The biological collections of the Humboldt Institute are a specific, cooperative, active, and massive source of scientific knowledge about Colombian biodiversity.
Biological collections are, by excellence, the scientific tool used to document biodiversity. Since their beginning as curiosity cabinets
in the 18th century, biological collections have been a valuable source of information that has enabled the use of methods and concepts that were previously inexistent1,2. In the current scenario of biodiversity loss and climate change, biological collections have gained importance because, besides their contribution as biodiversity inventories and distribution records through time and space, they are crucial for management and conservation programs3,4. Biological collections are useful for tracking and identifying disease outbreaks, agricultural crops' plagues, and disease vectors. Additionally, they are the basis for monitoring the state of strategic ecosystems and predicting future scenarios of change. They are also fundamental for describing species5,6.
In Colombia, the 12 collections found in the Humboldt Institute preserve more than 500,000 objects (specimens, tissues, and environmental sounds), which represent more than 40 years of research (including records from the Humboldt Institute as well as the Inderena) and significantly contribute to the knowledge about Colombian biodiversity. The creation and maintenance of these records demand processes of curatorship, administration, and information management and publication, all of which depend on continuous human and scientific efforts.
The collections of the Humboldt Institute should represent Colombian biodiversity and in addition surpass the great challenge of completing its inventory. Activities such as specimen collection and preservation, exhibitions, events, academic visits, aiding other institutions with curatorship, research, and the production of scientific knowledge are all part of the Institute's achievements in more than 20 years of making Colombia's natural heritage available to society.
In the future, these collections should seek greater association with other entities. For this purpose, the collections are expected to be positioned as centers of excellence in biodiversity research and also to influence the model of information management in other collections around the country so they may be strengthened