Francisco Welter-Schultes, homepage.
On the picture you see me and Christine, my girl-friend, in December 1997 at Vejle Fjord in sunny Denmark.
Currently I am working at the Zoological Institute of Göttingen University, mostly on posters, sometimes on old zoological literature and, more rarely in the last years, on land snails of Greece. My favourite ones belong to the genus Albinaria (Clausiliidae).
Things were a lot different before I knew Christine.
Arrival at Lavrakás, at the northern coast of Gávdos, after a 4-hours one-person journey from the 8 km distant island in the background (Gavdopoúla) with an inflatable boat in March, 1992. It is not recommended to repeat such adventures - a few minutes later and I would have gone to Libya with the uprising NE storm.
+49 551 395579
I am working in the Abteilung Morphologie und Systematik, which
is one of the departments of the Zoologisches Institut der Universität Göttingen. My e-mail
account is provided by the Gesellschaft
für Wissenschaftliche Datenverarbeitung Göttingen (GWDG). Christine works in a church community in Göttingen.
1996-2000 I received a PhD scholarship from the Evangelisches Studienwerk.
Links to connected websites:
List of publications - Albinaria research - Albinaria bibliography - Albanian non-marine molluscs - Flying snails paper - Albinaria terebra paper
Per Anhalter durch Südamerika - Batavieren race/Run 4 Fun
Planet Poster Editions
Planet Poster Editions was founded in 1998 by Ralph Krätzner and myself, when we published our first poster Life on Earth in English language. As scientists we did not even consider the possibility that German-language posters could pay off. But then after the poster was printed, we sold so many posters in the Göttingen bookshops that we were able to pay the printing costs even before the invoice of the printer was delivered to us. Few months later we printed the Geman-language version of that poster, Lebendiger Planet, of which we sold thousands in the following years and which kept ebing our best-selling product. More information about geology in German language on our information pages (Infoseite Lebendiger Planet), each stage has its homepage with detailed information:
Archaikum/Erdurzeit, Proterozoikum, Kambrium, Ordoviz, Silur, Devon, Karbon, Perm, Trias, Jura, Kreide, Tertiär/Quartär.
As years passed by, we continuously issued new posters on astronomy, biology, paleontology and other topics such as German railway engines.
These are the first posters we have produced since 1998, with Ralph Krätzner
and other co-authors. Size A1, 594 x 841 mm. We are continuously producing more.
The complete collection can be seen at www.planetposter.de.
Schmetterlinge der Welt
One of my most time intensive works in the past years was the compilation of a map of the world in original scripts. This map was printed in January 2006 and can be seen at the Planet Poster website (Map of the world). From this map I took screenshots and created many pages containing of country maps of all countries of the world (maps index page in German and in English).
After having produced and sold posters for several years we realized that we had earned more money than we ever needed. We decided to build the second biggest solar power plant in Göttingen. The story was more or less this one:
In these times Germany had a socialist/green government which had passed some very successful laws to support alternative energies, among which was solar energy. These laws formed the base of Germany's success in developing technology for alternative energies in the coming years. Some day in May 2005 chancellor Schröder announced that he did not like his job any more (mainly because the conservative CDU blocked practically everything and the socialist SPD had lost many local elections), and from the opinion polls a conservative/liberal victory for the coming federal elections in September 2005 seemed to be inevitable. Immediately at this same day I saw that it was the last chance to invest in alternative energies, because the conservatives and liberals were against alternative "green" energies and had declared that they would restore the support of nuclear energy which had been stopped by the socialist/green government. So I decided to act immediately, to invest in solar energy (which was the easiest way to invest in the alternative energy section in a city like Göttingen) before the laws would be changed. The first step was to find a roof in the city for the panels of such a solar power station.
Only several months later the conservatives saw that the "green"
laws to support alternative energies were highly intelligent and Angela Merkel,
the new chancellor, announced that they should not be changed. Conservatives
and liberals did not obtain a majority in the elections in September 2005 so
that the conservatives had to collaborate with the socialists for the coming
years. In fact, the conservatives had learned a lot from the green movement
and realized that investing in alternative energies did not have much do to
with green hippie dreams but rather with technological progress, future and
work for thousands of people - while investing money in nuclear energy produced
only little work for people and prevented the state from financially supporting
new future technologies.
When our solar power plants were installed, 4 persons had work for several weeks. From then on, the plants are expected to work for about 40 years or more without that much would have to be done on the roofs.
In 2003 we started a joint project of the Zoological Institute and our University Library, to digitize all taxonomically relevant old zoological literature and place it free in the internet. The animals described in the old literature are contained in a new database. The name of this database is Animalbase.
The problem of taxonomic work in zoology is often the very difficult access to the old literature, which for the public in some cases is only present in very few European libraries. In the past, scientists from New Zealand or Brazil had to travel to Paris, London or Göttingen to verify original species descriptions of animals of their countries. Of course this situation prevents many studies from being done. For historical reasons Göttingen has one of the best old zoological libraries in the world. A heritage of the kings of Hannover.
