Senckenberg Society for Nature Research

Original name(s)
    Institution Address

    Senckenberganlage 25
    60325 Frankfurt

    Topics of interests

    • Joint (collection-based) research projects
    • Promoting collections and natural history museums
    • Training activities

    Main areas of taxonomic expertise

    • Main research activities in this field are taxonomy and systematics, evolution and biogeography, morphology and function
    • The Senckenberg working group “Molecular taxonomy of marine organisms” uses state-of-the-art methods for species identification and classification of marine metazoans, including DNA barcodes,in situ hybridisation and next-generation sequencing technologies (NGS) as well as mass spectrometry data (MALDI ToF), enabling rapid species assessments. The combination of such different techniques with morphological approaches is unique in Germany.
    • In the international context, Senckenberg also plays a prominent role through its responsibility for the Fossil Pit (Grube Messel), a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and the related research focus on Eocene biodiversity.
    • Further outstanding taxonomic and systematic research activities concern fungi, soil organisms, marine organisms (in particular from the deep sea) and fossil birds.
    • Cutting-edge research under the heading “integrative taxonomy”, combining classical & modern methods, such as bio-acoustics, molecular genetics and ecological approaches to unravel and explain the evolution of the extant and extinct diversity of life.

    Type of organisation

    Institution Address

    Senckenberganlage 25
    60325 Frankfurt

    Director Representative

    Dr.Hanieh Saeedi


    Structure Chart

    Governing & Executive bodies

    6 Research Institutes, including 3 Museums in Frankfurt, Dresden and Görlitz

    1. Senckenberg Forschungsinstitut und Naturmuseum Frankfurt including - Senckenberg Forschungsstation für Fließgewässerökologie und Naturschutzforschung Gelnhausen - Senckenberg Forschungsstation Grube Messel in Messel - Senckenberg Forschungsstation für Quartärpaläontologie Weimar - Senckenberg Center for Human Evolution and Palaeoenvironment at Tübingen University
    2. Senckenberg am Meer Wilhelmshaven including - Arbeitsstelle des Deutschen Zentrums für marine Biodiversitätsforschung Hamburg
    3. Senckenberg Deutsches Entomologisches Institut Müncheberg
    4. Senckenberg Naturhistorische Sammlungen Dresden
    5. Senckenberg Museum für Naturkunde Görlitz
    6. Senckenberg Biodiversität und Klima Forschungszentrum Frankfurt




    Staff fields

    staff_year of reference2020
    staff total808.0
    scientific staff (permanent)107.0
    scientific staff (non permanent)265.0
    staff administrative (permanent)320.0
    staff administrative (non permanent)116.0

    General Description

    Senckenberg’s research aims at understanding the role of biodiversity in the past, present and future dynamics of the Earth’s system. Correspondingly, Senckenberg pursues integrative geobiodiversity research by using an earth system approach and combining bio- and geosciences, as well as reductionist and holistic research concepts that are largely organismic, field- and collection-oriented. With this research strategy we contribute to the protection and sustainable use of nature resources and to the development of an earth system management.

    On an operational level, our research program comprises four basic and intensively cross-linked research fields (RF), each containing between two and four research activities:

    • RF I: Biodiversity and Systematics (including Taxonomy and Systematics , Evolution and Biogeography, Morphology and Function)
    • RF II: Biodiversity and Ecosystems Health (including Medical Biodiversity, Long-term Ecosystem Dynamics and Biodiversity Conservation)
    • RF III: Biodiversity and Climate (including Geobiodiversity and Climate, Genomic Evolution and Climate, Ecosystem Services and Climate)
    • RF IV: Biodiversity and Earth System Dynamics (Evolving Earth and Paleoenvironment, Human Evolution and Paleoenvironment

    The four research fields with their various research activities are interlinked as a research network, with RF Biodiversity and Systematics at its core. This kind of reticulated research is characteristic of our integrative research strategy. Moreover, we follow a clear strategy to integrate our research results. This strategy is supported by our Science and Society program which focuses on the fields “Museums”, “Scientific Services” and “Knowledge Transfer”.

