Katja Peijnenburg

Katja Peijnenburg

I am an evolutionary biologist and oceanographer interested in the diversity of marine zooplankton. I want to know: which and how many species live in the open ocean? What processes drive the evolution of marine plankton?


Marine zooplankton, evolution, oceanography, biogeography, genomics, morphometrics, ocean acidification, global change, pteropods, heteropods, gastropods, chaetognaths

Dr. Katja T.C.A. Peijnenburg

Group leader, senior researcher
Associate Professor, University of Amsterdam
Marine Evolution & Ecology

@VMerMailto: firstname.lastname@naturalis.nl


“From the first moment I saw a petridish full of plankton, I knew I wanted to study this incredible diversity and find out how it evolves in the open sea.”

My research is motivated by a fundamental interest in the drivers of marine biodiversity. I want to know how this diversity evolved in an environment that seems to lack any obvious isolating barriers. I am also increasingly worried about our oceans and wonder whether marine organisms will be able to adapt to global change. The open ocean is the largest ecosystem on Earth and of crucial importance for our own well-being. Plankton produces half of the world's oxygen and is at the basis of most marine foodchains, so without it there would not be any fish, whales, seabirds etc.

Currently, my research focuses on planktonic snails as these are particularly sensitive to the effects of ocean acidification. My research team applies a multidisciplinary approach to better understand and predict their potential to adapt to a rapidly changing ocean.

Veldwerk Katja Peijnenburg

In the spotlight:
Evolution of planktonic gastropods

Planktonic gastropods have tremendous potential for the study of long-term marine evolutionary processes because they are the only living animal plankton with a good fossil record. Although most marine gastropods are benthic, two large groups (referred to as 'pteropods' and 'heteropods') have a holoplanktonic lifestyle and represent independent colonizations of the open water column. Planktonic gastropods, and particularly pteropods, have received much attention as bio-indicators to monitor the negative impacts of ocean acidification (OA) on open ocean ecosystems.

Read more

Planktonic gastropods


  • Peijnenburg K.T.C.A., Janssen A.W., Wall-Palmer D.W., Goetze E., Maas A., Todd J., Marlétaz F. 2020. The origin and diversification of pteropods precede past perturbations in the Earth's carbon cycle. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences USA.
  • Wall-Palmer D., Janssen A.W., Goetze E., Choo L.Q., Mekkes L., Peijnenburg K.T.C.A. 2020. Fossil-calibrated molecular phylogeny of atlantid heteropods (Gastropoda, Pterotracheoidea). BMC Evolutionary Biology 20: 124.
  • Marlétaz F., Peijnenburg K.T.C.A., Goto T., Satoh N., Rokhsar D.S. 2019. A new spiralian phylogeny places the enigmatic arrow worms among Gnathiferans. Current Biology 29: 1-7.
  • Wall-Palmer D., Burridge A.K., Goetze E., Stokvis F.R., Janssen A.W., Mekkes L., Moreno-Alcantara M., Bednarsek, N., Schiøtte T., Vinther Sørensen M., Smart C.W., Peijnenburg K.T.C.A. 2018. Global biogeography and genetic diversity of the atlantic heteropods. Progress in Oceanography 160:1-25
  • Burridge A.K., Hörnlein C., Janssen A.W., Hughes, M., Bush S.L., Marlétaz T., Gasca R., Pierrot-Bults A.C., Michel E., Todd J.A., Young, J.R., Osborn K.J., Menken, S.B.J., Peijnenburg K.T.C.A. 2017. Time-calibrated molecular phylogeny of pteropods.  PlosONE: 1-22
  • Keul N., Peijnenburg K.T.C.A., Andersen N., Kitidis V., Goetze E., Schneider R.R. 2017. Pteropods are excellent recorders of surface temperature and carbonate ion concentration. Nature Scientific Reports 7: 12645.
  • Burridge A.K., Goetze E., Wall-Palmer D., Le Double S., Huisman J., Peijnenburg K.T.C.A. 2017. Diversity and abundance of pteropods and heteropods along a latitudinal gradient across the Atlantic Ocean. Progress in Oceanography 158: 224-235. 
  • Peijnenburg K.T.C.A. and Goetze E. 2013. High evolutionary potential of marine zooplankton. Ecology & Evolution 3(8): 2765-2781

All publications in Google Scholar


Naturalis aims to be a breeding ground for international scientific talent. Therefore, PhD students are highly valued as junior researchers in our organisation.

    Co-promotor and main supervisor:

    • Burridge, A.K. Marine biogeography and evolution: diversity patterns of planktonic gastropods and amphipods. University of Amsterdam. Thesis defended 7 December 2017.
    • Mekkes, L. Growth, calcification and vulnerability to ocean acidification of shelled pteropods. University of Amsterdam. 2017-2021.
    • Choo L.Q. Adaptive potential of shelled pteropods to ocean acidification. University of Amsterdam. 2017-2021.
    Veldwerk Katja Peijnenburg


    I am the coordinator of the MSc course 'Biological Oceanography' at the University of Amsterdam, and I contribute lectures and/or practicals to the following specific courses:

    • Evolution Biology, BSc course, University of Amsterdam
    • Marine Biology, BSc course, University of Amsterdam
    • Biological Oceanography, MSc course, University of Amsterdam
    • Orientation Evolutionary Biology/ Biodiversity & Sustainability, MSc course, University of Leiden
    • Genomic Architecture, MSc course, University of Leiden

    I regularly supervise BSc and MSc student's research projects. Come and talk to me to discuss the possibilities (or drop me an e-mail).

    In the

    Foto: BobBronshoff

    Katja in jurk