NaturalisNaturalis Biodiversity Center


Drs. Edwin van Huis
Darwinweg 2, 2333 CR Leiden

Naturalis Biodiversity Center, Leiden, carries out research on the Tree of Life, and bio- and geodiversity studies across the planet. It provides the national collection-based research infrastructure, including the world’s fifth largest natural-history collection, and state-of-the-art laboratories and IT. It works towards an infrastructure for large-scale, automated species identification and monitoring based on the latest molecular and artificial intelligence methods. A large part of the collection is digitally available through portals and open data links. The laboratories include morphological (e.g. stacking microscopy(stereo and compound), FEG-SEM, LV-SEM, TEM, micro CT), molecular (e.g. Next Generation Sequencing, ancient DNA facility, DNA-barcoding program), geological (e.g. UV/VIS/IR spectrometers, X-Ray, micro XRF, nanoSims, FEG-EMP, micro Raman) and computational facilities (e.g. GIS, 3D, HPC, OpenStack).

"Naturalis Biodiversity Center, Leiden, provides the world’s fifth largest natural history collection, state-of-the-art laboratories, and infrastructure for automated species identification and monitoring based on the latest molecular and artificial intelligence methods. Naturalis is a foundation established as a merger of the former natural history institutes of Leiden University, University of Amsterdam, Wageningen University, and the former National Natural History Museum Naturalis, Leiden, Netherlands. The institute is partnered with many Dutch universities: researchers hold chairs at 8 Dutch universities and offer BSc and MSc courses in its core disciplines of systematics, biodiversity and evolution.
The Naturalis collection comprises more than 42 million objects, including botanical, zoological and geological objects, DNA material, books, prints, drawings, paintings, and sound recordings. The collection dates back to ancient times, is very complete, of high quality, and in the global top 5. The specimens, storage units and species checklists have been digitized and published via public portals and scientific databases like GBIF, international Barcode of Life (iBOL)/Barcode of Life Data Systems (BOLD), and the Catalogue of Life (CoL). Species information with associated visual material, audio and video, recordings, observations, specimen and distribution data is made available to research infrastructures via high throughput data interfaces as offered by the Naturalis Biodiversity Data Services (NBDS). Naturalis also hosts the platform ‘Observation International’, with citizen science applications making use of image recognition algorithms.
The Naturalis research laboratories include
-Molecular facilities for DNA barcoding, eDNA technology and ancient DNA techniques
-Morphological /imaging
-Geological facilities and geographic information systems and
-Computing/bioinformatics capacities.
Furthermore, Naturalis participates in the National facility for high-resolution in situ isotope and element analysis, Utrecht, with a Field Emission Gun-Electron MicroProbe, thereby completing the array of analytical capabilities for elemental and isotope surface analyses of geological samples and other materials in the micro to nano scale.
To enable species identification in an automated fashion, Naturalis employs the latest molecular techniques (e.g. (eDNA) (meta)barcoding), and image recognition using machine learning technologies. With the envisioned expansion of the infrastructure, automated species recognition will be enabled at larger-scale, and for all multicellular species in the Netherlands. The expansion includes a Netherlands Species Reference database, consisting of validated genomic, image, sound and taxonomic information per species, and a Species Identification Engine, providing the automated workflows to couple incoming (monitoring) data to the Species reference database. This engine’s output provides evidence of occurrence and abundance of specific species at given time and space with a specified confidence level. This infrastructure further provides extensive sequencing and long-term storage and preservation facilities for the reference material.
This unique combination of collection and state-of-the-art laboratory infrastructure is essential in our quest to understand life on Earth, and how it evolved, as well as the origin of our planet. Based on existing and new specimens, researchers determine amongst others the taxonomy, spatial and temporal evolution of species, morphological and physiological traits, and their responses to climatic and other environmental perturbations.
Naturalis is also a major natural history museum, receiving over 400,000 visitors per year, and with a strong program in public outreach, education and heritage presentations and other services on the internet. More than 50,000 primary and secondary school children visit our facilities each year to learn about Life on Earth in all its facets."

Aansluiting bij strategische ontwikkelingen
Agri & Food
Oorsprong van het leven- op aarde en in het heelal
Circulaire economie en grondstoffenefficiëntie: duurzame circulaire impact
Duurzame productie van gezond en veilig voedsel
Kwaliteit van de omgeving
Sustainable development Goals voor inclusieve mondiale ontwikkeling
The blue route: water as a pathway to innovation and sustainable growth
Meten en detecteren: altijd, alles en overal