Zoological Research Museum Alexander Koenig - Leibniz Institute for Animal Biodiversity

Institution (Original name) 
Zoologische Forschungsmuseum Alexander Koenig - Leibniz-Institut für Biodiversität der Tiere
Adenauerallee 160
Postal code 

+49 228 9122-0

+49 228 9122-202
Type of institution 
If other, please specify 
Research Museum
Are you part of a larger entity / legal body? 
Full member
CETAF Official representative
Name, position, phone, e-mail, research field 

Prof. Dr. J. Wolfgang Wägele, Director, phone +49 228 9122-200, w.waegele@leibniz-zfmk.de
research fields: axonomy and systematics of isopoda (Crustacea), arthropod phylogeny, theory of phylogenetic systematics, estimation of data quality in molecular data sets used for phylogenetic analyses, discovery of systematic errors in molecular phylogenetics, development of methods for rapid species identification

Member of the Executive Committee? 
Name, position, phone, e-mail, research field 

Dr. Livia Schäffler, Chief scientific advisor for research networks, international cooperation & research policy, phone +49 228 9122-352, l.schaeffler@leibniz-zfmk.de
research fields: conservation biology, biodiversity assessment, population and community ecology, population genetics, primate socio-ecology

Member of the Executive Committee? 
Name, position, phone, e-mail, research field + Working Group or Project involved in 

Sabine Heine, Head of public relations department, phone +49 228 9122-215, s.heine@leibniz-zfmk.de.
research fields: zoology, historical authenticity
CETAF working group for science communication

Member of the Executive Committee? 
Director / legal representative of the institution (title, name, phone, e-mail, research field) 

Prof. Dr. J. Wolfgang Wägele, Director, phone +49 228 9122-200, w.waegele@leibniz-zfmk.de
research fields: axonomy and systematics of isopoda (Crustacea), arthropod phylogeny, theory of phylogenetic systematics, estimation of data quality in molecular data sets used for phylogenetic analyses, discovery of systematic errors in molecular phylogenetics, development of methods for rapid species identification


Governing and executive bodies 

Members of the Stiftungsrats
o Vorsitz:
 Dr. Michael H. Wappelhorst (Ministerium für Innovation, Wissenschaft und Forschung)
o Weitere nach § 6 Abs. 1 Nr. 1 bis 4 des Errichtungsgesetzes berufene Mitglieder:
 Prof. Dr. Michael Hoch (Universität Bonn, Rektor)
 Dr. Martin Schulte (Bundesministerium für Bildung und Forschung)
 Prof. Dr. Martin Sander (Wissenschaftlicher Beirat, Vorsitz)
o Stimmberechtigte Mitglieder:
 Dr. Enno Aufderheiden (Alexander-von-Humboldt-Stiftung)
 PD Dr. Birgit Gemeinholzer (Justus-Liebig-Universität AG Spezielle Botanik)
 Prof. Dr. Beate Jessel (Bundesamt für Naturschutz)
 Prof. Dr. Jakob Rhyner (UNU-ViE UN Campus)
 Volker Schramm (Sparkasse KölnBonn)
 Prof. Dr. Hildegard Westphal (Leibniz-Zentrum für Marine Tropenökologie)
 Dr. Stahl, (Präsident der Alexander Koenig Gesellschaft)
o Mitglieder ohne Stimmrecht:
 Adrian Grüter (ZFMK, kaufmännischer Geschäftsführer)
 Eva Hermann (ZFMK, Gleichstellungsbeauftragte)
 Dr. Christoph Mayer (ZFMK, Personalrat)
 Prof. Dr. J. Wolfgang Wägele (ZFMK, Direktor)

Members of the Scientific Advisory Board
 Prof. Dr. Martin Sander, Bonn, Steinmann-Institut für Geologie, Mineralogie und Paläontologie, Rheinische Friedrich-Wilhelms-Universität Bonn
 Dr. Torbjørn Ekrem, Trondheim, Norwegen, Kurator am NTNU University Museum
 Prof. Dr. Gerhard von der Emde, Bonn, Abteilung Neuroethologie/Sensorische Ökologie der Rheinischen Friedrich-Wilhelms-Universität Bonn,
 Dr. Sandra Knapp, London, National History Museum London
 Prof. Dr. Judith Korb, Freiburg, Albert-Ludwigs-Universität Freiburg
 Dr. Erik van Nieukerken, Leiden, Niederlande, Naturalis Biodiversity Center

