, Owens I, Paul D, Pignal M & Thiers B (2016) Accelerating the discovery of biocollections data. Copenhagen: GBIF Secretariat. Available online at: