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Extending U.S. Biodiversity Collections to Address National Challenges

The U.S. national heritage of approximately one billion biodiversity specimens, once
digitized, can be linked to emerging digital data sources to form an information-rich network
for exploring earth’s biota across taxonomic, temporal and spatial scales. A workshop held
30 October - 1 November 2018 at Oak Spring Garden in Upperville, VA under the
leadership of the Biodiversity Collections Network (BCoN) developed a plan for
maximizing the value of our collections resource for research and education. In their
deliberations, participants drew heavily on recent literature as well as surveys, and
meetings and workshops held over the past year with the primary stakeholder community
of collections professionals, researchers, and educators.

We propose to focus future biodiversity infrastructure and digital resources on building a
network of extended specimen data that encompasses the depth and breadth of
biodiversity specimens and data held in U.S. collections institutions (BCoN 2019). The
extended specimen network (ESN) includes the physical voucher specimen curated and
housed in a collection and its associated genetic, phenotypic and environmental data.