Scientific staff 
Permanent (P)Non – Permanent (NP)
a) TOTAL scientific staff2326
b) Scientific staff linked to Collections
c) Post-docs/ PhD students29
d) Others (Associates, etc.)
TOTAL (a+b+c+d)2355
Other staff (administration etc.) 
Permanent (P)Non – Permanent (NP)
e) Exhibitions 3
f) Collection Managers/ technicians185
g) Others 3332
TOTAL (e+f+g) 5437
Total permanent staff 
Total non-permanent staff 
Grand total (permanent + non-permanent Staff) 
Male (%) 
Female (%) 
R&D facilities
How many laboratories are in use in your institution? 
List of laboratories 

Molecular laboratory
Scanning Electron microscope lab
3D scanning of macroscopic objects
General macro-preparation lab
Histology laboratory
Digital photography laboratory

List of key tools (e.g. SEM, 3D, scanners/printers,...) 

Scanning electron microscope (Zeiss 300VP), & SEM preparation equipment (sputter, critical point dryer)
Two desktop µCT scanners (Skyscan 1272: high resultion for small objects up to 75 mm; Skyscan 1173: medium-size and large objects up to 140 x 200mm)
X-ray: Faxitron LX 60 (imaging area 120 x 120 mm)
Molecular Lab: pipetting roboters (automated DNA isolation, 16 / 96 samples)
Molecular Lab: 8 standard PCR machines; qPCR (96 samples)
Molecular Lab: fragment analyser
Molecular Lab: nanopore sequencer (ONT GridIon)
Histology Lab: two autocut Microtomes
Histology Lab: Zeiss Optics (Discovery V20, Z2m Imager, ZEN software)

Number of permanent exhibitions 
List of permanent exhibitions  
Our blue planet - the living network (https://www.zfmk.de/en/museum/permanent-exhibitions)
Number of recent exhibitions 
Number of current exhibitions 
Current Temporary Exhibitions 
Number of future exhibitions 
Future exhibitions  
Planet 3.0
Dinosaurs and Gigantism
Fritz Müllers Schriftwechsel in Blumenau, Brasilien (travelling exhibition of the biohistoricum)
Die Naturforscher Alexander von Humboldt, Aimé Bonpland und Prinz Maximilian zu Wied (special exhibition of biohistoricum)
Research Field 
Taxonomy & systematics, biogeography & evolution, biodiversity assessment & monitoring, conservation biology
Summary of your Research programme 

The ZFMK is a zoological research museum dedicated to taxonomy and inventorying of terrestrial and freshwater faunas, with a special focus on tropical habitats. Curators are simultaneously researchers and collection keepers.

Our institute has a unique Center for Molecular Biodiversity Research that is leading phylogenomic projects and the German Barcode of Life (GBOL) initiative. The Center is also well known for its theoretical work and the development of algorithms needed to analyze molecular data.

The ZFMK plays a leading role in the organization of supraregional research networks (e.g. biodiversity research in Indonesia, in Georgia, monitoring in West Africa, phylogenomics of insects etc.). The expertise of our scientists is demanded for research collaborations and for capacity building, and our publications address an international audience. Research projects of (seemingly) only local relevance are also of increasing relevance, because awareness for biodiversity losses in Central Europe is growing. Our collections harbor specimens from all over the world and are used by the international scientific community, including Ph.D. students from abroad (e.g. Vietnam, Indonesia, Iran, Colombia etc.). We are data providers for GBIF, BOLD, NCBI, GGBN.

