Menno Schilthuizen

Menno Schilthuizen
Naturalis Biodiversity Center | NCB · Evolutionary Ecology

PhD Leiden University, 1994

About

513
Publications
110,370
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Introduction
I work on a variety of projects in taxonomy, ecology, and evolution, in urban localities in western Europe, in the Balkans (montane and karst habitats), and in Southeast Asia, using terrestrial gastropods and soil-dwelling Coleoptera as focal taxa. I am active as a science populariser in the field of evolution and biodiversity. I write nonfiction books, give lectures, and organise biodiversity discovery expeditions for non-scientists. I offer identification services for beetles and landsnails
Additional affiliations
November 2015 - November 2020
Naturalis Biodiversity Center
Position
  • Group Leader
June 2008 - November 2015
Naturalis Biodiversity Center
Position
  • Senior Researcher
January 2008 - present
Leiden University

Publications

Publications (513)
Preprint
Full-text available
Scientists ought to apply universally accepted definitions to technical terms to enable precise communication and discussion. Throughout history, many definitions have shifted, such as those of important terms in evolutionary biology, modes of life, and the nature of interactions. Conversely, throughout history, important terms have been used witho...
Article
Full-text available
Despite their large size, striking colouration and genital extravagance, the taxonomy of the European giant keelback slugs of the genus Limax is still poorly understood. Preliminary morphological and molecular data suggest that many unnamed or unrecognised species exist, especially in the Alps, the Mediterranean and the Balkans. We organised a citi...
Article
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While animal biodiversity is declining globally, cultural representations of animals are highly prevalent in society and play an increasing part in shaping children’s perceptions of animal diversity. We studied animal portrayals in children’s picture books in the Netherlands, and coded over 2,200 animals from 217 award-winning books. We found a str...
Article
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To raise biodiversity awareness effectively, communicators should be aware of knowledge levels in their audiences. Species identification skills have been used in the past as a measure of what people know about species, yet it is not known whether they serve as good indicators. To study the link between species identification and in-depth species k...
Preprint
Background Asymmetric genitalia have repeatedly evolved in animals, yet the underlying causes for their evolution are mostly unknown. The fruitfly Drosophila pachea has asymmetric external genitalia and an asymmetric phallus with a right-sided gonopore. The complex of female and male genitalia is asymmetrically twisted during copulation and males a...
Article
Urbanization transforms environments in ways that alter biological evolution. We examined whether urban environmental change drives parallel evolution by sampling 110,019 white clover plants from 6169 populations in 160 cities globally. Plants were assayed for a Mendelian antiherbivore defense that also affects tolerance to abiotic stressors. Urban...
Preprint
We mapped the fine-grained distribution patterns of Plectostoma microsnails on two small isolated limestone outcrops in Malaysian Borneo. On both hills, two species were present (P. simplex and P. concinnum on Tandu Batu; P. fraternum and P. concinnum on Tomanggong Besar), but the patterns we found were different. On Tomanggong Besar, the two speci...
Article
Full-text available
Bacterial biofilms have been described on a number of fungal taxa. These microbial communities are of interest both from an ecological and a biotechnological point of view, as they have been shown to play a role in biodegradation and biosynthesis. This study is the first to show the presence of biofilms on thallus surfaces of Laboulbeniales, an ord...
Article
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Two new, extremely small land snail species, Angustopila coprologos Páll-Gergely, Jochum & Hunyadi n. sp. and Angustopila psammion Páll-Gergely, Vermeulen & Anker n. sp. are described from northern Vietnam and northern Laos, respectively. The former is characterized by a rough surface sculpture and bears tiny mud granules arranged in a pattern of r...
Article
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Herbivore diets are often generalistic, and communities of herbivores tend to share much of their diets. In the tropical lowlands of Malaysian Borneo, tens of different noncarnivorous land snail species are able to coexist in communities on limestone outcrops. We tried to answer the question whether diet differentiation plays a role in their coexis...
Article
Full-text available
Freshwater habitats are under stress from agricultural land use, most notably the influx of neonicotinoid pesticides and increased nutrient pressure from fertilizer. Traditional studies investigating the effects of stressors on freshwater systems are often limited to a narrow range of taxa, depending heavily on morphological expertise. Additionally...
Technical Report
Full-text available
This is the final report of the urban citizen-science 'taxon expedition' to the Diemerscheg in the east of Amsterdam. It was the 5th of a series of urban expeditions in Amsterdam, carried out in close collaboration with the Amsterdam municipality and various neighbourhood groups.
Preprint
While biodiversity decline continues and laypeople's knowledge about species is limited, especially in children, high-quality communication is needed to raise awareness. For this, communicators should be aware of current knowledge levels in their target groups. We compared biodiversity communicators' estimates of the average species literacy level...
Technical Report
Full-text available
This is the final report of the Leiden edition of Expeditie Achtertuin, a community science project of Taxon Foundation, in which a team of researchers and community scientists inventory the biodiversity of gardens and balconies in urban neighbourhoods.
