You are here: Home / Access

Access

Access

The first Call for Access is now closed. 

Our Second Call will be open in March-April 2020. You can follow us on Twitter, @SYNTHESYSEU, for updates and announcements. 

SYNTHESYS Project funding is available to provide scientists to undertake short visits to utilise a 'Taxonomic Access Facility' (TAF).  Collections, staff expertise and analytical facilities are available for Users, at any one of the 21 partner institutions for the purposes of their research.  See our TAF list below for more information, and to help you make your choice. 

Applications can be made from researchers from any country, but please check our FAQs to best understand the application process. 

What we offer

The 13 TAFs (Taxonomic Access Facilities) institutions represent an unparalleled resource for taxonomic research offering:

  • Collections amounting to over 390 million natural history specimens, including 4.1 million type specimens
  • Internationally renowned taxonomic and systematic skill base
  • Chemical analysis, molecular and imaging facilities

Next steps

Before applying, all applicants should:

  • Read information on the organisation and TAF an applicant would like to visit (below)
  • Read the TAF infrastructure list (link below)
  • Make contact with a prospective host at the organisation you would like to visit. Discussing your proposal with your host is an essential requirement of a successful project bid
  • Click here for information about the applications helpdesk, a service that provides application guidance from the Natural History Museum Management Team

AT-TAF is comprised of the Naturhistorische Museum Wien.

The Naturhistorische Museum Wien opened in 1889, and is now home to scientists who undertake research across earth sciences, life sciences, and human sciences. The Museum is one of the largest non-university research centres within Austria.

The collection comprises more than 30 million objects. The Museum’s earliest specimens and items were collected over 250 years ago, and was originally built to house the collection of the imperial Habsburg family.

The collection on public display spans 39 showrooms comprising of 8,700 square metres The Museum is home to an extensive collection of world-famous artefacts and items, including the Venus of Willendorf, and the world’s largest and oldest public collection of meteorites on display. It attracts c. 750,000 public visitors a year.

Infrastructure

The collections at NHMW are both historically and geographically significant. Historic material dating back to 1690 focuses on the geographic range of the Austro-Hungarian empire, as well as global material from imperial research missions. NHMW can offer material that is otherwise only available in CIS states. Extensive material from outside Austria comes from the Balkan Peninsula (especially Albania, Bulgaria & Greece), Crete, the Iranian area north to the Caucasus, Australia and New Zealand. Material from other geographic areas is globally important for single taxonomic groups, e.g. Brazil, Chile, South Africa, China and the Philippines.

In addition to a workforce of 60 scientists, approximately 200 citizen scientists also support research at NHMW.

Infrastructure services on offer

Scientific visitors to NHMW can access >30 million objects including  600,000 type specimens across all departments. More than 60 highly specialised research staff in the different departments are available to support visiting researchers. Available equipment includes electron microscopes, microprobes, X - Ray diffraction, photography studios, DNA labs, workstations for data-capture and sharing, and a chemosystematic Laboratory.

The libraries offer around 6,000 scientific journals and around 200,000 books, more than 50,000 of which are historically valuable. In 2016 researchers and amateurs from 35 countries spent approximately 5,000 visitor days in the research departments and libraries, and expressed appreciation for the highly qualified staff and support for their investigations. Under previous SYNTHESYS projects NHMW welcomed a total of 397 researchers to the collections for 4,127 user days. Supported areas of research include: physical anthropology, botany (incl. Algae, lichens and fungi), geology, mineralogy (incl. Petrology and meteorites), palaeontology, prehistory, zoology (incl. Vertebrates, invertebrates), archives and libraries.

Contact: Dr Karin Wiltschke, Karin.wiltschke@nhm-wien.ac.at

BE-TAF is comprised of three institutions: the Royal Belgian Institute of Natural Sciences (RBINS); the Royal Museum for Central Africa (RMCA), and Meise Botanic Gardens (MBG).

RBINS

The Royal Belgian Institute of Natural Sciences (RBINS) was founded in 1846, and houses c. 38 million specimens, including unique treasures such as: the Bernissart Iguanodons; the Spy Neanderthals;  the Dautzenberg shell collection,; and Baron De Selys Longchamps’ insect collections. The collection is divided into six main sub collections: entomology, recent invertebrates, recent vertebrates, anthropology, palaeontology, and geology.

RBINS  is  a  multidisciplinary institution with scientific staff  specialised in  biology,  palaeontology,  geology, oceanography, anthropology, prehistory, archaeobiology,  geography, physics, bio-engineering, and mathematics.

Infrastructure

The RBINS collection houses  exceptionally  rich  and  diverse  zoological,  palaeoanthropological, mineralogical  and  prehistoric  collections  amounting  to  38,000,000  specimens - this  includes  200,000 types  and illustrated specimens, including 100,000 primary types. This places RBINS in the world top 10 collections in terms of volume  of  specimens  stored  and  available  for  research. 

Collections at RBINS are continually  expanding, with 210,000 new specimens in 2016 and 180,000 in 2017. RBINS is databasing and imaging type and illustrated specimens and performing digitization on demand. Specimen data are reported on GBIF (2018: 595,000 records representing  2863611 of specimens). 

Infrastructure services on offer

RBINS  develops  tools  and  methods  for  monitoring  natural  land  and  marine  environments. It also supports the development of national and European policies for the protection and conservation of biotopes and biodiversity, and serves as Belgium’s National Focal Point to the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) and the Global Taxonomy Initiative (GTI).

RBINS has also been a content provider for the Biodiversity Heritage Library Project. In 2016,  RBINS  received  593  research  visitors  for  1361 visitor  days,  and  sent  386  loans  to  other  scientific institutions.

74  staff  members  are  dedicated  fully  to  the  collections covering groups  of  invertebrates  and  vertebrates worldwide  including  terrestrial, freshwater  and  marine  ecosystems  in  Europe  and  other  global  regions  (Africa, South  East  Asia,  Papua  New  Guinea,  South  America,  Russia  and  Antarctica).  The  institution is internationally renowned  for  collections  management  training  in  addition  to  other  disciplines,  and  is  currently  supervising  64 PhD and  52 MSc  students. A breakdown of collections  available  to visitors  includes:

·         Entomology (15  million specimens, including 15,000 types)

·         Invertebrates (15 million)

·         Vertebrates (600,000)

·         Palaeontology (3 million)

·         Belgian Geological Survey (40km cores, 30,000 minerals, 25,000 rocks, 425 Antarctic meteorites and 400 other meteorites)

·         Anthropology/prehistory  (350  human  fossils,  200  fossils  from  Neolithic  &  Mesolithic  individuals, and >1,500 individuals from other historical periods)

·         Library (300,000 books and 450,000 journal volumes with several special  collections  including  35,000  geographical,  hydrological and  geological  maps  and  the  unique Dautzenberg collection concerning conchology)

The  RBINS  Laboratory  for  Molecular  Systematics  (LMS)  provides a dynamic environment for researchers using various DNA markers for molecular research. On average the LMS is used by 20 – 30 researchers per year.

RBINS has developed pipelines allowing high resolution digitisation of specimens  and  associated  documentation. This  includes two micro scanners  with  a  maximum  resolution until 0.4μm, while other equipment produces 2D+ and 3D surface models using multispectral illumination if required.