If an industrialized country like Germany wants to take its responsibility for planet earth’s biosphere seriously, it has to run facilities for species-based biodiversity research. German universities have lost most of their capacity in this field of science and are not suitable for long-term tasks. Germany has signed the Convention on Biodiversity and is committed to identification, monitoring and conservation of biodiversity. Recently, Bonn was chosen for the UN secretariat of the IPBES. The “Nationale Strategie zur biologischen Vielfalt” (National Biodiversity Strategy), accepted in 2007 by the federal cabinet, includes many recommendations and conditions for the development and use of German landscapes which require monitoring of biodiversity. Research for the goals of this strategy has to be done in institutes with species knowledge, voucher collections, and historical data that document landscape and diversity changes. ZFMK is committed to develop data bases and research tools for a comprehensive biodiversity monitoring. GBOL is an example for the development of tools and for networking including citizen scientists to overcome this impediment. Our taxonomists are experts for the compilation of lists of protected species (CITES lists of the Washington Species Protection Plan, red lists) and cooperate e.g. with the Bundesamt für Naturschutz (Federal Agency for Nature Conservation).

The taxonomic expertise of curators comprises globally terrestrial and freshwater animal taxa, without geographical focus. Taxonomic research is integrative, i.e. combining morphological data (incl. histology and 3D-recosntructions) with molecular sequence information. In view of the enormous number of unknown species, we are using tools to speed up species descriptions, and for rapid inventorying we rely on inverse taxonomy, i.e. characterizing species with automatized methods prior to conventional species descriptions. The phylogenetic expertise is distinguished by a critical analysis of information contents of data, the search for sources of errors at the algorithmic level, and the development of new tools for phylogenetic analyses of sequence data.

Scientific publications
Number of peer-reviewed publications per year 
Annual journals/series 

Bonn Zoological Bulletin: http://www.zoologicalbulletin.de

Quarterly journals/series 

European Journal of Taxonomy: http://www.europeanjournaloftaxonomy.eu/index.php/ejt
(ZFMK is a funding partner since 2018)

Other publications 

Various monographs published at irregular intervals: https://www.zfmk.de/de/forschung/publikationen

Digital copy of the latest annual report 
EARTH SCIENCES (Geology, Mineralogy, Palaeontology,…) 
TypologyPrimary typesIndividual specimens/objects% registered cards % recorded cards in DB
LIFE SCIENCES (Zoology, Biology, Botany, Mycology,…) 
Zoological collection of the ZFMK
TypologyPrimary typesIndividual specimens/objects% registered cards% recorded cards in database
1.1.5Lepidoptera & Trichoptera2,000(2,000,000)
Total specimens (all collections) 
Outstanding collection features 

Detailed information about ZFMK collections will soon be accessible here: https://www.binhum.net/spoke/zfmk

The ZFMK Biobank is a specialized archive storing ultra-deep frozen animal samples (e.g. DNA and tissue) for non-commercial molecular research. The biobank is closely linked to the morphological collections of the museum. To browse the molecular samples kept at ZFMK or elsewhere in the Global Genome Biodiversity Network please visit http://data.ggbn.org/ggbn_portal/search/index (The portal does not yet include the majority of our samples; we are currently importing data – in the meantime, please feel free to send your material inquiries by e-mail)

The “lower arthropods” collections hold about 70,000 specimens, including the world’s most diverse collection of Pholcidae spiders (Huber), extensive spider material from fogging campaigns in East Africa (Wagner, Freund) and from pitfall trapping in West and Central Africa (previously Trier collection), a large and partly historically important Odonata collection, as well as smaller collections of parasitic mites and other Arachnida, Ephemeroptera, Plecoptera, and Crustacea. We have extensive spider material from fogging campaigns in Eastern Africa (collections Wagner, Freund) and from pitfall trapping in Central and West Africa, as well as the largest comparative collection of pholcid spiders, and an important collection of parasitic mites (Lukoschus collection).

