Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin - Albrecht Daniel Thaer-Institut für Agrar- und Gartenbauwissenschaften

Prof. Dr. Ulrich Zeller

Professor a.D. für spezielle Zoologie



Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin

Lebenswissenschaftliche Fakultät

Albrecht Daniel Thaer-Institut für Agrar-
und Gartenbauwissenschaften

Sitz: Luisenstraße 53, 10117 Berlin


Tel: +49(0)30-2093-46910

Post: Unter den Linden 6, 10099 Berlin

Sprechstunde nach Vereinbarung



Curriculum Vitae
Research interests
Selected Publications


Curriculum Vitae


  • 1984

Dissertation (Dr. med), Georg-August-Universität, Göttingen

  • 1987-1991

Lecturer, Human anatomy

  • 1988

Habilitation, Georg-August-Universität, Göttingen

  • 1991-1995

University teacher (C2), Human anatomy

  • 1994

Appointment as apl.-Professor, Human anatomy, Georg-August Universität Göttingen

  • 1994

C3-Professor, Zoology, Johannes Gutenberg-Universität, Mainz

  • 1996-2006

C4-Professor, Director for Systematic Zoology, Museum of Natural History(MfN), Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin

  • 2006-2021

C4-Professor, Chair of Systematic Zoology, Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin

  • since 2021

Professor a.D. (emeritus), Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin



Research interests


Evolutionary and organismic biology of vertebrates with special emphasis to mammals


Biodiversity and natural resource management in agro-ecological systems under changing environment and human use


Quality network biodiversity in sub-sahara Africa


Biodiversity and nature conservation in urban areas and surroundings




Selected publications:


Roque, D. V., Macandza, V.A., Zeller, U., Starik, N., Göttert, T. 2022. Historical and current         distribution and movement patterns of large herbivores in the Limpopo National Park, Mozambique.
Frontiers in Ecology and Evolution 1-20.



Zeller, U.; Göttert, T. 2021. Humans, megafauna and landscape structure – Rock engravings from Namibia encourage a comparative approach to central Europe and southern Africa. Vertebrate Zoology 71 631-643.


Starik, N.; Göttert, T.; Zeller, U. Spatial Behavior and Habitat Use of Two Sympatric Bat  Species. Animals 2021, 11, 3460.


Roque, D.V., Göttert, T., Macandza, V.A., Zeller, U. 2021. Assessing distribution patterns and the relative abundance of reintroduced large herbivores in the Limpopo National Park, Mozambique. Diversity 13, 456.


Eiseb, S., Taylor, P., Zeller, U., Denys, C., Nicolas, V. 2021. Rapid peripatric speciation linked with drainage evolution in a rare African rodent, Mastomys shortridgei (Rodentia: Muridae). Journal of Zoological Systematics and Evolutionary Research, 59: 522-542.


Starik, N., Mbango, O., Bengsch, S., Göttert, T., Zeller, U. 2020. Landscape transformation influences responses of terrestrial small mammal communities to land use intensity in north-central Namibia. Diversity, 12(12): 488.


Ruf, I., Behrens, H., Zeller, U. 2020. Ontogeny and morphofunctional implications of the ethmoidal region in the semiaquatic Potamogale velox (Afrotheria, Mammalia). Vertebrate Zoology, 70(4): 679-697.


Rottstock, T., Göttert, T., Zeller, U. 2020. Relatively undisturbed African savannas - an important reference for assessing wildlife responses to livestock grazing systems in European rangelands. Global Ecology and Conservation, 23: e01124.


Stoldt, M., Göttert, T., Mann, C., Zeller, U. 2020. Transfrontier conservation areas and human-wildlife conflict: the case of the Namibian component of the Kavango-Zambezi (KAZA) TFCA. Scientific Reports, 10: 7964. 


Zeller, U., Perry, G., Starik, N., Göttert, T. 2020. Organisms in nature - evolutionary perspective and ecological significance". Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin, Berlin. 55 pp. 


Zeller, U., Göttert, T. 2019. The relations between evolution and domestication reconsidered - Implications for systematics, ecology, and nature conservation. Global Ecology and Conservation, 20: e00756.


Mannetti, L.M., Göttert, T., Zeller, U., Esler, K.J. 2019. Identifying and categorizing stakeholders for protected area expansion around a national park in Namibia. Ecology and Society, 24(2): 5.


