Visit to the Zoological Collections

The Zoological Collections are part of the Central Repository of Natural Science Collections (ZNS) at Martin Luther University Halle-Wittenberg. The collection serves research, teaching and the transfer of knowledge and comprises around three million specimens that have been collected over a period of more than 250 years. It also preserves species that are already extinct or will be extinct in a few years.
Today, the collection is looked after by a curator, two taxidermists and the head of the ZNS. We had the opportunity to be given a guided tour of the collections by Dr Frank Steinheimer (head), Mr. Joachim Händel (taxidermist for invertebrates) and Dr Andreas Stark (visiting scientist), which included a diverse array of insects. 
Mr Händel and Dr Stark provided us with some fundamental insights about insects.  A major topic was insect mortality. Reasons for this are pesticides, land sealing, monocultures, forestry and light pollution. Bright light at night provides people with orientation and security, but insects lose their spatial and diurnal orientation, especially due to the presence of blue light. The extinction of wild bees was clearly illustrated in two showcases. One shows all the wild bee species living in Saxony-Anhalt today, while the adjacent case omits those species that are currently endangered and likely to become extinct in the future.
Dr. Steinheimer, during his tour, emphasized various outcomes of natural selection, often drawing parallels to today’s everyday life. He is concerned about political decisions that, in his opinion, are not thought through to the end. For instance, dead wood and dead animals are food for other animals and should, in his opinion, be allowed to remain in their natural state. In the end, we discussed big questions: Where are the current crises leading us? Where do we live when everything goes wrong? (How) can we still turn the tide?

thanks to:

Zoological Collections:

Dr. Frank Steinheimer

Arila-Maria Perl

Dr. Andreas Stark

Joachim Händel

Dr. Hendrik Müller

Michael Stache 
part of:

The Insect Project
– Resilience Part I
text by:Malin Melzer