Marine Invertebrates III


The bryozoan collection of Professor Dr. Ehrhard Voigt, Hamburg (1905-2004) at the Senckenberg Research Institute in Frankfurt am Main, Germany is a world-renowned collection of inestimate scientific value. It is the world’s largest collection of fossil bryozoans from the Upper Cretaceous and Palaeocene.

Aside from that, we house a considerable collection of Recent bryozoans as well, continuously expanding the collection legacy of Heinrich Ristedt, Bonn (1936-2017) donated to us. Regionally, most of our Recent Bryozoa belong to the Indopacific Realm, and there are extensive long-term collections from the North Sea.

Alltogether, we keep more than 300,000 objects (series) of bryozoans, distributed on 4869 Taxa (as of June 2020). About 35,000 objects are digitized and available in the database system “SESAM”.  There are 254 holotypes, 978 paratypes and 56 neotypes.

Fossil Bryozoans

The Section´s collection of fossil bryozoans is one of the largest in the world, due to the legacy of Professor Voigt (1905-2004).The lasting international importance is due to a complete documentation of Cretaceous to Paleocene Bryozoa, collected from the Carbonate Boreal Chalk Sea in northern and eastern Europe, covering the stratigraphical record from Cenomanian to Danian and thus the rise and fall of the respective carbonate platform, collapsing during the Paleocene Eocence Thermal Maximum (PETM).

A DFG-project funded project (LIS-Project SCHO 581/12-1 “Enhancing documentation and digitalization of the Bryozoa collection donated by Professor Voigt (1905-2004) to the Senckenberg Research Institute, Frankfurt am Main, Germany”) resulted the digitization of the most important parts of the bryozoan coll. E. Voigt, estimated to contain around 300,000 specimens.

Digitization was performed using the object-oriented collection management system SeSam (,

The type material was documented by issuing a type catalogue including SEM images and a revision of the material (Martha et al. 2019; see ˅Research).

Project data are available in various portals (keyword „Scho 581/12-1“).

In addition to the Voigt legacy of fossil bryozoans, we received valuable collections by  Prof. Dr. Gero Hillmer (Hamburg), Gisela Illies (Karslruhe, 1926-2008) ( und by Ursula Schneemilch (Hannover).

Paleozoic bryozoans are well represented by types and materials deposited in the Senckenberg by PD Dr. Andrej Ernst (Hamburg).

Recent Bryozoans

In December 2002, Heinrich Ristedt decided to transfer his considerable collection of Recent bryozoans to Senckenberg, and in January we picked up about 12,000 boxes of carefully mounted specimens. The Ristedt collection is divided into a taxonomical part, and a regional one (Antarctica). For the years to come, the Ristedt collection formed the rock upon which all our new collections of Recent bryozoans have been precipitated, such as Philippines, Gulf of Aden, Socotra (Yemen), Japan, New Zealand, and North Sea.

Obituary on Heinrich Ristedt:

The Ristedt collection is focused on the Indopacific Realm and this has been also a priority in more recent additions like, for example, those within the scope of the “Red Sea Biodiversity Project”. The latter represents a research cooperation between the Saudi Arabian King Abdulaziz University (KAU) and the German Senckenberg Research Institute (SRI), set up to improve the still scarce knowledge about the marine biodiversity in this region. Since March 2011, a team of international scientists is investigating the marine fauna of nine localities in order to compile a record of biodiversity on the entire coastline of the Saudi Arabian Red Sea Coast, from shallow to deep sea habitats. Concerning Bryozoans, the Saudi Arabian Red Sea Coast remained largely understudied up till now. The intertidal zone is virtually unknown. The collection documents for the first time exclusively intertidal bryozoan fauna of the Saudi Arabian Red Sea coast, including diversity, abundance and growth forms. Studies are under way.