Zeller, U., Perry, G., Göttert, T. 2019. „Biodiversity and the urban-rural interface: conflicts vs. opportunities“. Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin, Berlin. 69 pp. 


Fiderer, C., Göttert, T., Zeller, U. 2019. Spatial interrelations between raccoons (Procyon lotor), red foxes (Vulpes vulpes), and ground-nesting birds in a Special Protection Area of Germany. European Journal of Wildlife Research, 65: 14.


Starik, N., Göttert, T., Heitlinger, E., Zeller, U. 2018. Bat community responses to structural habitat complexity resulting from management practices within different land use types - a case study from north-eastern Germany. Acta Chiropterologica, 20(2): 387-405.


Zeller, U., Ferner, K., Göttert, T., Starik, N. 2018. Eutherians: Placental Mammals. In M. K. Skinner (Ed.), Encyclopedia of Reproduction. Vol. 6, pp. 617-624. Academic Press: Elsevier.


Mannetti, L.M., Göttert, T., Zeller, U., Esler, K.J. 2017. Expanding the protected area network in Namibia: An institutional analysis. Ecosystem Services, 28(B): 207-218.


Zeller, U., Starik, N., Göttert, T. 2017. „Connecting biodiversity and improving human livelihood beyond boundaries – a global perspective“. Workshop proceedings, Systematic Zoology Division, Berlin.


Ferner, K., Schultz, J. A., Zeller, U. 2017. Comparative anatomy of neonates of the three major mammalian groups (monotremes, marsupials, placentals) and implications for the ancestral mammalian neonate morphotype. Journal of Anatomy, 231: 798-822.


Zeller, U., Starik, N., Göttert, T. 2017. Biodiversity, land use and ecosystem services - an organismic and comparative approach to different geographical regions. Global Ecology and Conservation, 10(C): 114-125.


Starik, N. & Zeller, U. 2017. Bioindicators for land use and climate change - bats at the urban-rural interface. In: Kabisch, N., Stadler, J., Duffield, S., Korn, H. & Bonn, A. (Hrsg.) 2017. Proceedings of the European conference "Nature-based solutions to climate change in urban areas and their rural surroundings. BfN Skripten 456, p. 154.


Schultz, J.A., Zeller, U., Luo, Z. 2017. Inner ear labyrinth anatomy of monotremes and implications for mammalian inner ear evolution. Journal of Morphology 278: 236-263. doi:10.1002/jmor.20632.


Zeller, U., Starik, N., Göttert, T. 2016. Biodiversity and land use – a comparative approach. Workshop proceedings, Systematic Zoology Division, Berlin.


Ruf, I., Janßen, S., Zeller, U. 2015. The ethmoidal region of the skull of Ptilocercus lowii (Ptilocercidae, Scandentia, Mammalia) - a contribution to the reconstruction of the cranial morphotype of primates. Primate Biology, 2(1): 89-110. doi:10.5194/pb-2-89-2015


Cornelis, G., Vernochet, C., Carradec, Q., Souquere, S., Mulot, B., Catzeflis, F., Nilsson, M. A., Menzies, B. R., Renfree, M., Pierron, G., Zeller, U., Heidman, O., Dupressoir, A., Heidmann, T. 2015. Retroviral envelope gene captures and syncytin exaptation for placentation in marsupials. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, 112 (5): E487 - E496. doi: 10.1073/pnas.1417000112


Starik, N. & Zeller, U. 2015. Fledermäuse als Bioindikatoren für die ökologischen Auswirkungen von unterschiedlichen Landnutzungsformen auf Biodiversität. In: Feit, U. & Korn, H. (Hrsg.) 2015. Treffpunkt Biologische Vielfalt XIV - Interdisziplinärer Forschungsaustausch im Rahmen des Übereinkommens über die biologische Vielfalt. BfN Skripten 397: 143-149. ISBN 978-3-89624-132-0


Schwabe, F., Göttert, T., Starik, N., Levick, S., Zeller, U. 2015. A study on the post-release behavior and habitat preferences of black rhinos (Diceros bicornis) reintroduced into a fenced reserve in Namibia. African Journal of Ecology, 53(4): 531-539. doi:10.1111/aje.12245


Göttert, T., Grothmann, P., Zeller, U. 2015. Faecal corticosterone responses of black rhinos (Diceros bicornis) to a transfer between housing facilities within a zoo. Journal of Zoo and Aquarium Research, 3(1): 25-28.


