Skip to content


Repository files navigation

Biological Collections Ontology

How to cite the BCO

If you are using the ontology, please cite its IRI (

Please cite the original PLOS ONE paper: or the more recent book chapter:


The BCO supports the interoperability of biodiversity and biodiversity related data, including data on museum collections, environmental/metagenomic samples, and ecological surveys. A key aspect of the BCO is distinguishing among material samples (i.e. specimens), observing processes, and data about either of those entities.

The BCO covers distinctions between individuals, organisms, voucher specimens, lots, samples, the relations between these entities, and the processes governing the creation and use of "samples". Also within scope are properties including collector, location, time, storage environment, containers, institution, and collection identifiers.

A slightly outdated 12 minute overview of the BCO is available on YouTube at

The Biological Collections Ontology (BCO) is part of the OBO Foundry library and attempts to conform to OBO Foundry Principles


Please join the BCO Google Groups mailing list: You can browse the list at!forum/bco-discuss.

Stable release versions

The latest stable release of the BCO is always available from

Older releases are availabe via their purls using the form$releasedate

Editors' version

The editors' version of BCO can be downloaded directly from This version is subject to change and should be used with caution.


The repository was moved to this location from in September 2014. Much older versions of the ontology can be viewed at the biocode-commons project at