The role of environmental specimen banks in monitoring environmental contamination

Jacqueline S. Chaplow, Alexander L. Bond, Jan Koschorreck, Heinz Rüdel, Richard F. Shore

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

1 Citation (Scopus)


The term environmental specimen bank (ESB) refers to an organization that collects, preserves, and stores environmental specimens. The first ESB was set up in Sweden in the 1960s but long before that museums (and private individuals) were collecting specimens from all over the world. Specimen banks, and the environmental samples they contain, are a key tool that enables examination of how the environment is affected by, and responding to, major long-term anthropogenic-mediated changes. There are specimen banks in many countries that function to fulfill the following roles: to provide samples that can be used to evaluate wildlife and domestic animal health and human food safety, to investigate trends in environmental change over time, to detect and identify sources of legacy and newly emerging chemicals, to validate computer model predictions and test novel technologies, to test and evaluate government environmental policy and regulations, and to serve as archives for environmental specimens and facilitate specimen use. In this chapter we discuss the role and functioning of ESBs, describe the strict operation of the German ESB, and highlight case studies that have made use of archived samples from the “Predatory Bird Monitoring Scheme” and natural history museum collections.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationMonitoring Environmental Contaminants
Number of pages16
ISBN (Electronic)9780444643353
ISBN (Print)9780444643360
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2020


  • Analysis
  • Environmental specimen bank (ESB)
  • Monitoring
  • Sample preparation
  • Sampling
  • Standards
  • Storage


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