Annemieke Drost

Annemieke Drost

PhD Candidate
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Visiting Address

Droevendaalsesteeg 10
6708 PB Wageningen

+31 (0) 317 47 34 00

The Netherlands



I'm a PhD student looking at the impacts of nutrients and climate change on cyanobacterial bloom toxicity via fieldwork and experiments.


I started my journey as an ecologist very broadly at University College Utrecht with a BSc about ecology, cell biology and the history of the Cold War. I moved to Wageningen for my MSc in Biology, but I kept a broad interest in all sorts of themes. My thesis topics were: citizen science and coral bleacing (BSc), the development of XR and Fridays for Future in the Netherlands (MSc) and the impacts of summer droughts on macroinvertebrates in the alps (MSc). And I actually did my internship at the NIOO about the food web of the Marker Wadden! 

PhD project

Now I am diving deep into a totally new topic: the toxicity of cyanobacterial blooms in Dutch lakes. Harmful algal blooms are among the biggest threats to water quality, mainly caused by eutrophication of surface waters. The toxicity of a cyanobacterial bloom is not easy to understand because it is regulated at different steps: presence of high cyanobacterial biomass, the ability of the species and genotypes present to produce toxins, amount of toxins produced per cell, and the toxicity of the specific type of toxins that are produced. 

The individual drivers that lead to changes in one or several of these steps are generally well-known, but the story gets more complicated when drivers have opposite effects, especially when they affect toxicity on different levels. For example, what happens when one driver positively affects biomass and a second negatively affects toxin production? We still have a lot to learn about the complex interactions between drivers and this layered understanding of cyanobacterial toxicity.


I find it really important that everyone feels welcome at the NIOO, so as soon as I started my PhD here I joined the committee for Inclusivity, Diversity, Equity and Accessibility. I want to help create a friendly and supportive working environment, with plenty of fun!

Student projects

If you are interested in doing your thesis or internship (MBO/HBO/MSc) within my PhD project, please contact me via e-mail via the "Concact" button above!


Key publications

  • Hydrobiologia

    Long-lasting effects of experimental flow intermittency on alpine stream macroinvertebrates (Val Roseg, Switzerland)

    Annemieke M. Drost, Andre R. Siebers, Amael Paillex, Benjamin Misteli, Edwin T. H. M. Peeters & Christopher T. Robinson
    Changing weather patterns and receding glaciers are predicted to increase flow intermittency in alpine streams. If aquatic macroinvertebrate communities largely comprise taxa adapted to perennial flows, an increase in flow intermittency substantially reduces biodiversity and affects functional processes. We conducted a before-after-control-impact field experiment to examine how macroinvertebrate communities in an alpine headwater stream responded to and recovered from a repeated experimental increase in flow intermittency. Flow in one channel was manipulated to simulate increased summer intermittency (June–September) over two consecutive years, whilst an adjacent channel served as a control. We monitored the density of benthic macroinvertebrates, periphyton and organic matter at approximately monthly intervals over three years during the snow-free period. Before manipulation, both channels had similar ecological properties. The flow manipulation reduced the overall macroinvertebrate density, and especially the proportional rheophile density, across both years. Recovery of the macroinvertebrate community following experimental flow intermittency took more than a year, and longer than our study period. This could be due to long aquatic life stages, dispersal limitation and biotic interactions. We conclude that climate-induced changes in alpine stream flow regimes can lead to a fundamental shift in macroinvertebrate assemblages through local extinctions, mostly of rheophilic species.
  • Science of The Total Environment

    Creating new littoral zones in a shallow lake to forward-restore an aquatic food web

    C.H.A. van Leeuwen, J.J. de Leeuw, J.J.J. Volwater, O.A. van Keeken, H. Jin, A.M. Drost, D. Waasdorp, E. Reichman, L. Ursem, E.S
    Current rates of habitat loss require science-based predictions on how to restore or newly create lost habitat types. In aquatic ecosystems, littoral zones are key habitats for food web functioning, but they are often replaced by unnatural steep shorelines for water safety. To reverse this trend, knowledge is needed on how to successfully (re)create littoral zones. We quantified the response of an aquatic food web to the large-scale creation of new heterogeneous littoral habitats in shallow lake Markermeer, the Netherlands. Lake Markermeer was formed by dike construction in a former estuary, which created a heavily modified homogeneous 70,000 ha turbid lake lacking littoral habitat. Fish and bird populations declined over the last decades, but classical restoration via return to former marine conditions would compromise water safety and the large spatial scale prohibited biodiversity offsets. Therefore, an innovative “forward-looking restoration” approach was adopted: a 1000 ha archipelago called “Marker Wadden” was constructed without using a historic reference situation to return to. This aimed bottom-up stimulation of the aquatic food web by adding missing gradual land-water transitions and sheltered waters to the lake. After four years, new sheltered shorelines had become vegetated if they were constructed from nutrient-rich sediments. Exposed and sandy shorelines remained free of vegetation. Zooplankton community diversity increased in sheltered waters due to bottom-up processes, which increased food availability for higher trophic levels, including young fish. The creation of sheltered waters increased macroinvertebrate densities threefold, with sediment type determining the community composition. The archipelago became new nursery habitat for 13 of the 24 fish species known to occur in the lake, with up to 10-fold higher abundances under sheltered conditions. We conclude that modifying abiotic conditions can stimulate multiple trophic levels in aquatic food webs simultaneously, even in heavily modified ecosystems. This provides proof-of-principle for the forward-looking restoration approach.

Projects & collaborations


  • Climate change impacts on harmful algal blooms

    Project 2022–Present
    Harmful cyanobacterial blooms produce toxins that are a major threat to water quality and human health. Blooms increase with eutrophication and are expected to be amplified by climate change. Yet, we lack a mechanistic understanding on the toxicity of blooms, and their response to the complex interplay of multiple global change factors. Bloom toxicity is determined by a combination of mechanisms acting at different ecological scales, ranging from cyanobacterial biomass accumulation in the ecosystem, to the dominance of toxic species in the community, contribution of toxic genotypes in the population, and the amounts of toxins in cells.
    Cyanobacterial bloom


Interview over giftigheid van blauwalgenbloei met West Wordt Wakker

Interview vanaf 18:07

Interview met Tjeerd Spoor en Jorinda Teeuwen West Wordt Wakker

Image of a lake with cyanobacteria and Annemieke in the top right corner on a deck