Introduction to the database

The database provides important, previously unpublished information about material in the 'Michael von Tschirnhaus' Collection. The samples / specimens, which are still being added to, were obtained in all continents from 1966 onwards. They are usually preserved in alcohol and are currently kept in the 'Biological Collection' of the Department of Biology at the University of Bielefeld (Germany). The collection was assembled for teaching and research purposes by Dr. Michael von Tschirnhaus (1982–2004) together with his technical assistant Silvia Verwiebe. All collection data for invertebrates were recorded in a database (4D = 4th dimension). Each specimen and each sample was assigned a unique code relating to data in the 4D database. Our online database incorporates these codes and the associated data in full. Thus is not only access to the often unidentified material made possible, but also to the approximately 9,080 determined invertebrate species in the Bielefeld collection (excluding fossils). The Biological Collection of the Department of Biology at the University of Bielefeld is currently managed by Dr. Manfred Kraemer and Silvia Verwiebe.
Most of the material was collected on various trips and expeditions by Michael von Tschirnhaus himself. Many other samples were given to him by colleagues for storage and processing. All collection details were meticulously recorded in four notebooks and numerous index cards. In addition to the localities, dates of collection and collection methods, information is included about the biotopes / habitats, phenology and colour preferences, precise time of capture during the day, special aspects of climatic conditions, as well as the number of captured specimens (determined to family level). Collecting activity was concentrated on the insects (Insecta), and above all on Diptera and Hymenoptera. However, the extensive residual samples, still awaiting scientific study, surely contain many undetected treasures belonging to other orders.
Over the years, various insect families have already been sorted out by M. von Tschirnhaus or other colleagues. This material is to be found either (depending on which group they belong to) in the collection of the University of Bielefeld, or currently with various specialists who are using it in their scientific research. These taxa, indicated by 'ex' in the records, are therefore no longer part of the alcohol samples. The specimens were removed over the years and either prepared and now deposited worldwide in specialised collections (as dry pinned material, permanent slide preparations; including type specimens), or divided into smaller systematic units and partly sent to specialists. A name or abbreviation behind the term 'ex' identifies each recipient. For example, 'DEI' denotes the 'Deutsches Entomologisches Institut' (now Senckenberg Deutsches Entomologisches Institut, Müncheberg), where almost all determined Dryinidae (det. M. Olmi) and all Cynipoidea (45,000 specimens) are deposited.
This online database also makes available to a wide range of users the handwritten notes, in German or English. Two search options are offered: A) Quick Search of all locality codes (= code of the pooled samples); B) Advanced Search of the locality codes, the country, the name of the locality, the altitude, the date, or the collector. Finding the localities is made considerably easier by a link between the coordinates and the online maps of OpenStreetMap. In addition, by pressing a button all available information from the database, the index and the notebooks for one collection site can be combined in a PDF file and stored for later reference on the user's computer.
The database currently contains 5,119 datasets relating to the Michael von Tschirnhaus Collection. The present 2nd version has been produced with “bootstrap” (, the most popular HTML, CSS, and JS framework for developing responsive, mobile first projects on the web. The application enables now the annotation of results of determination by users. The user is thus offered a tool with which accurate information on collecting sites can be accessed online, for reference and use in future revisions.

Recommendation for citation

Menzel, F.; Groll, E. K. & Thiele, A. (2016): The Michael von Tschirnhaus Insect Collection. Database of localities and collecting details. – Online database, version 3,, Senckenberg Deutsches Entomologisches Institut, Müncheberg.

Abbreviations and symbols

X (ciphers)all countries except for Germany
16-5 A (16/5A)16 specimens, 5 species Agromyzidae
16-5 C16 specimens, 5 species Chloropidae
N' E' S' W'northern, eastern, southern, western
no data of collectorleg. v. Tschirnhaus
Restremains of the preserved sample
<Uni Bi L522>other Diptera and remains of the sample under number L522 kept in the Biological Collection of the University of Bielefeld
Präp. 422preparation of genitalia 422 (see blue & white A6 file card)
3. Fgl.3rd antennal segment (= 1th flagellomere)
u. a.and other (= etc.)
extra Kons. / ex:a separate sample tube for the specimens
81:64; 0:181 ♂♂, 64 ♀♀; no ♂, 1 ♀
(in the original red)sum has been transferred to the red file cards of species (= file cards for determined species of Agromyzidae and Chloropidae in the private collection M. von Tschirnhaus, deposited in the Zoologische Staatssammlung München, Munich)
Ausfanggefäß, Eklektor-Ausfangnumerous samples by sweep net stored in a black box collected by emerging thru a bright funnel in a pot with water and detergent. Emergence time between ½ hour up to 2 days.
ca. / ≈circa, about
a) b) c)subsamples with special collecting data
33.36 S, 120.06 Egeographical coordinates in degrees/minutes/seconds (= 33°36'S 120°06'E)
41.03.57N 20.38.45Egeographical coordinates on file cards without symbols (= geographical coordinates in degrees/minutes/seconds = 41°03'57"N 20°38'45"E)
siehe Karteikarte!A6 file card of the University of Bielefeld, arranged by number, indexed by families and other groups.
33°36.03'Senglish system, if minutes followed by decimal (= geographical coordinates with decimals in English)
a.s.l.above sea level
Kleinkäfersmall, undetermined Coleoptera on family level (on file cards)
inc. sed.incertae sedis (= uncertain position/classification)
nicht kons. / nicht konserv.not preserved specimens/samples