Contacts: synthesys+@naturalsciences.becarole.paleco@naturalsciences.be; Dr Patrick Semal, patrick.semal@naturalsciences.be  

  

 

RMCA

The AfricaMuseum is a centre for knowledge and resources on Africa, in particular Central Africa, in an historical, contemporary, and global context. The museum exhibits unique collections. It is a place of memory on the colonial past and strives to be a dynamic platform for exchanges and dialogues between cultures and generations.

The origin of the AfricaMuseum dates back to the Brussels International Exposition of 1897. The main building of the Royal Museum for Central Africa was inaugurated in 1910. After a period of several years of renovation, the museum is reopening in December 2018 increasing its total surface accessible to the public from 6000 to 11 000 m². The institution serves the dual purpose of a museum and scientific institute. The collection comprises modern and ancient items, including: ethnographic objects, natural science collections, historic archives and photos. The vast majority of the objects come from the DR Congo, and were collected in the nineteenth and twentieth Century. Nowadays, objects and specimens are collected as part of field studies or research in close collaboration with African institutions.

RMCA aspire to be a world centre of research and knowledge dissemination on past and present societies and natural environments of Africa, and in particular Central Africa, to foster – among the public at large and the scientific community – understanding of and interest in this area and, through partnerships, to contribute substantially to its sustainable development. Thus the core endeavours of this Africa-oriented institution consist of acquiring and managing collections, conducting scientific research, implementing the results of this research, disseminating knowledge, and mounting selected exhibitions of its collections.

Infrastructure

RMCA is a multidisciplinary institution focusing on natural and cultural heritage, knowledge transfer, and research. It holds one of the largest world collections on Central Africa, offering unique reference material. The majority  of  specimens  originate from  a  relatively  poorly  studied  megadiversity belt  in the  equatorial  region  of Africa; collections from the  Congo basin are poorly represented in museums elsewhere. The Biology  and Geology  departments contain  around 10 million animal specimens,  60,000 wood  specimens, 16,000  minerals, 300,000 rocks,  and  21,500  fossils. Extensive archives include field notes, books, maps and aerial photography containing valuable complementary information. The large library contains around 130,000 items, and serials.

The JEMU (Joint Experimental Molecular Unit) is an integrated research infrastructure funded by the Belgian Science Policy and supported by the Royal Belgian Institute of Natural Sciences (RBINS, Brussels) and the Royal Museum for Central Africa (RMCA, Tervuren). JEMU aims at supporting scientific research on natural history collections in the fields of molecular systematics, phylogeny reconstruction, DNA barcoding, population genetics. JEMU also assists in archiving biological specimens. Following molecular analysis can be conducted at JEMU: http://jemu.myspecies.info/node/4417 with a total of 5 laboratories accessible.

Together with RBINS, RMCA offers high resolution digitisation of specimens  and  associated  documentation, including 2D+ and 3D scanning equipment. 

 

Infrastructure services on offer

Visitors can access zoological, botanical (wood), and geological collections, and the accompanying library and archives.

Researchers can also access a DNA lab for pre-processing sequencing, genotyping, collection housing facilities, a wood anatomy laboratory, an extensive cartography library, remote sensing equipment and advanced spectroscopy facilities (in collaboration with nearby Belgian universities) and high resolution scanning facilities.

Contact: Dr Patricia Mergen, Patricia.Mergen@africamuseum.be

Meise Botanic Garden

Meise Botanic Garden (MBG)’s history goes back to 1796 and is one of the 10 largest botanic gardens and 15 largest herbarium in the world, with a domain of 92 hectares and holding 4 million preserved specimens, a rich botanical library, a seedbank and a living plant collection with 18000 different taxa from all around the world. Research topics are about taxonomy, biodiversity conservation, evolution, ecosystems and ethnobotany. The Garden has molecular facilities and is editor and co-editor of several scientific journals. The MBG is an active member of several networks: botanic gardens, libraries and herbaria and is exchanging information and specimens with other scientific institutes worldwide. For example, in 2017, 1,387 preserved specimens were sent on loan and 2,749 samples of living collections were sent to other institutes or individual researchers. The number of research visitors was 118, representing c.800 visitor days. The total number of visitors, including the general public, amounts to c. 150,000 a year.

Infrastructure

The preserved collections (i.a. herbarium, wood samples, carpological, slides and molecular collections) have a global geographical scope, with a focus on Central Africa (> 500.000 specimens), Belgium, South-West Europe and South-East Asia, with additionally  important historic collections from Latin America, India, and Australia. To highlight are the private collections of famous 19th botanists such as Van Heurck (diatoms), Von Martius (Flora brasiliensis),von Reichenbach (Orchids) and Crépin (wild roses) as part of the historic core of the collections.

MBG also manages a seed bank and living collections with more than 25 000 accessions of about 18 000 different taxa. These facilities are open for scientific visits as well. Examples of topics are studies related to crop wild relatives, including our large collections on coffee, bananas, cacao and wild legumes (with a large collections of beans). The collections are also important for conservation activities linked to endemic and endangered species from Belgium and D.R. Congo, namely the endemics from copper hills in Katanga. 

The living collections hold a wide diversity of plants from all over the world: the outdoor collection has i.a. a wide diversity of temperate trees species; the indoor collection houses a wide (sub)tropical plants (i.a.  Rubiaceae, Balsaminiaceae, Euphorbiaceae, Cycadaceae and Araceae as well as collections from the Congo Basin).

The large library & archives are also part of the services offered with over 200 000 volumes linked to Botany and botanical history. The collections hold interesting documents on the history of the garden and of botany in general. 

Infrastructure services on offer

The scientific and technical expertise of MBG is summarized here as examples of services offered. Interested scientific visitors with novel and innovative ideas on the usage of our collections are encouraged to take up contact. All our facilities listed here, including, preserved collections, seedbanks, green houses and outdoor living collections, molecular laboratories, digitization facilities, library and archives are open to applicants.

MBG has extensive taxonomic expertise in vascular plants, fungi, lichens, diatoms, macro-algae, and myxomycetes. Furthermore MBG has a significant expertise in activities around alien and invasive species.

Available equipment includes a Scanning Electron Microscope; digital camera facilities for rapid specimen digitisation; digital microscopes with a large depth-of-field for imaging lichens, myxomycetes and seeds; high quality stereo- and bright-field microscopes, as well as laboratory facilities for preparation of plant, fungal and algal material for light or electron microscopy (including sectioning, embedding, staining, and oxidation).

The molecular laboratory includes equipment for processing of Sanger sequencing, and plant genotyping analyses. Standard equipment includes centrifuges, a plate centrifuge for bulk DNA extractions, PCR thermal cyclers, and gel staining facilities. The molecular laboratory has also recently invested in equipment for preparing DNA libraries for high-throughput sequencing including shotgun sequencing, genome skimming approached and targeted DNA sequencing.

Interested historians can consult letters, photograph collections, including glass plates.  It is one of the most important botanical libraries in Europe with valuable complementary archives to the herbaria and living collections.

Finally, MBG has long-term expertise in botanical illustrations, which visitors can benefit from.

