On April 8th 2021 the first batch of the herbarium Gerold Hügin was gifted to the Herbarium Senckenbergianum (FR) by his sister in Denzlingen. This part was already very extensive (approx. 7500 specimens) and fit exactly into the car. The Alchemillas are to be expected in part 2.
Cities dare wilderness
At the end of the funding period (2017-2021), the project “Cities dare Wilderness”, funded by the Federal Agency for Nature Conservation, now offers a summary of the results and a colourful range of information – e. g. numerous lectures and short films – on biodiversity in the three participating cities Dessau-Roßlau, Frankfurt and Hanover on its homepage. An important topic is also the possibilities and limits of “wilderness” in populated areas and its significance for and effect on humans.
Before Easter, we advanced our FloraWebPlus project, run jointly with the Görlitz seed plant botanists, in a “herbarium week”. Botanists must go into the field: it was also time for a short excursion to the Schwanheim dunes, where the rare dwarf grass Mibora minima was just in flower.
On 29 March 2021, Prof. Dr. Hans Joachim Conert, long-time head of the Senckenberg Botanical-Palaeobotanical Department, was buried at the municipal cemetery in Berlin-Heiligensee. We will honour his memory.
On 10 March 2021, Tetiana Lutsak successfully completed her disputation and thus completed her doctorate on the lichen group Cetraria aculeata s. l. We wish her all the best for the future career, which she already pursues working in the Netherlands for three years.
Prof. Dr. Hans Joachim Conert, 16 May 1929 – 24 February 2021
As we learned yesterday, the long-time head of the Department of Botany-Palaeobotany (now Botany and Molecular Evolutionary Research) passed away in Berlin at the age of 91.
Conert was born in Sommerschenburg (Saxony-Anhalt), attended school in Magdeburg and completed an apprenticeship there as a machine fitter. This was followed by studies in biology and chemistry at the Free University of Berlin and finally a dissertation with the agrostologist Prof. Dr. Robert Pilger on the subject of “The Systematics and Anatomy of the Arundineae”. 1956-59 followed a stipend from the German Research Foundation, where he worked on the systematics of the Poaceae and Xyridaceae. In 1960, he was appointed to the Botanical-Palaeobotanical Department of the Senckenberg Research Institute and Natural Museum in Frankfurt, and in 1966 he was finally appointed head of the department as successor to the palaeobotanist Prof. Dr. Richard Kräusel. Conert was the first full-time scientist in the department. In 1994, he retired and became an honorary member of the SGN. For several years he still worked regularly at the Institute, completing projects such as the editing of the Poaceae for the “Hegi”. Eventually Conert and his wife Herta moved back to Berlin, where one of their two sons and grandchildren also live. In 2009 an international symposium organised by the Department on the occasion of his 80th birthday brought him back to Frankfurt.
Conert’s scientific work focused on the Poaceae and – to a much lesser extent – the Xyridaceae. In addition to a large number of taxonomic-systematic scientific publications, two comprehensive standard works also originate from his pen, namely the treatment of the Poaceae in the 3rd edition of the “Illustrated Flora of Central Europe” founded by Gustav Hegi (Vol. 1, Part 3, 1998) and “Pareys Gräserbuch” (2000). For decades he was one of the editors of “Hegi”. Besides the grasses of Central Europe, it was the Poaceae of Africa that particularly occupied him. He made longer field trips to Nigeria, Mexico, Cape Verde, the Canary Islands and southern Spain.
From the very beginning, Conert also fulfilled the nowadays strongly propagated duties of a scientist in the area of communication/transfer to a broader public, be it as the author of numerous popular science articles or as the co-editor of “Natur und Museum” for decades. When the request for a “biotope mapping” was brought to Senckenberg by the city of Frankfurt, he took on the task of setting up a long-term biodiversity monitoring of the city area and led this project until his retirement from active service.
