Biodiversity Information Science and Standards : Conference Abstract
Conference Abstract
Describing Living Collections and Specimens
expand article infoPatricia Mergen‡,§, Maarten Trekels§, Frederik Leliaert§, Matt Woodburn|, Gabriele Droege, Elspeth Margaret Haston#, Robert W. N. Cubey#, Eva Häffner¤
‡ Royal Museum for Central Africa, Tervuren, Belgium
§ Meise Botanic Garden, Meise, Belgium
| Natural History Museum, London, United Kingdom
¶ Botanic Garden and Botanical Museum Berlin, Berlin, Germany
# Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh, Edinburgh, United Kingdom
¤ Freie Universität Berlin, Berlin, Germany
Open Access


Many institutions harbor living collections in the form of living plants, animals, microrganisms or seeds. In the framework of the TDWG collections and specimen descriptions standards, it has become important to align exisiting standards for living collections and specimens or to identify where concepts or controlled vocabularies would be needed in the current TDWG standards. In September 2021 a workshop was organized in the framework of the COST Action Mobilise ( to get a better common understanding of the different types of living collections to consider and set the scene for further work on standards alignments. The EU COST Action CA17106 on “Mobilising Data, Experts and Policies in Scientific Collections”.

Invited experts to these workshop were representatives of the TDWG Collection Description Group, the GGBN and TDWG molecular collections group, living plants collections and seed banks (Botanic Gardens Conservation International: BGCI,, living animal and biobanks (European Association of Zoos and Aquaria: EAZA, and the culture collections (World Federation for Culture Collections: WFCC,, who gave presentations on their currently used standards and challenges.

The second day was devoted to break out sessions to brainstorm the specific needs for the different living collections with the aim to check and update the controlled vocabularies and concepts as needed.

Identified topics were :

  • Session 1: Voucher specimens of living accessions.
  • Session 2: Living collections and GBIF.
  • Session 3: How do we compare botanical gardens with herbaria?
  • Session 4: How do we compare zoos and aquaria with natural history collections?
  • Session 5: Culture collections: best practices and guidelines.

The goal of this presentation is to address the outcome of these sessions and recommend future steps in collaboration with TDWG and the different identified stakeholders.


living collections, living specimens, standards, controlled vocabularies

Presenting author

Patricia Mergen

Presented at

TDWG 2021

Funding program

European Cooperation in Science and Technology (COST)

Grant title

CA17106 - Mobilising Data, Policies and Experts in Scientific Collections (

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