    Biodiversity and Systematics

    Biodiversity and Systematics represents Senckenberg’s traditional core competence and reflects the organismic, field- and collection-oriented approach. Ecological functions and ecosystem services, so intensively studied today, are provided by organisms; therefore, their full understanding, quantification, monitoring, and management requires knowledge about the underlying systematics.

    Similarly, fighting pests and pathogen vectors, as well as analyzing the impact of climate change and other stressors on biodiversity requires the correct identification of species. Numerous opportunities in systematics arise from molecular studies, in particular concerning phylogenetic and biogeographic relationships and identification of cryptic species. Hence, this methodology is an integral part of the RF, including the development of a DNA and tissue collection.

    The three RFs Biodiversity and Ecosystem Health, Biodiversity and Climate and Biodiversity and Earth system dynamics are settled around our core competences in Biodiversity and Systematics.

    Biodiversity and Ecosystem Health

    The RF Biodiversity and Ecosystem Health focuses on understanding and managing the World´s species and ecosystems under global change. The research activity (RA) Medical Biodiversity contributes to the global One Health initiative by investigating vector-borne diseases and parasitology. The RA Long-term Ecosystem Dynamics represents a “traditional” research activity with typical long-term monitoring aspects and a key competence in long-term data analyses.

    For decades, we have run monitoring projects in marine, freshwater and terrestrial ecosystems and are strongly embedded in international networks like LTER and GEOBON. The RA Biodiversity Conservation focuses on developing new methods, assessments tools and management recommendations. It is combining our nature conservation projects in marine, terrestrial and limnic environments.

    Biodiversity and Climate

    The three research activities of RF Biodiversity and Climate, i.e. Evolution and Climate, Biodiversity Dynamics and Climate, and Adaptation and Climate represent the different time scales over which we analyse how biodiversity interacts with its environment from Earth’s geologic history to the impact of our industrialized global society. These research activities complement the RA Ecosystem services and climate, which, in cooperation with the Institut für sozial-ökologischeForschung (ISOE), studies the social-ecological dimensions of biodiversity and climate change.


    Biodiversity and Earth System Dynamics

    RF Biodiversity and Earth System Dynamics analyzes key periods of Earth’s history to derive “lessons from the past“, particularly with respect to the mutual impact of biodiversity on evolution – biotic and abiotic – of the “Earth system”. Further, it studies the impact of environmental change and increased anthropogenic sea use on sedimentary environments of coastal and shelf seas as well as on non-tropical shallow- and deep-water biosedimentary systems and carbon cycling. A third focus on Human Evolution and Paleoenvironment complements these longer time scales as it addresses the evolution of humans in the light of the multifaceted interactions with their paleoenvironment.


    Link of the Research page : Research Page

    Link of the Annual report : 


    Research Fields

    • Anthropology / Physical anthropology (46.20.00)

    Research Initiative

    Activities and outreach with Universities

    More than 90 Senckenberg scientists give lectures at 19 national and international universities including Goethe Universität Frankfurt, Eberhard-Karls Universität Tübingen, Universität Koblenz Landau, Universität Erlangen-Nürnberg, Justus Liebig Universität Gießen, Friedrich Schiller Universität Jena, Universität Leipzig, TU Dresden, TU Freiberg, HTW Dresden, Internationales Hochschulinstitut Zittau, Hochschule Zittau/Görlitz, Universität Halle-Wittenberg,  Universität Cottbus-Senftenberg, FU Berlin, TU Berlin, Universität Potsdam, Universität Bremen, Universität Oldenburg,University of Sherbrooke, Kanada; University of Glasgow, Schottland; Université de Poitiers, Frankreich; University Dar es Salaam, Tansania; National University of Mongolia Ulaanbaatar, Mongolei; Makere University Kibale, Uganda; El Colegio de la Frontera Sur Unidad Chetuma, Mexiko. The main activities in the field of education are as follows: Lecturing, supervision of bachelor, master and PhD theses, and supervision of traineeships.


    Activities and outreach with other public

    For approximately 50 years, Senckenberg operates the “Senckenberg School” for natural history museum and collection technicians. Every year 20 students are accepted for a 2-year training.



    Katrin Böhning-Gaese
    +49-(0)69-7542 1890

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