Section Ichthyology

The Bavarian State Collection of Zoology (ZSM) was institutionally founded as “Naturalienkabinett” [natural cabinet] by King MAXIMILIAN I. JOSEPH 1.May.1801 and was then part of the “Königlich Bayerische Akademie der Wissenschaften” [ Academy of Science of the State of Bavaria]. This early collection included zoological, botanical, mineralogical and physical objects from the private natural collection of King MAXIMILIAN, then stored in the Residenz, and material from the “RIEDLSCHE Kabinett”, which was previously stored in the “Akademie der Wissenschaften” [Academie of Science]. His son LUDWIG I. relocated the University from Landshut to the Wilhelminum in Munich in 1807. With this step the collection of the Academy of Science gained more independence. However, the Academy collections were partly incorporated in the former university collections and vice versa, aimed to mainly serve university interests and demands. Consiquently different university professors were in charge for the curation of the combined collections, including the zoological collection. In 1811 the collections were thematically re-grouped, and JOHANN BAPTIST RITTER VON SPIX became the first director of the newly build zoological – anthropological collection.

The historical ichthyological collection of ZSM dates back to specimens collected by SPIX together with CARL FRIEDRICH PHILIPP VON MARTIUS during their famous Brazil – Expedition (1817-1820).

During SPIX’s Brazil-Expedition the zoological collections were provisionally curated by FRANZ VON PAULA VON SCHRANK (1747-1835), founder of the Botanical Gardens Munich. Besides his botanical interests, PAULA VON SCHRANK contributed much to the knowledge of the Bavarian fauna, mainly on insects and fishes. Together with the SPIX specimens from Brazil, the fishes collected by PAULA VON SCHRANK in Bavarian rivers marked the origin of the ZSM ichthyological collection.

The early ZSM collections received additional material under SPIX’s curatorship in 1825, one year before he died, when he travelled to The Netherlands to buy “zoological objects”. These “objects” probably included fish material, too.

During the time of CARL THEODOR VON SIEBOLD (1853-1885) not only the zoological collection but especially the fish collection was substantially enlarged. Besides a large collection of fish skeletons SIEBOLD build up an anatomical collection of fishes, which he used for his university lectures. Part of these historical fish specimens of SIEBOLD have been recently re-discovered in the Zoological Collection of the Ludwig-Maximilians University Munich (LMU). However, to avoid a mixing up of both collections and fearing a complete incorporation of the University collection in the ZSM holdings, the University strongly demanded separate numbering and labelling of her own material, which remained in University property. For this early University Collection the acronym ZPLMU was introduced to identify and preserve the history of both collections; it is an abbreviation for “Zoologische Präparatesammlung der Ludwig-Maximilians Universität München” [Zoological objects collection of the Ludwig-Maximilians University Munich]. The historical ZPLMU ichthyological collection contained valuable historical material, e.g. fishes collected by SPIX, SIEBOLD, HABERER, DOFLEIN and HOFER, including type material.ZPLMU collections have been transferred and incorporated into the ZSM ichthyological collection in 2004 with few exceptions, i.e. anatomical specimens, which were still needed for practical courses and lectures at LMU.

During SIEBOLD’s time the comparative-anatomical collections housed in the Institute of Physiology, too, was moved to the Wilhelminum and fused with the zoological collections. Parts of the combined collections were then already accessible to the public in a Natural Cabinet, which was also under SIEBOLD’s supervision.

During the early 20 th century the fish collection gained mainly by the work of K. A. HABERER, FRANZ DOFLEIN and BRUNO HOFER. While the first two contributed large collections of marine material from Sagami Bay in Japan, the latter worked as fish biologist on Bavarian fishes. Together with larger collections made by MORITZ WAGNER and ERNST ZUGMAYER, the ichthyological collection gained significantly and grew that big that it demanded an own curator within the Zoological Collections of ZSM. ZUGMAYER became the first scientific worker in this early ichthyological collection. Soon after he started, ZSM received the zoological bequests of PRINCESS THERESE VON BAYERN, including the considerable fish collection, which the ZSM received in 1926.

