Willem Renema

Willem Renema

The primary goal of my research is to unravel the Cenozoic to Recent evolution of coral reefs in the Indo-Pacific. To achieve this goal, I rely on a thorough understanding of the ecology and evolution of large benthic foraminifera. These small calcifiers are an important component of the coral reef carbonate budget, and were even more so in the past. I look at all aspects of spatial and temporal variation in the fossil record of large benthic foraminifera, and use them as a tool to understand the environments in which coral reefs evolved.


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

Dr Willem Renema

Research group leader
Marine biodiversity
4D-REEF program

+31 (0)71 751 576



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.

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.

Prazeres, M., & Renema, W. (2018) Evolutionary significance of the microbial assemblages of large benthic Foraminifera. Biological Reviews.

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.

Novak, V., Santodomingo, N., Rösler, A., Di Martino, E., Braga, J.C., Taylor, P.D., Johnson, K.G., Renema, W. (2013) Environmental reconstruction of a late Burdigalian (Miocene) patch reef in deltaic deposits (East Kalimantan, Indonesia). Palaeogeography, Palaeoclimatology, Palaeoecology 374: 110-122.

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: 1174-1179.

All publications on GoogleScholar


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

    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