Stazione Zoologica Anton Dohrn (Redirected from Stazione Zoologica)

Stazione Zoologica in 1873
Stazione Zoologica in the 1890s
Stazione Zoologica in 2010

The Stazione Zoologica Anton Dohrn is a research institute in Naples, Italy, devoted to basic research in biology. Research is largely interdisciplinary involving the fields of evolution, biochemistry, molecular biology, neurobiology, cell biology, biological oceanography, marine botany, molecular plant biology, benthic ecology, and ecophysiology.

Founded in 1872 as a private concern by Anton Dohrn, in 1982 the Stazione Zoologica came under the supervision and control of the Ministero dell'Università e della Ricerca Scientifica e Tecnologica (Ministry of Universities and Scientific and Technological Research) as a National Institute.


The idea

Dohrn's idea was to establish an international scientific community provided with laboratory space, equipment, research material and a library. This was supported and funded by the German Government, Thomas Henry Huxley, Charles Darwin, Francis Balfour and Charles Lyell among others. Dohrn provided a substantial sum himself. Running costs were paid from income derived from the bench system, the sale of scientific journals and specimens and the income from the public aquarium. This system was an important innovations in management of research and it worked. When Anton Dohrn died in 1909 more than 2,200 scientists from Europe and the United States had worked at Stazione Zoologica and more than 50 tables-per-year had been rented out.

"Report of the Committee, consisting of Dr. Anton Dohrn, Professor Rolleston and Mr. P. L. Sclater, appointed for the purpose of promoting the Foundation of Zoological Stations in different parts of the World:—Reporter, Dr. Dohrn [Jena]."-"The Committee beg to report that since the last Meeting of the British Association at Liverpool steps have been taken by Dr. Dohrn to secure the moral assistance of some other scientific bodies, and that the Academy of Belgium has passed a vote acknowledging the great value of the proposed Observatories. Besides this, the Government at Berlin has given instruction to the German Embassy at Florence and to the General Consul at Naples to do everything to secure success to Dr. Dohrn's enterprise. Next October the building at Naples will be commenced under the personal superintendence of Dr. Dohrn, who will be accompanied by the assistant architect of the Berlin Aquarium. The contractors agree to finish the building in one year, so that in January 1873 the Aquarium in Naples may be expected to be in working order." British Association for the Advancement of Science Report on the 1871 Meeting in Edinburgh

The building

The oldest building of the zoological station was opened in 1874. A second building connected to the western end of the first by bridges was added in 1886 and a third was built in 1906 for the new science of comparative physiology. In 1910 the 1874 building was occupied by the public aquarium and the library only, the department for collecting and preserving organisms as well as the individual laboratories for zoologists having been relocated in the 1886 addition.


Salvatore Lo Bianco in November 1889. His preservation methods were so advanced that collections of preserved marine organisms were sold to clients from all over the world

The first assistants were zoologists Nicolaus Kleinenberg and Hugo Eisig and one of the Preparators was Salvatore Lobianco (Lo Bianco)(1860-1910) who wrote The Methods Employed at the Naples Zoological Station for the Preservation of Marine Animals. Others were Dr. Brandt (librarian); Dr. Lang; Dr. Giesbrecht; Petersen (engineer). By 1910 the permanent staff were Professor Dr. Paul Mayer and Dr. Gross, morphology; Dr. Burian, comparative physiology; Dr. Henze, chemistry; Dr. Gast, the museum; Hermann Linden, secretary; Sig. Santorelli, Preparator. Zoologists and morphologists were the first guests of the new Institute. Included were Heinrich Wilhelm Gottfried von Waldeyer-Hartz, Francis Balfour, Ray Lankester, August Weismann, Giovanni Battista Grassi, Antonio della Valle, Oskar Schmidt, Ambrosius Hubrecht (Professor of Utrecht University, an embryologist).

In 1897 Ida Henrietta Hyde was invited to occupy a table at the institute. She went on to fund raise to help establish the American Women's Table at the Stazione Zoologica Anton Dohrn. This table was subsequently held by American women zoologists such as Emily Ray Gregory.