Contact: Dr Patricia Mergen, patricia.mergen@plantentuinmeise.be 

 

 

 

 

CZ-TAF is comprised of Národní Museum Prague (NMP). NMP holds close to 15 million specimens, including 140,000 type specimens – representing c. 200 years of collecting and research. Collections are housed in a newly designed large depository building in Praha-Horní Počernice, associated with offices and well-equipped laboratories.

Infrastructure

NMP collections are diverse, including a large herbarium, zoological and entomological collections, fossils, minerals, wet collections, frozen tissues, DNA, and slides. Geographically, collections predominantly cover Central Europe, however some collections (herbarium, zoological, entomological) also cover tropical regions including South America and Australasia. Each collection contains numerous type specimens and type collections, several of which are particularly significant, such as: the Sternberg Fossil Plant Collection, the T. Haenke’s Herbarium, the Barrande Palaeontological Collection, and the Obenberger Collection of Buprestidae beetles. NMP is engaged in a range of EU and global initiatives, such as TDWG, GGBD and CETAF. It has also participated in collaborative digitisation initiatives including BHL-Europe, Open-up and 4D4Life. 

Infrastructure services on offer

The Molecular Biology Unit focuses on the study of diversity and evolutionary history of various organisms, primarily vertebrates, using analysis of DNA sequences. The Laboratory is equipped with state-of-the-art instruments and facilities capable to carry out DNA extraction from tissue samples, PCR amplification and purification. Using the methods of molecular taxonomy and DNA barcoding, the laboratory serves for identification of various biotic materials, including material from museum collections, which is difficult to identify by conventional methods. Several thousand samples are processed in the laboratory each year.

The laboratory also provides an expert advisory service, and large collections of tissues of a variety of organisms (animals, plants, and fungi) are available for molecular genetic studies.

The Analytical and Imaging Facility (AIF) includes high quality analytical instruments including: a high-resolution microCT, low-voltage and environmental scanning electron microscope with a large chamber; electron probe microanalysis with 5 analyses, EDAX: X–ray analyser; X-ray fluorescence analysis; and high quality digital microscopy. This equipment is housed in purpose-built laboratories, with a staff complement of 3 full–time scientists.

The digitisation unit specialises in digitisation of historic taxonomic literature and is equipped with several state of the art library scanners. NMP’s libraries form an important Natural History reference collection.

CZ-TAF scientists have expertise in a range of disciplines, with a particular focus on the diversity of life in Central Europe. C. 33 PhD students are supervised at the NMP, and the Museum attracts c. 450 visiting scientists annually. 

Contact: Dr Jiri Kvacek, jiri.kvacek@nm.cz

DE-TAF is comprised of five institutions: the Museum für Naturkunde (MfN); the Botanischer Garten und Botanisches Museum (BGBM); Naturmuseum Senckenberg (SGN); Staatliches Museum für Naturkunde Stuttgart (SMNS), and the Zoological Research Museum Alexander Koenig (ZFMK)

Museum für Naturkunde, Berlin (MfN)

The Museum für Naturkunde Berlin is an integrated research museum within the Leibniz Association. Alongside knowledge transfer, research and its collections are the main pillars of the Museum's work. It is one of the most important research institutions worldwide in the areas of biological and geological evolution and biodiversity. 

Infrastructure description

The MfN collections were brought together over more than two centuries from all over the world. They are a unique cultural asset and inextricably linked to the Museum’s research. They comprise over 30 million items covering zoology, palaeontology, geology, and mineralogy and are of highest scientific and historical importance. A part of the MfN collection is available online, like the Animal Sound Archive.

The MfN has research partners in Berlin, Germany and approximately 60 other countries. Circa 650 international researchers visit and use the MfN collections every year, for around 1,800 user days. Over 800,000 visitors per year, as well as steadily increasing participation in educational and other events show that it has become an innovative communication centre that helps shape the scientific and social dialogue about the future of our earth – worldwide.

Infrastructure services on offer

The MfN offers an unrivalled collection of recent animals, fossil plants and animals, and mineralogical material. With recently upgraded state-of-the-art storage and laboratory facilities, the MfN is the largest Natural History depository in Germany. Collections are mostly arranged in systematic order, providing easy access for researchers. The MfN houses several special collections, such as the Ehrenberg collection of microorganisms and the unique Hubrecht collection of sectioned vertebrate embryos. The MfN also hosts one of the largest collections of animal sound recordings in the world, comprising approximately 120,000 recordings.

The libraries hold 200,000 volumes with subscriptions to approximately 850 periodicals, with a special emphasis on rare works dating back to the 15th century as well as literature from Eastern Europe, Russia, and the CIS, forming a unique resource within the central European area.

The historical research department comprises an extensive collection of historical documents, publications, pictures, and biological models. It is a unique source for the history of the museum and the history of the scientific disciplines practised here. The collection contains a number of historical letters, collection lists, scientific sketches as well as documentation of expeditions.

The state-of-the-art facility DNA laboratory is equipped for all molecular systematics techniques, enabling high-throughput routines from automated DNA extraction to sequencing. The facility has devices for DNA and RNA analyses (standard sequencing and fragment analyses). Dedicated technicians help users in all practical aspects of lab work. Sequencing of mitochondrial and nuclear markers is routinely employed (including sample >100 years old), as well as genotyping (microsatellites and AFLPs) and genomics/transcriptomics of non-model organisms.

A wide array of imaging techniques and techniques for physical and chemical analyses is utilised: Morphological laboratories include a state-of-the-art environmental scanning electron microscope, fully digital transmission electron microscope, a confocal laser scan microscope, fully motorised compound microscopes, fluorescence microscopy, and many partly motorised stereo microscopes, mostly equipped with digital cameras. The equipment is housed in a central modern lab, recently upgraded with immunochemistry facilities and supervised by staff, enabling visitors to conduct research on diverse topics. A GE Phoenix Nanotom Micro-CT machine allows analysis of a range of samples, up to a resolution of 0.5 μm. Sophisticated technologies are employed to digitalise the collections, such as the SatScan system for whole drawer imaging, ZooSphere resulting in high resolution image sequences, and DigiLine. A geoscience lab comprises a range of state-of-the-art mineralogical-geochemical apparatus and stable isotope facilities. Instrumentation includes X-ray fluorescence and a micro-XRF instrument for rapid in situ analysis of materials. Transmitted and reflected light polarisation microscopy, cathodo-luminescence and micro-Raman spectrometry provide comprehensive optical analysis. This is complemented by a field-emission cathode electron microprobe. Hyper-element mapping is carried out routinely. Two scanning electron microscopes are available for micro-textural and EDS analysis (one supporting low-vacuum research). Stable isotope mass spectrometry is focused on the analysis of carbon and nitrogen isotopes in bulk rock and sediments and tissue samples for food web analysis. Additionally carbonate samples can be analysed for oxygen and carbon isotopes for the reconstruction of past climate and past carbon cycling.

Contact:

Please contact Stefanie Krause, stefanie.krause@mfn.berlin 

 

Botanischer Garten und Botanisches Museum (BGBM)

The BGBM is a major depository for botanical materials and literature in Germany, and a major botanical centre in Biodiversity Informatics. It holds a herbarium of over 3.8 million specimens. 

