Discovery of Biodiversity
One of the fundamental tasks of the Museum für Naturkunde is trying to answer the question: Which species once lived and are currently living on our planet? Only species which are known and undoubtedly recognizable – in other words species that have been described and named so that they can be referred to – can be reasonably treated with in other biological disciplines (such as ecology, conservation biology, physiology or behavioural studies).
Assessing biodiversity, including the biodiversity of bygone ages, describing scientifically unknown species and placing them into a phylogenetic system (a system which reflects the evolutionary affinities of a species towards others), thus is the basic task of all biological disciplines at the Museum, including palaeontology, entomology and zoology. All research in the Museum related to this fundamental task is unified in the Science Program Discovery of Biodiversity. However, the scope of the Science Program extends well beyond this aspect and comprises the whole range of biodiversity research.
We herein investigate where and why species occur (biogeography) and with which other species they co-occur (documentation of species communities). This knowledge is the bases for further research including applied aspects. For instance, in order to uncover potential range shifts of species and the respective causes, a detailed documentation of the current and former ranges of species is indispensible. Such results of the Science Program Discovery of Biodiversity then can be made available for applied aspects leading into effective conservation planning and management.
The activities in Discovery of Biodiversity are largely based on the extensive scientific collections of the Museum and are thus highly dependent on the Science Program Collection Development. In particular close links exist as well with the Science Programs Genome - Organisms - Environment and Dynamic Diversity, the research of both being built on the knowledge gained in Discovery of Biodiversity. The geographic focus of Discovery of Biodiversity is on the Palaearctic, South-East Asia (in particular with regard to research questions in evolutionary biology and biogeography) and Africa (with a main emphasis on questions on biodiversity responses to habitat degradation and conversion, as well as to global climate change).
Discovery of Biodiversity has become one of the two largest Science Programs of the Museum, both in terms of numbers of staff involved and numbers of projects. It includes multidisciplinary zoological and palaeontological projects.
Projects in the Science Program
- Freshwater Diversity Identification for Europe (FREDIE) (PD Dr. Matthias Glaubrecht)
- Palaeoecology and evolution of Pliocene-Pleistocene Turkana Basin molluscs: implications for basin formation and the evolution of hominins in East Africa (PD Dr. Matthias Glaubrecht)
- Assessing biodiversity in Southeast Asian freshwaters (PD Dr. Matthias Glaubrecht)
- Phylogeny and Phylogeography of freshwater gastropods with brood pouches (Thiaridae) in Australia (PD Dr. Matthias Glaubrecht)
- Distributed Dynamic Diversity Databases for Life (4D4Life) (Dr. Christoph Häuser)
- Taxonomy and systematics of the Issidae (Hemiptera Fulgoromorpha) (Prof. Dr. Hannelore Hoch; Humboldt Research Fellowship for Dr Vladimir Gnezdilov, St. Petersburg, Zoological Institute, Academy of Sciences)
- Diversity of the Sawflies (Symphyta) of southern Africa (Dr. Frank Koch)
- Late Cretaeceous vertebrate diversity and paleoecology of northern Sudan (Prof. Dr. Johannes Müller)
- Taxonomy und systematics of freshwater snails (Dr. Thomas von Rintelen)
- Biogeography at the Sundaland-Wallacea interface: testing hypotheses with freshwater shrimps (Dr. Kristina von Rintelen)
- Amphibians of Mount Nimba, Guinea - ecology, population genetic, conservation (PD Dr. Mark-Oliver Rödel)
- Uncovering cryptic diversity in two forest dependant western African frog genera, Petropedetes and Conraua (PD Dr. Mark-Oliver Rödel)