Hui Jin

Hui Jin

Guest researcher
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Visiting Address

Droevendaalsesteeg 10
6708 PB Wageningen

+31 (0) 317 47 34 00

The Netherlands


My topic mainly focuses on how Marker Wadden could contribute to improving trophic transfer efficiency.


09/2017 to present, Netherlands Institue of Ecology, Wageningen, Netherlands, Ph.D. candidate
09/2014 to 07/2017, Jiangnan University, Wuxi, P. R. China, M.S. Degree in Environmental Engineering
09/2009 to 07/2013, South-central University for Nationalities, Wuhan, P.R. China, B.S. in Environmental Engineering

Research groups


Peer-reviewed publications

  • Science of the Total Environment

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

    Casper van Leeuwen, J. De Leeuw, Joey J.J. Volwater, Olvin A. van Keeken, Hui Jin, Annemieke M. Drost, Dennis Waasdorp, Erik Reichman, L. Ursem, (Liesbeth) E.S. Bakker
    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 added 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.
  • Journal of Ecology

    Large mammalian herbivores affect arthropod food webs via changes in vegetation characteristics and microclimate

    Yu Zhu, Ciska Veen, Robin Heinen, Deli Wang, Ming Jiang, Hui Jin, (Liesbeth) E.S. Bakker
    Large mammalian herbivores are vital components of terrestrial ecosystems, influencing the plants they feed on, but also serving as ecosystem engineers that impact the occurrence and survival of many other organisms. Arthropods are the most abundant and diverse animal group on earth, filling all trophic levels in food webs and facilitating essential ecosystem services. However, the impacts of large herbivores on arthropod communities and the mechanisms via which these impacts are mediated are not fully understood.
    Here, we experimentally separated the mechanistic pathways whereby large herbivores affect arthropod food webs using a 24-year manipulative multi-site field experiment in the Netherlands. We analysed the abundance, biomass and community composition of arthropods in the plant canopy and on the soil surface, both in grazed sites or sites where large herbivores were excluded.
    We found that the presence of large herbivores resulted in considerable differences in vegetation properties and microclimate which influenced the abundance and biomass of arthropods to varying trophic levels. Large herbivore grazing enhanced the overall abundance and biomass of arthropod herbivores, pollinators, omnivores and soil-dwelling predators, but reduced that of detritivores, scavengers, parasitoids and canopy predators. Structural equation models revealed that different trophic groups are affected by grazing via different pathways. Specially, large herbivores facilitated herbivores via increasing plant quality and enhanced ground-dwelling predators via increasing plant diversity. In contrast, plant-dwelling predators were suppressed via decreased plant quantity, and parasitoids were mainly affected by changes in microclimate conditions.
    Synthesis. Our results show that large mammalian herbivores play a significant role in shaping grassland arthropod food webs, and that these impacts were independently mediated by multiple aspects of vegetation properties, that is, physical structure, plant diversity, standing crop biomass and leaf nutrient content. Arthropods of different trophic groups responded differently to the large herbivores, and these functional group-specific responses in turn may have strong cascading effects on numerous ecosystem services.
  • Freshwater Biology

    Stressors in a bottle

    Maggie Armstrong, Qing Zhan, Elias Munthali, Hui Jin, Sven Teurlincx, Piet Peters, Miquel Lürling, Lisette de Senerpont Domis
    The climatic stressors that are affecting lake ecosystems, especially phytoplankton, are projected to become more intense with continued climate change (e.g., heatwaves, precipitation events). Concerns over the combined effects that multiple, coinciding stressors can have on phytoplankton necessitates investigating the impacts of different regional climate scenarios.
    A microcosm study was conducted to assess the responses of a phytoplankton assemblage containing a cyanobacterium (Anabaena flos-aquae), a green alga (Chlorella vulgaris) and a diatom (Synedra) to a northwestern European summer scenario. Eutrophic microcosms were exposed to a full-factorial design including a press temperature treatment scenario (ambient or warm) and a pulse precipitation treatment (no runoff simulation or runoff simulation).
    Warming scenarios had significant effects on the phytoplankton assemblage biomass, which supports our first hypothesis (H1: higher water temperatures under eutrophic conditions will support larger phytoplankton biomasses, especially cyanobacteria). By contrast, the extreme precipitation runoff event had minimal and short-lived effects on the microcosm assemblage.
    Overall, the interaction between the two climate stressors was antagonistic. In contrast with our second hypothesis (H2: nutrient additions from extreme precipitation runoff will promote more productivity in higher temperature microcosms), the precipitation runoff event was not amplified by temperature.
    Our results indicate that the combined effect of two climate stressors on a phytoplankton community are not necessarily synergistic or multiplicative. Our findings on antagonistic interactions between climatic stressors necessitate future studies assessing variations of intensity and duration of the climatic stressors.
  • Water Research

