In Memoriam Jacob van der Land (1935-2011)

Added on 2011-10-27 09:35:14 by Hoeksema, Bert W.
Dr. Jacob van der Land passed away on Sunday 23 October 2011, 76 years old. He spent many of his productive years - before and after his retirement - on the Unesco Register of Marine Species, the European Register of Marine Species, and indirectly also on WoRMS.
He was curator of Worms (Vermes) and head of the dept. of Invertebrates of the former Rijksmuseum van Natuurlijke Historie (RMNH), later National Museum of Natural History, which presently is known as the Netherlands Centre for Biodiversity Naturalis at Leiden, The Netherlands.

His research was mainly dedicated to the Priapulida. His latest contribution to this taxon consisted of: van der Land, J. (2009). Priapulida. In: Gordon, D. (Ed.) (2009). New Zealand Inventory of Biodiversity. Volume One: Kingdom Animalia. 584 pp. His name is mentioned many times in WoRMS, e.g.: van der Land, J.; Neuhaus, B. (2011). Priapulus. Accessed through: World Register of Marine Species at on 2011-10-26

Jaap, as he was less formally named, succeeded the late Prof. Wim Vervoort as organizer of large expeditions to the East and West Atlantic, the west Indian Ocean, and Indonesia. Thanks to his effort and dedication, the museum in Leiden has large collections of marine animals. The last scientific publication to which he contributed is: Hoeksema, B.W., Land, J. van der, Meij, S.E.T. van der, Ofwegen, L.P., Reijnen, B.T., Soest, R.W.M. van & Voogd, N.J. de (2011). Unforeseen importance of historical collections as baselines to determine biotic change of coral reefs: the Saba Bank case. Marine Ecology 32: 135-141.

In 2001, a special volume of Zoologische Verhandelingen was dedicated to his retirement, which was edited by the late Koos den Hartog: Hartog, J.C. den (2001). Special volume on the occasion of the retirement in 2000 of Dr Jacob van der Land. Zoologische Verhandelingen 334: 1-194. In this volume several new species were named after him, such as in: Goud, J. & Hoeksema, B.W. (2001). Pedicularia vanderlandi spec. nov. (Gastropoda: Ovulidae), a symbiotic snail on the hydrocoral Distichopora vervoorti Cairns & Hoeksema, 1998 (Hydrozoa: Stylasteridae) from Bali, Indonesia. Zoologische Verhandelingen, Leiden 334: 77-97.

Underneath is an abstract of the publication: Bruggen, A.C. van (2001) Dr Jacob van der Land, marine biologist extraordinary. Zoologische Verhandelingen, Leiden 334: 7-20. For the full text (pdf) see:

This contribution is an attempt to sketch the life and works of Dr Jacob van der Land, curator of worms and chief marine biologist of the National Museum of Natural History, on the occasion of his official retirement. Born in 1935, Jacob van der Land read biology at Leiden University (1958-1964), where he obtained his Ph.D. in 1970 on a treatise on the Priapulida under the supervision of Prof. Dr L.D. Brongersma. In 1964 he was appointed curator of worms in the museum. Later on he took over leadership of the invertebrate section (excluding insects) of the museum and was also placed in charge of all marine research. Initially, Van der Land organized field trips for biology students of Leiden University to Scandinavia, who were able to sample seagoing studies from a research vessel. From the early seventies on he conducted a number of smaller and larger marine expeditions mainly in the tropics (particularly in SE. Asia). His talent for organisation, management and leadership in the field was outstanding and led to the complete success of these undertakings. In an interim period in the museum’s history he also participated in the general management. Subsequently his talents were severely tested when in 1996-1998 he was asked to supervise the almost traumatic move of the museum from the old premises in the Raamsteeg to the purpose- built new complex in the Darwinweg elsewhere in Leiden. Apart from having made a significant impact on the study of various groups of worms and worm-like animals (Turbellaria, Priapulida, Oligochaeta, Tardigrada, Vestimentifera), Van der Land also greatly influenced marine research in the Netherlands by participating in scientific management on a national scale.

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