Zootaxonomy is the science of animal names - it is required that names for the 1.5 million currently known animal species must be stable over time and not subjected to ongoing changes with advancing biological researches. There are many species on which specialists work only very few times in a century. And the names must be unique for every species. Otherwise any communication between biologists would be nearly impossible.
This problem arose in the 1700s when the number of known animal species had
increased from 500 in Aristoteles times to more than 4000.
It was even more problematic with plants. In medical receipts pharmacists could not tolerate misunderstandings concerning the identity of the medical plants - which led the botanist Carl Linnaeus to invent a clear and concise nomenclatural system for plants in 1753. Five years later he adopted this system for animals. It was widely accepted shortly after. One of the basic rules of this system is the priority rule which states that for every animal, the first introduced name in the Linnean system shall be valid. Until today - despite decades of molecular researches - no better system has been proposed, and so we have the situation that the old literature from 250 years ago is still up-to-date because we still use the names and have to know which name corresponds to which animal.
So if somebody discovers in a special study that an animal species consists
in reality of two species which do not cross-breed in nature, perhaps an insect
one with black and one with white feet, one of the two species has to get a
new name. But which one? And which one will keep the old name? They need to
consult the original literature and see whether in 1775 or whenever the insect
was described, the described or figured animal had black or white feet. Such
problems happen every day in zoology.
Another problem are names that were not based on reliable or valid descriptions. It is necessary to discover such cases as early as possible - because if the names are not introduced correctly, at least some zoologists will not accept them and use other names - this will inevitably lead to many misunderstandings and scientific energy would be wasted. For example when going through the original literature, we discovered that the name Torpedo, an important fish genus name traditionally attributed to Houttuyn 1764, was not correctly introduced and that whenever the name had been used, nobody had verified the original description by Houttuyn. So another genus name had to be found for the fish genus.
The worst case happened to the crocodiles in the 1920s.
They discovered that the description of the Nile crocodile Crocodilus niloticus was probably based on a mixture of two American species - all the names of the crocodiles had to be changed, provoking a chaos resulting in some zoologists accepting some names, others accepting other names for the same species. Until today there are no definite and commonly accepted scientifig names for several crocodile species and scientists have to work with English vernacular names. All this was only because no crocodile specialist had had the chance to read the very rare original literature before. They would have found it in Leiden, Paris, London and Göttingen.
Between 2003 and 2005 we digitized some 400 old works, together 100,000 pages. In 2005 we had more than 12000 names entered by hand, directly from the original descriptions. Most names were linked to their original descriptions in the old literature dating from 1757 to 1770. We intended to proceed further and cover the literature until about 1820.
Crete, Turkey and snails.
Since 2000 I have not had as much time to work on snails of Crete as I had before. I also drifted to Turkey where I had nice cooperations with Turkish malacological colleagues reasulting in a few joint projects and expeditions in western Turkey (1998, 2002 and 2004). I also had the chance to analyse land snails from the Uluburun shipwreck off the southern Turkish coast, in the Bodrum Museum of Underwater Archaeology. But unfortunately the Turkish archaeologists did not like that I would publish the main results of this study.
I like Crete, but unfortunately the Greek island has lost a lot of its fascination in the past 2 decades. Its nature was exploited by Cretans who did not care about the beauty of their island. With Crete being full of cars, some day it will look like any other industrialized country. There are still some nice places, far away from the roads and from the burning garbage mountains, and many people hope that they will not disappear too quickly.
In 1992 I spent 4 weeks on Gavdos island, S of Crete, collecting data for my diploma thesis on the snails there.
Together with Dhimitër Dhora from Shkodër University I compiled a list of Albanian molluscs.
These are snails on which I have been working on my Ph D thesis. Click
here for a bibliography on Albinaria
snails. The page
on the Albinaria research
project is from 2002, but still largely up-to-date.
Photos by V. Wiese, Haus der Natur Cismar.
My own hitchhiker's stories of when I was hitchhiking from North to South America (1987 to 1990) are written down here (in German).
In 1997 I started to practice running. Highlights were the Batavieren Races from Nijmegen to Enschede, where our team Run4Fun participated several times (my own web page about Run4Fun). The picture shows myself at relay point 1 after midnight in Nijmegen, one second before I started to run the second stage in 1999. Sabine (coming in left), the previous runner who has just arrived at the relay point, is handing me the shirt with the electronic time chip inside. The loudspeaker (right) announces the numbers of the teams that are approaching the relay point. We also participated in 2000, 2003, 2004 and 2005.
Batavierenrace April 1999, second stage at 01:15 h in the night.
1000 m race in Göttingen, 05-05-2007, after
I am specialized in the land snail Albinaria, but many papers deal with other subjects, such as other snails, bibliographies, turtles, botanics or even linguistics. Click here for a complete list of my publications.
Complete list of publications
A more recent picture taken in Göttingen
showing me with Christine.
Thanks for stopping by.
Last modified 8.5.2007.