Royal Belgian Institute of Natural Sciences

Institution (Original name) 
Institut royal des Sciences naturelles de Belgique / Koninklijk Belgisch Instituut voor Natuurwetenschappen
MAIN ADDRESS
Street 
Rue Vautier 29
Postal code 
1000
City 
Brussels
POSTAL ADDRESS
Country 
Belgium
Phone 

(+32) 2 627 42 38

(+32) 2 627 42 65

(+32) 2 627 42 11

TYPE OF INSTITUTION
Type of institution 
Museum
LEGAL STATUS
Are you part of a larger entity / legal body? 
No
CETAF MEMBERSHIP
Category 
Full member
CETAF Official representative
Name, position, phone, e-mail, research field 

Camille Pisani, Director, Camille.pisani@naturalsciences.be, T. 02 627 42 69

Member of the Executive Committee? 
No
CETAF DEPUTY
Name, position, phone, e-mail, research field 

Erik Verheyen, Head of Vertebrates Research Group, erik.verheyen@naturalsciences.be, t. +32 2 627 4286

Member of the Executive Committee? 
No
OTHER STAFF MEMBERS WITH CONNECTIONS TO CETAF
Name, position, phone, e-mail, research field + Working Group or Project involved in 

Carole Paleco, International relations, 02 627 42 65, carole.paleco@naturalsciences.be

Isabelle Vandevelde, DEST manager, T. 02 627 43 34, Isabelle.VanDeVelde@natuurwetenschappen.be

Koen Martens, Head of European Journal of Taxonomy, T. 02 627 43 15, Koen.Martens@natuurwetenschappen.be

Member of the Executive Committee? 
No
Director / legal representative of the institution (title, name, phone, e-mail, research field) 

Dr Camille Pisani, +32 (0) 2 627 42 64, Camille.pisani@naturalsciences.be

Organigram figure 
Governing and executive bodies 

The Royal Belgian Institute of Natural Sciences is a Federal scientific establishment governed by the Belgian Science Policy Office (BELSPO). It is a state Service, managed by 3 independent entities: a Scientific Council; a Nature Focus Management Commission and a Management Board.

PERSONNEL
Scientific staff 
Permanent (P)Non – Permanent (NP)
a) TOTAL scientific staff51113
b) Scientific staff linked to Collections61
c) Post-docs / PhD students056
d) Others (Associates, etc.)00
TOTAL (a+b+c+d)57170
Other staff (administration etc.) 
Permanent (P)Non – Permanent (NP)
e) Exhibitions 104156
f) Collection Managers / technicians126
g) Others 00
TOTAL (e+f+g) 116162
Total permanent staff 
173
Total non-permanent staff 
332
Grand total (permanent + non-permanent Staff) 
505
Male (%) 
52
Female (%) 
48
R&D facilities
List of laboratories 

The OD Taxonomy and Phylogeny (OD T&Ph) disposes of standard taxonomic infrastructure including microscopes, stereomicroscopes, equipment for high-resolution macrophotography, and equipment for the preparation of tissue slides (ultramicrotome, devices for cryogenic preparations). There is also an Environmental Scanning Electron Microscope with dedicated technical support by members of the OD T&Ph (use is to be booked in advance). The OD T&Ph is responsible for the “Laboratory for Molecular Systematics (LMS)” which is an “open” research infrastructure that focuses on the application of DNA markers in taxonomic, population genetic and phylogenetic research. The core of this facility is an ABI 3130 capillary DNA sequencer. In addition, the facility is equipped with, amongst others, seven PCR thermocyclers (two of which can implement temperature gradients), five centrifuges, an Agilent BioAnalyzer 2100, a nanodrop spectrophotometer, a Qubit 2.0 fluorometer, two fume hoods, a laminar flow, six set-ups for horizontal DNA electrophoresis (agarose), a gene flash bio imaging system, a Machery-Nagel DNA purification set-up, an autoclave, 10 fridges, 20 freezers, five ultrafreezers (-80 °C), two portable dry-shipping nitrogen containers and a GeneVault DNA storage archive. This infrastructure allows for a wide variety of DNA marker analyses, though most applications involve nucleotide sequencing and microsatellite genotyping. Completely separated (i.e. on a different floor) from the DNA facility, there is a small “Archival DNA Room” dedicated to the extraction and handling of degraded DNA (e.g. “old” DNA). This room is equipped with programmable UV-light, positive air pressure, a sterile working chamber and a microcentrifuge.

Other scientific / R&D facilities 

Founded in 1846, RBINS houses a diverse and exceptionally rich zoological collection, palaeoanthropological and mineralogical collections and prehistoric items involving ca. 37,000,000 specimens with ca. 100,000 primary types. This places RBINS among the world top ten collections in terms of volume of specimen stored and available for research. The mollusc collection includes some 9,000,000 specimens representing 45,000 species and is ranked among the world top five. The RBINS scientific library is one of the largest documentary resources of NH in Belgium. It offers 695,368 volumes. The Filing Cabinet owns about 35,000 geographical, hydrological and geological maps. The unique Dautzenberg collection contains rare volumes concerning conchology.