At a time (late 1970s and early 1980s) when there were hardly any links between Goethe University and Senckenberg, Conert took on a lectureship in the Department of Biology and was able to interest numerous students in taxonomy and systematics, who went on to write their final thesis in the Senckenberg Department of Botany. This resulted in many state examination and diploma theses as well as several dissertations. Conert’s competence, but also his calm, approachable and friendly manner made him an excellent teacher. His very successful work was an important reason for the then increasing (re)rapprochement of the University and Senckenberg in the field of biology up to a cooperative professorship in 1995, which has been followed by many others to this day. At the symposium on the occasion of his 80th birthday, the vast majority of his students were present.
As a scientist trained at the herbarium of the Botanic Garden and Botanical Museum Berlin-Dahlem (BGBM), Conert was aware of the importance of the collections for systematics and taxonomy and for science per se, as well as the social and cultural mission that arises for Senckenberg from the significance of the unique collections that have been publicly funded for many decades. He has intensively supervised and developed the herbarium, especially the Poaceae, scientifically, also by openly involving citizen scientists. Some of these have been loyal to the department for many decades and contribute significantly to the development of the collection.
Some of us still experienced Hans Joachim Conert as a teacher or supervisor and also remember an appreciative, affectionate man who took every person seriously and was aware of the responsibility for his staff and students. We are glad and grateful to have known him and to have worked with him.
P. S. A detailed obituary is in preparation.
Orchids of Australia
Former member of our department Dr. Katharina Nargar (née Schulte) joined the Australian Tropical Herbarium in Cairns, Queensland in 2010. She has switched her research there from bromeliads to orchids. Here is a media report about her and her work:
A report on the traditional Senckenberg School in Frankfurt recently appeared on Rhein-Main-TV. Christian Printzen, head of the school educating museum technical assistants for natural science research institutes, reports on orientation and content of the training:
On December 11, 2020, Elisa Lagostina successfully completed her disputation in the online format from Italy. Title of the thesis: “Dispersal and genetic exchange of lichen populations between the Maritime Antarctic and southern South America (with a focus on human impact)”. We wish her all the best for the future.
News on COVID-19
Due to the current regulations on COVID-19, the department will remain closed for visiting researchers and volunteers until probably 14 February 2021.
The evaluation of the SGN by the WGL which takes place every seven years happened in the unusual virtual form because of COVID-19. Here are some of the posters on the evaluation (pdf format) in which representatives of our department were directly involved:
- Collectomics and the DFG priority program 1991 „Taxon-omics“
- Revision of the angiosperm family Quiinaceae (Malpighiales)
- Leaf venation networks that contradict a global scaling rule
- Exploring the genomic basis of an underwater tape: the evolution of silk biosynthesis and associated behaviour in caddisfly larvae
- Long-term ecological research (LTER): the SGN observatories & national, European and global leadership
- Polyploidy in plants is linked to climate
- Targeted object digitization for applied botany and conservation
A warm welcome!
We are very pleased to welcome Ms Sandra Wilwert as technical assistant in the section cryptogams replacing Viola Ziller during her parental leave. Ms. Wilwert has completed the Senckenberg School for technical assistants in museums and is therefore familiar with the many aspects of the collection management.
Project conference in Dessau-Roßlau
The project “Cities venture wilderness”, in which municipal offices and working groups from Dessau-Roßlau, Frankfurt and Hanover are involved, held a project conference in the Bauhaus city from 14-16. Sept. 2020.
Central topics were the final report (project duration 2016-2021), evaluation of the scientific results and a summary of the various public relations activities. An extensive bicycle excursion to the wilderness areas of the city and the activities to protect wild fruit species rounded off the programme.
As already experienced at previous meetings, the bicycle-friendliness of the city and the fantastic nature of the Dessau region (biosphere reserve middle Elbe) are impressive. Many thanks to the organizers.
Project “Cities dare wilderness” attracts interest in the media
Deutsche Welle also reports in an English-language article on biodiversity in cities about the project “Cities dare wilderness”, which can be read here: Biodiversity blooms in cities when green spaces go wild.
“Cities dare wilderness” awarded again
The project “Cities dare wilderness” (“Städte wagen Wildnis – Vielfalt erleben”) supported by the German Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation and Nuclear Safety (BMU) has once again received an award as part of the UN Decade of Biodiversity. The project ends in 2021, the goal is to preserve the “wilderness areas” beyond the project period.
