Research Institute

Naturalis Biodiversity Center

Naturalis is the Dutch national research institute for biodiversity. With one of the largest natural history collections in the world, the Naturalis serves as a veritable time machine that enables scientists to map the biological and geological diversity of the past, present and future. Scientific biodiversity research is fundamental to the protection of the natural riches of our Earth.

Species recognition
in acceleration.

Areas in which there is still much to discover include the nematodes (roundworms), humpback flies, lake miners and so on the different parasitic wasp families. Why do scientists not delve into these unknown areas? "It's a matter of tradition and laziness: if a lot of people have already worked on a particular group, it's easy to build on that. Certainly if they are large or colorful organisms," Schilthuizen explains. So scientists also have a weakness for beautiful appearances.

The mapping of all species is important for understanding and protecting them. What you don't know cannot be protected. That is why Naturalis has set the goal of identifying all species in the Netherlands. With the use of innovative biomonitoring, this could become a reality. With DNA research and image recognition, among other things, the discovery and mapping of species can gain momentum. That does not mean that we no longer have to scrutinize the field, but that we have the undiscovered species above water or soil more quickly.

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