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
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.
A selection of the topics I am working on currently.
- NWO-VIDI: Marine Time Machine: Trajectories of Change for Tropical Marine Biodiversity in the Anthropocene
- Tourism & Marine Biodiversity
- Sea Turtle Migration & Conservation
Caribbean marine biodiversity
- 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)
Naturalis aims to be a breeding ground for international scientific talent. Therefore, PhD's have a special position in our organisation.
Marine lakes and coral reefs
Marine lakes and coral reefs
Christiaan de Leeuw
- 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
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
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:
- De Correspondent (Dutch)
- Columns in de Volkskrant (Dutch)
- Columns Resource (English,Dutch)
- Blog Expedition (English,Dutch)
- Uni van Nederland (English)
- Dies Natalis WUR (English)
- Opening Academic Year (English)
- Tafelwetenschapper Avond van Wetenschap & Maatschappij (Dutch)
- National Geographic Explorer Sciencetelling
Selection of interviews & documentaries:
- NatGeo Documentary (Dutch)
- Jellyfish lakes (English)
- De Optimist NPO1 (Dutch)
- Science Festival kids (English)
- NatGeo Traveller (Dutch)