Volunteering at the Botany Division
Our appointed volunteer Dr. Gerhard Winter gave an interview to “Natur • Forschung • Museum” which touches also his bryological work in our Herbarium Senckenbergianum Frankfurt/M. Click here for the interview (in German).
We congratulate Dr. Sarah Schießl-Weidenweber on her habilitation at the Justus Liebig University Gießen.
New buildings for Senckenberg Frankfurt
A short film provides a review of the construction work at the Frankfurt site and an insight into the new collection and research rooms, including the Herbarium Senckenbergianum. Click here for “Das neue Senckenberg” on YouTube (in German).
The division will be reopened for volunteers and guest researchers (with restrictions to comply with the hygiene concept) from 25.05.2020.
Beginning May 2020 Dr. Claudia Pätzold started as a Post-Doc in our division. She works in the project “Phylogeny, historic biogeography and niche evolution of the neotropical Marcgraviaceae – a model case of swift morphological diversification and speciation by flower-pollinator-interaction” (project leader: Dr. Stefan Dressler) with funding from DFG (Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft). We look forward to the collaboration.
Due to the Senckenberg-wide regulations and current recommendations in connection with the corona virus epidemic, the Division of Botany and Molecular Evolutionary Research is closed since 16th March 2020 until further notice for volunteers, visiting researchers and interns.
Best wishes for health, especially for the people in the particularly affected areas.
Wondering if it’ll be a bestseller …?
Seen in a Frankfurt bookstore on 17 Dec 2019.
Our christmas party took place on 18 Dec 2019 with lectures about collecting trips to Japan and Malawi, the evolution of our christmas cards, a quiz and of course good food and drinks.
New Red List of Ferns and Seed Plants of Hesse published
On 6 Nov. 2019, the 5th edition of the Red List of Hesse’s fern and seed plants has been published. Coordination and editing were carried out by the two Senckenberg scientists Indra Starke-Ottich and Thomas Gregor as part of their commitment to the Botanical Association for Nature Conservation in Hesse (BVNH). Dirk Bönsel, a long-standing member of the biodiversity mapping working group, has been in charge of the Hessian region southwest. The herbarium Senckenbergianum with its large collection of Hessian plants is an indispensable basis for the evaluation of the species since the long-term development can often only be reliably reconstructed on the basis of herbarium evidence.
The Senckenberg stall at the 2019 Frankfurt book fair with the newest publication: „Stadtnatur“ ist being presented by Isabel Clasen (Publications Dept.) and Indra Starke-Ottich (Botany Dept.). This book is the third in a row about Frankfurt’s nature within the city limits.
“Gardens of Horror”
Our former division member Ulf Soltau (diploma 2002) deals with biodiversity in front gardens. See his book publication: Soltau, U. (2019). Gärten des Grauens, 128 S.; Eichborn Verlag.
Nani Goginashvili from the The Agricultural University of Georgia and Irina Tvauri from the LEPL Scientific-Research Center of Agriculture visited the division and the Herbarium Senckenbergianum between 23-28 Sept 2019 in course of the cooperation with Juraj Paule.
In the course of the BMBF project EvoBoGa aiming at establishing barcoding in Bromeliaceae Georg Zizka attended the International Barcode of Life conference 16-21 June 2019 in Trondheim.
Within the framework of the project meeting “Cities dare wilderness” (project funding BMU/BfN) from 19-20 Sept 2019 in Dessau-Roßlau (Senckenberg participants: Indra Starke-Ottich, Georg Zizka) the Muldeauen area were paid a visit.
Senckenberg botanists meet in Görlitz
From 17-19 Sept 2019 the Senckenberg botanists from Frankfurt, Görlitz, Weimar and Wilhelmshaven met in Görlitz. Important topics were research cooperation and joint projects, as well as the cross-location coordination of processes and development concepts in the collection area. An excursion to the biosphere reserve Lausitzer Teichlandschaft took place on Sept 18th which also offered some botanical and zoological delicacies.
Many thanks to the colleagues in Görlitz for the successful organization!
