Educational activities

Education plays an important role in promoting and achieving the Naturalis mission to describe, understand and explain biodiversity for human well-being and the survival of earthly nature. Naturalis participates in all (applied) biology university curricula and offers high-quality research-based education with an unique profile based on the inextricable link between our taxonomic expertise, collections and research programs. All research groups participate actively in education by offering academic courses and research projects for bachelor and master students. The following characteristics are central to our education agenda: 1) Professionalism and quality of teachers, facilities and content; 2) Interactive and personal contact; 3) Blended learning; and 4) Open and accessible, incl. Citizen Science. 

Research projects and internships
Bsc. and Msc.

At Naturalis there are many oportunities for participating in reserearch. Students at both bachelor and master level can help us anwer questions by means of independent projects. Your research can be part of a larger project or it can be a standalone project. All available projects are listed here: 

dandelion seeds

Urban evolution of fruits of dandelion

The amount of urbanized land surface on earth is expected to triple by 2030, casting great pressure on organisms that live in cities. Natural habitats are becoming increasingly fragmented, decreasing the population sizes of wild animals and plants and…
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Apps for relevant taxa near Leiden

Background and context The ‘Leidse Ommelanden’ is a program in which 8 municipalities around Leiden (incl. Leiden itself) cooperate to take biodiversity aspects seriously into consideration in a number of land use (planning) projects and their site…
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Arctic Fungi

Arctic fungi and Climate Change

Background and context The arctic tundra is experiencing profound warming-induced changes. As a response to warming temperatures, marked changes have already been observed in terrestrial arctic ecosystems, including increased microbial activity leading to…
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Pond in Leiden

Enhancing biodiversity in Leiden BioScience Park

What are the most effective corridors in, to and from the LSBP? Background and context The Leiden BioScience Park (LBSP) will be further developed according to a Masterplan LBSP- Gorlaeus, which includes more buildings and the accommodation of some 5000…
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map of Malesia

Everwet and dry monsoon in Malesia?

Do everwet and dry monsoon distribution patters in Malesia really exist? Background and context Van Steenis once indicated two distribution patterns in Malesia. One is shown by species which only prefer an everwet distribution on the Sunda Shelf (Malay…
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Women in Science

Evolution of orchid mycorrhiza

Supervisors Vincent Merckx & Sofia Gomes Contact, Period & duration 2017-2018; 6 months Study & level Biology, MSc. Background & context The Orchidaceae, with ~25 000 species the largest family…
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Microscopic Wood

Evolutionary patterns in microscopic wood anatomy

Complete the wood anatomical observations in our ongoing Apocynaceae wood project. Give a detailed overview of the variation in the family and highlight broad-scale evolutionary patterns in this lineage that includes some rare but fascinating features such…
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Microscopic image of Vessel Plates

Evolutionary shifts in vessel plate morphology

Background and context Baileyan trends in wood anatomy are arguably one of the most common textbook examples of evolutionary patterns in plant anatomy. This set of linear “primitive-to-specialised” transformation series in wood anatomical features found…
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Exploring the diversity of North Sea Foraminifera

The North Sea is one of the most intensely used seas in the world. Its natural resources are exploited for gas drilling’, fishing and renewable energy, and these activities greatly impact the North Sea ecosystems and their biodiversity. Despite the heavy…
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What is a species in the moss genus Campylopus?

Background and context Campylopus is one of the largest moss genera, with about 150 species worldwide. The genus occurs in Western Europe, but has its hotspot of diversity in Central and tropical South America (Neotropics). Identification of Campylopus…
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Microscopic Images

Leaf anatomy of Macaranga

Background and context Macaranga is a large genus of c. 250 species in Africa and Asia, its sister genus Mallotus occurs in the same area, but has less species. Anatomical characters of Mallotus were extremely helpful to separate species and, more…
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tomaat fruit

Positive root pressure and xylem repair

The main aim of this project is to further our understanding of the conditions under which positive root pressures develop in the tomato plant, and to test the hypothesis that the ability to generate positive root pressure enhances drought-resistance.
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Response to drought of a giant woody cabbage cross

This project will aim to determine the differences in water-use behavior and hydraulic traits related to drought-resistance, and various molecular responses to drought stress between the two parents and a number of offspring genotypes selected to represent…
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Banana Plants

Mycorrhizal communities of banana plants

Banana accommodates the fourth most important global food commodity. Background and context Banana accommodates the fourth most important global food commodity (after rice, wheat and maize) and is grown in more than 130 countries, mainly in the tropical…
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Image of species

Revision of Excoecaria

Revision of the Malesian species of Excoecaria (euphorbiaceae) Background and context Probably Excoecaria has 6 species in Malesia, which need revision. One species, E. agallocha , the only one with only alternate leaves, is only growing in the mangrove or…
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SuperTreeBase source code


Background & context TreeBASE ( is de publieke database waarin gepubliceerde fylogenieen worden opgeslagen. Om een overzicht te krijgen van de taxonomische compositie en de consensus van het fylogenetische signaal in de database moet er een…
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Tropical Fungi

Tropical fungal diversity

Background & context Fungi represent one of the largest groups of living organisms. Their true diversity was estimated to be between 1.5 and 5 million species. Therefore, with the appr. 100 000 described specie,s we currently know only a fraction of total…
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Man with cabbage Bush

Unraveling the genes responsible for late flowering

in the giant woody cabbage (Brassica oleracea) Background and context Why are there so many phenotypic differences between woody and herbaceous species? To this day, scientists have failed to provide satisfying answers. We have crossed a tall, woody, late…
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heat map Zeeland

Urban evolution heat islands and snail shell color

The students will test the hypothesis that shell color adapts to raised urban temperatures Background and context The shell color and banding pattern in the common garden snail Cepaea nemoralis are highly variable. The genetics of the color variation is…
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Academic Courses
Bsc. and Msc.

Naturalis offers academic courses at several universities

Naturalis researchers organize and teach academic courses at all (applied) biology curricula.

The Biology curriculum at Leiden University is a joint programme of IBL (responsible institute), CML and Naturalis. The substantial contribution by Naturalis and detailed information about the courses offered can be found in the e-Prospectus ( The courses we organize or substantially participate include: 

Bachelor - first year 

  • Popularisering van de Wetenschap
  • Biodiversiteit Planten/Paddestoelen/Protisten - Tree of Life, en Fylogenie
  • Flora en Fauna excursies
  • Onderzoekprojecten Ecologie, Biodiversiteit en Gedrag

Bachelor - second and third year

  • Evolutiebiologie 
  • Ontwikkelingsbiologie Dier en Plant
  • Biodiversiteit
  • Veldonderzoek Flora
  • Minor Biodiversity
  • Honours class Crises in Biology


Together with CML and IBL, Naturalis organizes two Master tracks at Leiden University.

Mandatory and elective courses include:

  • Orientation courses
  • Genomic architecture
  • Paleobiology
  • Development and evolution
  • Methods in biodiversity analysis
  • Integrative taxonomy
  • Plant families of the tropics
  • Tropical biodiversity and field methods

Contributions to the curricula of other universities

Naturalis also participates in other biology curricula. The courses coordinated by Naturalis staff include:


  • BSc 1      Mile stones in Sciences
  • BSc 1      Organisms in the environment
  • BSc 2      Evolutionary biology
  • BSc 3      Paleoecology
  • MSc       Biological Oceanography


  • BSc        Ethnobotany