A suite of equipment is available for scanning collections objects. The data and references are recorded in a common management tool developed by RBINS ICT service. Research supported by the infrastructure: Research focuses on the study of biodiversity through taxonomy and phylogeny in all animal groups (extant and fossils). RBINS staff also studies the land, fresh water and marine ecosystems, the history of life, of the climate and of human installations, plus, mechanisms involved in the evolution of life along with the geology of Belgium and modelling of the North Sea. In addition, RBINS develops tools and methods for monitoring natural land or marine environments. It also offers useful advice for the development of national and European policies for the protection and conservation of biotopes and biodiversity and serves as Belgium’s National Focal Point to the Global Taxonomy Initiative.

Exhibitions
Number of permanent exhibitions 
9
List of permanent exhibitions  
Name 
Mosasaures
Name 
Evolution
Name 
BiodiverCity
Name 
250 Years of Natural Sciences
Name 
Dinosaurs
Name 
Gallery of Humankind
Name 
Minerals
Name 
Shells
Name 
Insects
Number of recent exhibitions 
4
Recent Temporary Exhibitions (< 2 years) 
Name 
Baby animals
Name 
Prehistory, do It Yourself !
Name 
Brain Twisters
Name 
Water and Biodiversity
Number of current exhibitions 
1
Current Temporary Exhibitions 
Name 
Wonders of Wildlife
RESEARCH FIELDS
RESEARCH FIELD 
Research Field 
Taxonomy and Phylogeny
Summary of your Research programme 

Multidisciplinary “integrative” taxonomic biodiversity research in a broad evolutionary perspective. As such the OD T&Ph conducts research in the following fields: alpha-taxonomy (species descriptions), anatomy (including histology and ultrastructural research), morphometrics, faunistics, (behavioural) ecology, zoogeography, population genetics, and phylogeny, including DNA barcoding. These research activities are done in the context of more specific research interests, many of which relate to grand societal challenges such as climate change, invasive species, habitat fragmentation, environmental pollution, animal conservation, forensics, vector control, agricultural practices, and public education and awareness (including countering anti-evolutionary thinking). As such the OD T&Ph attempts to combine fundamental and applied taxonomic biodiversity research.

Research Field 
Natural environments
Summary of your Research programme 

Marine ecosystems, fresh water biology, monitoring of the North Sea, biological evaluation, national focal point to the convention on biodiversity, Belgian Marine data center

Research Field 
Earth and History of Life
Summary of your Research programme 

Micropalaeontology and Palaeobotany; Invertebrate Palaeontology; Vertebrate Palaeontology; Anthropology and Prehistory; General Geology and Mineralogy; Applied geology and geo-information.

Research Field 
Scientific Service Heritage, collections management
Scientific publications
Number of peer-reviewed publications per year 
300
Annual journals/series 

Notae Prehistoricae – fast publication in Archaeology Anthropologica & Prehistorica – co-edition with Royal Belgian Society of Anthropology and Prehistory

Other publications 

European Journal Of Taxonomy – online publications ad-hoc – no time constraints Fauna of Belgium

Digital copy of the latest annual report 
EARTH SCIENCES (Geology, Mineralogy, Palaeontology,…) 
TypologyPrimary typesIndividual specimens/objects% registered cards% recorded cards in database
1.1Palaeontology4000022
1.2Mineralogy3100
LIFE SCIENCES (Zoology, Biology, Botany, Mycology,…) 
TypologyPrimary typesIndividual specimens/objects% registered cards % recorded cards in database
2.1Zoology2000003065000015
Total specimens (all collections) 
30,650,000
Heritage sciences (art, manuscripts, maps, photographs...) 

