Otto Zacharias

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Otto Zacharias

Otto Zacharias (born January 27, 1846 in Leipzig , † October 2, 1916 in Kiel ; full name Emil Otto Zacharias ) was a German zoologist , plankton researcher and journalist .


Otto Zacharias studied in Leipzig , among others, mathematics , philosophy , and zoology . He obtained his doctorate in 1869. Phil. With the dissertation on some metaphysical differences between Herbart and Kant . He then worked as a private scholar in Italy. For many years he worked as a journalist, mainly devoting himself to the popular science communication of complex topics in biology. To this end, he corresponded for a long time with leading scientists and writers in Prussia as well as in other European and non-European countries. Among them: Ernst Haeckel , Charles Darwin , Rudolf Virchow , Joseph Kürschner and Wilhelm Bölsche . On April 1, 1892, Zacharias was able to open the first "biological station" for freshwater research on German soil as a private research institute on the Great Plöner See with financial support from the Prussian government and several private individuals . The model for this was the zoological station in Naples founded by Felix Anton Dohrn in 1870 and already highly recognized at the time . Today the building at Eutiner Straße 4 is used as a restaurant and by the Plön sailing club .

"Old Ferry House" on the Great Plöner See

As director, Zacharias published the research reports from the biological station in Plön from 1893 . He continued the journal quarterly in 1905 as an archive for hydrobiology and plankton science, which became a leader in freshwater science. In so-called “holiday courses”, Zacharias trained teachers and interested laypeople in working with the microscope .

The station was later taken over by the Kaiser Wilhelm Society for the Advancement of Science and directed by August Thienemann . The successor institution, the Max Planck Institute for Limnology, was no longer in the historical building, but in Plön . That institute was replaced by the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Biology in April 2007 . Its three departments, each with a director for genetics, ecology and theory, employ a total of around 150 people. Diethard Tautz heads the genetics department .

Works (selection)

  • Charles Darwin and the cultural-historical significance of his theory of the origin of species . Berlin 1882.
  • The lower animal world of our inland lakes . Verl.-Anst. u. Dr. A.-G., Hamburg 1889 ( digitized version )
  • About solved and unsolved problems in nature research . 2nd edition Leipzig 1891.
  • Catechism of Darwinism . Leipzig 1891.
  • The fauna and flora of fresh water . 2 vols. Leipzig 1891.
  • The plankton . Leipzig 1907.


  • N. Wetzel, R. Nöthlich: From "Homo literatus" to "Self made man" - The career of Emil Otto Zacharias . In: Mauritiana , 19 (2006), Heft 3, pp. 463-477.
  • R. Nöthlich, N. Wetzel, U. Hoßfeld, L. Olsson: “I acquired the pig immediately, had my paws chopped off after it was stabbed, and the like. sent the same to Darwin ”- Otto Zacharias's correspondence with Ernst Haeckel (1874–1898) . In: Annals of the history and philosophy of biology , 11 (2006), pp. 177–248.
  • AW Daum: Science Popularization in the 19th Century. Civil culture, scientific education and the German public, 1848–1914 . Munich: Oldenbourg 1998.

Web links

Wikisource: Otto Zacharias  - Sources and full texts

Individual evidence

  1. ^ Zirnstein Gottfried: Zacharias, Emil Otto. In: Biographisches Lexikon für Schleswig-Holstein and Lübeck, Volume 10. Wachholtz, Neumünster 1994, pp. 392–395.
  2. Wetzel, N. / Nöthlich, R .: From "Homo literatus" to "Self made man" - The career of Emil Otto Zacharias. In: Mauritiana, 19 (2006), Heft 3, pp. 463-477.
  3. ^ Meyers Großes Konversations-Lexikon, Vol. 20, Leipzig 1909, p. 831.
  4. Cf. Zacharias, O .: Summer courses in hydrobiology and plankton science at the Biological Station in Plön, in: Archives for hydrobiology and plankton science 4 (1909), pp. 267–272.
  5. ^ Böttcher Ralph: Rodents with contact difficulties. In: Kieler Nachrichten , September 12, 2016, p. 18