Excursion to the Kühkopf
On September 3rd, 2019, an excursion of the division to the Kühkopf area took place with the participation of of our volunteers. The biggest Hessian nature reserve and the nature conservation centre was kindly demonstrated by Ralph Baumgärtel, Director of the Environmental Education Centre.
Many thanks to him and to Thomas Gregor for the organisation.
Once upon a time …
The demolition of the old building of the Division of Botany and Molecular Evolution on the former Senckenberg site at the Kuhwaldstraße 55 is in full swing. However, in view of our beautiful new rooms and, above all, the larger, modern collection rooms in the Jügelhaus, we do not look back with too much melancholy …
(04.06.2019) Expedition to Malawi
A three-week expedition led various members of the division to Malawi.
Together with Dr. Florian Jabbour from the Muséum national d’histoire naturelle in Paris and Hassam Patel from the National Herbarium in Zomba, Elke Faust, Dr. Marco Schmidt and Dr. Stefan Dressler from Frankfurt were looking for lark-spurs.
The aim of the project is a more precise knowledge of the taxonomic structure of the afromontane Delphinium species. The trip, financially supported by the National Geographic Society, was extremely successful. In addition to collecting the taxa we were looking for, a lot of pictures were taken for the African Plants photoguide project.
Our colleague Rainer Döring was awarded for his honorary engagement with the Letter of Honour of the State of Hesse and the Silver Plaque of Honour of the city of Nidderau.
(11.04.2019) Visit from Zanzibar
John Ndege, curator of Migombani Botanic Garden, Unguya Island, Zanzibar, Tanzania, visited us on 4th and 5th April 2019. He studied plants from coastal Kenya and Tanzania but was also interested in general management of a herbarium, since the establishment of a herbarium collection at the Zanzibar garden is among his many tasks.
(09.04.2019) Evo-BoGa meeting in Frankfurt
On 5th April 2019, participants from Berlin, Bonn, Frankfurt (Palmengarten and Senckenberg), Göttingen, Heidelberg and Munich of the “Evo-BoGa” project (BMBF-funded) met in the rooms of the botany division to discuss progress. The aim of the project is to make the living collections of botanical gardens more accessible through a common portal for research, teaching and species protection, and to facilitate the identification of species through the use of molecular methods.
Sascha Heller completed his doctorate on the Evolution of the Bromelioideae on 29th March 2019 with the disputation. Despite him being working outside botany for some time now, a number of planned publications in cooperation with Elton Leme and the “Bromelistas” of the division should now be finalized.
As the youngest member of the division Sabine Rengers son Erik took part in the following reception (non-alcoholic drinks!). We wish Sascha all the best for the future!
(21.03.2019) Google Arts & Culture on herbaria
A short virtual exhibition on the invention and use of herbaria was recently released in the context of Google Arts and Culture. This project was made with the help of the Herbarium Senckenbergianum Frankfurt/M. (FR) and shows some of our collection pieces.
(28.02.2019) Remaining faithful to the bromeliads …
Our former division member Ulf Soltau stayed faithful to the bromeliads and attracted the interest of DB magazine with its appealing mini-greenhouses – in reminiscence to Nathaniel Ward.
(06.02.2019) Coordination meeting of “Cities dare wilderness”
On 4 and 5 February 2019 we hosted the coordination meeting of the BMU project “Cities dare wilderness” in the botany division. 26 persons from Dessau-Roßlau, Hannover and Frankfurt presented the results of the scientific studies on the biodiversity on the “wilderness areas” and the results of the visitor surveys.
The meeting took place in the seminar room of the botany division – here the participants during the workshop “environmental education”.
A short film informs about the aims of the project.
(29.11.2018) Klaus Tschira Foundation supports development of Carl Bosch’s moss herbarium
The well-known Nobel Prize winner and former CEO of BASF, Carl Bosch, was not only a successful chemist and manager, but also an enthusiastic naturalist and collector. Since the 1960s, the Senckenberg Research Institute has been preserving his collections of beetles, molluscs, lichens and bryophytes, a total of several 100,000 specimens. The Klaus Tschira Foundation has now granted 87,500 euros to re-mount and make the original moss collection of around 17,000 samples digitally accessible. The project application was prepared mainly by our volunteer Dr. Gerhard Winter. A “Citizen Science Project” in two senses!