scientific books: 300 000 titles journals 450 000 volumes

Genetic Repositories
Does your institution have a DNA bank? 
No
Does your institution have a seed bank? 
No
COLLECTION’S RELATED INFORMATION
Number of outgoing loans (parcels / specimens) per year 
2013 = 304 loans (scientific and exhibitions)
Number of scientific visitors per year 
1488
MAIN AREAS OF TAXONOMIC EXPERTISE 
The OD T&Ph has taxonomic expertise on many animal groups worldwide, and from all ecosystems.
Yet, there is a particularly strong expertise with respect to vertebrates, holothurians (sea cucumbers), gastropods, crustaceans, dipterans, hymenopterans, carabid beetles, spiders, oligochaetes, nematodes, and poriferans (sponges).
Geographical areas of taxonomical expertise are the fauna of Belgium and of other regions of the world such as Africa (great lakes, fauna of the Democratic Republic of the Congo), S and SE Asia (Singapore, Thailand, Vietnam, Nepal),
South America (Galapagos Islands Brazil), Russia (Lake Baïkal) and Antarctica (Southern Ocean).
Researchers of the OD T&Ph are active as legal experts with respect to the implementation of the CITES rules and contribute to several European biodiversity-related initiatives such as SYNTHESYS, CETAF, Fauna Europea and SciColl.
The OD T&Ph is also coordinating the “Distributed European School of Taxonomy (DEST: http://www.taxonomytraining.eu/)”.
Together with the Royal Museum for Central Africa (RMCA, Tervuren, Belgium), the OD T&Ph runs the “Joint Experimental Molecular Unit” (JEMU: http://jemu.myspecies.info/), a research team financed by the Belgian Science Policy Department (BELSPO)
dedicated to DNA barcoding, molecular systematics and the analysis of DNA from museum samples.
As such, JEMU is shared by both institutions and effectively integrates their DNA facilities. In this capacity, JEMU also manages the activities of the FWO research community “Belgian Network for DNA Barcoding” (http://bebol.myspecies.info/).
In the same spirit, the OD T&Ph works closely together with RMCA in the context of the “Congo Biodiversity Initiative” (CBI: http://www.congobiodiv.org/en/about-us), a research platform financed by BELSPO and the Belgian Development Cooperation,
CBI focuses on the conservation, protection, sustainable use, and study of the unique biodiversity of the Congo basin.
In this context, the OD T&Ph is strongly involved in the establishment of the “Centre de Surveillance de la Biodiversité” in Kisangani (DRC) (http://www.congobiodiv.org/en/infrastructure/csb) and in the organisation of field expeditions in the DR Congo.
Many of the research topics of the OD T&Ph are strongly linked to the zoological collections of the RBINS, and as such the OD T&Ph is strongly involved in the enrichment, the management and the exploitation of the collections
(in collaboration with the scientific service “Patrimony”).
Consequently, the OD T&Ph has a sound expertise in the area of natural history collections
COMMUNICATION MATERIAL
Main activities of communication and outreach 

Press communiqué (80/year)

Publicity campaigns

E-newsletter (6/y)

External events,fair, showroom, (10/y)

Touring exhibitions

XperiLAB, the science truck

Logo 
Contact person at your institution for communications / press / external relations (name, position, phone, e-mail) 

Head of communication service: Yannick Siebens Press promotion NL: Yannick.Siebens@natuurwetenschappen.be 02 627 43 77 Press, promotion FR : Donatienne.Boland@sciencesnaturelles.be 02 627 41 21 Website updated (NL) Reinout VERBEKE: rverbeke@naturalsciences.be , 02 627 43 78, (FR) Charlotte DEGUELDRE, Charlotte.Degueldre@sciencesnaturelles.be, 02 627 43 70

Visitors
Last year:  
334 190
Website visitors
Last year  
3 601 459
Institution news
Career opportunities
Training
Research updates
Others
Other means of communication  

The RBINS hosts as well the Belgian Bird Ringing Scheme and offers its expertise through You have found a wild bird with a ring? Send a mail to the Belgian Ringing Scheme: ring@naturalsciences.be more info: didier.vangeluwe@naturalsciences.be

If your institution is involved with non-university-based teaching or education programmes, please describe them & the partners 

Yes, the Education service has developed links with various teachers associations, other museums, primary and secondary schools, notably. More specifically, for several years now, the RBINS has taken the lead in training young taxonomists from around the world. The Distributed European School of Taxonomy (DEST) was set up with funding from the European Commission (EDIT, www.e-taxonomy.eu, 2006 –2011). With support of RBINS, and under the auspices of the Consortium of European Taxonomic Facilities (CETAF), DEST offers high quality education and prepares students for future taxonomic careers. Since its foundation, DEST has gained a worldwide reputation. Yearly more than one hundred bachelor students, master students, post-doctoral students and early-career researchers take part in the training programme taught by lecturers from renowned European institutions. More info on the training programmes can be found on the official DEST website. (www.taxonomytraining.eu)

If your institution is involved in online courses, please describe them and the partners 

No

If your institution is involved in training projects, please describe them and the partners 

Presently the DEST managed by RBINS is involved in the following projects: EU-BON http://www.eubon.eu/ EUColComp eucolcomp.myspecies.info

Other relevant information on education and / or training carried out 
Contact person at your institution for education / teaching / training (name, position, phone, e-mail) 

Pierre Coulon, Head of Public Programmes, pierre.coulon@naturalsciences.be

THREE MAIN TOPICS OF CURRENT INTEREST FOR YOUR INSTITUTION 

Taxonomy and phylogeny research on zoology and paleontology

Molecular biology

Modelling of ecosystems

THREE MAIN TOPICS OF FUTURE INTEREST FOR YOUR INSTITUTION 

e-learning (DEST)

Digitization of collections

Citizen science

WHICH NETWORKS OR ORGANISATIONS SHOULD CETAF BE A MEMBER OF? 
Last update 
10.11.17