Bert Van Bocxlaer

Dr. Bert Van Bocxlaer

Current addresses:
Department of Animal Ecology and Systematics	Museum für Naturkunde
Justus Liebig University			Leibniz Institute for Evolution and Biodiversity
Heinrich-Buff-Ring 26-32 IFZ			Invalidenstrasse 43
D-35392 Giessen					D-10115 Berlin
Germany						Germany

Honorary Research Associate at:
Research Unit Palaeontology (WE13)		Smithsonian Institution	
Krijgslaan 281 (S8 – B 1.058)			National Museum of Natural History	
B-9000 Ghent					10th & Constitution NW
Belgium						Washington, D.C., 20560-0121, USA

Phone: 	+49 641 99-35721 / +32 9 264 46 05
Fax:	+49 641 99-35709 / +32 9 264 46 08
Email:  VanBocxlaerB|at| 

Research interests

Bert studies patterns and processes of organismal diversification and how diversity is structured in freshwater habitats. Freshwater mollusks are his main model system and he focusses on the East African Great Lakes as a natural laboratory of quasi-replicate systems for comparative studies. His efforts are primarily focused to synthesizing paleobiological perspectives into evolutionary biology. Given the different nature of the data that can be obtained from fossil and extant taxa, he also has strong interests in the relation between genotype and phenotype, and in the roles of neutral and selective processes in generating organismal diversity.

Other interests

  • Schistosomiasis and host-parasite co-evolution.
  • Phenotypic evolution and the relationship between morphospace occupation and phylogeny.
  • Lacustrine versus riverine evolution, driving mechanisms and differential ecological forces.
  • Historic biogeography, migration and evolution of African freshwater molluscs and the impact of paleoclimate on these.
  • Evolutionary theory and its history.
  • Projects of my friends and students.

Progressional organisations

  • 2005-2011 Belgian Palaeontological Society - Member
  • 2010-2012 Royal Belgian Zoological Society – Member
  • 2012-2014 Geological Society of America - Member
  • 2011-2014 Paleontological Society of Washington - Member
  • 2010-Present Palaeontological Association – Member
  • 2010-Present Unitas Malacologica – Member
  • 2009-Present American Society of Naturalists – Member
  • 2007-Present Society for the Study of Evolution – Member
  • 2007-Present Paleontological Society – Member