(08.11.2018) Networking meeting of Senckenberg botanists and palaeobotanists took place from 5th to 7th November in Frankfurt
27 colleagues from Dresden, Frankfurt, Görlitz, Jena, Weimar took part in this year’s networking meeting, Mona Hoppenrath from Wilhelmshaven was connected on Nov. 5th by video conference. An important topic was the exchange with the Senckenberg palaeobotanists about possible cooperation and future projects.
The conference took place mainly in the very aptly fitted new seminar room. An important part of the program was the exchange of ideas between palaeobotanists and botanists about possible cooperations (here, on the right, Lutz Kunzmann during his presentation).
Further items were reports on planning, construction and moving collections (SNMG is currently planning the new building), project reports, coordination with regards to the curating of the herbarium collections and, above all, considerations on cross-locational strategies and third-party funded projects. Not to forget the coffee and lunch breaks as an important opportunity for exchange on a wide variety of topics.
Especially in Görlitz, the planning of new collection rooms is an important current topic. The new collection rooms of the Botanik Frankfurt found interest, the “new danger” paperfish was also a theme.
The programme was rounded off by a guided tour through the new collection rooms, the science garden at the Riedberg and an excursion to the Schwanheimer Alteichen and to the Rohsee.
The new collection and functional rooms, but also the new guest rooms and the bistro in the Jügelhaus were rated very positive. We are already looking forward to the next meeting in Görlitz (probably June 2019).
(26.10.2018) Move accomplished = Herbarium reopened
Since 1 October 2018, the Herbarium Senckenbergianum Frankfurt/M. (FR) is operational again at its new location. The collections are now all housed in air-conditioned and protected rooms in compact units. Together with the offices the botany division is now located in the Jügelhaus in Mertonstraße in the museum complex at Senckenberganlage 25.
(16.10., ergänzt 17.10.2018) “Monocots VI” conference in Natal
From 6-14th Oct. 2018 Fabian Bratzel, Juraj Paule and Georg Zizka participated in the”6th International Conference on Comparative Biology of Monocotyledons – Monocots VI” in Natal, Brazil, which also included the “2nd World Congress of Bromeliaceae Evolution – Bromevo II” (Abstract volume).
The division was represented with the organization of a session (Recent advances in Bromelioideae systematics) together with our cooperation partner Elton Leme as well as 3 lectures and 1 poster. More than 400 participants provided for an extensive program, excursions led into the coastal forest vegetation on sand (Restinga and elements of the Mata Atlântica).
(08.10.2018) Visit to Helsinki
From 13 to 15 September, lichen curator Christian Printzen visited the Botanical Museum of the University of Helsinki as opponent of Annina Launis, who successfully defended her doctoral thesis on the systematics and conservation of the lichen genus Micarea on 14 September.
The defence took place in the historic Nylander Hall according to old university tradition and was celebrated with an evening reception and dinner in the Botanical Garden.
(05.10.2018) BLAM elects new council
The Bryological-Lichenological Working Group for Central Europe (BLAM) elected a new council at its general meeting on 24 August 2018 in Immensee in the Allgäu (Bavaria). Christian Printzen, in his spare time curator for cryptogams in the Division of Botany and Molecular Evolutionary Research, was elected as the new chairman.
(05.10.2018) DFG-funded project „Lecanomics“ picks up speed
On July 1, Cristóbal Ivanovich from Punta Arenas in Chile took up his PhD position at the division. Cristóbal will investigate the molecular systematics and species delimitations within the large lichen genus Lecanora within the project “Lecanomics” funded by the DFG priority program “Taxon-omics”.
Species of this genus can be found in practically all terrestrial ecosystems worldwide. In the last 50 years alone about 250 new species have been described. The project is supported by a worldwide network of cooperation partners.
