Lexicon of Biology

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The lexicon of biology is one of the most extensive reference works on biology and at the same time a scientific discipline.


The Herder-Lexikon der Biologie , published for the first time from 1983 to 1987 by the Freiburg-based Herder-Verlag , was the first reference work to deal with all facets of biological science. In the first edition, the lexicon was 8 volumes and one index volume. It comprised approx. 4000 headwords as well as a large number of sub-keywords and was provided with over 5000 tables and figures as well as with over 450 color tables.

A special feature were already in the first edition and to this day there are numerous overview articles on special topics in biology, each written by outstanding specialists and marked as their personal contributions. Among these specialist contributions, cross-border topics including questions of (bio) philosophy , theology or ethics are discussed.

In addition to the traditional disciplines of biology, the lexicon of biology also deals with areas such as geobotany , palaeontology , nature and environmental protection and is also increasingly dedicated to the so-called "lower" groups of organisms. In addition, terms from the peripheral areas of biology are dealt with, for example from agriculture and forestry, applied botany and zoology, anthropology , medicine and pharmacy.

The first edition was written by more than 100 authors under the editing of Rolf Sauermost, most of whom researched or researched at the University of Freiburg . The Freiburg biologists Arno Bogenrieder (professor of geobotany), Klaus-Günter Collatz and Günther Osche (both professor of zoology) and Hans Kössel (professor of molecular biology) were the advisors .

Authors of outstanding specialist contributions were, among others, Hans Mohr (e.g. explanation in biology, ethics in biology), Gerhard Vollmer (e.g. epistemology and biology - evolutionary epistemology , philosophy of science in biology, teleology - teleonomy ), Bernhard Hassenstein (e.g. entropy and its role in biology, youth development: animal-human comparison, freedom and free will, information and instruction), Otti Wilmanns (nature conservation) or Albin Eser ( insemination : ethical and legal aspects).

The lexicon was completed in 1992 by a volume Biology at a Glance (edited by Michael Schmitt ), with the areas of systematics, tables, history and perspectives of biology, and in 1994 and 1995 by two supplementary volumes. In 1994 the lexicon was taken over by the Spektrum Akademischer Verlag and continued to be published under the name Herder-Lexicon of Biology .

Since 2004 the work has been published as a lexicon of biology by Verlag Elsevier as a book and CD-ROM edition with a total of 7200 pages. It is edited by Doris Freudig under the project management of Rolf Sauermost, the number of authors has grown to over 200 by then. In addition to Arno Bogenrieder, Klaus-Günter Collatz and Günther Osche, Georg Schön (microbiologist) and Uwe Maier (cell biologist) at the University of Marburg (biochemistry, molecular biology following the late Hans Kössel) have been recruited as advisors.

As the world's largest alphabetical reference work on biology, this edition, which comprises 14 volumes, has approx. 75,000 articles, over 400,000 references, over 10,000 figures, tables, structural formulas and tables. The number of encyclopedic articles on specially selected current topics in biology has grown to 50.

The lexicon has been expanded significantly with terms relating to modern research areas such as biochemistry , molecular biology , biotechnology , immunology and medicine, or the history of biology and biochemistry. In addition, more than 1000 biographical articles deal with researchers who have decisively shaped the development of the life sciences from antiquity to the present.


“The lexicon is extremely useful because it is a safe choice when looking for competent answers to all questions in the life sciences. It will become an indispensable reference work for all life scientists. "


  • Doris Freudig (Red.): Lexicon of Biology . Spektrum Akademischer Verlag, Heidelberg 2006, ISBN 3-8274-1736-8 (complete edition in 14 volumes).
  • Herder - Lexicon of Biology. Spectrum Akademischer Verlag, Heidelberg 1994, ISBN 3860251562 (paperback edition in 9 volumes and 1 supplementary volume).
  • Herder - Lexicon of Biology. General biology, plants, animals. Herder Verlag, Freiburg im Breisgau, Basel, Vienna 1983 to 1987 (in 8 volumes); Volume 9 Register and Bibliography, Freiburg im Breisgau, Basel, Vienna 1987, ISBN 3-451-19649-2 ; Volume 10, Biology at a Glance - Systematics, Tables, History, Perspectives, Freiburg im Breisgau, Basel, Vienna 1992, ISBN 3-451-19650-6

Web links

Individual evidence

  1. LEXICON OF BIOLOGY. In: Spectrum of Science . Retrieved July 7, 2016 .