Saskia Dimter in in Schwammsammlung

Marine Invertebrates I


The section was founded in 1966 by the director of the Senckenberg Research Institute and Natural History Museum Prof. Wilhelm Schäfer.  Dr. Manfred Graßhoff was working first as assistant, then from 1969 until January 2001 as head of the section. The main research objectives under M. Graßhoff were the taxonomy of octocorals, the evolution of coelenterates, and general aspects of evolution and phylogeny. 

Until 1990 the section comprised the invertebrate collections and libraries, except for the molluscs and arthropods. Since the position of head of the arachnology section was left vacant from 1969 until 2002, this collection was also managed by the staff of the invertebrate section.

With the establishment of the sections Marine Invertebrates II (head: Dr. D. Fiege) in 1990 and Marine Invertebrates III (head: Dr. J. Scholz) in 1999, the section Marine Invertebrates I became responsible for the sponges, the cnidarians, the ctenophores, and the tunicates. Since February 2001 Dr. Dorte Janussen is the new head of this section, the research being now focussed on taxonomy, phylogeny, and biogeography of sponges.

The section Marine Invertebrates I is responsible for the following four collections (all recent): Porifera (sponges), Cnidaria, Ctenophora, and Tunicata.


The Porifera collection comprises at present 179 primary type species (holo- and syntypes), including the types and reference material published in Kieschnick (1896), Schulze (1900 & 1904), Thiele (1900 & 1903), Lendenfeld (1907), Hentschel (1912), and Janussen et al. (2004).


Within the Cnidaria collection approximately 100 primary type species are present; the type and reference material originates mainly from the works of  Schultze (1896 & 1903), Vanhöffen (1902), Kükenthal (1911), Stechow & Müller (1913),  Stechow (1923), and Graßhoff (u.a. 1977, 1982, 1986, 1988, 1992,  1999, 2000). 


The Ctenophora collection is comparatively small; the material reflects not only the research activities of our institute in the Arctic Ocean and North Sea, but also in the Mediterranean and Red Sea. There are no types present today. 


The Tunicata collection includes the type material of 40 primary types; especially important is the reference material related to the works of Gottschaldt (1898), Hartmeyer (1903, 1911, 1912), and Sluiter (1913 & 1932).

A considerable amount of reference material present in our collections originates from the following expeditions:

  • “Dt. Tiefsee-Expedition 1898/99”
  • “Dt. Expedition in das nördliche Eismeer” (Römer & Schaudinn) 1898
  • “Dt. Südpolar-Expedition 1901/03”
  • Expedition to the subantarctic islands near New Zealand and South Georgia (Kohl-Larsen) 1924
  • ANDEEP (I & II) 2002
  • Expedition to the Moluccas and Borneo (Kükenthal) 1894
  • Expedition to the southeast Moluccas (Aru & Kei Islands) (Merton) 1908

Besides the material related to these major expeditions, the collections include further material from a wide range of geographical areas:

  • North East Atlantic
  • North Sea
  • Mediterranean Sea
  • Red Sea (e.g. collections of E. Rüppell)
  • Indian and Pacific Ocean
  • Japan (Sagami-Bay; only sponges)

The collections are currenty reorganised and digitised in the course of the GBIF project. Preliminary results of the digitisation are available under  Collection Queries