Michael Stech

Michael Stech

I am interested in the evolution of land plants, especially bryophytes. A key issue of my research is to better understand bryophyte species and their evolutionary relationships, based on molecular and morphological characters. Improving species identification and knowledge of ecological characteristics like the ability to disperse to new habitats, allows to assess the role of bryophytes in diverse ecosystems, from tropical forests to polar tundras.       


Biogeography, bryophytes, DNA barcoding, evolution, phylogenetics, systematics

Dr. M (Michael) Stech

Understanding Evolution

+31 (0)71 751 9219


I use an integrative approach to study the evolution and diversity of bryophytes, and contribute to cross-taxon biodiversity assessments and genetic biomonitoring.

My research comprises four main topics: First, I study systematic relationships and character evolution, mainly in the two largest moss lineages, Dicranidae and Hypnales (each with c. 4000 species). Second, I aim to clarify species delimitations and improve species identification by DNA barcoding to assess and monitor biodiversity. Third, I contribute to species inventories and analyses of spatial biodiversity patterns and biogeographic connections, mainly on Atlantic islands. Finally, I develop genetic biomonitoring of airborne diaspores for research and human health applications. My geographic focus areas comprise the Netherlands and Europe, Macaronesia, tropical America and the Caribbean, and the polar regions.

Fieldwork in East Greenland
Arctic tundra bryophytes


  • Biersma E.M., Jackson J.A., Stech M., Griffiths H., Linse K., Convey P. 2018. Long-term in situ Antarctic Persistence within Antarctica’s Most Speciose Plant Genus, Schistidium. Frontiers in Ecology and Evolution 6: 77.
  • Bonfim Santos M., Stech M. 2017. Testing hypotheses on suprageneric relationships and morphological evolution in the Leucobryaceae (Bryophyta). Plant Systematics and Evolution 303: 1383–1397.
  • Gama R., Aguirre-Gutiérrez J., Stech M. 2017. Ecological niche comparison and molecular phylogeny segregate the invasive moss species Campylopus introflexus (Leucobryaceae, Bryophyta) from its closest relatives. Ecology and Evolution 7: 8017–8031.
  • Lewis L.R., Ickert-Bond S.M., Biersma E.M., Convey P., Goffinet B., Hassel K., Kruijer J.D., La Farge C., Metzgar J., Stech M., Villarreal J.C., McDaniel S.F. 2017. Future directions and priorities for Arctic bryophyte research. Arctic Science 3: 475–497.
  • Sim-Sim M., Afonina O.M., Almeida T., Désamoré A., Laenen B., Garcia C.A., González-Mancebo J.M., Stech, M. 2017. Integrative taxonomy reveals too extensive lumping and a new species in the moss genus Amphidium (Bryophyta). Systematics and Biodiversity 15: 451–463.
  • Lang A., Bocksberger G., Stech M. 2015. Phylogeny and species delimitations in European Dicranum (Dicranaceae, Bryophyta). Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution 92: 217–225.
  • Stech M., Veldman S., Larraín J., Muñoz J., Quandt D., Hassel K., Kruijer J.D. 2013. Molecular species delimitation in the Racomitrium canescens complex (Grimmiaceae) and implications for DNA barcoding of species complexes in mosses. PLoS ONE 8(1): e53134.

All publications


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

    • Marina Bonfim Santos
    • Renato Gama
    • Eka Iskandar
    • Tamara Dantas (external)
    • Soraia Martins (external)
    • Daiane Valente (external)
    Campylopus griseus, a species included in the PhD project of R. Gama


    • Coordinator of B.Sc. first years course ‘Tree of Life, Biodiversity of Plants, Protists, Fungi’
    • B.Sc. first years course ‘Flora and Fauna’ (field excursions and determination practice of the Dutch flora)
    • B.Sc. third years Minor ‘Biodiversity’, Module ‘Scales of biodiversity’ (bryology week)
    • B.Sc. Honors class ‘Crises in Biology’ (lecture)
    • M.Sc. Field course ‘Tropical Biodiversity and Field Methods – Caribbean’ 
    • Supervising B.Sc., M.Sc. and HBO (Universities of Applied Sciences) students