Infrastructure description

A state–of–the–art storage facility houses c. 3.8 million specimens of vascular plants, bryophytes, fungi, lichens, and algae from all over the world. There are special collections of fruits and seeds, as well as plant fibres, resins, wood samples and wet collections. The Berlin Botanic Garden holds the second largest living plant collection in Europe, which constitutes a key asset of outstanding importance with a particularly high percentage of fully documented material collected. The Dahlem Seed Bank contains at present about 6,000 seed collections from all over the world, many of them from rare or threatened species. 

Infrastructure services on offer

As well as access to the collection and the other holdings, there is a deep–freeze repository for the DNA of botanical organisms, which is part of the Global Genome Biodiversity Network (GGBN).

Laboratory facilities include two fully equipped molecular  systematics and population genetics facilities, optimised for middle high–throughput analysis, well-equipped facilities for classical (micro-) morphology and cold field emission electron microscope and state–of–the–art next generation sequencing facilities. Users benefit from excellent scientific and technical know–how, as well as a large amount of established methods and protocols.

The BGBM library houses almost 200,000 volumes, including rare works and 9,000 periodicals.

The expertise and research projects of BGBM scientists focus on the taxa Asterales, Caryophyllales, Lichens and Diatoms, and the geographic regions of Europe, the Mediterranean, Cuba, and the Caribbean. 

Contact: Dr. Eva Häffner, e.haeffner@bgbm.org; Dr. Robert Vogt, r.vogt@bgbm.org 

 

Staatliches Museum für Naturkunde Stuttgart  (SMNS)

The State Museum of Natural History Stuttgart, is one of two of Baden-Württemberg's natural history museums. Exhibitions and collection items are shown in two buildings: the Museum am Löwentor houses the palaeontology and geology exhibitions, whilst the Schloss Rosenstein focuses on biology and other aspects of natural history.

The collections of the museum trace back to the Kunst and Naturalienkabinett, a collection of art and curiosities of the dukes of Württemberg. The earliest still–preserved objects date back to the 16th–Century.

Every year, the SMNS is visited by c. 110,000 people. 

Infrastructure

The SMNS collection comprises of more than 11 million items, as well as associated data on taxonomy, genetics, ecology, and geography, including:

-          4.1 million fossils

-          40,000 minerals

-          1 million plants

-          4.5 million insects

-          1 million molluscs

-          500,000 vertebrates

-          9,600 type specimens

The biological and palaeontological collections are the basis of the Museum’s research. The Museum has particular foci on regional geology, flora and fauna, and on the conduction and documentation of globally oriented research projects.  Scientists  pursue  research  in  earth  history,  botany,  entomology and  zoology  to  unravel  questions  of  the  earth's biodiversity,  with  a  focus  on  evolution,  phylogeny,  palaeobiogeography, palaeoecology,  and  stratigraphy.

The museum has special facilities for palaeontological preparation and other specialised methods.

Infrastructure services on offer

Visitors have access to all SMNS collections: Palaeontology, incl. the amber collection, herbarium, entomological and zoological dry and wet collections; access to all lab facilities (molecular, amber, and preparatory labs for fossil material), access to all optical instruments (microscopes, Axioskop, and Keyence system with digital photography, Micro–CT, and digitisation facilities).

The museum has bespoke facilities for palaeontological preparation and modelling, etching, screen washing and sandblasting, the processing of amber fossils and cuticle analysis. Stereo, light, and scanning electron microscopes are also available, as are facilities for preparing large species and special laboratories for maceration and anatomical preparation.

A degreasing unit and a nitrogen chamber to kill off parasites, larvae, and eggs, are available in–house and for other institutions. The molecular systematics laboratory is equipped for semi–automated isolation and quantification of DNA and RNA, PCR, cloning, fingerprint methods like ISRRs, microsatellites, AFLPs, and phylogenetic analyses.

The Museum hosts 150 – 200 guest scientists a year, and data can be afforded on demand via the Museum’s database system, which contains data on more than 1 Mio. specimens and objects, including all of the Museum’s type specimens.

The Museum’s library contains 100,000 volumes, 1,600 current, and publishes two scientific journals.

Contact: Dr. Joachim Holstein, joachim.holstein@smns-bw.de

 

 Senckenberg (SGN)

The Senckenberg Natural History Society runs one of the largest Natural History Museums in Germany, located in Frankfurt am Main, and conducts research into the evolution of biodiversity from millions of years ago to the present day. In addition it conducts research projecting from past events into the future, to investigate the fate of the diversity of life in the face of climate change and anthropocene challenges.

Infrastructure

Holding about 40 million collection units (specimen and series), the Senckenberg  Natural History Society houses the largest natural history collections in Germany, ranking among the top five worldwide.

These collections serve as a basis for taxonomic,  genetic, ecological, biogeographic, and biostratigraphic research, but are also used for applied environmental research. The Museum considers its collections as an archive of all aspects of life.

The collection includes geological items and fossils as documents of paleo-biodiversity, as well as extensive collections of animals, plants and fungi, including numerous type specimens. In addition, Senckenberg also houses a DNA bank, a tissue collection, and living collections. Staff at Senckenberg utilise a wide range of research methods and research tools. Beside the “classical” toolkits, these include a broad range of specialised laboratories and services ranging from spectroscopy to genome sequencing.

Infrastructure services on offer

As well as access to the extensive collection, Senckenberg can facilitate access to and host visitors who would like to conduct research in a laboratory. These services include:

-          Access to a molecular genetics laboratory centre, which is a state-of-the-art facility which handles more than 10,000 samples per month.

-          Access to genomics laboratories with all equipment needed for various high throughput sequencing applications

-          Access to a state-of-the-art light-microscopy facilities

In partnership with the University of Frankfurt, access to the first isotope radio-mass spectrometer in Germany, to infer palaeotemperatures in carbonates.

-          Senckenberg houses a comprehensive set of biological (preparational, histological, soil and mesocosms) and geoscientific laboratories (e.g., X-Ray Diffractometry, X-Ray Flourescence, Scanning Electron Microscopy, micro-CT, nano-CT).

Senckenberg also offers access to high-performance computation facilities, for genomic, 3D reconstruction, and ecological modelling.

Senckenberg is committed to increasing online access to specimen data and digital imagery, which is provided through the collection databases SeSam (will be discontinued) and AQUiLA. 

Contacts: Prof. Peter Haase, peter.haase@senckenberg.de; Prof. Marco Thines, marco.thines@senckenberg.de

 

Zoological Research Museum Alexander Koenig (ZFMK)

ZFMK is a leading institution for species-related biodiversity research. As the Leibniz Institute for Animal Biodiversity, the core facilities of ZFMK support the research mission: ‘Discovering and explaining biodiversity’, with focus on animal species. 

Infrastructure

Although the collections contains samples from all over the world, a major collection focus is epicontinental animal species, especially in African and Asian taxa. There are also comprehensive reference collections from European regions.

The Museum has two facilities for research: the Centre of Taxonomy and Evolutionary Research (ZTE) and the Centre for Molecular Biodiversity Research (ZMB).

