Naturalis Biodiversity Center

Institution (Original name) 
Naturalis Biodiversity Center
Vondellaan 55
Postal code 
2332 AA
Postal address 
Postbus 9517
Postal code 
2300 RA

+31 71 751 9600

+ 3171 751 9666
Type of institution 
Are you part of a larger entity / legal body? 
CETAF Official representative
Name, position, phone, e-mail, research field 

Prof. Dr. E.F. Smets / Scientific Director / Systematics of Flowering plants / +31 568 7600 /

Member of the Executive Committee? 
Executive Committee position 
Name, position, phone, e-mail, research field + Working Group or Project involved in 

Dr. P. Schalk / Manager ETI: R&D department of Naturalis /+31 568 7600 / or

Member of the Executive Committee? 
Director / legal representative of the institution (title, name, phone, e-mail, research field) 

Drs. E.J.F.B (Edwin) van Huis / +31 568 7600 /

Organigram figure 
Governing and executive bodies 

Naturalis is a ‘stichting’ (Foundation) under Dutch law. The Managing Director is the Managing (Governing) Board of the Foundation. The Supervisory Board supervises the policies of the Managing Director. The Foundation has two advisory bodies: Scientific Advisory Board and the Museum Advisory Board.

Scientific staff 
Permanent (P)Non – Permanent (NP)
a) TOTAL scientific staff329
b) Scientific staff linked to Collections
c) Post-docs / PhD students156
d) Others (Associates, etc.)24
TOTAL (a+b+c+d)3569
Other staff (administration etc.) 
Permanent (P)Non – Permanent (NP)
e) Exhibitions3418
f) Collection managers / technicians4690
g) Others 4848
TOTAL (e+f+g)128156
Total permanent staff 
Total non-permanent staff 
Grand total (permanent + non-permanent Staff) 
Male (%) 
Female (%) 
R&D facilities
How many laboratories are in use in your institution? 
List of laboratories 
  1. Geology lab: micro raman, Xray, Faxitron, FITR en UV spectrofotometer, Orbis XRF;
  2. Morphology lab: micro Ct scan, TEM, FEG-SEM-EDS, low vacuum SEM;
  3. ancient DNA lab: Ultraclean room for DNA analysis of historic museum collections;
  4. DNA barcoding facility: for high throughput genotyping, extraction and pipetting robots;
  5. Next generation sequencing lab: Ion Torrent for DNA analysis of complex samples en genome analysis;
  6. High end microscopy lab: digitising street including Zeiss stacking microscopes;
  7. Culturing and specimen preparation facilities.
Number of permanent exhibitions 
Number of recent exhibitions 
Recent Temporary Exhibitions (< 2 years) 
Number of current exhibitions 
Current Temporary Exhibitions 
T. rex in Town
Research Field 
Understanding evolution
Summary of your Research programme 

We study how the interplay of interactions determines evolutionary processes. Biodiversity is a product of evolutionary history. All organisms interact with the abiotic and biotic environment and these interactions are major drivers of evolutionary changes, which have resulted in the biodiversity as observed today. Over the last decades, much progress has been made in understanding how interactions determine evolutionary processes. However, it has also become increasingly clear that multiple interactions can synergistically constrain or drive organismal evolution. For instance, changes in the abiotic and biotic environment are often correlated, and particular characters often serve multiple functions.

It is therefore critical that evolution is considered in a “whole-organism- context”, taking multiple interactions into account. The aimof our group Understanding Evolution is to study how the interplay of interactions determines evolutionary processes. We are in a particularly strong position to launch this research program, as the researchers of our group combine a unique set of different, but highly complementary skills and expertise.

Our main research priorities for the next five years are to

  1. unravel evolutionary shifts of interactions
  2. investigate the genetic background of these shifts, and
  3. predict the fate of biodiversity in the light of altering interactions due to global change.

To answer these questions we integrate a combination of phylogenetic, ecological, genomic, transcriptomic, morphological, and anatomical approaches and apply these to several target taxa in flowering plants and fungi. Therefore our research includes comparative descriptive and experimental tools, and implements both field- and collection-based research.

Research Field 
Biodiversity discovery
Summary of your Research programme 

o know Earth’s species is essential for measuring and preserving biodiversity, testing biological theories, understanding ecosystem functioning, and for human welfare. Describing yet unexplored species and clarifying the circum­scription and taxonomy of known species are main challenges towards comprehensive species inventories. The group Next Generation Biodiversity Discovery will tackle these challenges and address important scientific and societal questions in the field of biodiversity discovery, by combining biodiversity inventories and collection-based taxonomy with analyses of biodiversity patterns. The methods used include e-taxonomy, morphological taxonomy, phylogenetics, DNA-(meta)barcoding and biogeographic analyses. Tangible output comprises scientific publications, identification tools, floras, multi-entry keys, online databases, and outreach to the wider public.