The Diptera collection contains some 400,000 specimens of more than 7,000 species. Most of the specimens are pinned, but there also is a large alcohol collection, mostly Tipulidae and Limoniidae. The holdings include the following important specialist collections: Phoridae (H. Schmitz, E. Beyer, E. Baumann, H. Ulrich), Tipuloidea (B. Mannheims, H. Mendl), Blephariceridae (B. Mannheims, S. Kitakami), and Sciaridae (F. Lengersdorf — on a long term loan to F. Menzel from the Deutsches Entomologisches Institut, Müncheberg). The ZFMK collection of Diptera also holds a large part of the material collected in Fujian (China) by J.F. Klapperich. Furthermore, the collection houses the largest fossil collection in amber dedicated to Dolichopodidae in the world (H. Ulrich). Besides the dried, pinned specimens, a rich and large collection in alcohol is housed at ZFMK, mostly for Tipulidae and Limoniidae (B. Mannheims). The Diptera collection is rich in type material with more than 1,320 types, from which 780 are holotype specimens. The Phoridae collection of Schmitz and Beyer contain 452 and 152 types respectively.

The Coleoptera collection of the Museum Koenig (ZFMK) comprises about 2.5 million specimens and includes a number of larger and smaller collections. Among the more important are the "Rhineland" collection (https://www.zfmk.de/en/research/collections/rheinlandsammlung) founded by F. Rüschkamp and extended by the AG Rheinischer Koleopterologen (Wagner 2007), the collection of myrmeco- and termitophile beetles of A. Reichensperger (or at least a part of it - although mentioned in Horn et al. (1990) that it was destroyed during World War II), and a part of the collection R. Oberthür, acquired by the Museum in 1956. Moreover, the collection has grown by expeditions of museum's staff, such as those of H. Roer, who was for long time (1963-1991) curator of Coleoptera (Schmitt 2003), and of J. Klapperich, employed as Coleoptera technician from 1935 to 1952 at the museum (Lucht 1988). Klapperich collected during this time much in Fujian (China) and other regions and after his membership to the institute the museum acquired still much of his material (e.g. from Afghanistan). Consequently, many other museums house material of Klapperich, e.g. the National Museum in Prague, the Hungarian Natural History Museum, Budapest and the Staatliche Museum für Naturkunde, Karlsruhe. After Klapperich's death 1987 the rest of the material of Klapperich collection was bought by the Staatliches Museum für Naturkunde, Stuttgart (Schmitt 2007). In the recent years additional material has been accumulated from research projects in Eastern Africa mainly through the activities of T. Wagner. Recent accessions comprise material from South Africa, Arunachal Pradesh, and Laos (Scarabaeidae, Chrysomelidae).

Lepidoptera: ZFMK has about 2 million specimens of all butterfly and moths families (geographical focus: Palaearctic Region and Southeast Asia). The collection contains more than 2,000 primary types (holo-, lecto-, neotypes, many other species are represented by syntypes). Particularly worth mentioning are the following holdings: Collection Hermann Höne: about 500,000 specimens of all butterfly- and moth-families from China, Collection René Oberthür: about 160,000 specimens of many different butterfly- and moth-families (half of the material also of Chinese origin. Collection Eugen Wehrli: about 150,000 specimens of the moth-family Geometridae (Geometer Moths). Containing also material from the Höne-collection and parts of the historical collections Ch. Oberthür, A. Guenée and M. Boisduval, including a large number of type specimens. Collection Clas M. Naumann: about 100,000 specimens of Zygaenidae, most important and complete collection of the genus Zygaena, containing a large number of type specimens. Collection Sigbert Wagener: about 90,000 specimens of butterflies and moths, collected in Europe, N. Africa and Turkey. Containing all voucher specimens of the monumental book (in 3 vols) "Butterflies of Turkey" and many other publications. Collection Klaus Rose, Mainz: valuable collection of Palaearctic butterflies, including many types. This collection is still at the hands of Prof. K. Rose, for further studies. Collection Peter Kuhna, Wipperfürth: about 60,000 specimens of butterflies and moths, collected in Europe, N. Africa and Turkey, with a strong focus on the moth family Noctuidae (about half of the material) and on Turkey as a geographical focus. Containing a number of type specimens, based on own descriptions, and ~ 800 genitalia preparations. Collection Melchior Pass: more than 200 drawers containing tropical butterflies, hawk-moths (Sphingidae) and emperor moths (Saturniidae). Collection of the Cologne Zoo and Collection Matthias Forst: about 90,000 specimens of all lepidoptera families. Housed at the "Insectarium" of the Cologne Zoo for many years. Lepidoptera Collection of the "Fuhlrott-Museum" Wuppertal: around 30,000 specimens of many butterfly and moth families. Local Rhineland Collection of butterflies and moths: around 60,000 specimens from Bonn and surrounding regions, containing more than 1,000 species. Collection of material of the order Trichoptera (closely related to Lepidoptera): about 2,762 specimens (pinned or preserved in ethanol). The collection contains valuable type specimens, mainly from China.