Necsulea, A., Soumillon, M., Warnefors, M., Liechti, A., Daish, T., Zeller, U., Baker, J.C., Grützner, F. & Kaessmann, H. 2014. The evolution of lncRNA repertoires and expression patterns in tetrapods. Nature, 505: 635-640. doi:10.1038/nature12943


Ferner, K., Siniza, S., Zeller, U. 2014. The Placentation of Eulipotyphla-Reconstructing a Morphotype of the Mammalian Placenta. Journal of Morphology, 275 (10): 1122-1144. doi: 10.1002/jmor.20289


Mannetti, L., Esler, K., Zeller, U. 2013. Evaluating social-ecological aspects of edge effects and land use conflicts at the borders of Etosha National Park, Namibia. Southern African Program on Ecosystem Change and Society. 'Frontiers in Social-Ecological Research' Colloquium. Kirstenbosch, Cape Town.


Dannenberg, P., Göttert, T., Nduru, G., Zeller, U. 2013. Land use and nature conservation – Proceedings of the 2nd international workshop of the Quality Network Biodiversity in Sub-Sahara Africa 2012, Arbeitsberichte des Geographischen Instituts der Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin, Heft 175. ISSN 0947-0360


Siniza, S., Lupiañez, D.G., Jiménez, R., Zeller, U. 2012. Morphology and ultrastructure of the chorioallantoic placenta of the Iberian mole (Talpa occidentalis) with special reference to heterophagous areolas and the nature of interhaemal barrier. Journal of Anatomy, 221(2):164-173. doi:10.1111/j.1469-7580.2012.01527.x


Starik, N., Bengsch, S., Mannetti, L., Dannenberg, P. Göttert, T., Zeller, U. 2012. Climate change affects the economic and ecological value of savannah ecosystems – a challenge for the sustainable management of protected areas. In: Korn, H., Kraus, K., Stadler, J. (eds.): Proceedings of the European Conference on Biodiversity and Climate Change, BfN-Skripten 310: 85-86. ISBN 97-3-89624-044-6


Zeller, U., Göttert, T. 2012. Naturschutz als Staatsziel – Qualitätsnetz Biodiversität veranstaltet Sommerschule in Namibia. HUMBOLDT Die Zeitung der Alma Mater Berolinensis 55/3: 5.


Bengsch, S., Starik N., Zeller U. 2011. Diversity, abundance and habitat use of small mammals reflect ecological disturbances – valuable information for the management of farm systems and the protected area network in Southern Africa. Proceedings of the 11th African Small Mammal Symposium, Aug 3-8 2011. University of Swaziland, Kwaluseni, Swaziland: 87-88.


Brawand, D., Soumillon, M., Necsulea, A., Julien, P., Csárdi, G., Harrigan, P., Weier,M., Liechti, A., Aximu-Petri, A., Kircher, M., Albert, F.W., Zeller U. , Khaitovich, P., Grützner, F., Bergmann, S., Nielsen, R., Pääbo, S. & Kaessmann, H. 2011. The evolution of gene expression levels in mammalian organs. Nature, 478: 343-348. doi:10.1038/nature10532


Ferner, K., Zeller, U., Schmelting, B. & Fuchs, E. 2010. Ontogenetic and lung development in Tupaia belangeri during the early postnatal period. Mammalian Biology, 75 (2): 95-105. doi:10.1016/j.mambio.2009.03.00


Linsenmair, K. E., Mohr, K., Oliver, T., Petersen, A., Rambold, G., Zeller, U., Austermühle, R., Bausch, J., Bösing, B. M., Classen, N., Dorendorf, J., Dorigo, W., Esler, K. J., Etzold, S., Graiff, A., Grotehusmann, L., Hecht, J., Hoyer, P., Kongor, R. Y., Lang, H., Lieckfeld, L. A. B., Oldeland, J., Peters, J., Röwer, I. U., September, Z. M., Sop, T. K., van Rooyen, M. W., Weber, J., Willer, J. & Jürgens, N. 2010. The BIOTA Observatories. In: Haarmeyer, D. H., Luther-Mosebach, J., Dengler, J., Finckh, M. & Schmiedel, U. (eds.). Biodiversity in southern Africa 1: Patterns at local scale – the BIOTA Observatories. Klaus Hess Publishers, Göttingen & Windhoek: 6–801. ISBN 978-3-93311-744-1


