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Biodiversity and Natural Environment

Biodiversity refers to the variety of life forms within species, between species and within and between landscapes, ecosystems or the whole planet. Biodiversity can thus be described at the genetic, species or ecosystem level. For both theoretical and practical reasons biodiversity is measured as the number of taxa, and in particular of species. There are approximately 7-12 million species of which circa 1.9 million are described. Biodiversity is under pressure. It is generally assumed that a reduction of biodiversity is undesirable and should be prevented. Is the disappearance of species really undesirable and if so, can we counteract further deterioration of biodiversity?

In order to answer these questions we have to examine in more detail what biodiversity actually represents and how it can be mapped. In addition it is important to study how biodiversity evolved and which are the important processes that determine the level of biodiversity in today’s ecosystems. By analyzing the processes that take place in ecosystems we will investigate how biodiversity is threatened, for example as a result of human intervention or unintentional introduction of invasive species. We shall study how species decline is related to life-history traits. In addition we will investigate the impact of newly introduced species or genes on current biodiversity in the Netherlands.

Human intervention and the introduction of new species do not necessarily have only negative effects on biodiversity. It can also lead to “novel ecosystems” for example in urban and agricultural areas. Species can adapt and be successful in these new habitats. How we should value these new systems is a question of often heated debates. In this minor you will be challenged to take position on these matters.

General information

  • Size: 15 or 30 EC
    It is possible to follow the complete minor for an accreditation of 30 EC or to follow only the first half of the minor for an accreditation of 15 EC

  • Period:
    15 EC: fulltime from 4 September 2017 – 10 November 2017
    30 EC: fulltime from 4 September 2017 – 2 February 2018

  • Language: English

  • Number of participants: minimum 15, maximum 35

  • General information: Education Office Biology Coordinator: Prof. Dr. P.G.L. Klinkhamer

  • The minor is provided by the Bachelor Biology


Admission criteria apply to this Minor (see Appendix 3 of the Education and Exam regulation BSc Programmes (OER)).
The minor is open to students with an interest in Biodiversity and Natural Environment. Depending on the pre-education, students may be asked to study selected literature before the start of the minor. In that case, students will be invited to an initial test (beginning of July).


Students of Leiden University
Registration possible from May 1 until June 15 in uSis.
You have to register in uSis by entering one of the class numbers (‘studieactiviteit nummer’).

  • For the whole minor (30 EC): 1455

  • For the first half of the minor (15 EC): 1456

NB: Registration in usis does not directly mean that you can participate in the minor. You will receive and email that confirms your registration and placement.

Students of TU Delft and Erasmus University Rotterdam Registration possible from May 1 until May 31 via an online form. This online form will be available from 1 to 31 May on the website: Registration minors

Other students
Students from other universities can register until May 31 by sending an e-mail to: Education Office Biology


Course EC Semester 1 Semester 2
Patterns in Biodiversity 15
Evolutionary Developments and Environmental Processes 15


The programme of the 30 EC Minor consists of two full-time courses:

  • Patterns in Biodiversity (15 EC)

  • Evolutionary Developments and Environmental Processes (15 EC)

The course Patterns in Biodiversity can also be followed as a separate component of 15 EC. To take part in the course Evolutionary Developments and Environmental Processes (15 EC) students must have followed the previous course Patterns of Biodiversity (entry requirement).