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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: September – October, 30 EC: September – January

  • Language: English

  • Number of participants: minimum 15, maximum 35

  • General information: T. Egberts, MSc
    Coordinator: Prof. Dr. P.G.L. Klinkhamer

  • The minor is provided by the Bachelor Biology


The minor is open to students with an interest in Biodiversity and Natural Environment. Students can be invited to an initial interview with the coordinator of the minor and may be asked to study selected parts of textbooks before the start of the minor.


Students of Leiden University
Registration possible from May 1 until August 15 in uSis.
You have to register for the minor in uSis by entering the class number (‘studieactiviteit nummer’): 1324

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 by sending an e-mail to T. Egberts, MSc

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.


Vak 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).