Under the name Zoological Institute the department was founded in 1920 by Prof. PhDr. Jan Zavrel. He was an outstanding hydrobiologist, specialized mainly in the morphology and taxonomy of larvae and pupae of the family Chironomidae, order Diptera. Together with a German limnologist, Professor A. Thienemann, he published a two-volume book "Die Metamorphose der Tanypinen" (1917-1919) and, later, Zavrel himself published a four-volume work "Chironomidarum larvae et nymphae" (1938-1941), where he gave descriptions of new species and hitherto unknown stages. He prepared for publication university textbooks, was editor of two natural history journals, in the academic year 1933-1934 was at the head of Masaryk University as its rector and for the academic year 1934-1935 was nominated dean of the Faculty of Science. He was one of co-founders of the Czech Entomological Society. He worked as head of the Zoological Institute until the closure of Czech universities by the Nazis at the beginning of World War 2. Under his leadership research work at the institute was focussed on hydrobiology and entomology.
In 1946, after the war was over and the universities reopened, Prof. RNDr. Sergej Hrabe, DrSc. became head of the Zoological Institute. In the fifties, by combining the institutes of zoology and anthropology, the Department of Zoology and Anthropology was founded. Because of political reasons, Masaryk University was renamed J. E. Purkyne University. The department was led by Professor Hrabe until 1959 but he was part of it until 1970. He was both an outstanding pedagogist and scientist, mainly hydrobiologist. His principal research interest concerned freshwater Oligochaeta but he paid attention to further groups of invertebrate animals and was also interested in fish. Under his leadership hydrobiology, entomology, animal physiology and ecology as well as parasitology developed at the department. Anthropology was also studied but this discipline is not dealt with in this text since another www page is devoted to its history at the Faculty of Science.
In the years 1959-1970, the Department of Zoology and Anthropology was headed by Prof. RNDr. Stanislav Obr, DrSc., an entomologist and hydrobiologist. His principal reserach interest concerned insect orders Psocoptera and Trichoptera.
Further development of the department was influenced by political events after the suppression of "Prague Spring 1968" and the occupation of Czechoslovakia by forces of the Warsaw Pact. As a result of reorganization the Department of Biology of Animals and Man was founded and Prof. RNDr. Jaromir Vojtek, DrSc., a helminthologist, was appointed his head in 1970. He headed the department until 1986 when he was replaced by his wife, Prof. RNDr. Ludmila Vojtkova, DrSc. who was a helminthologist as well. The era of Professors Vojtek and Vojtkova ended by the "Velvet Revolution" in November 1989. Both left the department and the university in 1990.
Meanwhile the university returned to its original name Masaryk University and the department to its former name Department of Zoology and Anthropology. In 1993, however, an independent Department of Anthropology was founded which reassumed the existence of the Anthropological Institute from early years of our university. As a result the zoological part was renamed Department of Zoology and Ecology and this label has been valid till now.
In 1990, Prof. RNDr. Jiri Gaisler, DrSc. was named the head of the zoology department and he acted as the head until 1997. His research is focussed on the zoology of vertebrates, in particular mammalogy. In the years 1990-1992, Professor Gaisler's main employer was the Institute of Systematic and Ecological Biology of the Academy of Science. In his absence, the zoology department was informally headed by Prof. RNDr. Frantisek Kubicek, CSc., an outstanding hydrobiologist.
From 1997 to 2002 the department was headed by Prof. RNDr. Rudolf Rozkosny, DrSc., an outstanding entomologist specialized in the order Diptera.
In summer 2002 Prof. RNDr. Jaromír Vanhara, CSc. was appointed head of the Department. From 2002 to 2005 Prof. RNDr. Jaromír Vanhara, CSc. was appointed head of the Department of Zoology and Ecology, professor of Zoology since 1999, research interests are in biosystematics of Diptera, bioindication and synecology.