Naturalistes de Récolnat

The national network of naturalist collections (Récolnat)

Around 120 million objects are conserved in naturalist collections across France, representing around 5% of global collections. Archives of biodiversity and geodiversity, they represent an irreplaceable cultural heritage and are assets of undeniable value for current and future scientific research.

Making collections more accessible

The national network of naturalist collections (Récolnat) is a research infrastructure (RI) whose perimeter encompasses all naturalist collections. Récolnat’s aims include improving access to these millions of specimens, in addition to increasing the openness of their data and escalating their valorisation through research. Récolnat has featured on the national Research Infrastructure roadmap, managed by the French Minstry for Research (MESR), since 2016.

Tracing the history of Récolnat begins with Trans’Tyfipal, the French national inventory of type and figure specimens, as well as the French herbarium network founded in the millennium. From 2013, funding was provided for the project ReColNat (ANR-11-INBS-0004) for further construction. The infrastructure Récolnat works to produce, gather, harmonise and provide access to collections and their ancillary data. The ambition is to be able to provide scientific communities with high-quality natural history collections data, particularly in terms of completeness, format, reliability and interoperability. Additionally, its aim is to respond to major environmental and societal challenges.

The collections

More than a hundred public and private research, heritage and educational establishments are involved in the conservation and study of these objects. The twofold problematics of observation of the threats to biodiversity and the knowledge gaps in this field mean that this underexploited corpus represents unique and irreplaceable reservoirs of information, situated at the frontline of responding to these challenges. These collections have a fundamentally dual role: traditionally, they are the objects of reference in the description and study of the living and inert world, and also a huge campaign of diachronic observation accumulated over time.

Today, the infrastructure provides users with access to a portal containing around 11 million images and their ancillary data, from more than 80 French institutions. This corpus of data is further enriched by the citizen science programme, the Herbonautes, whose rich community of hundreds of contributors creates data sets for specific research projects. The infrastructure also provides the tool Annotate-On for researchers working on digital twins from the collections.

The Network

The infrastructure offers the opportunity to bring together, under the Récolnat network, key players in conservation with the study of French naturalist collections. Together, they use their voices to promote natural history collections as tools for science and culture.

In 2020, the network consolidated its foundation and perimeter around its ambition to structure the natural history communities in France. Operating under the framework of a group of scientific interest (GIS), Récolnat aims to constitute a network of scientific excellence by bringing together natural history professionals and harmonising common practices. Museums, universities and research institutions work together to offer enhanced and privileged access to naturalist collections and their data and, through this practice, Récolnat plays a part in the drive to provide open and FAIR data (finable, accessible, interoperable, reusable). Led by the Muséum national d’histoire naturelle in Paris, Récolnat is also the French node of the European Research Infrastructure DiSSCo (Distributed System of Scientific Collections).

Recolnat Chronology

Recolnat Chronology

© MNHN

The list of members is accessible here.

The list of partners is accessible here.

Your contacts at MNHN:

  • François Dusoulier (francois.dusoulier [@] mnhn.fr)
  • Eva Perez Pimparé (eva.perez [@] mnhn.fr)
  • Katharine Worley (katharine.worley [@] mnhn.fr)

For any question: contact [@] recolnat.org