The Eclectus Parrot collection

The Eclectus Parrot is only found in Papua New Guinea and Cape York Peninsula. Specimens like this are invlauable to understanding our bird fauna and generating knowledge to protect them.

The Australian biological collections

CSIRO is the custodian of a number of collections of animal and plant specimens that contribute to national and international biological knowledge.

  • 31 May 2005 | Updated 14 October 2011

The Australian Biological Collections contribute to the discovery, inventory, understanding and conservation of Australia’s plant and animal biodiversity.

CSIRO is responsible for the management of the collections and ensures they are:

  • comprehensive
  • secure
  • well-curated
  • accessible.

We manage several biological collections including the:

  • Australian National Wildlife Collection (ANWC), specialising in land vertebrates
  • Australian National Insect Collection (ANIC)
  • Australian National Fish Collection (ANFC)
  • Australian National Herbarium (ANH), specialising in our native plants.

Together, they constitute a vast storehouse of information about Australia’s biodiversity. They underpin a significant part of the country’s taxonomic, genetic, agricultural and ecological research. They are, therefore, vital resources for conservation and the development of sustainable land management systems.

Capabilities and activities

The Collections contribute to knowledge through collaborative partnerships with:

  • government
  • industry
  • research and education sectors. 

CSIRO scientists work within the collections to study, classify and document the nation’s flora and fauna. 

In addition, improved ways of gathering, handling and delivering biodiversity information allows CSIRO to offer valuable services to industry, agriculture and other research institutions. These include:

  • biosystematic research of organisms by applying morphological and molecular technologies including:
    • identification tools
    • checklists and catalogues
    • taxonomic monographs
    • predictive classification
    • floristics and biodiversity documentation. 
Good science and sound decisions on biodiversity and natural resource management require correct identification of Australia’s native species.
  • databasing, management of data and analysis of:
    • specimen records
    • nomenclatural data
    • descriptive data
    • geographic data.
  • fauna and flora surveys:
    • national
    • regional
    • taxon-based.
  • identification and advice
  • management of biological collections:
    • accession
    • curation
    • loans and exchange.
  • access to collections for:
    • research
    • identification
    • distribution and ecological data.
  • training in:
    • specimen handling
    • collection management and curation
    • systematics
    • identification
    • nomenclature
    • biodiversity informatics technology
    • flora and fauna surveys.

In summary, these national collections:

  • are important national and global repositories for voucher material
  • are important scientific resources for systematic and environmental research and decision-making
  • care for or acquire neglected or orphaned collections.

Other collections

There are other collections of flora and fauna in CSIRO developed for various research and related purposes.

The more significant include the:

  • Australian Tree Seed Centre
  • CSIRO Collection of Living Microalgae
  • Wood-inhabiting fungi collection
  • Dadswell Memorial Wood Collection
  • CSIRO Mycology Herbarium, Perth, Western Australia.

CSIRO accepts donations of collections, including under the Cultural Bequests Program.

CSIRO collections group

The CSIRO Collections Group represents our major national biological collections and exists to better coordinate and promote activities, pursue opportunities for commonality in handling information, enhance our research agenda and establish a common point of reference for the external world.

While the Group’s emphasis is on the major national research collections, it also provides a link to all CSIRO public reference biological collections and promotes the sharing of experience, resources, best practice and ideas for management, funding and operational systems.

The Group is available to provide assistance, advice and a secure repository for smaller collections often put together for specific purposes. The key aims are to encourage efficient exchange of data, internally and externally, and to establish a commonality in presentation and marketing of CSIRO capabilities.

Learn more about CSIRO's Facilities & Collections.