The three publications issued by the Station were:- Mittheilungen der Zoologischen Station in Neapel, Zoologischer Jahresbericht a reference journal famous for its rapid publication and accuracy and Fauna und Flora des Golfes von Neapel an inventory of the biota of Mediterranean (in 1876 Anton Dohrn added a section of Botany),


Charles Darwin had advised Dohrn that establishing a library would be unwise (Groeben, 1982, p. 29). Dohrn argued that availability of all the major published sources was essential. He gave his own books and scientific journals to the Station and persuaded publishers and scientists to donate their publications. The Naples Station's biological reference collection is still unrivalled in Europe today.[citation needed] The first librarian was Emil Schoebel.


The station maintained a high level of technical services. Ernst Abbe (1840-1905) of the Zeiss factory, a close friend, supplied sets of Zeiss instruments at low prices, thus bringing Zeiss equipment, sometimes improved, to the attention of the international scientific community. Assistants and guests collaborated in improving section-cutting and staining. For collecting there were several manned boats, including the steamers "Johannes Muller" and "Francis Balfour". An engineer and assisting machinists maintained the aquarium and a trained mechanic made instruments for experimental investigations.

The aquarium

The aquarium was constructed by William Alford Lloyd [1]. Dohrn had met Lloyd in 1866 in Hamburg.


Anton Dohrn followed Goethe in considering arts and science inseparable. He was devoted to music and in 1873 employed Hans von Marées (1837-1887) and Adolf von Hildebrand to enhance Stazione Zoologica with art works.

Later history

Anton Dohrn's son Reinhard Dohrn (1880-1962) continued his father's work from 1909. Peter Dohrn (1917-2007) acted as Director between 1954 and 1967. From 1967 to 1976 SZN was led by a Commissario Straordinario. In 1976 following the appointment of Alberto Monroy, an embryologist, as Director a radical reorganisation began. SZN was divided into five parts: Biological Oceanography, Benthic Ecology (at the Villa Dohrn in Ischia), Biochemistry, Cell and Developmental Biology and Neurobiology and. In 1982 SZN became an "Ente pubblico di ricerca (National Research Institute) under the directorship of Antonio Miralto.In 1987 Gaetano Salvatore, Dean of the Medical School of Università Federico II in Napoli, was appointed President of the Stazione Zoologica. After his death in 1997 Professor Giorgio Bernardi was appointed as President. He launched the study of molecular evolution "at the institutional level" completing Dohrn's vision.

People associated with SZN

Further reading

  • Christiane Groeben, 2006 The Stazione Zoologica Anton Dohrn as a place for the circulation of scientific ideas: vision and management in Anderson, K.L. & C. Thiery (eds.). 2006. Information for Responsible Fisheries : Libraries as Mediators : proceedings of the 31st Annual Conference:Rome, Italy, October 10 – 14, 2005.[3]
  • C. B. Metz, Editor; P. L. Clapp, Assistant Editor, 1985 The Naples Zoological Station and the Marine Biological Laboratory:One hundred years of Biology Biological Bulletin Volume 168 Number 3 Symposium Supplement to the Biological Bulletin [4] Free download
  • Dohrn, A. 1892. Aus Vergangenheit und Gegenwart der Zoologischen Station zu Neapel. – Deutsche Rundschau 72: 275–298.
  • Bernardino Fantini, 2000 The 'Stazione Zoologica Anton Dohrn' and the history of embryologyThe International Journal of Developmental Biology 44(6):523-35 · February 2000 pdf
  • Maria Cristina Gambi et al., 2013 The Archivio Moncharmont: a Pioneering Biodiversity Assessment in the Gulf of Naples (Italy) Conference paper: In: Groeben C. (Ed), Places, People, Tools: Oceanography in the Mediterranean and Beyond., At Napoli (Italy), Volume: Pubblicazioni della Stazione Zoologica di Napoli 4: 459-467 pdf

See also

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