The Zoological Research Museum Alexander Koenig

is a research museum of the Leibniz Association




My group focuses on large-scale molecular biodiversity assessment of environmental samples, either terrestrial or aquatic habitats. Not only to identify community composition and structure but also in the long-term to establish models to predict the consequences of ecosystem changes and to pinpoint drivers of biodiversity.   We use a range of molecular tools, like Next Generation Sequencing (NGS) in large-scale environmental datasets to develop approaches in a timely manner that can help to identify species/ communities but also to understand their function in ecosystem or given habitat. 

Environmental Barcoding using Next Generation Sequencing (NGS)

Assess trends and levels of biodiversity to further predict consequences for adaptation and function.

The identification of taxa present in a given ecosystem is crucial to understand the ecological role of that community and therefore it is determinant for biodiversity studies. Unfortunately, biodiversity is globally decreasing and at a fast pace and thus it is fundamental to acknowledge that biodiversity contributes to ecosystem stability, resilience and function and  that its loss will impact ecosystem structure and functioning and consequently  humanity.  

Identify species, e.g. cryptic, endangered, invasive, keystone

Molecular sequencing technology is advancing at a fast pace and currently it is possible to sequence a single environmental sample (bulk environmental sample) and deliver data on whole communities with even hundreds of species simultaneously.  The next step in characterizing diversity and generating species lists from large-scale environmental studies is to build ecological networks, establishing the link between ecosystem structure and putative functioning. Thus the identification of ecological networks by combining current NGS technologies with bioinformatics approaches, offers a lot of potential to develop a new generation of biomonitoring tools.

Contact person

Head of section
+49 228 9122-353
+49 228 9122-212
s.bourlat [at]