Hoffmann, A., Zeller, U. 2010. Small mammals on Gellap Ost and Nabaos. In: Jürgens, N., Haarmeyer, D. H., Luther-Mosebach, J., Dengler, J., Finckh, M. & Schmiedel, U. (eds.). Biodiversity in southern Africa 1: Patterns at local scale – the BIOTA Observatories. Klaus Hess Publishers, Göttingen & Windhoek: 426-427. ISBN 978-3-93311-744-1


Hoffmann, A. U. Zeller, U. 2010. Large mammals on Gellap Ost. In: Jürgens, N., Haarmeyer, D. H., Luther-Mosebach, J., Dengler, J., Finckh, M. & Schmiedel, U. (eds.). Biodiversity in southern Africa 1: Patterns at local scale – the BIOTA Observatories. Klaus Hess Publishers, Göttingen & Windhoek: 427. ISBN 978-3-93311-744-1


Schunke, A.C., Zeller, U. 2010. Chondrocranium and dermal bones of the lowland streaked Tenrec Hemicentetes semispinosus (Afrosoricida, Tenrecidae) and their comparison with Potamogale and other insectivoran-grade placental mammals. Vertebrate Zoology, 60(1): 37-72.


Göttert, T., Zeller, U. 2010. Der Zoologische Garten Magdeburg unterstützt ein Naturschutzprojekt in Namibia. Felis News, 5: 18-20. ISSN: 18626297


Hoffmann, A., Vohland, K., Zeller, U. 2010. Overgrazing favours desert species –differences in arthropod and small mammal communities of the twin sites Gellap Ost and Nabaos. In: Schmiedel, U., Jürgens, N. (eds.): Biodiversity in southern Africa. Volume 2:Patterns and processes at regional scale. Klaus Hess Publishers, Göttingen & Windhoek: 239-244. ISBN 978-3-93311-744-1


Giberson, N., Zeller, U., Göttert T. 2010. A study of the ground squirrel’s response to the Ashy Tit’s alarm calls in a Namibian semi-arid ecosystem. Proceedings of the SCB 24th Annual Meeting, 3- 7 July 2010, Edmonton, Alberta.


Zeller, U., Göttert, T. 2009. MSc Programme „Biodiversity Management and Research“: 204. In: Czech University of Life Sciences, 2nd European Congress of Conservation Biology (ECCB) “Conservation biology and beyond: from science to practice”, Prague, Czech Republic, 01 – 05 September 2009, Book of abstracts, ISBN: 978-80-213-1961-5.


Göttert, T., Zeller, U. 2009. Etosha buffer zone – A concept to support efforts to link Etosha National Park to the transnational network of protected areas in southern Africa: 72. In: Czech University of Life Sciences, 2nd European Congress of Conservation Biology (ECCB) “Conservation biology and beyond: from science to practice”, Prague, Czech Republic, 01 – 05 September 2009, Book of abstracts, ISBN: 978-80-213-1961-5.


Zeller, U., Göttert, T. 2008. Friedliche Nachbarschaft? In: 100 Jahre Etoscha. Schriftenreihe der Deutschen Afrikastiftung 78:  44-47.


Göttert, T., Zeller, U. 2008. Das Etosha-Pufferzonenprojekt. - Beiträge zur Jagd & Wildforschung, 33: 283-292.


Szdzuy, K., Zeller, U. 2009. Lung and metabolic development in mammals: contribution to the reconstruction of the marsupial and eutherian morphotype. Journal of Experimental Zoology Part B: Molecular and Developmental Evolution, 312(6): 555-578. doi: 10.1002/jez.b.21228


Szdzuy, K., Zeller, U., Renfree, M.B., Tzschentke,B., Janke, O. 2008. Postnatal lung and metabolic delopment in two marsupial and four eutherian species. Journal of Anatomy, 212(2): 164-179. doi: 10.1111/j.1469-7580.2007.00849.x


Szdzuy, K., Zeller, U., Renfree, M.B. 2008. Lung development of monotremes: Evidence for the mammalian morphotype. The Anatomical Record, 292(2): 190-201. doi:10.1002/ar.20825


Zeller, U., Szdzuy, K., Siniza, S. 2007. Reproductive patterns in amniotes with special reference to mammals. Journal of Morphology, 268 (12): 1153.