ZFMK scientists cover a broad range of expertise with a prominent focus on molecular research ZFMK is engaged in developing tools for species monitoring and pioneers large-scale DNA barcoding initiatives (e.g. coordination of German Barcode of Life). 

Infrastructure services on offer

The ZTE houses zoological collections of more than 5 million units, serving as permanent references for scientifc work. The biobank holds DNA and tissue collections, at temperatures down to -190 degrees (liquid nitrogen). For endangered species, or for HTS applications, viable cells and biopsies can be processed and stored at ZFMK.

The institute includes the Biiohistoricum - a unique collection of historical biological literature and documents, as well as extensive research libraries. It houses collections of estates, correspondences, illustrations and photography related to the history of biology. 

ZTE and ZMB are equipped with lab infrastructre for genomic and morphological zoological research. There is basic DNA/PCR equipment, as well as infrastructure for automated, high-throughput DNA and RNA isolation and liquid handling. Visitors can draw on experience at ZFMK in isolating DNA from ancient and environmental samples. Workflows for anchored hybrid enrichment and transcriptomic and genomic library production for NGS are well established. ZTE facilities include labs for SEM and histology, a digital X-ray device, and a tomography facility equipped with two μCTs. 

ZFMK is heavily engaged in digitisation of the specimen collections. IT resources include high performance computing clusters, a virtualised server infrastructure for web services, data maintenance and archiving responsible for the BiNHum portal (binhum.net), which allows free access to the collections of six major Natural History museums in Germany.

Contact: Dr Fabian Herder, secretary@leibniz-zfmk.de

DK-TAF is comprised of the Natural History Museum of Denmark. The Natural History Museum of Denmark is the principal museum of natural history in Denmark. The Museum is organised as an institute under the University of Copenhagen and was formed in 2004 with the merger of the Zoological Museum, the Geological Museum, the Botanical Museum and Central Library, and the Botanical Garden. The core activity of the Natural History Museum of Denmark comprises research, teaching, public engagement and conservation of the national natural history collections.

Infrastructure

The Natural History Museum of Denmark houses more than 14 million specimens within botany, zoology, and geology, from more than 400 years of collecting around the world. New collections are added continuously. Living collections in the Botanical Garden include c. 10,000 species from around the world.  As well as an extensive collection, the Museum manages several core research laboratories, with a wide range of services and purposes available.

Infrastructure services on offer

The Natural History Museum of Denmark offers expertise and equipment for collections – based biological and geological research. Core laboratories include a national DNA high–throughput sequencing centre; modern DNA labs; ultra clean labs (for ancient DNA analyses); proteomics analyses; mass spectrometry isotope laboratories; scanning electron microscopy; algae cultivation labs; geobiology labs (anaerobic trace metal cycles); X-ray diffraction; palaeontology labs; general sample preparation labs.

DK- TAF is also part of GeoCenter Denmark. Additional facilities include a National Wildlife Forensics Facility; ArcheoScience (archaeological analyses); a Sustainability Science Centre, as well as a cryo bank and the Danish Bird Ringing Centre. 

DK-TAF provides excellent opportunities to visiting researchers who benefit from cross–disciplinary networking and access to both recent and historical samples. In addition to international research collaborations, DK-TAF plays important international roles, such as hosting the Secretariat of GBIF (www.gbif.org), the Danish national GBIF node, and DanBIF (www.danbif.dk)

In 2016, DK-TAF's c. 200 scientists produced 351 highly diverse peer–reviewed publications and described 170 new species. >270 international publications were based on the Museum's collections. In 2016, 177 guest researchers visited the Museum and used the collections for their research. 283 loans were provided to researchers in 35 countries. 

Contact: Prof Nina Rønsted, nronsted@snm.ku.dk

ES-TAF is comprised of Museo Nacional de Ciencias Naturales (MNCN) & Real Jardin Botánico (RJB).

Through MNCN & RJB, ES TAF houses the top natural history collections (historic, living and frozen tissues & DNA) in the Iberian Peninsula, enabling advanced research in a wide range of biodiversity topics. ES-TAF collections represent a unique resource for the study of two of Earth’s biodiversity hotspots: the Mediterranean Basin and the Neotropics. ES TAF also includes top-of-the-range facilities and equipment as well as expertise on research in the fields of molecular systematics and population genetics. Approximately 80% of collections are electronically databased, including c. 214,000 specimens imaged and an animal sounds library with c. 55,066 recordings.

Infrastructure

ES TAF also offers access to collections and expertise in geological disciplines (mineral systematics, petrology, geomorphology, geo-environmental analysis). New biological research areas are also available to users (e.g., analytical biogeography and global change, ecological modelling, environmental biology and environmental biochemistry, genomics, microbial ecology, geo–microbiology). Genomic approaches such as target sequencing, metabarcoding and genotyping-by-sequencing (RAD-seq) have been recently incorporated to the researchers’ toolset, in collaboration with external providers. In addition, ES TAF is equipped with a laboratory devoted to the handling of ancient DNA (fossil, subfossil and preserved modern but specially delicate material (e.g, historical herbarium and zoological collections or molluscs study collection preserved in 70% ethanol and stored at room temperature), which is rare in Europe; equipment for ultrapure, high-performing DNA (e.g. solid-phase paramagnetic bead technology) and high-sensitivity quantification (QubitR) is also available..

Infrastructure services on offer

With over 9.85 million specimens, and more than 37,398 types, ES-TAF harbours the most important representative collection of the Mediterranean Basin worldwide, including specimens from the Iberian Peninsula (comprising the Balearic and Canarian Archipelagos) and an important collection from former overseas colonies in Central and South America, Philippines and Africa. Approximately 80% of collections are electronically databased, including c 214,000 specimens imaged, 1.1 million records offering associated data, and an animal sounds library with c. 55,066 recordings. RJB harbours the largest living plant collection in Spain and a growing seed bank of Iberian plants, which, together with greenhouses and growth plant chambers, enables studies on Evo-Devo, reproductive biology phenology, etc. There is also a growing culture collection of fungi.

In addition to fully equipped molecular systematic facilities for handling and amplification of ancient DNA and studies on molecular systematics and population genetics, ES-TAF includes several services that are unique or rare among European systematics institutions. These include:

A) Non–Destructive analytical and imaging facilities: an EM suite combining ESEM, BSE Detector and Catholuminescence spectrometer; a microscope with RAMAN spectroscopy, and a Micro-CT facility, plus a non–invasive technique that uses X-Rays to create 3D models); a Scanning Electron microscope (with critical point drier and sputter coater), fitted for the study of young plant tissues and ancient herbarium specimens, is offered through RJB-CSIC.

B) The Virtual Morphology Lab is equipped with a laser and three structured-light high-resolution 3D surface scanners and a 3D-printing farm (Fused Deposition Modelling).

C) The Physiology Lab is composed of two units: a) Reproductive Physiology, for research of gamete function, fertilisation and early embryonic development processes of mammals in an evolutionary context, b) Animal Ecophysiology, to study mechanisms involved in the adaptation of organisms to the environment.

