Biodiversity discovery

Water beetles

To know Earth’s species is essential for measuring and preserving biodiversity, testing biological theories, understanding ecosystem functioning, and for human welfare. Describing yet unexplored species and clarifying the circum­scription and taxonomy of known species are main challenges towards comprehensive species inventories.

Group leader

Drs. Berry van der Hoorn

Our projects
& activities

Projects are founded on common conceptual and technical grounds including:

  1. data gathering through expeditions and use of natural history collections,
  2. data processing in standardized workflows,
  3. integrative taxonomy,
  4. experimental design to tackle biodiversity research questions,
  5. outreach and education. 

Examples of current research activities:

  • flora projects (Flora Malesiana, Flora of the Guianas, Heukel’s Flora van Nederland),
  • taxonomy, phylogenetics and biogeography of different groups of angiosperms, ferns, bryophytes, spiders, snails, leafmining Leptidoptera, and fossil micromammals,
  • freshwater biodiversity (DNA Waterscan),
  • Caribbean biodiversity,
  • urban biodiversity,
  • plant-animal relationships (including pollinators)
  • mark-up of legacy literature and Dutch flora & fauna projects.

themes & topics

A selection of the main topics & themes we are working on


Nature of the Netherlands

The aim of the Nature of the Netherlands Programme is to utilize the knowledge of Naturalis and partners to address societal issues within our Kingdom. Therefore we collaborate with a network of specialists and institutes to meet demands of stakeholders…
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Flora of the Netherlands

We provide identifications of Dutch vascular plants for both the layman and professional organizations. Our program ‘Nature of the Netherlands’ serves to make a significant contribution to the knowledge of and appreciation for the natural environment in…
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Next Generation Biodiversity Discovery  aims to become a global leader in training new generations of taxonomists. Therefore, student training, always research question oriented, will be a key function of the group. Student participation in all stages of the research cycle (field work, sample processing, imaging, data generation and  analysis, and publishing) will foster a high-quality learning environment. We will recruit students from a global pool of applicants. Multiple levels of curricular education and PhD/Postdoc training will be involved. PhDs will be attracted by a course introducing them to classical and modern methods and techniques, positioning them to excel within the field of biodiversity research.