Prof. Hans ter Steege is a senior researcher at Naturalis and leader of the Biodiversity Dynamics research group. He is also a respected scientist in the international Amazon Tree Diversity Network (ATDN).
Hans acquired his wealth of expertise in tropical forests in countries such as Guyana, where he lived for ten years and led the Tropenbos Guyana Programme. Hans is fascinated by the Amazon because it is the largest rainforest on earth, and may also have the greatest diversity of species. In contrast to many other regions, the Amazon is relatively untouched by humans, which makes it exceptionally challenging to study the nature there.
Hans has a special interest in the manner in which the current patterns of plant diversity – especially among trees – developed in the Amazon, and how it is maintained. Together with colleagues from around the world, he works to answer questions such as: how many trees grow in the Amazon, and how many different species do they represent? How are the different species distributed throughout the forest? Why are some areas rich in diversity, while others have so few different species? By answering these questions, the researcher hopes to contribute to the knowledge needed to preserve this unique natural region.