On September 20, Yanyun Zhang from Kunming in China joined the Lecanomics team for another year. As part of her doctoral thesis supervised by Prof. Dr. Wang Lisong, she is working on the genus Rhizoplaca in China, which is closely related to Lecanora. From July 19 – August 6, Christian Printzen visited the Iranian partner Prof. Dr. Mohammad Sohrabi to collect samples in forests along the Caspian Sea. The region is known for its well-preserved deciduous forests.
(11.09.2018) Almost done…
The relocation of the Division of Botany and Molecular Evolution Research to the Jügelhaus is expected to be completed in October 2018. The colleagues have been working in the new offices for ten days now. Only the Grunelius-Möllgaard molecular lab and the DNA archive operated by the division are still temporarily housed in the Maria-Sibylla-Merian-Haus and will move to their final location in the Reimersbau in 2019.
(10.09.2018) Forum Citizen Science: “Gemeinsam mehr erreichen”
On September 6 and 7, 2018, Senckenberg hosted the “Forum Citizen Science” with more than 100 participants.
The Botany Division presented two of its Citizen Science projects (Flora von Frankfurt, presented by Indra Starke-Ottich and African Plants – A Photo Guide, presented by Stefan Dressler) and was also involved with a short lecture. The biodiversity databases of the Botany Division have tens of thousands of visitors every year.
(16.08.2018) Natur • Forschung • Museum 148 (4-6)
(13.04.2018) Meeting of Bryological-Lichenological Working Group for Central Europe (BLAM)
From 20 to 22 April 2018, more than 100 moss and lichen experts from Central Europe will meet at the Senckenberg Natural History Museum in Frankfurt and celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Bryological-Lichenological Working Group for Central Europe (BLAM).
Organised by Dr. Christian Printzen, curator of cryptogams, civil scientists who have made mosses and lichens and their research their hobby meet with experts. The conference programme will be supplemented by excursions to the old Botanical Garden of the Goethe University and the Taunus as well as a small art exhibition.
(13.04.2018) Removal at full swing
Being closed since January the removal of the Herbarium Senckenbergianum Frankfurt is curently taking place: more than 1.2 million specimens are being relocated from the old premises in Kuhwaldstraße to the newly refurbished air-conditioned collection rooms in the old university building (Jügel-Haus) next to the main museum building.
The material is being deep-frozen at – 40°C for one week as a pest-control measure in two freezer containers. The collection removal is planned to last till May 2018, the offices are scheduled to move in Sept. 2018. We expect to open the herbarium again for visitors in October 2018.
Since Apr 9th the Grunelius-Möllgaard-Lab (GML) moved temporarily for 1 year into the Senckenberg Biodiversität und Klima-Forschungszentrum (M.S. Merian building) (SBiK-F gratefully acknowledged). The GML will be welcoming its users on 22nd Apr 2018. Its final location in 2019 will be the lab wing of the Reimersbau.
(13.04.2018) Project meeting at Senckenberg
On 19 March 2018, the first project meeting of the BMBF funded project “Botanical Gardens Plant Collections: Living Resources for Integrative Evolutionary Research” (Evo-BoGa) took place in Frankfurt.
The project is coordinated by the Botanical Garden and Museum Berlin-Dahlem (BGBM), the aim of which is to make the collections of cacti and bromeliads in German Botanical Gardens more accessible and usable.
Project partners are University of Heidelberg (Prof. Dr. Marcus Koch) and the Senckenberg Division of Botany (Juraj Paule, Georg Zizka). We use molecular methods to determine bromeliads and reconstruct the phylogeny. Since 1st Feb. 2018, Dr. Fabian Bratzel employed in this project, Mrs. Nadine Cyrannek is writing her master thesis on this topic.
(19.02.2018) Collecting trip to south Chile and Livingston Island
Senckenberg botanist Christian Printzen is currently sampling lichen populations for his DFG project “Dispersal and genetic exchange of lichen populations between Patagonia and the Antarctic Peninsula”. After a week of field work in southern Chile he embarked on 17 February together with his colleagues Ulrike Ruprecht (University of Salzburg, Austria) und Ulrik Söchting (University of Copenhagen, Denmark) on the “BIO Hesperides” to Livingston Island.