The historical ichthyological collection was housed in the Wilhelminum until its destruction during a British bombing raid on the night of 24-25 April 1944. The fish collection had been packed and was stored in the entrance of the building to be moved to a safe place. Before the planned evacuation in the forthcoming days, fire and demolition bombs destroyed the entire museum, including the complete fish collection, the old inventories and all further data concerning the collection.

About 300 lots survived the war. Many of them are single, and often to glas panels assembled specimens, apparently used for the public exhibition of the Natural Cabinet, which has been build up, too, during SIEBOLD’s supervision. These specimens have been separated from the scientific collection in the early 20 th century and have been evacuated separately during the war (Kraft & Huber, 1992). Additional material was saved, because of being on loan to other institutions during the war, or stored being stored among the zoological objects of the ZPLMU collection. Only few of these specimens retained their data, i.e. the original labels contained sufficient data and were not lost during the war; however, the data of most of the historical lots is lost. In his efforts to rebuild the collection OTTO SCHINDLER, first curator of the ichthyology after the war, inventoried and labelled these lots as “Alte Sammlung” [Old Collection] in 1949. These lots received the first post-war ZSM numbers (from ZSM 1 to roughly ZSM 330) and are identified as “Old Collection”, indicating that they were part of the historical ZSM ichthyological collection. Being already an assistant in the collection in 1939, SCHINDLER was able to restore information on selected lots, which he knew from pre-war times. Apart from the available information on historical types, which has been restored by SCHINDLER in the early 1950ies, it was possible to trace and restore further data and type material in the course of the GBIF project (Global Biodiversity Information Facility) in 2005. Based on the information of single collections and persons as given by BALSS (1926) in his chronicle, a type search in July 2005 in the ZSM and former ZPLMU collections revealed additional type material which was previously considered as lost.

After the early death of SCHINDLER, who curated the collection from 1949 to 1959, FRIEDRICH TEROFAL was in charge for the ichthyological collection from 1960 on, first as a volunteer, and from 1969 as curator.

It is owed to TEROFAL and his preparator FRANZ SCHARL (who started in 1960 and retiered in 1980), that the fish collection obtained reputation again. BARBARA FEHRER succeeded Franz Scharl as technical assistant from 1980 until 1991.

Besides his scientific publications, TROFAL gained reputation with a couple of special interest books. He died unexpectedly in 1988. In September 1989 MAURICE KOTTELAT took over the management of the ichthyological section. In his scientific work at ZSM he focused on the systematics of freshwater-fishes from Southeast Asia. KOTTELAT left ZSM in end of 1992. The section was managed thereafter by NICOLE RITTER, and later on provisional curated by ULRICH GRUBER (section herpetology) and LUDWIG TIEFENBACHER (section crustacea).

From 1.Jan.1998 on the ichthyology was then provisional managed again together with the herpetology section under FRANK GLAW. In October 1999 DIRK NEUMANN started as free lance staff, and one year later became a volunteer in the ichthyological section. Besides his early works with computer cataloguing the collection, NEUMANN took over the management of the collection in 2000 and completed the reorganisation of the collection that was invented by GLAW.

ULRICH SCHLIEWEN started as scientific staff in the collection with a DFG-scholarship in April 2001, in March 2004 he took over as Curator of Ichthyology and is in charge for the molecular facilities of ZSM. His major scientific interests are the speciation and biodiversity of research of central African fishes, freshwater fishes of the lake-system in Central Sulawesi ( Indonesia), and the fish fauna in Bavaria.


Balss, H. 1926. Geschichte der Zoologischen Sammlungen. In: Karl Alexander von Müller. Die wissenschaftlichen Sammlungen der Ludwig-Maximilians Universität zu München. Chronik zur Jahrhundertfeier, im Auftrag des Akademischen Senats herausgegeben. 300-315.

Kraft, R. & W. Huber. 1992. Die Zoologische Schausammlung in der Alten Akademie in München 1809 – 1944. In: Diller, E. & A. Hausmann (eds.). Chronik der Zoologischen Staatssammlung – Festschrift zur Verabschiedung des Direktors der Zoologischen Staatsammlung München, Prof. Dr. Ernst Fittkau. – Spixiana, Suppl. 17: 124.