Senckenberg Research Institute and Natural History Museum Frankfurt

Biodiversity mapping


Appointed by the city council of Frankfurt/Main, the Senckenberg Research Institute is studying, mapping and monitoring habitat types and diversity of selected plants and animals in the urban area since 1985. This includes all areas that are not under nature conservation or protection and large industrial sites.

The affiliation of the Biodiversity mapping and monitoring working group to the Senckenberg Research Institute is ideal: traditionally one of Senckenberg‘s main research interests focussed on the diversity of the Frankfurt and Rhine-Main area. Our collections document the flora and fauna of this region over almost 200 years, identifying regions of high priority for monitoring and investigating floral and faunal change.

In 1988, the 10th meeting of the working group „Biotopkartierung im besiedelten Bereich“ (Biotope mapping in urban areas) took place in cooperation with the Hessische Landesanstalt für Umwelt and the municipality of Frankfurt/Main, at the Senckenberg Research Institute. Conference proceedings are published in „Courier Forschungsinstitut Senckenberg“ vol. 126.



Section from a „Biotoptypenkarte“ (Map of habitat types). Each habitat is marked by object number and habitat type number. In the corresponding database, monitored habitats are further characterized by additional codes and text.

In 1990, the first cycle of biotope mapping was completed. Since then, the urban area is subject to monitoring investigation every five years. Since 2000, biotope mapping is extended to the „Stadtwald“ (the municipal forest south of Frankfurt/Main), which was formerly excluded. Recent EU-wide regulations (FFH-Richtlinien) have also led to a change in the focus of the studies.

From its establishment in 1985, the working group carries out defined floristic and faunistic investigations („Präzisierungskartierungen“) in selected areas and habitats of the city. These examinations provide answers to questions concerning e.g. landscape structure and species inventory as well as nature preservation, management, and development. Recently, these studies were also merged with our special projects (e.g. "Frankfurt 21"; "Stadtwald"; "Flughafen-Projekt", "Frankfurter Kreuz"). Special attention is paid to species and habitats listed under the FFH directives.

Results from these studies are an indispensable data base for municipal expert planning (environmental and nature conservation, species and biotope conservation programs, intervention regulations). In addition to scientifically founded information about state of nature, its dynamics, threat and need of protection as well as developmental potential of nature in a big town, the results also supply knowledge about the distribution of plant and animal species and allow statements concerning their individual degree of threat and adequate protective measures.


Purse-web spider Atypus piceus (Sulzer, 1776), one of three indigenous relatives of tarantula from a limestone meadow at the Berger Hang in the city of Frankfurt/Main. Photo: A. Malten.

More about spiders


Major topics of the 4th monitoring period (2001-2005) are:

  • Realization of 3rd revisional monitoring using the key to habitat types ("Biotoptypenschlüssel")
  • Realization of biotope mapping in the "Stadtwald“, the municipal forest south of Frankfurt/Main
  • Registration of the habitats to be protected according to §23 HENatG (Hessisches Naturschutzgesetz) and habitats according to fauna-flora-habitat (FFH) directive
  • Exploration of species diversity and dynamics of selected biotope types
  • Evaluation of accompanying measures towards renaturation, maintenance, and development (e.g. Nidda rivulet, former airbase Bonames)
Biotoptypenschlüssel 2007 (PDF file, 1 MB)

Results from the Biotope mapping project are reflected in a number of unpublished expert opinions and reports as well as in official publications.

As a consequence of the cooperation between the Biodiversity mapping and monitoring project, Senckenberg Research Institute, and the Goethe University, a series of diploma theses emerged from the working group’s studies.

A brochure of the municipality of Frankfurt am Main gives further details about the Biotope mapping project.