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About Biodiversity discovery

To 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.

Activities

Projects are founded on common conceptual and technical grounds including  (i) data gathering through expeditions and use of natural history collections, (ii) data processing in standardized workflows, (iii) integrative taxonomy, (iv) experimental design to tackle biodiversity research questions, and (v) outreach and education. With a high level of R&D, group activities leads to optimized workflows (e.g. protocols, sample strategies, semi-automatic pipelines) and supportive infrastructures (e.g. e-platforms,  species catalogs, repositories and (digital) keys) for the benefit of individual taxonomists and research projects.

Examples of current research activities involving one or more group members are flora projects (Flora Malesiana, Flora of the Guianas, Heukel’s Flora van Nederland), taxonomy, phylogenetics and biogeography of different groups of angiosperms, ferns, bryophytes, spiders, snails, leafmining Leptidoptera, and fossil micromammals, freshwater biodiversity (DNA Waterscan), Caribbean biodiversity, urban biodiversity, plant-animal relationships (including pollinators), and mark-up of legacy literature and Dutch flora & fauna projects.

Education & outreach

Next Generation Biodiversity Discovery  aims to become a global leader in training new generations of taxonomists. Therefore, student training, always research question oriented, will be a key function of the group. Student participation in all stages of the research cycle (field work, sample processing, imaging, data generation and  analysis, and publishing) will foster a high-quality learning environment. We will recruit students from a global pool of applicants. Multiple levels of curricular education and PhD/Postdoc training will be involved. PhDs will be attracted by a course introducing them to classical and modern methods and techniques, positioning them to excel within the field of biodiversity research.

Team activities such as expeditions will be promoted online using multiple media. Public outreach agents and collection management staff will be encouraged to participate in expeditions. When results such as new species or insights in biodiversity patterns are available, those will be communicated through Live Science remote links, press releases, interviews and public exhibits.

In addition to (high-impact) scientific publications, we continue the dissemination of knowledge in popular books such as the book series Nature of The Netherlands, non-SCI journals, and web platforms including species catalogs, literature repositories, the Dutch Living Planet Index, keys and reference-cards.