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The MfN, BGBM, SGN and SMNS are principal institutions of their kind in Germany. The extensive plant collections of the BGBM, among the most important in the world, are perfectly complemented by the vast zoological, palaeontological and mineralogical collections of the MfN. All four institutions are involved in a broad spectrum of research spanning the breadth of biosystematics and geoscience. The four institutions cover a broad range of Germany’s dispersed natural history collections; SGN alone is based at seven institutes and research centres located in seven of Germany’s federal states. DE TAF is one of the world’s key sites for biosystematic data. BGBM has a total of 3.5 million specimens (100,000 primary types), MfN has 30 million specimens (250,000 primary types), SGN 38.5 million specimens (56,000 primary types), and SMNS 11 million specimens (9,600 primary types), representing more than 500 years of collecting effort.

Representing more than 500 years of collecting effort, DE-TAF has several unique strengths including, for example, unrivalled collections of plant, animal and fossil material from central Europe, plant remains from ancient Egypt and fish, insect, fossil plant and meteorite collections that are not found in museums anywhere else in Europe.

DE TAF research

MfN’s research is structured along 6 lines covering the following topics: 1.Speciation and biogeography. 2. Evolution of animal form. 3. Dynamics of biodiversity. 4. Impact events and meteorites. 5. Distribution of knowledge and history of science. 6. Development of collections and infrastructure.

BGBM is the centre of excellence for phytotaxonomical research in Germany and the central European region. BGBM staff are pursuing a broad spectrum of studies, under the umbrella of biodiversity research, focused both on certain taxonomic groups (Asterales, Caryophyllales and Bacillariophyta) and on specific regions of the world (Mediterranean, Cuba). Major collaborative research and development projects led by BGBM focus on the assessment and conservation of plant diversity in the Caucasus; online provision of images and other multimedia objects from NH collections across Europe.

The Senckenberg research programme covers four main research fields: Biodiversity & Systematics, Biodiversity & Ecosystems, Biodiversity & Climate and Biodiversity and Earth Systems dynamics. In addition Senckenberg is running a large Infrastructure programme covering the collections, a broad variety of highly equipped laboratories and long-term research stations and a Science & Society programme.

Biodiversity and phylogeny studies are integrative parts of the research programs of the SMNS. SMNS staff and collaborators are important members of the leading German research group mapping biodiversity, both across the planet and back through time, searching for factors – biological, climatic, geographical or geological – that control and influence biotic diversity and loss. The research framework at SMNS is focused on reconstructing fossil ecosystems, phylogeny of arthropods, phylogeny and evolution of reptiles and amphibians, and integrative taxonomy and assessment of biodiversity.