The insect collections include also e.g. Heteroptera (21,000 specimens), Homoptera (10,000), Hymenoptera (70,000), Orthoptera (30,000), Phthiraptera (24,000) and Siphonaptera (4,000).

The ZFMK also has an important herpetological collection containing 102.000 specimens, with more than 670 type specimens and 335 holotypes and a geographic focus on the western Palearctic, Africa, Southeast Asia, and the Neotropics. Research of the herpetology section comprises the taxonomy, faunistics, diversity, aut-/ synecology and conservation of amphibians and reptiles. Next to more traditional methods (morphology/ anatomy, bioacoustics, empirical field studies and experiments), we combine genetics and natural history information with recently developed collection based macroecological approaches (species distribution modeling, environmental niche modeling). These techniques allow us to analyze the structure and evolution of species’ environmental niches through space and time in a phylogenetic context as well as assessments of species’ likely responses to anthropogenic climate change.

The fish collection of the ZFMK currently includes more than 100,000 individuals with the type material for 26 families, 75 genera, and 130 species. The collection contains mainly freshwater fishes, with emphasis on South American and later on European, African and Asian species. The present research program focuses on taxonomy, DNA Barcoding, phylogenetics and speciation of freshwater fishes from Asia and Europe.

Currently, the ZFMK bird collection comprises about 85,000 individuals, most of them (76,000) are specimens, the rest are mounted preparations. The collection is complemented by skeletons and specimens in alcohol (ca. 3,000). In addition, the egg collection encompasses 60,000 single objects including ca. 1,700 nests. In 2003, we began to build up a collection of tissue samples which is continuously growing. The most precious specimens are types (holotypes, syntypes and paratypes) of more than 300 taxa. The oldest exhibit is a little display cabinet from the year 1793 and contains a Fieldfare. The oldest series of exhibits belongs to the collection of the "bird pastor" Christian Ludwig Brehm and dates back to the year 1808. The geographical focuses of the collection are the Palearctic and Afrotropical region. Granivorous passerines (estrildid finches, finches and weavers) as well as hummingbirds are numerically the most represented groups in our collection.

The mammal collection houses about 100,000 specimens representing 1,800 species of mammals. All recent orders and 87% of the families are represented. There are 100 primary type specimens (holo-, lecto- and neotypes) and 500 paratypes; including those of extinct species. Unique features of the collection: The focus of the collection of preserved mammals are small mammals of the Palearctic and Africa. Of special international significance are the African collections, together with the museums in Berlin, Frankfurt and Stuttgart. The Bat Banding Centre archives data relating to the banding and band retrieval of bats in Germany and adjacent regions going back to 1932. The animal sound collection with a focus on "terrestrial carnivores" (Fissipedia) and a related collection of larynxes, specifically of cats.

A unique holding is the Biohistoricum, a collection of literature related to the history of biology. It contains among others private book collections of, Fritz and Hermann Müller, Paul Buchner, Otto Bütschli, Ingo Krumbiel, Ernst Mayr, Bernhard Rensch, Eduard Strassburger, and many more.

Does your institution have an Index Seminum? 


Heritage sciences (art, manuscripts, maps, photographs...) 

The institute’s library is the largest zoological library in the Rhine region. It holds about 102,000 books, 30,000 monographs, 1,300 journals, and several reprint collections with partly over 30,000 digitized publications. ZFMK has a unique separate library on the history of biology (“Biohistoricum”), with many important legacies.

