Science at Naturalis Biodiversity Center
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Naturalis Biodiversity Center
Our collection of over 37 million specimens of animals, plants and fungi represents the result of nearly 200 years of research of past and present life on earth. Presently, about 120 scientists and curatorial staff are actively involved in studying and preserving our valuable collections. It is our ambition to develop and maintain the tools for the global scientific community to understand diversity and evolution of life. So, we explore remote parts of the world to collect unknown species, we cooperate with scientists in all parts of the world, we describe past and present biodiversity, and we reconstruct evolutionary relationships for the advancement of pure and applied science. The results of our studies are published in books and scientific journals or on our website. We also share our knowledge with other biologists and with society by oral presentations, exhibitions and contributions to journals and other media.
While we have obtained detailed insights into the human genome and significant resources have been spent on searching for life on Mars, biology still has no answer to one of the most frequently asked questions: how many species of plants, animals and fungi live on Earth? To monitor global change and help conserve biodiversity, it is necessary to establish how many species occur in nature, and how species interact with one another. The estimates vary from about 10 to even 50 million species, while not more than 1.8 million species have been described during the last 250 years. We have only partial answers for questions related to the evolutionary relationships of species, and the relation between patterns in evolution and the geological history of the Earth.The staff of the Collection and Research sectors of Naturalis Biodiversity Center is actively involved in the challenge to solve these questions by the end of the 21st century.