Hans ter Steege

Hans ter Steege

I am keenly interested in the study of plant diversity and mechanisms generating and regulating diversity at regional and local scale with a focus on the Amazon Rainforest. I have built up large network of collaborating colleagues in the Amazon and outside: The Amazon Tree Diversity Network. With this network we study patterns and processes of species composition, relative abundance patterns, and functional behaviour of the Amazon forest, and its evolution.


Amazon, tree diversity, biodiversity, community ecology

Prof. dr. Hans ter Steege

Senior Researcher
Tropical Botany
+31 (0)71 751 9272

Amazon Tree Diversity Network
Google Scholar
Publons (SCI)


My research focuses on understanding the origin and regulation of biodiversity.

I work mainly within the framework of the Amazon Tree Diversity Network (ATDN). I am particularly interested in causes for tree alpha- and beta-diversity. While trees are my personal pet-plants, I also work with Herbarium material, bryophytes and vascular epiphytes.



A selection of the topics I am working on currently.

  • Dominance and diversity of the Amazon Forest
  • Threats to the Amazon Tree Flora
  • Mono-dominance in the Amazon
  • Discovery of the Amazonian Tree Flora
  • Species estimation in poorly sampled regions
  • Dispersal and beta diversity
  • Traits of Amazon trees and forest function
  • Biogeography of Amazonian trees


All publications in Google Scholar


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

    Iris Hordijk. Dominance and diversity (provisional title) ETH Zurich (External supervisor)

    Rens Vaessen. The impacts of hunting on tree functional diversity of forests in French Guiana (Promotor, UU).

    Nicolas Castanho. Tree diversity in the Colombian Amazon (working title). (promotor, funded by Sinchi, Bogota and Naturalis, NL).

    Vitor F. Gomes. Barcoding the Amazon. Universidad Federal do Para (First supervisor, CNPq Sandwich Programme, Universidad Federal do Para). Thesis successfully defended, with honors, November 2018.

    Ivo Abraão. Pteridophytes diversity in the Brejas of NE Brazil. Universidade Federal de Pernambuco, Recife, Brazil (External Supervisor).

    Edwin Pos. Understanding the world’s most diverse forest: A model of beta diversity for the Amazon. Utrecht University (promotor). Thesis successfully defended Dec 12, 2018.

    Carolina Levis. The legacy of landscape domestication by pre-Columbian people on current Amazonian forest (Advisor). Thesis successfully defended June 2018.

    Adriano Costa Quaresma. Composition, diversity and spatial distribution of vascular epiphytes in floodplain forests of the central Amazon (External supervisor, funded INPA, Manaus). Thesis successfully defended 2017.

    Marcela de Castro Nunes Santos Terra. Universidade Federal de Lavras (External Supervisor, CNPq Sandwich Programme). Thesis successfully defended 2017.

    Washington Luis Oliveira. Responses of tree component of Campinaranas and Terra Firme Forests: effects of the environment, landscape structure and anthropism in area affected by a dam in Amazon (External Supervisor, CNPq Sandwich Programme). Thesis successfully defended January 2017.

    Laura Victoria Campos Salazar. Distribución y ecología de briofitos epífitos del Parque Nacional Natural Amacayacu – Amazonas (Colombia). Universidad Nacional De Colombia (‘director’). Thesis succesfully defended October 13, 2016.

    Hermeson Cassiano de Oliveira. Bryophytes in Forest remnants in Bahia. Universidade Federal da Bahia (External Supervisor). Thesis successfully defended 2014.

    Maria Cristina Penuela Mora. Understanding Colombian Amazonian White Sand Forests. Utrecht University (co-promotor). Thesis successfully defended October 1, 2014.

    Juliana Stropp Carneiro. Towards an understanding of tree diversity in Amazonian forests. Utrecht University (co-promotor). Thesis successfully defended March 21, 2011.

    Marisol Toledo. Patterns in species diversity, forest structure and dynamics along environmental gradients in the lowland forests of Bolivia. Wageningen University (PhD Advisor). Thesis successfully defended June 1, 2010.

    Sylvia Mota de Oliveira. Diversity of epiphytic bryophytes across the Amazon.Utrecht University (co-promotor). Thesis successfully defended April 26, 2010.

    Olaf Bánki. Neutrality, Ecology and Tree-Diversity in the Guianas. Utrecht University (co-promotor). Thesis successfully defended April 19, 2010.

    Padmattie Haripersaud. Developing theory for the use of botanical specimen data in biodiversity research. Utrecht University (co-promotor). Thesis successfully defended September 21, 2009.

    Niels Raes. Plant Diversity Assessment of Malesia deduced from Collection Databases. Leiden University (co-promotor). Thesis successfully defended February 2009.

    Karl Eichorn. Biodiversity in logged and burned forest in Borneo. Leiden University (PhD Referent). Thesis successfully defended May 2006.

    Grace Nangendo. Fire and Biodiversity in Ugandan Ecosystems. ITC and Wageningen University (co-promotor). Thesis successfully defended June 2005.

    Oscar van Dam. Forest filled with gaps: effects of gap size on water and nutrient cycling in tropical rain forest: a study in Guyana. Utrecht University (co-promotor). Thesis successfully defended May 2001.

    Simmone Rose. Seeds, saplings and gaps: a study in the tropical rain forest of Guyana. Utrecht University (co-promotor). Thesis successfully defended December 2000. 

    Researchers in rainforest


    Coordinator of the Field Course Tropical Ecology (VU), with field work in Ecuador from the Antisana Paramo (4400m) to the tropical rain forest of Tiputini station (270m). In collaboration with Universidad San Francisco de Quito.