Research Field 
Marine biodiversity
Summary of your Research programme 

By integrating molecular, ecological, and palaeoecological time series across spatial scales we elucidate the response of marine organisms to past, present and future environmental change. We live amid a global wave of anthropogenically driven biodiversity loss: species, population extirpations and, critically, declines in local species abundances. Additionally, current extinction rates are higher than would be expected from the fossil record. Global effects of increased CO2 in the atmosphere are translated not only in higher temperatures, but also in ocean acidification in oceans and seas. This is predicted to have serious implications on the capacity of organisms to grow carbonate skeletons, as well as on surface water productivity and the nitrogen cycle.

Research Field 
Endless forms
Summary of your Research programme 

The core of Naturalis’s activities, as well as the inner drive of most of its scientists, is a fascination with biodiversity Biodiversity, the diversity of manifestations of life, is particularly obvious in morphological diversity: disparity in the shape and function of entire bodies and their constituent organs. Therefore, in 2015, Naturalis has started a research group to document the processes and routes by which this morphological diversity evolves.

This is the group “Endless Forms”, named after Darwin’s famous final sentence in On the Origin of Species. Our research is structured along these axes: 1) temporal (micro-evolution grading into macro-evolution) 2) methodological (experimental, descriptive or analytical) 3) conceptual (selection vs. constraints; biotic vs. abiotic selection; key innovations vs. species-level specializations) 4) fundamental vs. applied

Research Field 
Biodiversity dynamics
Summary of your Research programme 

What determines (species) diversity and how is it affected by human actions? Biodiversity is an important property of nature, especially in the context of the change, destruction and disturbance of the environment of which we, humans, are part. Biodiversity has several functions and services ranging from providing us with food, maintaining/sustaining important biogeochemical cycles to educational and cultural values. Due to the alteration and destruction of habitat, the decline in species diversity proceeds at a rate that is considered unprecedented in geological history. This threatens our very own survival on the planet and should be one of our main concerns.

Global change is the large-scale impact of man on our world, caused by global climate change (GCC), land use cover change (LUCC), overexploitation, and large scale pollution/eutrophication of terrestrial and aquatic habitats. Thus, global change must not be taken as a synonym for global climate change alone. The Millennium Ecosystem Report and the IPCC-AR5 report showed a grim picture of the loss in virtually all ecosystems of our world. For example, most of the lowland forests have been converted to agricultural areas, while grazing, logging for timber, road and dam constructions, oil, gas, and mining prospecting provide further environmental threats. These factors greatly contribute to habitat loss and exacerbate soil erosion with hydrological implications that result in far-reaching consequences (e.g. loss of water source for residents and agricultural lands) at the regional, national, and global levels.

Research Field 
Taxonomy & Systematics
Summary of your Research programme 

The description of taxa new to science and the study of evolutionary systems is fundamental for the understanding and conservation of biodiversity and geodiversity, and as such a core task of Naturalis Biodiversity Center. The new organizational structure of the Sector Research and Education resulted on the one side in new thematic groups focusing on endless forms in nature, on the understanding of evolution and on the dynamics in the terrestrial and marine environment.

On the other side two groups are formed that are close to the core of a natural history institute, namely a group focusing on the discovery of biodiversity, and our museum oriented research group which addresses fundamental taxonomic and systematic research, proudly called Taxonomy and Systematics. Our group deliberately is not designed around a limited focal theme, but works along the lines of biological and geological museum objects. It investigates the diversity of recent living organisms, and their history through the fossil and geological record.

As will be shown below at least two clusters, ‘Caribbean Marine Biodiversity’ and ‘Deep and Early Earth’, have already emerged. Our group is strongly involved in the teaching programs of Naturalis, and in public outreach and education. In the subsequent paragraphs the two clusters and some of the other taxonomic experts in the group are introduced.

Research Field 
Applied Research
Scientific publications
Number of peer-reviewed publications per year 
Biannual journals/series 
  1. Scripta Geologica (twice per year)
  2. Zoölogische Mededelingen (several fascicles per year) -
Quarterly journals/series 

