Collection of cultural artefacts, biological specimens and other physical objects for research purposes is increasingly regarded as unnecessary and damaging to the environment. Collection may take the form of an unhealthy obsession through which collectors obtain a sense of personal security by building up as complete a collection as possible. Such obsession also takes an institutional form through the collection policies of museums concerned to maintain their status within the museum community.
In the case of birds eggs, collectors can constrain an attempt by a species to prosper. In the early 1950s, for example, there were no osprey's in Scotland. As a consequence of determined efforts by bird lovers, by 1989 there were 52 breeding pairs, but despite surveillance the nests of 8 of them were robbed by collectors. Egg collection can also have a catastrophic effect on a species which is declining naturally because collectors sensitive to such increasing rarity intensify their efforts to obtain eggs. Many flowering plants have been seriously threatened by collectors of exotic species. 99% of these plants die within a few months of being removed from their habitat and the surviving one percent is unable to reproduce.
Collection of specimens is necessary for the advancement of scientific knowledge. In the case of rare specimens, it is important to preserve them in collections before they disappear from nature altogether in order to maintain a scientific record.