Freyer, C., Zeller, U., Renfree, M.B. 2007. Placental function in two distantly related marsupials. Placenta, 28: 249-257. doi:10.1016/j.placenta.2006.03.007


Muck, C., Zeller, U. 2006. Small mammal communities on cattle and game grazing areas in Namibia. African Zoology, 41: 1-9. doi: 10.3377/1562-7020(2006)41[215:SMCOCA]2.0.CO;2


Hoffmann A., Zeller, U. 2005. Influence of variations in land use intensity on species diversity and abundance of small mammals in the Nama Karoo, Namibia. Belgian Journal of Zoology,135: 91-96.


Vohland, K., Uhlig, M., Marais, E., Hoffmann, A., Zeller, U. 2005. Impact of different grazing systems on diversity, abundance and biomass of beetles (Coleoptera), a study from southern Namibia. Mitt. Mus. Nat.kd. Berl., Zool. Reihe, 81 (2): 131-143.


Kübler, S., Zeller, U. 2005. The Kestrel (Falco tinnunculus L.) in Berlin: Feeding Ecology along an Urban Gradient. Die Erde, 136, 153-164.


Kübler, S., Kupko, S., Zeller, U. 2005. The Kestrel (Falco tinnunculus L.) in Berlin: Investigation of breeding biology and feeding ecology. Journal of Ornithology, 146: 271-278.


Kübler, S., Zeller, U. 2004. Wintervögel entlang eines Urbangradienten in Berlin: Erhebungen zur Nahrungsökologie. Berliner Ornithologische Berichte, 14: 3-15.


Giere, P., Zeller, U. 2004. Small mammal diversity and reproduction along a transect in Namibia (BIOTA S 07). In Huber B, Sinclair J, Lampe KH (eds.) African biodiversity. Molecules, organisms, ecosystems. Berlin, Springer Verlag, 305-313.


Kiessling, W., Lazarus, D. Zeller, U. 2004. Mesozoic-Cenozoic bioevents. Palaeogeography, Palaeoclimatology, Palaeoecology, 214(3): 179-180.


Zeller, U., Mey, W., Giere, P. 2004. Terrestrial Zoodiversity of the Philippine „Hotspot“ under changing Environment and Human Use: Current Issues and Future Aspects. Lecture Notes: International Seminar and Workshop on Terrestrial Ecology, LSU, BayBay, Leyte, Philippines, 1-8.


Zeller, U. (2004/2015) Monotremata und Marsupialia. In Westheide W., Rieger R., (eds.) Spezielle Zoologie, Teil 2: Wirbeltiere. Spektrum Akademischer Verlag, Heidelberg.


Mess, A., Blackburn, D.G., Zeller, U. 2003. Evolutionary transformations of fetal membranes and reproductive strategies. Journal of Experimental Zoology, 299(1): 3-12.


Freyer, C., Zeller, U., Renfree, M.B. 2006. Placental Function in two distantly related Marsupials. Placenta, 28(2):1-9.


Freyer, C., Zeller, U., Renfree, M.B. 2003. The marsupial placenta: A phylogenetic analysis. Journal of Experimental Zoology Part A: Ecological Genetics and Physiology, 299(1): 59-77.


Freyer, C., Zeller, U., Renfree, M.B. 2002. Ultrastructure of the placenta of the tammar wallaby, Macropus eugenii: Comparison with the grey short-tailed opossum, Monodelphis domestica. Journal of Anatomy, 201(2): 101-119.


Zeller, U., Freyer, C. 2001. Early ontogeny and placentation of the grey short-tailed opossum, Monodelphis domestica (Didelphidae: Marsupialia): Contribution to the reconstruction of the marsupial morphotype. Journal of Zoological Systematics and Evolutionary Research, 39(3): 137-158.


Zeller, U. 1999. Mammalian reproduction: origin and evolutionary transformations. Zool. Anz. 238: 117-130.


Zeller, U. 1989. Die Entwicklung und Morphologie des Schädels von Ornithorhynchus anatinus (Mammalia: Prototheria: Monotremata). Abh. d. Senkenberg. Naturforsch. Ges. 545, S. 1 - 188.