Natural history museums and zoological collections of São Paulo State
Abstract Scientific collections constitute a valuable source for contributions to scientific research and the training of human resources in systematics, but also other areas of biological knowledge. In this contribution, we intend to discuss these advancements in collections and the role played by FAPESP in sponsoring them, as well as a general overview of the zoological collections in São Paulo state. We also aim to stress the importance of zoological collections and the need for continuous logistic and financial support from institutions and research agencies to maintain and develop these unique repositories of biodiversity. From 1980 to the present, FAPESP supported 118 research projects focused on several areas of zoology that are directly or indirectly associated with collections. There is a constant growth in the number of projects, and the financial support provided by FAPESP through the Biota Program was paramount for the advancement of our knowledge of biodiversity in Brazil. Parallel to the scientific advances, but not less important, this support allowed curators to increase the number of specimens, and to organize, maintain and digitize them in these valuable and irreplaceable collections. Regarding the lack of new taxonomists, it is essential that FAPESP and universities in São Paulo encourage the formation of new academics in zoological groups where specialists are rare. Considering the investment provided by FAPESP, it is quite important that the institutions that benefited from these resources took greater responsibility to safeguard these collections, and they should consider including resources on their budgets to obtain safety certificates, ensuring their permanence for many generations to come. Zoological collections are a heritage of humanity and are essential not only for the improvement of our knowledge of biodiversity but also with direct applications, among other services provided by these biological resources. It is important that research and teaching institutions in São Paulo that house specimens under their care start to value more this important patrimony and this heritage, as these collections represent the most valuable testimony of our impressive biodiversity, records of our past, and windows to our future, essential to our academic, scientific, cultural and social sovereignty.