Lisa Becking

Photo: Barbara Kieboom

As a marine biologist I study life in the sea. When I look at all the diversity of species under water, I wonder how did these species come together, what keeps this biodiversity in place, and how will marine biodiversity respond to our changing seas. I believe that getting answers to these questions is vital if we want to set up sound, science-based conservation management.


Marine biodiversity, coral reefs, marine lakes, tourism & marine conservation, eutrophication, columns, public speaking

Sponges, jellyfish, marine invertebrates, sea turtles

Indonesia, Dutch Caribbean

Dr. Lisa Becking

Senior Researcher
Associate Professor, Wageningen University & Research
Marine Evolution & Ecology

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There is still so much left to discover in the sea, at different depths and places. We need to go out and explore! 
These explorations will lead to novel insights, as well as a deeper appreciation of marine biodiversity.

Our team conducts biodiversity surveys in coral reefs and marine lakes in Indonesia & the Dutch Caribbean using a variety of techniques:

  • Image and video analysis to quantify the diversity of species 
  • Metabarcoding and metagenomics to assess the variation in species composition based on water and sediment samples
  • Population genomics to understand population connectivity en evolution
  • Stable isotope analysis to examine foodweb structures
  • Sediment cores to study how biodiversity has transitioned over time and under what circumstances
  • Mobile genomics lab in a carry-on bag for education purposes on site

We combine the biodiversity surveys with water quality measurements to identify degrees of eutrophication and influence of land-based pollution in coral reefs.

Photo: Barry Brown Curasub
External video URL
Drone images of marine lakes


A selection of the topics I am working on currently.

Marine lakes

Marine lakes

Marine lakes are little studied, yet fascinating ecosystems. Approximately 200 marine lakes are thought to be distributed worldwide, of which “Jellyfish Lake” from Palau (Micronesia) is probably the best known. These landlocked water bodies have maintained…
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Pseudopontonides principis on black coral

Caribbean marine biodiversity

The Dutch Caribbean has a long history of taxonomic research, starting with species descriptions by Pallas (1766). In the last decades much research on the natural history of the Dutch Caribbean was published by scientists affiliated with Naturalis…
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  • Maas DL, Capriati A, Ahmad A, Erdmann M V., Lamers M, de Leeuw CA, Prins L, Purwanto, Putri AP, Tapilatu RF, Becking LE (2020) Recognizing peripheral ecosystems in marine protected areas: A case study of golden jellyfish lakes in Raja Ampat, Indonesia. Marine Pollution Bulletin 151 110700.
  • van der Zee JP, Christianen MJ, Bérubé M, Nava M, van der Wal S, Berkel J, Becking LE*, Palsbøll PJ* (2022). Demographic changes in Pleistocene sea turtles were driven by past sea level fluctuations affecting feeding habitat availability. Molecular Ecology 31(4): 1044-1056.
  • de Leeuw CA, Peijnenburg K. T., Gillespie R. G., Maas D. L., Hanzawa N., Tuti Y., Aji L, Toha A, & Becking, L. E. (2020). First come, first served: Possible role for priority effects in marine populations under different degrees of dispersal potential. Journal of Biogeography 47(8): 1649-1662.
  • Van Soest RWM, HWG Meesters, Becking LE (2014) Deep-water sponges (Porifera) from Bonaire and Klein Curaçao, Southern Caribbean. Zootaxa 3878.5: 401-443.
  • Merckx VSF.T, Hendriks KP, Beentjes KK, Mennes CB, Becking LE, Peijnenburg KTCA,et al. & Schilthuizen M (2015) Evolution of endemism on a young tropical mountain. Nature 524: 347-350.
  • Columns in De Volkskrant (Dutch National Newspaper, readership ~250.000)

See all publications on Google Scholar 


Naturalis aims to be a breeding ground for international scientific talent. Therefore, PhD's have a special position in our organisation.

Agustin CapriatiAgustin Capriati 
Coral reefs

Maslim As-singkilyMaslim As-Singkily 
Leatherback turtles

Ludi AjiLudi Aji 
Marine lakes and coral reefs

Stephanie MartinezStephanie Martinez
Marine lakes and coral reefs

Christiaan de LeeuwChristiaan de Leeuw 
Marine lakes

PhD alumni

  • Anak Agung Gede Indraningrat (2014-2019) Depth Matters: (anti) Microbial Diversity of Marine Sponges. Current position: Lecturer Warmadewa University (Bali, Indonesia)
  • Diede Maas (2015-2020) Islands of Sea: The evolution, ecology and conservation of marine lake invertebrates. Current position: Lecturer at Wageningen University & Research
  • Jurjan van der Zee (2014-2020) Evolutionary ecology of sea turtles. Current position: Lecturer Rijksuniversiteit Groningen
Group in Raja Ampat


If you are interested in doing a MSc project with my team, please fill out this form.

  • 2015-present Supervisor of MSc theses and internships within various MSc programs at Wageningen University & Research (~10 students/year)
  • 2022-present Lecturer in Marine Animal Ecology Course MSc course of Wageningen University & research (MAE30306, 6 ECTS, ~75 students)
  • 2016-2021 Coordinator and lecturer Marine Animal Ecology MSc course. Developed new course with Ronald Osinga. 
  • 2016 & 2022 Lectures in Frontiers in Biology MSc course of Wageningen University & Research (6 ECTS, ~75 students)
  • 2015-present Lectures in Aquatic Life History MSc course of Wageningen University & Research
  • 2008-2015 Invited Lectures in MSc courses at Leiden University, University of Amsterdam, Mulawarman University (Indonesia), Papua University (Indonesia), Bogor University (Indonesia),on topics of marine ecology and evolution,sponge taxonomy, phylogeography, marine lake and mangrove ecology, marine natural products, sea turtle biology

In the

I am open to invitations to write popular science pieces for a broad audience or for public speaking on topics related to marine biodiversity, tourism and marine conservation.


Popular science writing:

Public speaking:

Selection of interviews & documentaries:

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