New CETAF member: the Nature Research Centre from Lithuania

Four new Members joined the CETAF family after being confirmed by the General Assembly in Oslo. One of them is from the Baltic: let’s know a bit better Sigitas Podènas and the Nature Research Centre (NRC) of Lithuania

How will you describe your Institute?

The State Research Institute Nature Research Centre (NRC), traces its academic roots back to the middle of 19th century. It was established through the amalgamation of the Institute of Botany, the Institute of Ecology, and the Institute of Geology and Geography. Today, the NRC is a prominent scientific institution organized into 22 research laboratories. These laboratories are dedicated to studying biodiversity and habitat dynamics, providing a scientific foundation for ecosystem conservation and restoration, and examining the impact of anthropogenic activities on ecosystem health and functioning. Additionally, the NRC conducts vital research on pathogens and environmental stressors, including environmental risk assessment and bioremediation strategies. The NRC is actively engaged in collaborations with various organizations, offering expert advice and consultation, and playing a pivotal role in shaping legislation related to biodiversity conservation. NRC serves as a key hub for environmental education in Lithuania, with its researchers frequently participating in public education initiatives through interviews, lectures, and press releases aimed at promoting biodiversity conservation. In partnership with Vilnius University and Vytautas Magnus University, the NRC supports several PhD programs in disciplines such as physical geography, zoology, biology, ecology & environmental sciences, and geology

Which is the highlight, the main feature that characterize your institution?

Biodiversity Research and Assessment.

Which are the main collections hosted?

The entomological collections and the herbarium are the largest and most important of the various collections at the NRC.
Entomological Collection consists of over 100,000 specimens, including >100 type specimens. Several prominent researchers at the NRC focus on the Diptera and Lepidoptera of various regions worldwide and have described numerous species new to science from Central and South America, Africa, Asia, and Europe.
Herbarium (BILAS) boasts over 150,000 specimens, some dating as far back as the 18th century. These specimens are of significant importance to the country, as the resultant data is used in the preparation of Red Lists, distribution maps, research papers, and academic works.
Additionally, the NRC houses the largest collection of bird blood parasites in Europe and the only one in the Baltic States. This extensive collection includes over 35,000 specimens, with more than 240 type specimens.
The Palaeontological Collection is also of great importance, comprising scientifically valuable fossils of plants and animals, including approximately 51,750 micro- and macro-fauna specimens. The collection also houses holotypes discovered and documented by Lithuanian scientists at the NRC.
Large collections (entomological, paleontological, geological) developed by NRC researchers are housed in other specialized institutions of Lithuania and total number of our specimens exceeds 1 000 000.

The new Lithuanian member NRC

Why did you decide to join CETAF?

NRC seeks to join CETAF to contribute to and benefit from the collaborative efforts in advancing biodiversity research and conservation. As the host of the largest herbarium in Lithuania and the most extensive collection of bird blood parasites in the Baltic region, the NRC can help bridge a vital gap in knowledge between central and northern European countries. We are enthusiastic about the potential to enhance the understanding and preservation of biodiversity across Europe. We recognize CETAF’s significant role in representing the interests of its member institutions at the European level, influencing policies and initiatives related to biodiversity research and conservation. The collective voice of CETAF members can have a substantial impact on decision-making processes, and we believe our participation will amplify these efforts. Furthermore, joining CETAF provides access to invaluable shared resources, including comprehensive databases and specimen collections. These resources will enhance our research capabilities, support our scientific endeavors, and lead to a deeper understanding of biodiversity and ecosystem dynamics. In summary, we understand that membership in CETAF not only strengthens individual institutions but also contributes to collective efforts to advance biodiversity research, conservation, and education in Europe and beyond. This alignment with CETAF’s mission is a crucial reason for our decision to join.

What do you expect from this community?

By joining CETAF, we aim to foster collaboration with numerous European institutions and benefit from their expertise. We anticipate that CETAF’s emphasis on collaboration, innovation, and knowledge sharing will enable us to work constructively with scientists from across Europe. Our goals include sharing and gaining access to scientific materials and methodological innovations, as well as contributing to and benefiting from a unified scientific voice on critical issues such as climate change and biodiversity loss. This collaboration will enhance our research capabilities and amplify our impact on addressing these global challenges.

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