History of the Society for Biological Systematics (GfBS)


The founding meeting of the Society for Biological Systematics took place on December 12th, 1997 at the Museum für Naturkunde in Berlin. The then director of the Institute for Systematic Zoology at the Museum für Naturkunde, Prof. Dr. U. Zeller, had invited after German-speaking systematists and taxonomists had been calling for a specialist society for years. At that time, one of the most important communication organs was the “ZooSyst” newsletter from the study group at that time and now the “Zoological Systematics” section of the German Zoological Society (DZG). The spokespersons for the specialist group at the time, Gerd Weigmann and Michael Schmitt, also circulated the invitation to Berlin via “ZooSyst”.

On December 12th, 1997 around 100 interested people finally met and discussed the name of the company, with “systematic biology”, “biological systematics” and other ideas circulating. In addition, they stipulated the exact formulation of the articles of association of the newly founded society. The founding members ultimately elected their founding board.

200 members after just four months

As managing director, Prof. Dr. J.W. Wägele immediately set about realizing the tasks associated with such a foundation. He sent a letter to the founding members to submit proposals for a logo and founded the BiolSyst e-mail distribution list, which as the GfBS mailing list is still an important communication tool for GfBS members to this day. The editor, Prof. Dr. D. Waloßek, also set up the first website immediately after the founding event. The membership growth was considerable, and as early as April 1998, just four months after it was founded, the GfBS had 200 members.

The first annual meeting of the GfBS with the topic “Systematics on the Move” took place from September 17-19, 1998 in Bonn under the direction of Prof. Dr. C. Naumann. In the context of the conference there were a large number of new entrants, so that the GfBS already consisted of 350 members on November 1, 1998.

Newsletter and Journal

In 1999 the first GfBS Newsletter was published under the editorship of Prof. Dr. Dieter Waloßek, already back then with a length of 28 pages and in color print.

During the second regular members’ meeting of the GfBS on the occasion of the 2nd annual conference in Jena, the majority of the members (yes: 36, no: 4, abstentions: 16) voted for the establishment of a new, scientific journal of the GfBS. The first issue of Organisms, Diversity and Evolution (ODE) finally appeared in 2001 under its first editor-in-chief Prof. Dr. G. Haszprunar.