Natural history collections are unique research infrastructures that enable the study of global biodiversity, as well as basic scientific research: which species are found where, what are their native ranges, which areas are rich in species or endemic species and should therefore be a conservation priority, how and why does human activity affect species distributions, which species are found in association and what does this association imply regarding ecological community assembly, which changes in species richness or distribution reflect the process of biological invasions, how is climate change expected to affect species distributions and community assembly and how are these processes expected to impact the spread of agricultural pests and disease carriers, and consequently affect human economy and health, etc. The answers to these scientific questions are a crucial basis for understanding the rules that govern ecosystems and to formulate plans for their conservation.