Other information regarding heritage collections 

Our biological world view is also shaped by the history of scientific knowledge. In its unique Biohistoricum established in 2008, the ZFMK conserves valuable specialist literature, bequests of important scientists and archives on history of biology. It is a research archive for biology historians, zoologists and botanists. The documents and objects of the Biohistoricum are presented in special exhibitions at ZFMK as well as in travelling exhibitions.

Size and importance of living collections 

The ZFMK keeps more than 400 amphibians & reptiles and more than 1,300 fishes for scientific purposes, public relations and live animals are presented in the freshwater exhibition.

Genetic Repositories
Does your institution have a DNA bank? 
Number of DNA samples 
170 000
Number of organisms / species 
20 000
Does your institution have a seed bank? 
Number of outgoing loans (parcels / specimens) per year 
about 300 parcels
Number of scientific visitors per year 
about 30
Main activities of communication and outreach 

Grand exhibition openings
Guided tours
Public lectures
Flyers + scientific posters (lectures/ exhibitions)
Science slams (participation + organization)
Representation of the ZFMK at public events of the city of Bonn (museum nights, cultural events, etc.)
Press releases
TV + radio productions
Web presence

Contact person at your institution for communications / press / external relations (name, position, phone, e-mail) 

Sabine Heine, Head of public relations department, phone +49 228 9122-215, s.heine@leibniz-zfmk.de

Last year:  
89 291
Trends (past and future) 

84,581 public visitors in 2015 and 89,291 in 2016, further increase expected

Career opportunities
Research updates
Workshops / Events
Other means of communication  

Cooperation with schools

If your institution is involved with non-university-based teaching or education programmes, please describe them & the partners 

Museumscurriculum für Grundschulen (Kooperation zwischen Bonner Grundschulen und sieben Bonner Museen):

Fenster zur Natur: MuseobilBOX-Dioramen: http://museobilbox.org

Neugierde im Gepäck – Eine Forschungsreise um die Welt: http://www.museum-macht-stark.de/das-projekt/projektinfos.html

Jugendprogramm von Natur beflügelt: https://www.zfmk.de/de/zfmk/unterstuetzen-sie-uns/natur-befluegelt
- Forscherclubs: Juniorforscherclub seit 2008, Jungforscherclub seit 2014, Alexander-Koenig-Science-Club seit 2016
- Schul-Arbeitsgemeinschaften seit 2008, gefördert von der Deutschen Telekom Stiftung und der Alexander-Koenig-Gesellschaft

Hier und dort Zuhause – Ein Bildungsprogramm für Kinder und ihre Mütter mit Zuwanderungsgeschichte

If your institution is involved with universities in teaching or education programmes, please name and describe them 

Regular teaching on biodiversity, taxonomy, systematics in the fields of morphology, anatomy, genetics and genomics within the Masterprogram Organismic ´Biology, Evolutionary Biology and Palaeobiology at the Friedrich Wilhelm-University of Bonn. About 10 scientists from ZFMK are regularily involved in teaching these topics. They also supervise many Bachelor, Master and PhD theses.

Partnership with Sam Ratulangi University in Manado, Indonesia in building up an International Masterprogram: Indo-Pacific Coral Reef Biodiversity and Conservation. This is the first International Master at the university and is unique within the Coral Triangle.

Several scientists from ZFMK also teach at Sam Ratulangi University in Manado, Indonesia in the Masterprogram Aquatic Science (Faculty of Fishery and Aquatic Science). Topics are biodiversity, taxonomy, systematics, ecology

Contact person at your institution for education / teaching / training (name, position, phone, e-mail) 

Public relations: Hae-Yon Weon-Kettenhofen, phone +49 228 9122-219, h.weon-kettenhofen@leibniz-zfmk.de
University teaching: Heike Wägele, phone +49 228 9122-241, h.waegele@leibniz-zfmk.de


1. Biodiversity assessment
2. Understanding evolutionary traits
3. Integrative taxonomy, biogeography & conservation


1. Biodiversity monitoring & conservation biology
2. Sustainability Research
3. Continuation of present key research areas

Last update