Technical Report
Full-text available
This is a report of a biodiversity inventory along a sand path in the village Epse, which is under threat from paving and the installation of artificial lighting. The project was carried out in July 2021 with a team of community scientists from the neighbourhood.
Article
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Here we present the first cases of birds using artificial plants as nest material. We report our findings for the common coot ( Fulica atra ) from Leiden, the Netherlands, in 2019. This is the first population of freshwater birds studied for its use of anthropogenic nest materials, and together with another report from the same year, the earliest c...
Technical Report
Full-text available
This is the final report of the community science project Expeditie Achtertuin (Nissewaard), in which the Taxon Foundation did biodiversity inventories with neighbourhood people in their own gardens. Several of these backyard expeditions are taking place throughout the Netherlands in 2021 and 2022.
Article
Full-text available
Recent technical innovations are revealing surprising patterns in mollusc shell pigmentation, such as an unexpectedly modest role for melanins and rapid divergences in the mix of pigments used to achieve similar colour patterns. The elucidation of the molecular genetic basis of shell pigmentation has been slow, probably because of the high genome c...
Article
Full-text available
During the COVID-19 pandemic, Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) is massively used, resulting in a new wave of litter: protective face masks and gloves. Here we present the first case of a fish entrapped in a medical glove, encountered during a canal clean-up in Leiden, The Netherlands. We also report the first cases of birds using medical face ma...
Technical Report
Full-text available
A community biodiversity inventory was carried out by the Taxon Foundation during two days in February, 2021, in an old pear orchard in the village of Schalkwijk (Houten municipality, Province of Utrecht, the Netherlands). The 'bioblitz' had been initiated by the local community to provide information that might help to save the orchard from existi...
Article
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Studies on the shell color and banding polymorphism of the grove snail Cepaea nemoralis and the sister taxon Cepaea hortensis have provided compelling evidence for the fundamental role of natural selection in promoting and maintaining intraspecific variation. More recently, Cepaea has been the focus of citizen science projects on shell color evolut...
Article
Full-text available
Classical ecological theory posits that species partition resources such that each species occupies a unique resource niche. In general, the availability of more resources allows more species to co‐occur. Thus, a strong relationship between communities of consumers and their resources is expected. However, correlations may be influenced by other la...
Technical Report
Full-text available
English Summary A 'taxon expedition' was held in the urban green area De Slatuinen, an isolated, locked-in piece of wild vegetation measuring 40 x 110 m in a densely built-up area in the west of the centre of Amsterdam. A community science group from the neighbourhood worked with a group of biodiversity experts and for four days received training i...
Article
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Parasitism is one of the most diverse and abundant modes of life, and of great ecological and evolutionary importance. Notwithstanding, large groups of parasites remain relatively understudied. One particularly unique form of parasitism is hyperparasitism, where a parasite is parasitized itself. Bats (Chiroptera) may be parasitized by bat flies (Di...
Technical Report
Full-text available
This is the report of an invertebrate biodiversity inventory of two inner city gardens in the historical centre of Amsterdam. The inventory was carried out by Taxon Expeditions for the Amsterdam Municipality. Several new species for the Netherlands and otherwise rare or unexpected invertebrates are reported.
Technical Report
Full-text available
Report (in Dutch, with an English summary) on the findings of the 2020 urban 'Taxon Expedition' to the Wilmkebreekpolder in the north of Amsterdam.
Article
Full-text available
Classical ecological theory posits that species partition resources such that each species occupies a unique resource niche. In general, the availability of more resources allows more species to co‐occur. Thus, a strong relationship between communities of consumers and their resources is expected. However, correlations may be influenced by other la...
Article
Full-text available
Borneo has gone through dramatic changes in geology and topography from the early Eocene until the early Pliocene and experienced climatic cycling during the Pleistocene. However, how these changes have shaped the present-day patterns of high diversity and complex distribution are still poorly understood. In this study, we use integrative approache...
Article
Full-text available
Bilateral asymmetry in the genitalia is a rare but widely dispersed phenomenon in the animal tree of life. In arthropods, occurrences vary greatly from one group to another and there seems to be no common explanation for all the independent origins. In spiders, genital asymmetry appears to be especially rare. Most known species show almost perfectl...
Article
Full-text available
Sexual dimorphism is a common feature among many gonocho-ristic animal taxa. Particular characters, such as size, colour andshape, may vary between males and females, and these differencesmay evolve as the result of sex-restricted optimization of traits in-volved in mate choice and reproduction. However, while explana-tions are often readily availa...
Preprint
Full-text available
The common European grove snail, Cepaea nemoralis (Helicidae), has been a model species in genetics and evolutionary biology for over a century thanks largely to its genetic shell colour polymorphism. Although most aspects of its shell colour variation are known to be purely genetic, with little or no phenotypic plasticity involved, the width of th...
