Scientists ask for protection of the collection of the Institute of Natural Sciences of the National University

Three scientific societies bringing together researchers from various disciplines wrote an open letter expressing their “concern about the lack of support experienced in biological collections, including those in public, private and governmental institutions or museums and academic herbalists.”

These are the Society for the Study of Evolution (SSE), the American Society of Naturalists (AMNAT), and the Society of Systematic Biologists, three of the oldest and most important scientific societies in the world.

“Research and teaching based on biological collections provide irreplaceable opportunities to develop long-term, high-coverage studies of extant and extinct species, which cannot be achieved by experiments alone, and depend on access to and well-managed collections over long periods of time,” they wrote in the document.

His motivation for sending this open letter was due to three specific cases, although his “interest is broader”, in which the lack of support for these important resources for science is evident. “The decision to move the herbarium located at Duke University (USA), the infrastructure problems at the Institute of Natural Sciences (ICN) at the National University of Colombia, and the decision to close the Evolutionary Biology Unit of the South Australian Museum.

The case of ICN, in Colombia, was reviewed by El Espectador in this article titled Fractions Institute of Natural Sciences, National University, This explains the risks faced by the more than three million biological specimens in the collection, which include extinct species whose only record exists at this institute.

Currently, there is a plan to build a new building for ICN which already has designs and a financial plan. However, the National University does not have the $100 million needed to build it, while the Ministries of Environment, Science and Education did not have a budget for the project.

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In their message, the scientific societies recognize that resources allocated to science are limited and that “collecting and storing samples is an investment in research and knowledge, the returns on which are difficult to predict.”

However, they call on those in decision-making positions to provide the necessary support to these groups that have “long served to consult, discover and solve problems in evolutionary biology and in many other disciplines.”

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