Worldwide, only a fraction of all of the species of organisms is known and described. The research work that takes place in the life sciences department of the Natural History Museum Basel therefore largely involves the description of new species. Understanding species is the basis for other areas of research which are also covered by other institutions.
Depending on the estimate used, only 10-50% of all of our planet's organisms have been discovered and named. For this reason, our research activity focuses in the broadest sense on the taxonomy of new species, their biology and the interaction between them (ecology). This knowledge helps us to understand key processes such as speciation. The information also serves as the basis for applied areas of research, such as conservation biology.
All types of research – be they fundamental or applied – are based on the Museum's extensive collections, which are visited each year by over 50 scientists from all over the world. We also lend thousands of objects each year for research purposes.