Wildlife collection for scientific purposes

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review


  • cobi.13572

    Final published version, 1.09 MB, PDF document

  • Caroline Fukushima
  • Rick West
  • Pape, Thomas
  • Lyubomir Penev
  • Leif Schulman
  • Pedro Cardoso

Illegal transfer of wildlife has 2 main purposes: trade and scientific research. Trade is the most common, whereas scientific research is much less common and unprofitable, yet still important. Biopiracy in science is often neglected despite that many researchers encounter it during their careers. The use of illegally acquired specimens is detected in different research fields, from scientists bioprospecting for new pharmacological substances, to taxonomists working on natural history collections, to researchers working in zoos, aquariums, and botanical gardens. The practice can be due to a lack of knowledge about the permit requirements in different countries or, probably most often, to the generally high level of bureaucracy associated with rule compliance. Significant regulatory filters to avoid biopiracy can be provided by different stakeholders. Natural history collection hosts should adopt strict codes of conduct; editors of scientific publications should require authors to declare that all studied specimens were acquired legally and to cite museum catalog numbers as guarantee of best practices. Scientific societies should actively encourage publication in peer-reviewed journals of work in which specimens collected from the wild were used. The International Commission on Zoological Nomenclature could require newly designated types based on recently collected specimens to be accompanied by statements of deposition in recognized scientific or educational institutions. We also propose the creation of an online platform that gathers information about environmental regulations and permits required for scientific activities in different countries and respective responsible governmental agencies and the simplification of the bureaucracy related to regulating scientific activities. This would make regulations more agile and easier to comply with. The global biodiversity crisis means data need to be collected ever faster, but biopiracy is not the answer and undermines the credibility of science and researchers. It is critical to find amodus vivendithat promotes compliance with regulations and scientific progress.

Original languageEnglish
JournalConservation Biology
Issue number1
Pages (from-to)5-11
Number of pages7
Publication statusPublished - 2021

    Research areas

  • biodiversity, biological conservation, biopiracy, invertebrate, natural history collection, taxonomy, trafficking

ID: 249248684