Bishop Gunnerus as naturalist: his impact on biodiversity research today

  • Torkild Bakken
  • Eli Fremstad
  • Kaare Aagaard


Bishop Gunnerus started his work as naturalist as soon as he arrived in Trondheim. In a pastoral letter to his clergymen he instructed them to collect specimens and information on natural history in their parishes. Gunnerus was a pioneer in natural history among his contemporaries. His description of species (especially of animals), either they were new to science or not, held a high scientific standard and contained detailed information on anatomy and morphological characteristics. In addition, his publications were furnished with high quality illustrations. The publications have shown to be important as reference works and primary sources. Our publication enumerates, for the first time, that the original material from Gunnerus’ collection contains botanical and zoological type specimens. In addition the collection contains specimens that are potential types, or at least aretopotypic specimens.


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