D) The Chromatography lab allows state-of-the-art analysis of compounds/contaminants in soil and water, metabolic compounds and anions in plant samples, and atmospheric gases. E) The Biological Field Station ‘El Ventorrillo’ includes a respirometry laboratory.

In addition, services for 3D DoD are offered for the study of non-digital specimens through the Virtual Morphology Lab (ViMoLab) at MNCN-CSIC, which is equipped with several specialized scanners, including fast and HD hand-held white light scanners (Artee MHT), suitable for digitisation of large-size objects, complemented with Artee Spider and Space Spider systems (for high resolution of geometry and texture of objects with intermediate size. 

Contact: Dr Marian Ramos, m.ramos@mncn.csic.es

FI-TAF comprises one organisation, the Finnish Museum of Natural History LUOMUS. It houses scientific collections of 13.3 million specimens, and 110,000 type specimens, making it one of the largest natural history museums in the Nordic Countries, and the leading institute in Finland for academic research and education on biodiversity and taxonomy. LUOMUS is an independent research institution in the University of Helsinki, and operates in three locations in Helsinki. Science at LUOMUS is carried out in four units: Botany, Zoology, Natural Sciences, and Biodiversity Informatics.

Infrastructure

The collections of 13.3 million specimens have a wide taxonomic, temporal, and spatial coverage. Northern and Eastern Eurasian coverage is particularly good. Parts of lichenized fungi, bryophyte and insect collections are among the most important in the world. State-of-the-art laboratories and a digitisation research centre facilitate research, and LUOMUS is actively engaged in many international associations and projects. Users of LUOMUS collections and related data have contributed to the understanding of the origin and evolution of numerous organisms, conservation of endangered species, the history of the Earth, and climate change. 

Infrastructure services on offer

The core of LUOMUS infrastructure are the biological, geological, palaeontological  and living plant collections including seed bank, which support scientists working in the forefront of biodiversity, taxonomy, biogeography, bioinformatics, geology, and ecology.

LUOMUS hosts Digitarium (a research centre for mass digitisation), a laboratory of chronology, a DNA laboratory, image-stacking photographic equipment, state-of-the-art light microscopes, a structured light 3D scanner, herbarium scanners, high-throughput digitisation lines for plant and insect specimens, and extensive libraries.

As LUOMUS is part of University of Helsinki, researchers and visitors are able to access SEM photography and CT scanning in other units.

LUOMUS offers full access to the collections, supervised access to equipment, and dedicated support to make user visits as efficient as possible. 

Contact: Dr Pasi Sihvonen (zoology, natural sciences) pasi.sihvonen@helsinki.fi, mikko.piirainen@helsinki.fi (botany)  

FR-TAF comprises of the institutions within the Museum National D'Histoire Naturelle (MNHN).

The Museum National d’Histoire Naturelle was founded in 1793 during the French Revolution, although the Jardin has origins as a royal garden of medicinal plants in 1635. The museum has 14 sites across France, with four in Paris, including the main Museum itself and the Royal Botanical Garden, the Jardin des Plantes. It is a grand établissement of higher education, as part of Sorbonne Universities. The collection of the Museum is considered to be among the top three natural history institutions in the world, and the Museum is conserved the formal repository for all scientifically significant collections made by other French research bodies. 

Infrastructure

The Museum’s collection of c. 73 million specimens and more than 835,000 primary types and reference specimens, is comprised of collections across France organised and administrated via the E-RECOLNAT initiative.

The main repository of collection items are at the MNHN, whose collections are situated in different buildings located in three major areas in the centre of Paris:

-   Jardin des Plantes and the Buffon-Poliveau block: these house the collections of zoology, botany, palaeontology, geology, mineralogy and biological resources. The Zoothèque is a modern facility devoted exclusive to zoological collections and includes preparation and conditioning labs and study spaces for visiting scientists. Large instruments used to study collections (molecular biology labs, scanning electron microscopes, mass spectrometers) are also located in the Jardin des Plantes.

-   Musée de l’Homme: this houses the anthropology and some of the prehistory collections, as well as a DNA laboratory.

-   Institut de Paléontologie Humaine: this houses Human palaeontology and Quarternary geological collections. On a worldwide basis, it houses a rich osteological collection as well as recent bone collections. 

Infrastructure services on offer

FR-TAF offers full access to the installations’ collections, facilities and staff expertise. Most of the collections are held in the three-core repository buildings based in Paris. These three repositories are available for Virtual and Physical access. All facilities provide tools for DoD, and devoted space and basic equipment to perform observations. Most have Scanning Electron Microscope facilities. Other facilities include a Transmission Electron Microscope platform, 3D Imaging (Surface and CT scans), a biomolecular laboratory for DNA extraction. FR-TAF also provides access to documentation both on-site (MNHM houses the only national library devoted exclusively to natural history) and off-site with an online catalogue and access to major bibliographic databases.

FR-TAF staff possess expert knowledge in a vast array of zoological, botanical, and geological disciplines. In many cases, they are world-leading experts in their fields and/or represent unique or rare expertise in Europe.

FR-TAF collections are digitised, ranging from metadata information of subsets of collections to specimen images and databases. Digitised images of FR-TAF are directly accessed through the E-RECOLNAT, which also offers tools to facilitate research.

MHNH acts as the French national agency for European programs and is the National Reference Centre for Biodiversity.

For 2017, 843 visitors accessed the MNHN collection; 53% originated from France, 22% from other European countries, and 25% from other nations around the world.

Contact: Dr. Magalie Castelin, magalie.castelin@mnhn.fr 

GB-TAF comprises of three institutions: the Natural History Museum, London (NHM), Royal Botanic Gardens Kew (RBGK), and Royal Botanic Gardens Edinburgh (RBGE). 

NHM

The Natural History Museum is a world–leading science research centre and world–class visitor attraction. The NHM opened in 1881, after the natural history collections at the British Museum were deemed to be so populous as to require their own separate institution. Across various sites, the NHM holds unique collections and unrivalled expertise to tackle the biggest challenges facing the world today.

The Science at the Museum is divided between four departments: Earth Sciences, Life Sciences, Core Research Labs, and Library and Archives.

The NHM is one of the most visited public museums in the world, welcoming more than five million visitors annually and many millions more online. The Museum’s mission is to use natural science collections and research to unlock answers to the major issues facing humanity and the planet, with a current focus on strategic science foci:

-          The origins of our planet and life on it, and the impact of change.

-          The diversity of life and the delicate balance of ecosystems that ensure the survival of our planet.

-          The security of our food supply, the eradication of disease and the management of mineral and ore scarcity. 

Infrastructure

The NHM is focused on the most important systematic collection of Natural History items in the world, with c.80 million specimens spanning billions of years, with more type specimens (1,165,400) than any other collection worldwide. The Museum is home to one of the largest and most diverse scientific teams of its kind, spanning excellent research, collections, and data management, imaging and analysis, and citizen science. The collection is a national and international lead in a global network of collections and linked data resources that are essential to substantial areas of the life and earth sciences.

The collection and data are openly available and mobile through online access, loans, and inbound scientific visitors.

Across various sites, and within the enormous Darwin Centre, the Museum manages large laboratories, equipped with state-of-the-art technology and equipment to ensure collections are at the front of cutting–edge research.

