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Tropical Biodiversity and Field Methods


Admission requirements

The course is targeted at students with a Bachelor in Biology or equivalent degree. Priority will be given to students who show a strong motivation and interest to study tropical ecosystems. Note: submitting the application form (see registration) is mandatory for admission!


The course "Tropical Biodiversity and Field Methods" will provide a broad overview of tropical coastal ecosystems and coral reefs, with a focus on Southeast Asia and Indonesia. Students will learn about practical aspects of doing field research in tropical coastal ecosystems and coral reefs, including experimental design, data analysis methods, theory of biodiversity data, and the application of biodiversity data in conservation. In addition, students will receive basic taxonomic overviews for taxa that are particularly relevant in tropical coastal ecosystems, and practice their identification based on reference collections and own collections to be made during fieldwork. The course will also introduce students to molecular methods such as DNA barcoding and metabarcoding for the integrative study of biodiversity. Students will learn how to collect and analyze molecular data, and how to integrate these methods with traditional field methods to improve biodiversity research in tropical coastal ecosystems and coral reefs.

The course will be held partly in Leiden, partly at a field station in Indonesia. The field work will consist of (a) demonstrations of field methods and techniques, (b) short research projects carried out by small groups of students.

The course is a unique opportunity to get theoretical as well as practical instructions on tropical coastal ecosystems and coral reefs from a broad range of experienced lecturers, in a setting that allows you to interact informally and intensively with fellow students, including Indonesian ones, as well as more experienced researchers and field biologists. The course is an excellent preparation for fieldwork in tropical coastal ecosystems and coral reefs, as well as for biodiversity research. The course provides study credits and is also a coveted c.v.-item.

Course objectives

  • Demonstrate proficient knowledge of major concepts in tropical coastal and reef ecology.

  • Outline, describe, and identify important groups of tropical organisms.

  • Explain and discuss some of the challenges of human-nature conflict.

  • Design and execute a field study in the tropics.

  • Outline and consider the practical challenges of field studies and make decisions to mitigate them.

  • Present and discuss ideas, challenges, and results.

  • Collect, analyze and visualize data using appropriate methods.

  • Formulate and process feedback to improve scientific investigation.


The course will be scheduled between June and July.

  • week 1 (Leiden): lectures, self-study

  • weeks 2, 3 and 4 (Lombok, Indonesia): practicals, demonstrations, short field research projects and active involvement in data collections, presentation of the results

You will find the timetables for all courses and degree programmes of Leiden University in the tool MyTimetable (login). Any teaching activities that you have sucessfully registered for in MyStudyMap will automatically be displayed in MyTimeTable. Any timetables that you add manually, will be saved and automatically displayed the next time you sign in.

MyTimetable allows you to integrate your timetable with your calendar apps such as Outlook, Google Calendar, Apple Calendar and other calendar apps on your smartphone. Any timetable changes will be automatically synced with your calendar. If you wish, you can also receive an email notification of the change. You can turn notifications on in ‘Settings’ (after login).

For more information, watch the video or go the the 'help-page' in MyTimetable. Please note: Joint Degree students Leiden/Delft have to merge their two different timetables into one. This video explains how to do this.

Mode of instruction

The theoretical part of the course (in Leiden) will consist of lectures and self-study. The field work part (in Indonesia) will consist of demonstrations of field and research methods and techniques and short research projects carried out by small groups of students.

Assessment method

Students will be graded based on their performance during fieldwork in Indonesia, including a project report, and an oral presentation of their research project.

Reading list


Prospective students should submit their CV and a short motivation letter and upload this via this application form.
Deadline for application is: November 30, 2024. Students will receive extra information about the course after admission.

Exchange and Study Abroad students, please see the Prospective students website for more information on how to apply.

Register through MyStudymap after being admitted through the application process.

All students have to register for courses with the new enrollment tool MyStudyMap. There are two registration periods per year: registration for the fall semester opens in July and registration for the spring semester opens in December. Please see this page for more information.

Please note that it is compulsory to both preregister and confirm your participation for every exam and retake. Not being registered for a course means that you are not allowed to participate in the final exam of the course. Confirming your exam participation is possible until ten days before the exam.

Extensive FAQ's on MyStudymap can be found here.


Coordinator: Dr. Jan N. Macher


Lectures and practical information will be available on Brightspace

**The costs include a course fee of €1500 which covers the following: **

  • Bus transport from and to Lombok International Airport

  • Accommodation in the Lombok Research Station

  • Food and drinks

  • Boat transfers

  • Field assistants

  • Fiel equipment

  • T-shirt, conservation fee

Other expenses not part of the course fee:

  • Students will need to book and pay their own travel to (and, if necessary, accommodation in) Leiden and to Indonesia

  • Costs for insurances and personal medication (vaccinations, consult your own GP or travel clinic for this) are also to be borne by the students themselves.

  • We strongly recommend obtaining global travel insurance as well as travel cancellation insurance to cover you in case the course has to be canceled due to force majeure or illness.

  • Minimum 10 students, maximum 20 students.