  • Van Bocxlaer, B. & Strong, E. E. In Press. Anatomy, functional morphology, evolutionary ecology and systematics of the invasive gastropod Cipangopaludina japonica (Viviparidae: Bellamyinae). Contributions to Zoology.
  • Creutz, M. Van Bocxlaer, B., Abderamane, M. & Verschuren, D. 2016. Recent environmental history of the dester oasis lakes at Ounianga Serir, Chad. Journal of Paleolimnology 55: 167-183.
  • Van Bocxlaer, B., Clewing, C., Mongindo Etimosundja, J.-P., Kankonda, A., Wembo Ndeo, O. & Albrecht, C. 2015. Recurrent camouflaged invasions and dispersal of an Asian freshwater gastropod in tropical Africa. BMC Evolutionary Biology 15: 33.
  • Dieleman, J., Van Bocxlaer, B., Manntschke, C., Wanja Nyingi, D., Adriaens, D. & Verschuren, D. 2015. Tracing functional adaptation in African cichlid fishes through morphometric analysis of fossil teeth: exploring the methods. Hydrobiologia 755: 73-88.
  • Hauffe, T., Schultheiß, R., Van Bocxlaer, B., Prömmel, K. & Albrecht, C. 2015. Environmental heterogeneity predicts species richness of freshwater mollusks in Sub-Saharan Africa. International Journal of Earth Sciences. doi: 10.1007/s00531-014-1109-3.
  • Van Bocxlaer, B. & Albrecht, C. 2015. Ecosystem change and establishment of an invasive snail alter gastropod communities in long-lived Lake Malawi. Hydrobiologia 744: 307-316. (highlighted cover article of the February 2015 issue)
  • Salzburger, W.*, Van Bocxlaer, B.* & Cohen, A. S. 2014. The ecology and evolution of the African Great Lakes and their fauna. Annual Reviews in Ecology, Evolution, and Systematics 45: 519-545. (* = equal contributors)
  • Van Bocxlaer, B., Albrecht, C. & Stauffer, J. R. Jr. 2014. Growing population and ecosystem change increase human schistosomiasis around Lake Malawi. Trends in Parasitology 30: 217-220. (highlighted cover article of the May 2014 issue)
  • Schultheiß, R., Van Bocxlaer, B., Riedel, F., Rintelen, T. von & Albrecht, C. 2014. Disjunct distributions of freshwater snails testify to a central role of the Congo system in shaping biogeographic patterns in Africa. BMC Evolutionary Biology 14: 42 doi:10.1186/1471-2148-14-42.
  • Cohen, A. S., Van Bocxlaer, B., Todd, J. A., McGlue, M., Michel, E., Nkotagu, H. H., Grove, A. T. & Delvaux, D. 2013. Quaternary ostracodes and molluscs from the Rukwa Basin (Tanzania) and their evolutionary and paleobiogeographic implications. Palaeogeography, Palaeoclimatology, Palaeoecology 392: 79-97.
  • Van Bocxlaer, B. & Hunt, G. 2013. Morphological stasis in an ongoing radiation from Lake Malawi. Proceedings of the National Academy of Natural Sciences of the United States of America. 110: 13892-13897.
  • Gurdebeke, P. R. & Van Bocxlaer, B. 2013. Conchological differentiation in an ongoing radiation of Lanistes gastropods from ancient Lake Malawi: How adaptive is shell morphology? Geologica Belgica 16: 118-119.
  • Van Bocxlaer, B., Salenbien, W., Praet, N. & Verniers, J. 2012. Stratigraphy and paleoenvironments of the early to middle Holocene Chipalamawamba Beds (Malawi, Africa). Biogeosciences 9: 4497-4512.
  • Van Bocxlaer, B., Schultheiß, R., Plisnier, P.-D. & Albrecht, C. 2012. Does the decline of gastropods in deep water herald ecosystem change in Lakes Malawi and Tanganyika? Freshwater Biology 57: 1733-1744. (cover article of the August 2012 issue)
  • Van Bocxlaer, B. 2011. Palaeobiology and evolution of the Late Cenozoic freshwater molluscs of the Turkana Basin: Unionidae Rafinesque, 1820, partim Coelatura (Bivalvia: Unionoidea). Journal of Systematic Palaeontology 9: 523-550.
  • Van Bocxlaer, B., Verschuren, D., Schettler, G. & Kroepelin, S. 2011. Modern and early Holocene mollusc fauna of the Ounianga lakes (northern Chad): implications for the palaeohydrology of the central Sahara. Journal of Quaternary Science 26 (4), 433-447.
  • Van Bocxlaer, B. & Schultheiß, R. 2010. Comparison of various morphometric techniques for shapes with few homologous landmarks based on machine-learning approaches to biological discrimination. Paleobiology. 36 (3), 497-515.
  • Schultheiß, R., Van Bocxlaer, B., Wilke, T. & Albrecht, C. 2009. Old fossils-young species: evolutionary history of an endemic gastropod assemblage in Lake Malawi. Proceedings of the Royal Society B-Biological Sciences. 276: 2837-2846.
  • Van Bocxlaer, B. & Van Damme, D. 2009. Palaeobiology and evolution of the Late Cenozoic freshwater molluscs of the Turkana Basin: Iridinidae Swainson, 1840 and Etheriidae Deshayes, 1830 (Bivalvia: Etheroidea). Journal of Systematic Palaeontology. 7 (2), 129-161.
  • Van Damme, D. & Van Bocxlaer, B. 2009. Freshwater molluscs of the Nile Basin, past and present. Pp 585-630 in: Dumont, H. J. (Ed.) The Nile: Origin, environment, limnology and human use. Monographiae Biologicae. Springer Verlag, Dordrecht.
  • Eggermont, H., Verschuren, D., Fagot, M., Rumes, B., Van Bocxlaer, B. & Kroepelin, S. 2008. Aquatic community response in a groundwater-fed desert oasis to Holocene desiccation of the Sahara. Quaternary Science Reviews. 27, 2411-2425. Doi: 10.1016/j.quascirev.2008.08.028
  • Van Bocxlaer, B., Van Damme, D. & Feibel, C. S. 2008. Gradual versus punctuated equilibrium evolution in the Turkana Basin molluscs: Evolutionary events or Biological Invasions? Evolution. 62 (3), 511-520. (cover article of the March 2008 issue)
  • Van Bocxlaer, B. 2005. Changes in the malacofauna of Lake Malawi since mid-Holocene times. Geologica Belgica 8 (3), 124.