 The molecular collections facility, opened in 2011, has a 2–million sample capacity and enables storage of a properly documented repository of frozen tissue specimens and genetic resource samples.

The Museum’s Library and Archives department is extensive, containing a collection of c. 300,000 books, 25,000 journal titles, 350,000 artworks and 100,000 catalogued archival items. To assist with collections management, the Museum has recently developed a new collections management platform and methodology, Join the Dots, which allows any Museum user to better understand how the Museum collection is structured, how collections are arranged, and what collection units may be of particular significance or research relevance, relative to any given field. 

Infrastructure services on offer

The Molecular Biology Unit (MBU) comprises of top–of–the range facilities, consisting of three units: biomedical parasitology, molecular systematics, and the DNA sequencing facility. The Wolfson Wellcome Biomedical Laboratory processes more than 75,000 samples per year using an Applied Biosystems 3730xl DNA analyser. 9 dedicated technicians are able to help Users in all aspects of DNA sequencing and fragment analysis applications, and can provide expert advice for troubleshooting. A dedicated aDNA lab is well equipped for sampling and DNA extraction of fossil, subfossil, and preserved modern material.

The Imaging and Analysis Centre (IAC) encompasses state–of–the–art light and electron microscopes; electron probe microanalysis; extensive chemical analytical facilities for the quantification of elemental concentrations by atomic emission spectroscopy, quadrupole mass spectrometry and organic elemental analysis and for mineralogical characterisation by X–ray diffraction and infrared microscopy. These laboratories include micro-CT facilities, confocal microscopy and 3D scanning (structured light, photogrammetry and laser) instrumentation to allow for the capture and analysis of 3D data at metre to nanometre scales. The laboratories include full sample preparation laboratories for the preparation geological thin sections, block and solutions for analysis.

Equipment is housed in purpose built laboratories with 18 full–time staff. This facility enables visitors to conduct research across a diverse range of applications and techniques. 

The Conservation Centre is one of the leading centres for museum conservation in the world and is unique in Europe. It prepares, maintains, and undertakes remedial treatment on all museum specimens, conducts research into new methods of conservation, and can offer training best practise to users. 

The extensive Library & Archives collection can be navigated via a discovery system, which allows rapid searches across all L&A collections in addition the Biodiversity Heritage Library. The NHM has a wide expertise base for user and visitor support, with over 300 staff members working across curatorial, research, technical and administrative roles within the Science Group. In 2017, the NHM supported 8,103 visiting researcher days, and there is a high research output across all departments, with 2,282 peer–reviewed journal articles produced from 2012–2017. 

Contact: Scott Wilson, synthesys@nhm.ac.uk 

 

RBG Kew

RBG Kew houses one of the largest and most diverse botanical and mycological collections in the world, containing over 8.5 million items and representing 95% of the world’s vascular plant genera and 60% of fungal genera.

Infrastructure

The strength of Kew’s collections lies not only in their extraordinary breadth and depth, but also in the unique suite of collections, the synergy between them, and the high quality of curation. These collections include the Herbarium, with over seven million specimens, the largest Fungarium in the world, with over 1.25 million specimens, the world’s most diverse wild plant DNA and tissue bank, the largest Economic Botany collection, an extensive botanical microscope slide collection, an in vitro collection, and the world’s only global wild seed bank such as the International Plant Name Index, The Plant List, Index Fungorum and Species Fungorum.

RBG Kew’s living collections comprises of 68,000 accessions of living plants, covering 22,000 taxa.

RBG Kew manages extensive laboratory facilities, which include equipment that facilitates cutting-edge research and analysis across a wide–range of research disciplines (see infrastructure services on offer).

Infrastructure services on offer

RBG Kew’s laboratory facilities are extensive and include bio–imaging, molecular biology, small molecule analysis, in-vitro biology and seed biology laboratories, The bio-imaging and flow cytometry facilities provide access to light, fluorescence, phase contrast, differential interference contrast and field emission scanning and transmission electron microscopes, high pressure cryo-freezers, freeze substitution systems and cryo and standard ultramicrotomes.

The molecular biology laboratories provide facilities for the extraction of DNA and RNA from plant and fungal samples. Equipment is available for performing Sanger sequencing, DNA microsatellite and AFLP techniques, and these can be analysed using Geneious and Genemapper software. Next Generation Sequencing techniques can also be performed. A laboratory for small molecule analysis is equipped with instrumentation for isolation and analysis of secondary metabolites from plants and fungi, and metabolomics studies. The In-vitro laboratory facilities provide all the equipment required for micropropagation techniques, including the use of temporary immersion systems for multiplication in liquid culture and photoautotrophic micropropagation using CO2 enrichment. At the Wakehurst site there is access to seed processing laboratories (incl. X–Ray analysis equipment), initial drying room, and 2 ripening rooms, a germination laboratory with 10 stereoscopes and dust controlled work stations, and seed research laboratories. The seed storage currently comprises six cold rooms at -20°c accessed from a large final drying room.

The RBG Kew Library, Art and Archives contain 300,000 Printed books, journals and pamphlets covering a global range of plant and fungal science, as well as horticultural history. There are c. 4,600 archive collections comprising of around 7,000,000 sheets comprising of unpublished material, as well as correspondence, field notebooks and photograph albums, records of plans received at Kew and sent from Kew, maps, and plans tracing the development of the Gardens. There is also an art collection of over 200,000 prints, paintings, and drawings.  

Contact(s): Dr Alan Paton (A.Paton@kew.org); Scott Wilson, synthesys@nhm.ac.uk

RBG Edinburgh

The RBGE collections (Herbarium, Living Collection, Library and Archive) underpin national and international research, education and conservation programmes and are of enormous cultural value. Together they rank amongst the best of their kind in the world.

Infrastructure

The Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh holds three major collections (Herbarium, Living Collection, Library and Archive). The Herbarium, Library and Archive are all held at a single site in Edinburgh, whilst the Living Collection comprises c. 66,500 plants from 13,500 species across four gardens in Scotland, forming one of the largest and richest plant collections on Earth. The Herbarium holds nearly 3 million specimens with important collections across all major taxonomic groups of plants, fungi and algae. The Library and Archive holds over 1 million items including books, journals, original artworks, maps, RBGE’s official records, plant collectors’ letters diaries and photographs and much more. As one of Scotland's National Collections, all of these items are available for use by anyone that needs to access them.

In addition to the collection, RBGE has a wide range of research facilities including research glasshouses, growth rooms, molecular, cytology and microscopy laboratories.

RBGE has three major strategic objectives for research:

-          Conserving plant biodiversity in the face of global environmental change and mass extinction.

-          Provision of baseline taxonomic/botanical data as a foundation science.

-          Understanding the evolutionary processes that have given rise to the world’s botanical diversity.

Within these are four research programmes: Major Floras, Tropical Diversity, Cryptogamic Plants and Fungi, Genetics and Conservation.