Contributions to Zoology (SCI) -

  1. Blumea – Biodiversity, Evolution and Biogeography of Plants (SCI; 3 times per year) -
  2. Persoonia – Molecular Phylogeny and Evolution of Fungi (SCI, fasttrack journal, 3 times per year hardcopy) -
  3. Gorteria (SCI, 6 fascicles)
Other publications 
  1. Natuur van Nederland – Series -
  2. Entomologische Tabellen – Series -
  3. Flora Malesiana – Series -
  4. Flora of the Guiana’s (Published by Kew Publishing for the Flora of the Guiana’s consortium (of which Naturalis is part) – Series -
  5. Flore du Gabon – Series
EARTH SCIENCES (Geology, Mineralogy, Palaeontology,…) 
TypologyPrimary typesIndividual specimens/objects% registered cards% recorded cards in database
LIFE SCIENCES (Zoology, Biology, Botany, Mycology,…) 
TypologyPrimary typesIndividual specimens/objects% registered cards % recorded cards in database
Total specimens (all collections) 
Outstanding collection features 
  • The collection goes far back in time, is very complete and is of high quality, particularly regarding geographic regions Western Europe, SE Asia, Surinam and Netherlands Antilles. The collection contains about information that can be found nowhere else;
  • The collection includes many type specimen: these objects are of great scientific and historical value (see on the website an overview and further information ). This is due to the calibration value, without exception category A objects;
  • Wide range of variation within taxonomic groups and geographic regions: many different copies per animal or plant species with different physical characteristics (male, female, old, young , etc. ) and from a large part of their range, important as a calibrator for determining and describing species;
  • Overall dimensions: breadth and historical depth of the collection is important to be able to serve as a tool for analysis with respect to the development of biodiversity;
  • The collection is a manifestation of the history of science;
  • Linked to the natural history collection Naturalis manages historically valuable scientific archives and libraries, which further enhances the value of the collection documentation;
  • Some collections, such as the Von Siebold collection, the collection of the “Natuurkundige Commissie”, but also the so-called "Cabinet des Stadhouders”, have great symbolic value. This also applies to the collection of Dubois, in which the remains of Pithecanthropus, a globally recognized masterpiece, is located.
Does your institution have an Index Seminum? 


Heritage sciences (art, manuscripts, maps, photographs...) 

Works 140.000 Magazine titels 14.000 Art works 57.000 Maps 13.000 microfiches 91.500 Photographs 310.000 TOTAL 625.500

Size and importance of living collections 

We have limited use of living collections in our scientific research.

Genetic Repositories
Does your institution have a DNA bank? 
Number of DNA samples 
48 000
Number of organisms / species 
16 000
Does your institution have a seed bank? 
DNA or seed sample exchange 

We hardly exchange specimens, maybe 10 per annum

Number of outgoing loans (parcels / specimens) per year 
Number of scientific visitors per year 
Wide range of plant and fungus groups (e.g., Annonaceae, Begoniaceae, Fabaceae, Euphorbiaceae, Orchidaceae, Rubiaceae, Mycoheterotrophic angiosperms, Bryophytes, Ferns, Agaricales, Russulales)
Wide range of terrestrial animal groups (Mollusca, Amphibians, Invertebrates, Arthropods, Lepidoptera, Odonata, Diptera, Coleoptera, Hymenoptera, Flatworms)
Wide range of marine groups (Sponges, Decapoda, Corals, Octocorallia, Cichlids, Amphipods, Crustaceans, Fishes)
Wide range of palaeontological groups (Maastrichtian Flora, Echinodermata, microvertebrates, Seed Ferns, Conifers, Mollusca, Foraminifera)
Wide range of general taxonomic disciplines (e.g., Biogeography, Floral development and anatomy, Evo-Devo, Pollen morphology, Wood anatomy, Biodiversity assessment & GIS, Ethnobotany, plant-animal interactions)
Main activities of communication and outreach 
Contact person at your institution for communications / press / external relations (name, position, phone, e-mail) 

Astrid Kromhout,, 0031(0)71-7519625

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

Centre of expertise genomics with the University of Applied Sciences Leiden (

If your institution is involved with universities in teaching or education programmes, please name and describe them 

Naturalis is official partner in the BSc and MSc Biology curriculums of Leiden University, Wageningen University, the University of Amsterdam, and the University of Applied Sciences Leiden. Naturalis staff also participates in BSc and MSc teaching in Earth Sciences (Utrecht University, Free University of Amsterdam), and the BSc curriculum of Sciences (University of Maastricht). Naturalis offers courses at BSc, MSc and PhD level, and supervises term papers and BSc, MSc and PhD research projects. The subjects offered include systematics, phylogenetics, biogeography, palaeontology, genomics, bioinformatics, marine biology, evolutionary biology, taxonomy of selected groups (arthropods, molluscs, land plants, and fungi).

If your institution is involved in training projects, please describe them and the partners 
  1. Naturalis is partner of DEST (Distributed European School of Taxonomy);
  2. Naturalis is member of the C.T. de Wit Graduate School for Production Ecology and Resource Conservation;
Other relevant information on education and / or training carried out 
Contact person at your institution for education / teaching / training (name, position, phone, e-mail) 

To book your school visit please call the Events Office on +31-(0)71 568 7626 on working days from 09.00 - 17.00, or send an e-mail to


Taxonomic Research

Character Evolution and Speciation

Biodiversity in time and space

Biodiversity information

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