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Zoological collection


The wide-ranged zoological collections which represent an integral component of the zoological institute have their origins in the cabinet of natural produces of the University, which existed as a collection room for the most diverse objects related to natural history since the beginning of the 18th century. In 1819, the professor for natural history Christian Friedrich Hornschuch (1793-1850) was entrusted with the cabinet, which he developed quite rapidly with the support of the conservator Johann Christian Wilhelm Schilling (1790-1874) to become a zoological museum, which was open to the citizens and visitors of Greifswald at that time already. The main intention of Hornbusch and of Schilling was the creation of a collection of animals that could be found in Pommern, as complete as possible, where the world of the birds was clearly the main interest. Quite fast, they managed to justify the so-called “Pommern collection”, which showed not only the homely species but also rare vagrants such as the oldest proof of the presence of a storm petrel in Mecklenburg-Vorpommern. The Pommern collection is considered the largest collection of birds from Pommern with its nearly 1000 varieties. The relocation to the presently used building in the Johann-Sebastian-Bach Street in 1836 was crucial for the development of the zoological museum. There, the collection areas were enlarged by the successors of Hornschuch, such as Reinhold Buchholz (1837-1876), Carl Eduard Adolph Gerstaecker (1828-1895) and Christian Gustav Wilhelm Müller (1857-1940), which resulted in the zoological institute and museum to end up possessing over three million specimens with representatives of nearly every animal group. As an example, on could name the collection of Palaearctic carabid beetles including over 4.400 species by Gerd Müller-Motzfeld (1941-2009). One should also highlight the fact that over 800 name carrying types, mostly of invertebrates, which underline, next to representatives of species that are already extinct such as the huia or the Tasmanian tiger, how scientifically important this collection is. A significant recess was provoked by the third college reform during the GDR in 1968, through which the facilities of the zoological collections were reduced to a minimum. Large parts of the bird and mammal collections therefore are almost inaccessible.

Parallelly to the scientific activities, the collections are also strongly connected to the teachings. The teaching and exhibition collection with systematic and biological areas is made accessible to the public by the regular organisation of tours. The present curator activities are constituted by the establishment of an electronic database of the collection, bound to replace the paper catalogues, and the enlargement of the research and teaching collections. The digital indexing and enlargement of the collections are the basic requirement for a modern research on biodiversity. Moreover, the planned relocation of the zoological collections will provide an appropriate shelter for the valuable objects and significantly improve the quality of their scientific study.
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