History of IGB

Freshwater and fisheries science since the 19th century
On 1 January 1992, the newly founded Berlin Institute for Freshwater Ecology and Inland Fisheries (IGB) started its work. It had been merged from three predecessor institutions positively evaluated by the German Science Council. Within a short time a national and internationally acknowledged water research institute developed, which is part of the Leibniz community today.

Employees of the predecessor institution IfB at field work (1955). | Photo: Sächsisches Landesamt für Umwelt, Landwirtschaft und Geologie

The history of IGB dates back to the late 19th century, as the institute was founded in 1992 by the merger of three non-university research institutions in the former GDR: the Institute of Inland Fisheries (IfB) in Berlin-Friedrichshagen, as well as subsections of two institutes of the East German Academy of Science. The Hydrology Department of the Institute of Geography and Geoecology (IGG) in Leipzig and the Department of Experimental Limnology Neuglobsow of the Central Institute for Microbiology and Experimental Therapy (ZIMET) in Jena became part of the IGB.

Predecessor institutions

The Institute for Inland Fisheries (IfB) in Berlin-Friedrichshagen

The origins of the institute in Berlin-Friedrichshagen can be tracked back to 1893. At that time, the hydrobiologist Johannes Frenzel founded the “Biological and Fishery Experimental Station” at Müggelsee – one of the first research facilities in this field. High maintenance costs and necessary reconstruction measures led to the transfer of the experimental station to the administration of the Prussian Ministry of Agriculture as “Royal Institute for Inland Fisheries” in 1906.

After the First World War the institute was firstly renamed “Prussian Fisheries Institute”, followed by a further name change to “Institute for Inland Fisheries of the Reichsanstalt for Fisheries” by the National Socialist government. An allied air-raid on Berlin in 1943 destroyed the original institute building together with library and numerous measuring instruments.

At the end of World War II, the "German Research Institute for Fisheries" was founded. In 1951, the "Institute for Fisheries" of the newly founded German Academy of Agricultural Sciences in Berlin emerged. In the same year the foundation stone for the new institute building at Müggelseedamm 310 was laid.

Department of Experimental Limnology Neuglobsow

In 1959, the Department of Experimental Limnology at Stechlinsee in Neuglobsow was established as branch of the Central Institute for Microbiology and Experimental Therapy (ZIMET) Jena. The aim of the Limnology Research Center was primarily to capture the effects of the first German nuclear power plant in Rheinsberg on the nearby Stechlinsee. At the end of the 1980s the institutes scientists investigated mainly ecological action mechanisms to improve the water quality. Due to the ongoing research since 1959, one of the most comprehensive long-term data series of limnology is available for the Stechlinsee today.

Section Hydrology Berlin

The Department of Hydrology at Müggelseedamm 260 in Berlin-Friedrichshagen was a branch of the Institute for Geography and Geoecology (IGG), founded in 1976 in Leipzig. This section tasks included research in the area of environmental protection and water supply, such as the quantification of material inputs into surface waters, as well as the mathematical modeling of aquatic ecosystems. For secrecy reasons, in particular environmentally relevant research results could only be published in a restricted manner. Also, the material conditions of the institute did not comply with the leading international institutes due to confined space and mainly antiquated equipment.

Foundation of the IGB in 1992

The end of the GDR led to a restructuring of the scientific landscape throughout Germany between 1989 and 1992. Like all East German research institutes, the "Institute for Inland Fisheries" was evaluated by the Scientific Council with the decision to establish the "Institute for Freshwater Ecology and Inland Fisheries" in 1992 as part of the Forschungsverbund Berlin e.V.

On 1 January 1992, the new institute started its work, headquartered at Müggelsee with an experimental station on Stechlinsee. While at that time 103 employees worked as scientists, the IGB today employs a total of about 230 people, including around 140 scientists. Meanwhile the institute has several locations in Berlin-Friedrichshagen, Berlin-Adlershof, Berlin-Dahlem and Neuglobsow at the Stechlinsee. With its inclusion in the Leibniz Association in 2000, the institute received its present name "Leibniz Institute for Freshwater Ecology and Inland Fisheries".

A German book about the history of IGB has been published in 2016, which traces the history of the three predecessor institutions on the basis of documents and witness reports. It can be ordered for a nominal charge of 5 € at the IGB Library. The IGB history is also available open access.


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