He studied philosophy and theology in Münster, and was ordained as a priest in 1849. Later, his interests turned to zoology, a discipline that he studied under Johannes Peter Müller and Martin Lichtenstein in Berlin. From 1859 he was a lecturer at the University of Münster, then relocated in 1869 to the Academy of Forestry in Eberswalde as a successor to Julius Theodor Christian Ratzeburg.
From 1893 to 1900 he was president of the German Ornithologists' Society.
- Homeri cum Aeschyli, Sophoclis, Euripidis comparantur, (dissertation), Berlin 1855.
- Winke zur Hebung des zoologischen Unterrichts (a zoology instruction manual), Münster 1863.
- Die Säugetiere des Münsterlands, Münster (Mammals of "Münster country"), 1867.
- Der Vogel und sein Leben, Münster 1868 (Birds and their lives); published in several editions, 7th edition 1903.
- Forstzoologie (Forest zoology; volume 1: mammals, volume 2: birds, volume 3: insects; general insects and beetles).
- I. Säugethiere. Second improved and enlarged edition, published by Julius Springer, Berlin 1876.
- II. Vögel. published by Julius Springer, Berlin 1873.
- III. Insecten. 1. Abth. Allgemeines und Käfer. Second improved and enlarged edition, published by Julius Springer, Berlin 1881.
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