The overall aim of my research is to understand how biodiversity loss (in the broad sense) affects the resilience of communities. Focusing on experiments in natural conditions, we test how trophic levels; ecosystem engineers; and species/genetic diversity determine the capacity of marine benthic communities to adapt to changes in the environment and tolerate disturbances or stress. Recently, we are also interested in understanding how biodiversity regulated by landscape connectivity and food-web interactions interact with local adaptive evolution.
We work in three broad questions in different coastal ecosystems:
1) consequences of predator declines for coastal function – focusing on the interaction between eutrophication and a dramatic increase and diversification of stickleback in the Baltic Sea (www.plantfish.se)
2) consequences of non-trophic interactions for thefunction of intertidal flats – focusing on niche construction by sediment destabilizing ecosystem engineers (seagrass, mussels, cockles) and sediment stabilizing suspension feeders (polychaete worms) in the Wadden Sea intertidal, and how such relations may be modified by human impacts on sediment stability (dredging, trawling).
3) the relation between species trait diversity and coastal function – focusing on: i) how species trait diversity translate to capacity of periphyton metacommunities in the Wadden Sea to adapt to climate change. ii) consequence of seagrass genetic diversity (Zostera marina) for ecosystem function on a global scale (zenscience.org).
There is a number of master research projects available within the above subjects.
Current Team - Benthic Ecology in Groningen