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Tom Hakbijl

T. (Tom) Hakbijl, Senior researcher - Taxonomy and Systematics

Contact

Email: tom.hakbijl@naturalis.nl
Phone: +31 (0)71-75 19 301
Room number: C03.09, Darwinweg 2
“I like to peek into the past, if necessary through a pinhole.”

Naturally, what I do is based on a childhood fascination, observing a multitude of live organisms and collecting remains of them. It developed into exercising entomo-archaeology. The focus is on Coleoptera and on those arthropods that may influence human life. This type of work is most rewarding in a multidisciplinary approach. My consultancy work in entomology, mostly concerning cases of insect damage in shipped commodities and sometimes solving concrete problems, developed into a special interest in stored product entomology and indoor species, which can satisfyingly be combined with archaeology. An overall theme is the relation (mutual influence, perception of, etc.) between man and the natural environment. A more practical theme is the reconstruction of past events and environments (paleoecology) on the basis of analysis of arthropods or arthropod remains.

Career

My entomoarchaeological work started in 1984 when I got the opportunity to bring this discipline into practice in the Netherlands. It was initiated by the ecological archaeology department of the IPP in cooperation with the entomology department of the Zoology Museum (ZMA), both of the University of Amsterdam. The ZMA, was indispensable for the reference collection and collective expertise, and also housed the comprehensive library of the Dutch entomological society (NEV). Later I had the honour to serve it as the librarian for a decisive period. From 1990 I held a consultancy position at ZMA, Identification and Advisory Services in Entomology, often trying to reconstruct events resulting in an infestation of stored produce. I continued my activities at Naturalis, into which ZMA merged.

Research

Research interest

My field of interest is wide: from environmental change in the late Holocene to the relation between man and the environment on various scales. The method I personally apply, mostly within multidisciplinary teams, is much more limiting. It is primarily through the analysis of arthropod remains, in particular Coleoptera and insect pests, from soil samples. Inevitably, the actual finds will also determine what questions can possibly be answered. Given the work that has to be invested, I consider it not productive to limit the scope of inference to the questions asked on beforehand. Within this wide field all aspects of the history and prehistory of food storage, shipment, stored products and other pests, and possible countermeasures have my special attention.

Keywords

stored product pests, household entomology, insect remains, entomoarchaeology, coleoptera, paleoecology

Current research topics

Entomoarchaeological/paleoecological projects as part of the following multidisciplinary projects.

Reconstructing natural and/or man-made developments of landscapes in Noord-Holland (Enkhuizen, Bovenkarspel) through analysis of soil sequences.

Reconstructing the development of the natural environment of the last Dutch primeval forest Beekbergerwoud, vanished in 1870.

Collaborations

Dr. B. van Geel, paleoecology, IBED, FNWI, University of Amsterdam.

Collections

The entomology collection in general and collections of Dutch and West-Palaearctic Coleoptera in particular are indispensable as a reference and a source of information.

Teaching

Courses

Not applicable.

Available student projects

Public outreach

As a result of appearing at Raamsteeg Late Night Show about the YUK-factor, an interview was given to Volkskrant reporter Maarten Keulemans, showing the naturalist’s perception of creatures that fill many other people with loathing, disgust or at least distrust.

In an earlier period we re-identified the most reported indoor pest in the Netherlands as Ctenolepisma longicaudatum, presenting a new and readily adopted Dutch name, “papiervisje”, reviewing the ecology of the species. [Ref]