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Evolution and Geoprocesses

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In this Science Programme, biological, geological and planetological problems are investigated at a multidisciplinary level with partners all over the world. This research is based on the collections, while newly gained scientific insights, in turn, have an effect on the development of our comprehensive collection. Zoologists, palaeontologists and geoscientists look into questions of microevolutionary mechanisms of population differentiation and the formation of species, the evolution of the design and polymorphism of organisms. Our work covers the timespan from the birth of our solar system to the present and includes the modelling of future scenarios. Processes of diversity dynamics are also studied, looking at changes in symbiotic communities over space and time.

The Science Programme is subdivided into four departments.


The Microevolution Department focuses on gradual evolutionary changes in organisms that may give rise to new forms of life (taxa) over a long period of time. Understanding microevolutionary mechanisms and processes is a prerequisite for understanding fundamental biological processes such as the adaptation of organisms to changing environments, the differentiation of populations and the emergence of new species.

Evolutionary Morphology

The Evolutionary Morphology Department is concerned with the evolution of structures and trait complexes in the plant and animal kingdoms. Intrinsic processes, such as individual development and genetics, are studied as well as functional and ecological influences on the structural evolution of recent and fossil organisms. Researchers use a variety of methods, including modern imaging technology, various types of digitisation and molecular biological approaches.

Diversity Dynamics

The Diversity Dynamics Department is dedicated to the study of processes that change biodiversity on our planet and the ecological and evolutionary repercussions of such changes. Current and geohistorical changes in biodiversity are studied, which can be caused by the loss of habitats or climate change.

Impact and Meteorite Research

The Impact and Meteorite Research Department is concerned with catastrophic events in the Earth’s history, which essentially shaped the emergence and evolution of life on Earth. The Department also studies the birth of our solar system, of the Earth and meteorites, as well as connections between changes in the environment, such as the rise of sea temperatures, and the extinction of species.

The Science Programme Evolution and Geoprocesses has 150 staff – the Museum’s own scientists, visiting scientists, doctoral and postdoctoral students as well as numerous undergraduate students from all over the world. There are two state-of-the-art laboratory complexes with major technical equipment, including a molecular genetics lab, computed tomography and mineralogical and geochemical equipment.