Infrastructure services on offer

Access will be provided to:

-          Herbarium collections (nearly 3 million plant, fungi and algae specimens), including over 55,000 type specimens

-          Living collections with 66,500 plants of over 13,500 species

-          The RBGE Library and Archive (holding over a million items)

Supporting services include Molecular Laboratories offering the latest technology to facilitate phylogenetic and population genetic research inc. Next Generation Sequencing Library prep, Microscopy facilities inc. SEM and fluorescence microscopes, Cytology & Histology labs, and Controlled Environment Growth facilities. These facilities provide the option for cytological study, or extraction and analysis of DNA using the extensive living collections. All the living collections and c. 30% of the herbarium specimens, including all known type specimens, are databased and available on our website and on GBIF. We also host a large number of online resources, including: the Begonia, Sapotaceae and Zingiberaceae Resource Centres, as well as the Floras of Nepal.

RBGE has >50 staff incorporating technical strengths in plants and lichens.

Contact: Dr David Harris. d.harris@rbge.org.uk; Scott Wilson, synthesys@nhm.ac.ukn, scott.wilson@nhm.ac.uk

HU-TAF is comprised of the Hungarian Natural History Museum (HNHM).

The museum was founded in 1802 as a department of the Hungarian National Museum. The department soon started accepting collections of palaeontology, botany, zoology and anthropology,  and it became partially independent in 1933. It has been wearing its present name and operating completely independently since 1991 with a mission statement to be a national scientific and education centre in the field of natural history.

HU-TAF comprises of 6 scientific units of the HNHM in Budapest: the Departments of  Zoology, Botany, Anthropology, Paleontology and Geology, Mineralogy and Petrology, and the Molecular Taxonomy Laboratory. 

Infrastructure

HNHM is the only natural history collection based research institute in Hungary, and holds more than 10.1 million items, including c. 65,000 primary types. As one of the largest natural history collections in Central and Eastern Europe, it holds particularly valuable reference collections from the Carpathian Basin, Balkans, East Africa, and Central, Eastern and Southeastern Asia. The historic collections of these regions dating as far back as 300 years providing excellent reference data.

Highlights include Palaeontology, Anthropology, Zoology and Botany collections, as well as a library containing over 150,000 books and 300,000 periodicals.

HNHM staff are increasingly involved in conservation biology and human health problems within the framework of national and international projects.

Infrastructure services on offer

HNHM employs 62 researchers, who represent unique expertise. This is demonstrated during  the establishment of NATURA 2000 sites in Hungary, the National Biodiversity–monitoring System (NBmR) and other projects such as European fauna monographs, LIFE projects, etc.

HU-TAF major research topics embrace a multidisciplinary approach in biodiversity and ecology of the Carpathian Basin, the Balkan Peninsula, and Central-, Eastern-, and Southeastern Asia; geodiversity and geological evolution of the Carpathian Basin; anthropological research on historical human populations in the Carpathian basin; biomonitoring of habitat changes due to human influence; nature conservation oriented research, and applied sciences including paleo-environmental reconstructions and parasitology.

Facilities include scanning electron microscope, focus–stacking photography equipment, and DNA laboratory, which supports a range of molecular biological studies in taxonomy, phylogeography and population genetics. The collection of genetic resources includes 17,000 tissue and DNA samples.

Full digital inventories are available in the vertebrate, anthropological, and most palaeontological collections.

Researchers at HNHM in collaboration with external scientists have generated numerous achievements including 143 scientific publications, 4 monographs and several PhD dissertations and databases, generated by previous SYNTHESYS funded users. Annually, the museum hosts 300 scientific users for 20,000 user days in the collections and the DNA lab. One third of these are transnational users.

Contact: Dr. Beáta Papp, papp.beata@nhmus.hu

IL-TAF is comprised of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem (HUJ). The University hosts more than 6,570,000 individual specimens. As an institution, the University is ranked among the 100 leading universities in the world and first among Israeli universities. As well as being the focus of collections–based research, the University collection provides assistance to other institutes, including with delivering programmes of public engagement and community outreach.

Infrastructure

The collections serve as a safe repository for natural history specimens and are the subject of scientific research in evolution and ecology, taxonomy and systematics, biodiversity, conservation genetics and wildlife forensics.

Staff have extensive experience in conducting collection-based projects through local, national and international networks.

Focus areas include collections on Lessepsian migration of fish and monitoring arachnid diversity in agroecosystems and in nature reserves. IL-TAF leads on the development of an area-wide management system for effective pest control in sustainable agriculture. Research activities include evolutionary biology, genetics, biomechanics, growth and development, nutrition and disease, functional anatomy, forensic anthropology, dental anthropology and archaeozoology. 

Infrastructure services on offer

Access to the main collections, which include:

-          The Herbarium, with a comprehensive collection of both phanerogamous and cryptogamic plants of the Middle East.

-          Marine invertebrates, which contains rare samples of the fauna of Levantine inland fresh–water bodies that are either extinct or inaccessible. The mollusc collection holds a vast collection of Middle Eastern molluscs from all major habitats.

-      The terrestrial invertebrate collections, which include the most comprehensive arachnid collection in the Middle – East, as well as historical parasitological collections and agriculturally important pests and predatory mites.

-          The amphibians and reptiles collection is considered the most extensive regional record of Middle Eastern taxa

-          The bird collection is unique in consisting of rare bird species of the Middle East.

-          The fish collection holds the largest inventory of fish specimens of the Res Sea and the Eastern Mediterranean.

-          The recent vertebrates comparative collection represents the local fauna of Israel, and adjacent regions.

-          The Archaeozoological collections comprise of specimens from hundreds of sites representing the history of the fauna from the Pliocene to the Holecene of Israel.

-          The Paleontology collection holds an impressive body of information on the fossil record of the eastern Mediterranean.

This collection also includes many hugely significant historical collections, and a wildlife cryobank with 15,000 specimens.

Available equipment includes: a digital stereomicroscope, with high quality multi–layer pictures combined using Zerene Stacker (Version 1.04) and other non–digital stereomicroscopes alongside specimen preparation equipment. IL-TAF also has a conservation lab containing a diverse array of specialist equipment, well equipped developmental biology, molecular biology and microscopy lab including a darkroom area, a temperature controlled insect room, and office space for lab members. Two separate laboratories are dedicated to modern and ancient DNA research and extensive IT facilities including all relevant software intended for analysing high–throughput NextGen sequence data. Shared facilities include units at the Hebrew University, such as a Centre for NanoScience & Nanotechnology (HUCNN), a computerised Archaeology Laboratory at the Institute of Archaeology, and a Centre for Genomic Technologies.

Contact: Prof. Rivka Ravinovich, rivkar@mail.huji.ac.il 

NL-TAF comprises of Naturalis Biodiversity Centre, in the Netherlands. Whilst Naturalis completes a major collections development project, it will not be accepting access visits for the first call. Access to Naturalis will be available in Summer 2020. 

SE-TAF comprises of Naturhistoriska riksmuseet (NRM), the Swedish Museum of Natural History. 

Access is not available for Call 1 (2019 - 2020). Access will be available next year, in Call 2 (2020 - 2021)

 

Partners

FAQs

Got a query? Our comprehensive Frequently Asked Questions section will likely have the answer!

Outputs and Evaluations?

All SYNTHESYS visitors are required to complete an evaluation after their visit, and update their outputs (such as publications) on the applications portal. 

Click here to access the applications portal.

Follow us on Social Media