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Matty Berg

Dr. M.P. (Matty) Berg, Research associate - Biodiversity Discovery


Email: m.p.berg@vu.nl
Phone: +31 (0)71 ...
Room number: under construction

Like many biologist my ‘career’ started when I was introduced to the Nederlandse Jeugdbond voor Natuurstudie (NJN). In this youth society I have learned a lot about the identification of plants, birds, mammals, and especially insects in the field. At the University of Amsterdam, were I studied Biology, my interest shifted more to terrestrial ecology. In particular carabid beetles and wolf spiders had my attention, and I could be found a lot on the most northern island of the Netherlands, Schiermonnikoog, collecting beetles and spiders on the salt marsh. I did an internship at the VU University, Amsterdam were I studied the temperature dependence of energy reserves of carabid beetles living in coniferous forests at Schiermonnikoog. During this internship at the VU I came in contact with researchers that studied the ecophysiology of woodlice and springtails. Almost nothing was known about these fascinating animal groups compared to relative well-known groups, such as carabid beetles and wolf spiders. My interest was raised, especially in the importance of these groups for soil functions. At the VU, as University Lecturer, I am still involved in many studies with a focus on soil fauna, especially on the role of species-specific attributes for community stability. As coordinator of the Soil Fauna survey group of the European Invertebrate Survey (EIS-Nederland) and as Research Associate of Naturalis my activities focus on the distribution of soil fauna. Together with other inspired persons, I try to map the distribution of soil fauna in the Netherlands and study their ecology.



  • 1976-1980: Secondary school: MAVO, Don Bosco Mavo, Sassenheim
  • 1980-1981: Study Technical Assistant HBO-A, Laboratorium School Rijnland, Leiderdorp
  • 1981-1983: Study Technical Assistant HBO-A, Van der Broeke Instituut, Amsterdam Specializations: Ecology, Zoology
  • 1983-1988: Study Biology, Universiteit van Amsterdam, Amsterdam Specializations: Soil Ecology, Zoology, Taxonomy, Entomology, Geography
  • 1992-present: University Lecturer of Animal Ecology, Vrije Universiteit


  • 1985:              Technical Assistant, Hoogheemraadschap Uitwaterende sluizen, Edam
  • 1988-1992:     Researcher, Vrije Universiteit, Amsterdam
  • 1992-1997:     PhD student, Vrije Universiteit, Amsterdam
  • 1997-1998:     Post-Doc, Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences
  • 1998-1999:     Researcher, Vrije Universiteit, Amsterdam
  • 1999-2004:     KNAW Academy-fellow, Vrije Universiteit, Amsterdam
  • 2004-present   Associated professor of Animal Ecology, Vrije Universiteit
  • 2005-present   Research Associate National Natural History Museum, Leiden
  • 2006               Associated lecturer University of Rennes


PhD on decomposition of soil organic matter, nutrient flow and food web dynamics in a pine forest soil (promotor: N.M. van Straalen, thesis defence 29 April 1997).


Study on how competition between Basidiomycetes influences ecosystem performance, i.e. decomposition of wood.


I applied and obtained research funds from various national and international organisations (EU, NWO, KNAW).

Administration and professional societies

  • Member of the British Ecological Society
  • Member of the Ecological Society of America
  • Member of the Netherlands Society of Entomology
  • Member and correspondent of the Netherlands Institute of Biology
  • Secretary of the Board of the European Invertebrate Survey, division the Netherlands (EIS)
  • Co-ordinator of three EIS-working groups: Terrestrial Isopoda, Myriapoda (centipedes and millipedes), and Apterygota (including Collembola)
  • Member of several working groups of the Royal Natural History Society (Entomology, Bryology, Marine environment)

Congresses, lectures, reviewing

  • I attended various international scientific congresses and was invited for a key-note lecture on several occasions
  • I am editor of the journal "Nederlandse Faunistische Mededelingen"
  •  I am occasionally reviewer for Ecology, Global Change Biology, Oikos, Oecologia, Pedobiologia, Acta zoologica Fennica, European Journal of Soil Biology, Soil Biology and Biochemistry, Netherlands Journal of Zoology, Biogeochemistry, Agriculture Ecosystems and Environment, Ecological Research, Journal of Applied Ecology, Journal of Ecology, Peckiana, Canadian Journal of Forest Research, Biological Reviews, Ecology Letters, Applied Soil Ecology, Ecography, Entomologist, Ecological Research, Abhandlungen und Berichte Naturkundemuseums Gorlitz, and PhD-theses.


Research interest

  • the relationship between species diversity and community stability of soil fauna, including the influence of species-specific attributes on this relationship
  • the impact of soil food web structure on the rate of soil processes, particularly decomposition of organic matter
  • the biogeography and ecology of Collembola, Chilopoda, Diplopoda, and Isopoda in the Netherlands (Research associate Nauralis / European Invertebrate Survey, division The Netherlands)
  • the importance of species-specific traits in description of functional diversity of soil fauna communities and prediction of species co-existence and extinction of soil fauna

Taxonomic expertise: Soil fauna

  • Terrestrial Isopoda (woodlice / landpissebedden)
  • Chilopoda (centipedes / duizendpoten)
  • Diplopoda (millipedes / miljoenpoten)
  • Collembola (springtails / springstaarten)
  • Microcoryphia (jumptails / rotsspringers)
  • Pseudoscorpionida (pseudoscorpions / bastaardschorpioenen)



Current research topics

Research projects: Faunistics

  • Ecology and distribution of Dutch soil fauna
  • Taxonomy and checklist of Dutch Collembola
  • Key of the Dutch terrestrial Isopoda
  • Key of the Dutch Collembola genera and species within genera
  • Distribution atlas Dutch terrestrial woodlice, centipedes, and millipedes
  • Relationship between soil fauna commensals and ant hosts

For additional research projects on Community Ecology see: http://www.bio.vu.nl/do/staff/MPBerg.htm



Supervision PhDs


I am a co-promotor for: D. Heemsbergen / V. Vos / P. Martin / M. Makkonen / M. Schrama / E. Krab



I assisted in the following courses:

  • BsC course on Field Ecology for Technical Assistants (1983-1986)
  • BsC courses on Soil Ecology
  • BsC course on General Ecology (1989)
  • BsC course on Biogeochemistry for Environmental Science (1998-1999)
  • BsC course on Community Ecology (2002-present)
  • PhD course on Community Ecology (2005)

I developed the following courses:

  • BsC course on Biodiversity, including zoology and botany practical (1998-2000)
  • BsC course on Biodiversity and Ecological Fieldwork, including zoology, botany and landscape practical (1999-present)
  • PhD course on Dynamics of nutrient cycling and Food webs (1996)
  • MsC course on Soil-Plant interactions (2004-present)
  • MsC course on Spatial Ecology and Global Change (2005-2007)
  • assisted in 
  • BsC course in Island Biogeography (2006-present)

Personally supervised over 50 BsC and MsC students (1988-2008) in research projects or literature theses on Animal Ecology, Soil Ecology and Community Ecology.

Personally supervised over 50 BsC and MsC students (1988-2008) in research projects or literature theses on Animal Ecology, Soil Ecology and Community Ecology.

Available student projects


Five key publications

Faunistic articles

For additional publications on non-faunistic topic see: http://www.bio.vu.nl/do/staff/MPBerg.htm

Please contact the author when you are interested in one of the articles above and it is not available online or in the repository [Repository].