Bodenzoologie Titelbild 12

Senckenberg Museum of Natural History Görlitz

Soil Zoology

The Soil Zoology Division is dedicated to the study of soil invertebrates, their taxonomy and systematics, their aut- and community ecology, as well as morphology and biogeography. In seven sections, representatives of the microfauna (nematodes, waterbears and flatworms), mesofauna (springtails and oribatids, predatory and actinedid mites) and macrofauna (woodlice, centipedes and millipedes) are studied.

Numerous inter-sectional research projects investigate soil animal communities, their participation in soil functions and ecosystem services, their dynamics and their natural and anthropogenic drivers. A general motivation behind these studies is to upscale small-scale surveys to the landscape level as a basis for modelling, forecasting and soil protection activities.


The Data Warehouse Edaphobase combines data on soil animals, their distribution and habitat parameters of their sites of occurrence and makes this data available to the public in open access. It includes data-assessment tools as well as user-friendly data input and output software. Data storage and research are free of charge for all users. In the division a team leads the development of this central research infrastructure of Senckenberg.


Since 2008, the Senckenberg Museum in Görlitz publishes the international, peer-reviewed journal Soil Organisms. Editors in chief are Prof. Dr. Willi Xylander and Prof. Dr. Nico Eisenhauer, with the participation of the scientists of the Soil Zoology Division. The journal publishes articles on the systematics, ecology, biology and biogeography of soil organisms. The articles are available online in open access (free of charge for authors and users).


The Soil Zoology is one of three departments within the Senckenberg Museum für Naturkunde Görlitz. The department is temporarily headed by Dr. Karin Hohberg.

Soil zoology became a research focus of the museum in the 1960s through Prof. Dr. Wolfram Dunger. He developed it into an international scientific institution in this research field.

After the fusion with Senckenberg in 2009, the number of scientific sections was expanded to seven and the Department of Soil Zoology was established as a structural unit. As the director of the Senckenberg Museum for natural history in Görlitz, Prof. Dr. Willi Xylander also took over as the head of the department of soil zoology and held this position until his retirement at the end of 2022.