Understanding and sustaining biological and genetic diversity is a social, cultural, scientific and economic imperative that is key to adaptation and survival in a human-dominated environment. Historically, genetically diverse species have been preserved by protecting large-size natural habitats, a strategy that, while ideal, is insufficient given our growing global human population that now exceeds 7 billion people. To fill the gaps, the Smithsonian Institution has launched innovative programs to enhance our knowledge of biodiversity through investigations of the evolution, ecology, and conservation of species and habitats around the world. Understanding and sustaining biodiversity is enhanced through major efforts including the growth of scientific collections (not only including the physical specimens/sample but also the large amount of data associated to it), the implementation of collaborative study sites around the world, and the development of multi-disciplinary projects taking into account the natural and cultural values of species and ecosystems. For example, there are enormous opportunities that can be addressed by establishing and using wildlife biobanks ? organized collections of living biomaterials. Other elements also are credible additions to biobanks, including plants, soils, water, ice and environmental DNA, all of which will provide even more information on the health of ecosystems. Importantly, collections are supporting study sites including Global Earth Observatories and Long-Term Environmental Research Network systems that are generating enormous amounts of samples and data to better understand the impact of climate change, pollution and disease. Lastly, the integration of new technologies such as the high-throughput DNA sequencing (genomics) into the above efforts considerably accelerates our knowledge and permit to implement more sustainable actions that will contribute to saving species and their natural habitats.