Willem Renema

Willem Renema

Central in my research is the evolution and ecology of large benthic foraminifera.  To achieve this goal, role of large benthic foraminifera in their environment. These small calcifiers are an important component of the coral reef carbonate budget, and were even more so in the past. I rely on a thorough understanding of their morphological and molecular evolution. I look at all aspects of spatial and temporal variation in the fossil record of large benthic foraminifera. 

At larger scales, my interests include the origins and maintenance of marine biodiversity, including the role of turbid environments as a possible cradle and refuge for coral reefs.

I am appointed as professor of Marine Palaeodiversity at the Institute for Biodiversity and Ecosystem Dynamics in the Ecosystems and Landscape Dynamics group.


Large benthic foraminifera, biogeography, paleoecology, Southeast Asia, coral reefs, marine biodiversity

Prof. Dr. Willem Renema

Research group leader
Marine biodiversity
4D-REEF program

+31 (0)71 751 9576



Taxonomy of large benthic foraminifera

Large benthic foraminifera (LBF) are unique model organisms to document diversity changes in tropical marine biodiversity over the past 65 million years. For this reason, they have also been used as biostratigraphical marker. Currently LBF are more…
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Ecology of large benthic foraminifera

Benthic foraminifera are widely seen as good environmental indicator. When conditions change, so will the LBF species occurring on a site. Because of their short generation times, LBF assemblages, with a generation time of 0.5-2 years) will change faster…
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Coral reef murky water

(Paleo)ecology of turbid reef ecosystems

When you see coral reefs appearing in nature documentaries, these are usually situated in high visibility, clear water conditions. This is also where the paradigm that coral reefs in nutrient poor conditions originates. However, coral reef ecosystems occur…
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shingle rampart lumulumu

4D-REEF Research Programme

Coral reefs are having a hard time. Reefs in the Coral Triangle stand out for their species richness, yet they are in close proximity to areas with high human population densities. Ongoing anthropogenic environmental changes in the sea, on land and in the…
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Renema, W., D. Bellwood, J.-C. Braga, K. Bromfield, R. Hall, K.G. Johnson, P. Lunt, C.P. Meyer, L. McMonagle, R.J. Morley, A. O’dea, J.A. Todd, F.P. Wesselingh, M.E.J. Wilson, and J.M. Pandolfi (2008) Hopping hotspots: Global shifts in marine biodiversity. Science 321: 654-657. DOI: 10.1126/science.1155674

Renema, W., Pandolfi, J. M., Kiessling, W., Bosellini, F. R., Klaus, J. S., Korpanty, C., ... & Johnson, K. G. (2016). Are coral reefs victims of their own past success? Science advances 2: e1500850. DOI: 10.1126/sciadv.1500850

Prazeres, M., & Renema, W. (2018) Evolutionary significance of the microbial assemblages of large benthic Foraminifera. Biological Reviews 94: 828-848https://doi.org/10.1111/brv.12482

Renema, W. (2018) Terrestrial influence as a key driver of spatial variability in large benthic foraminiferal assemblage composition in the Central Indo-Pacific. Earth-Science Reviews 177: 514-544. 

Santodomingo, N., Renema, W. & Johnson, K.G. (2016) Understanding the murky history of the Coral Triangle: Miocene corals and reef habitats in East Kalimantan (Indonesia). Coral Reefs 35: 765-781. 

Evans, D., Sagoo, N., Renema, W., Cotton, L. J., Müller, W., Todd, J. A., …, & Valdes, P. J. (2018) Eocene greenhouse climate revealed by coupled clumped isotope-Mg/Ca thermometry. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 115: 1174- 179. https://doi.org/10.1073/pnas.1714744115

All publications on GoogleScholar


 Daily supervisor


Lankai amphisorus


Current student projects:

  • Ultrastructure of Nummulitidae and/or Calcarinidae
  • Temporal dynamics in coral reef ecosystems

Completed student projects:

  • Holocene mollusc faunas in marine lakes in Indonesia
  • Terrestrial and marine biogeographical history of South-East Asia – Dynamic biodiversity