Article
Full-text available
Anthropogenic environmental change is leading to changes in distribution for many organisms. While this is frequently discussed for prominent organisms of high conservation value, the same is true for the many cryptic species that rarely figure in debates on the human impact. One such cryptic taxon is the European Ptomaphagus sericatus (Chaudoir, 1...
Article
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Biodiversity is a fundamental part of sustainable development, yet it is threatened by numerous factors associated with human population growth. The current lack of broad-based support for biodiversity conservation may be explained by the widening gap between people and nature. In order to conserve biodiversity, people should be engaged in biodiver...
Article
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This corrigendum serves to recognise the contribution of Dr. Mark Lammers, who was erroneously not given authorship in the original version of the paper.
Article
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Terrestrial Caenogastropoda form an important but threatened component of the Borneo tropical rainforest malacofauna, where the group is nearly as rich in species as the Stylommatophora. They are, however, more sensitive to drought, temperature extremes and forest degradation. On a field course at Kuala Belalong Field Studies Centre in Brunei Darus...
Article
Full-text available
The parasitic wasp genus Aphaereta Foerster, 1863, belongs to the large subfamily Alysiinae Leach, 1815 (Hymenoptera: Braconidae) and contains solitary or gregarious endoparasitoids of larvae of cyclorrhaphous Diptera living in decaying organic matter. A new species, Aphaereta vondelparkensis sp. n. (Braconidae, Alysiinae, Alysiini), from a city pa...
Article
Full-text available
DNA-based identification through the use of metabarcoding has been proposed as the next step in the monitoring of biological communities, such as those assessed under the Water Framework Directive (WFD). Advances have been made in the field of metabarcoding, but challenges remain when using complex samples. Uneven biomass distributions, preferentia...
Article
Full-text available
Parallel evolution in phenotype may result when closely related taxa are adapting in the face of similar ecological pressures. Here, we discuss possible parallelism in shell morphology in the context of the microgeographic phylogeography of two conchologically distinct sympatric hydrocenid snails inhabiting a limestone outcrop and its cave system,...
Article
Full-text available
Biodiversity is in worldwide decline and it is becoming increasingly important to expand biodiversity awareness and achieve broad-based support for conservation. We introduce the concept of species literacy, as knowledge about species can be a good starting point for engaging people in biodiversity. However, concern has been raised about a general...
Article
Full-text available
Background: The heterogeneous nature of environmental DNA (eDNA) and its effects on species detection and community composition estimates has been highlighted in several studies in the past decades. Mostly in the context of spatial distribution over large areas, in fewer occasions looking at spatial distribution within a single body of water. Temp...
Article
Full-text available
The extreme environmental conditions that prevail in cities are known to cause selection pressures leading to adaptive changes in wild, city-dwelling, organisms (urban evolution). The urban heat island, elevated temperatures in the city centre due to a combination of generation, reflection, and trapping of heat, is one of the best recognised and mo...
Preprint
Full-text available
Bilateral asymmetry in the genitalia is a rare but widely dispersed phenomenon in the animal tree of life. In arthropods, occurrences vary greatly from one group to another and there seems to be no common explanation for all the independent origins. In spiders, genital asymmetry appears to be especially rare. Few examples have been studied in detai...
Article
Full-text available
Genetic markers (DNA barcodes) are often used to support and confirm species identification. Barcode sequences can be generated in the field using portable systems based on the Oxford Nanopore Technologies (ONT) MinION sequencer. However, to achieve a broader application, current proof-of-principle workflows for on-site barcoding analysis must be s...
Article
Full-text available
The genera Aulacospira and Pseudostreptaxis of the Philippines are revised based on the collections of the Senckenberg Forschungsinstitut und Naturmuseum (Frankfurt am Main, Germany), the Florida Museum of Natural History (USA), and recently collected material. Three new species are described: Aulacospira lens Páll-Gergely & Auffenberg, sp. n., Aul...
Article
Full-text available
Brazil, home to one of the planet’s last great forests, is currently in trade negotiations with its second largest trading partner, the European Union (EU). We urge the EU to seize this critical opportunity to ensure that Brazil protects human rights and the environment. Brazil’s forests, wetlands, and savannas are crucial to a great diversity of I...
Preprint
Full-text available
Genetic markers (DNA barcodes) are often used to support and confirm species identification. Barcode sequences can be generated in the field using portable systems based on the Oxford Nanopore Technologies (ONT) MinION platform. However, to achieve a broader application, current proof-of-principle workflows for on-site barcoding analysis must be st...
Article
Full-text available
The Bornean representatives of the genus Georissa (Hydrocenidae) have small, dextral, conical, calcareous shells consisting of ca. three teleoconch whorls. Our recent study on the Georissa of Malaysian Borneo has revealed high intra- and inter-specific variation in the “scaly” group (a group of species with striking scale-like surface sculpture). T...