Educational activities

Education plays an important role in promoting and achieving the Naturalis mission to describe, understand and explain biodiversity for human well-being and the survival of earthly nature. Naturalis participates in all (applied) biology university curricula and offers high-quality research-based education with an unique profile based on the inextricable link between our taxonomic expertise, collections and research programs. All research groups participate actively in education by offering academic courses and research projects for bachelor and master students. The following characteristics are central to our education agenda: 1) Professionalism and quality of teachers, facilities and content; 2) Interactive and personal contact; 3) Blended learning; and 4) Open and accessible, incl. Citizen Science. 

Research projects and internships
Bsc. and Msc.

At Naturalis there are many oportunities for participating in research. Students at both bachelor and master level can help us anwer questions by means of independent projects. Your research can be part of a larger project or it can be a standalone project. All available projects are listed here: 

It's a newt. What kind? That's the problem with cryptic species.

Phylogenomics of species radiations

Background and context: In species radiations it is often not clear how many species are included, because ‘cryptic species’ are involved. Cryptic species behave as distinct species, but have gone unnoticed due to their morphological similarity…
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invasive species (amphibians)

MtDNA barcoding invasive species

Background and context As a consequence of increasing globalization, species can reach places that were previously inaccessible. Invasive species are considered to be one of the main threats to global biodiversity. They can threaten native species with…
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Inferring hybrid zone history

Background and context Where the ranges of closely related species meet they may hybridize. The regions where this occurs are called hybrid zones. A balance of selection against hybrids and dispersal of parental species determines the width of the hybrid…
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Pond in Leiden

Enhancing biodiversity in Leiden BioScience Park

What are the most effective corridors in, to and from the LSBP? Background and context The Leiden BioScience Park (LBSP) will be further developed according to a Masterplan LBSP- Gorlaeus, which includes more buildings and the accommodation of some 5000…
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map of Malesia

Everwet and dry monsoon in Malesia?

Do everwet and dry monsoon distribution patters in Malesia really exist? Background and context Van Steenis once indicated two distribution patterns in Malesia. One is shown by species which only prefer an everwet distribution on the Sunda Shelf (Malay…
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Women in Science

Evolution of orchid mycorrhiza

Supervisors Vincent Merckx & Sofia Gomes Contact, Period & duration 2017-2018; 6 months Study & level Biology, MSc. Background & context The Orchidaceae, with ~25 000 species the largest family…
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Microscopic Wood

Evolutionary patterns in microscopic wood anatomy

Complete the wood anatomical observations in our ongoing Apocynaceae wood project. Give a detailed overview of the variation in the family and highlight broad-scale evolutionary patterns in this lineage that includes some rare but fascinating features such…
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What is a species in the moss genus Campylopus?

Background and context Campylopus is one of the largest moss genera, with about 150 species worldwide. The genus occurs in Western Europe, but has its hotspot of diversity in Central and tropical South America (Neotropics). Identification of Campylopus…
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Microscopic Images

Leaf anatomy of Macaranga

Background and context Macaranga is a large genus of c. 250 species in Africa and Asia, its sister genus Mallotus occurs in the same area, but has less species. Anatomical characters of Mallotus were extremely helpful to separate species and, more…
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tomaat fruit

Positive root pressure and xylem repair

The main aim of this project is to further our understanding of the conditions under which positive root pressures develop in the tomato plant, and to test the hypothesis that the ability to generate positive root pressure enhances drought-resistance.
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Response to drought of a giant woody cabbage cross

This project will aim to determine the differences in water-use behavior and hydraulic traits related to drought-resistance, and various molecular responses to drought stress between the two parents and a number of offspring genotypes selected to represent…
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Banana Plants

Mycorrhizal communities of banana plants

Banana accommodates the fourth most important global food commodity. Background and context Banana accommodates the fourth most important global food commodity (after rice, wheat and maize) and is grown in more than 130 countries, mainly in the tropical…
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Image of species

Revision of Excoecaria

Revision of the Malesian species of Excoecaria (euphorbiaceae) Background and context Probably Excoecaria has 6 species in Malesia, which need revision. One species, E. agallocha, the only one with only alternate leaves, is only growing in the mangrove or…
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Academic Courses
Bsc. and Msc.

Naturalis offers academic courses at several universities

Naturalis researchers organize and teach academic courses at all (applied) biology curricula.

The Biology curriculum at Leiden University is a joint programme of IBL (responsible institute), CML and Naturalis. The substantial contribution by Naturalis and detailed information about the courses offered can be found in the e-Prospectus ( The courses we organize or substantially participate include: 

Bachelor - first year 

  • Popularisering van de Wetenschap
  • Biodiversiteit Planten/Paddestoelen/Protisten - Tree of Life, en Fylogenie
  • Flora en Fauna excursies
  • Onderzoekprojecten Ecologie, Biodiversiteit en Gedrag

Bachelor - second and third year

  • Evolutiebiologie 
  • Ontwikkelingsbiologie Dier en Plant
  • Biodiversiteit
  • Veldonderzoek Flora
  • Minor Biodiversity
  • Honours class Crises in Biology


Together with CML and IBL, Naturalis organizes two Master tracks at Leiden University.

Mandatory and elective courses include:

  • Orientation courses
  • Genomic architecture
  • Paleobiology
  • Development and evolution
  • Methods in biodiversity analysis
  • Integrative taxonomy
  • Plant families of the tropics
  • Tropical biodiversity and field methods

Contributions to the curricula of other universities

Naturalis also participates in other biology curricula. The courses coordinated by Naturalis staff include:


  • BSc 1      Mile stones in Sciences
  • BSc 1      Organisms in the environment
  • BSc 2      Evolutionary biology
  • BSc 3      Paleoecology
  • MSc       Biological Oceanography


  • BSc        Ethnobotany