    Restoring gradual land-water transitions in a shallow lake improved phytoplankton quantity and quality with cascading effects on zooplankton production

    Land-water transition areas play a significant role in the functioning of aquatic ecosystems. However, anthropogenic pressures are posing severe threats on land-water transition areas, which leads to degradation of the ecological integrity of many lakes worldwide. Enhancing habitat complexity and heterogeneity by restoring land-water transition areas in lake systems is deemed a suitable method to restore lakes bottom-up by stimulating lower trophic levels. Stimulating productivity of lower trophic levels (phytoplankton, zooplankton) generates important food sources for declining higher trophic levels (fish, birds). Here, we study ecosystem restoration project Marker Wadden in Lake Markermeer, The Netherlands. This project involved the construction of a 700-ha archipelago of five islands in a degrading shallow lake, aiming to create additional sheltered land-water transition areas to stimulate food web development from its base by improving phytoplankton quantity and quality. We found that phytoplankton quantity (chlorophyll-a concentration) and quality (inversed carbon:nutrient ratio) in the shallow waters inside the Marker Wadden archipelago were significantly improved, likely due to higher nutrient availabilities, while light availability remained sufficient, compared to the surrounding lake. Higher phytoplankton quantity and quality was positively correlated with zooplankton biomass, which was higher inside the archipelago than in the surrounding lake due to improved trophic transfer efficiency between phytoplankton and zooplankton. We conclude that creating new land-water transition areas can be used to increase light and nutrient availabilities and thereby enhancing primary productivity, which in turn can stimulate higher trophic levels in degrading aquatic ecosystems.
  • Freshwater Biology

    Impacts of shelter on the relative dominance of primary producers and trophic transfer efficiency in aquatic food webs

    Wind-induced turbulence can strongly impact ecological processes in shallow lake ecosystems. The creation of shelter against wind can be expected to affect both primary producers and herbivores in aquatic food webs. Shelter may benefit particular primary producers more than others by changing relative resource availabilities for different primary producers. Herbivore community compositions may be affected either directly or indirectly as a consequence of changes in their food quantity and quality that, in turn, may affect the transfer efficiency between primary producers and herbivores. A reduction in trophic transfer efficiency resulting from wind-induced turbulence potentially can lead to declines of higher trophic levels, but is generally understudied. Here, we focus on the impact of wind on aquatic primary producers and trophic transfer efficiency. We hypothesised that reducing wind-induced turbulence will stimulate higher trophic production in shallow lakes. However, the multitude of impacts of wind-induced turbulence on aquatic food webs make it challenging to predict the direction of change when creating sheltered conditions. We tested our hypothesis in the shallow waters of a newly constructed archipelago named Marker Wadden in lake Markermeer in the Netherlands. Lake Markermeer has experienced declining numbers of birds and fish. These declines have been related to wind-induced sediment resuspension that potentially limits primary production and trophic transfer efficiency. Marker Wadden is a large-scale restoration project that aims to add sheltered and heterogeneous habitat to the otherwise mostly homogeneous lake, thus targeting the potential problems associated with wind-induced turbulence. We executed a 2-month manipulative field mesocosm experiment in the shallow waters of Marker Wadden to study the effect of reduced wind-induced turbulence (i.e., shelter) on aquatic food webs. Specifically, we studied the effects on primary producers, trophic transfer efficiency between phytoplankton and zooplankton (using zooplankton biomass divided by phytoplankton Chl a as a proxy), and benthic fauna. The experiment consisted of three treatments: no shelter, shelter without macrophytes and shelter with submerged macrophytes (Myriophyllum spicatum) present at the start of the experiment. Our results clearly showed that under unsheltered conditions phytoplankton was the dominant primary producer, whereas in sheltered conditions submerged macrophytes became dominant. Interestingly, submerged macrophytes appeared rapidly in the sheltered treatment where first no macrophytes were visibly present; hence, at the end of the experiment, there was little difference among the sheltered treatments with and without initial presence of submerged macrophytes. Despite that phytoplankton concentrations were 23-fold higher under the unsheltered conditions, this did not result in higher zooplankton biomass. This can be explained by a five-fold greater trophic transfer efficiency between phytoplankton and zooplankton under the sheltered conditions. Furthermore, under the sheltered conditions the Gastropoda density reached 746 individuals m−2, whereas no Gastropoda were found under the no shelter treatment. These findings indicate that for shallow lakes that are negatively affected by wind-induced turbulence, measures aimed at ameliorating this stressor can be effective in facilitating submerged macrophyte recovery, increasing Gastropoda densities and restoring trophic transfer efficiency between phytoplankton and zooplankton. Ultimately, this may support higher trophic levels such as fish and water birds by increasing their food availability in shallow lake ecosystems.
  • Science of the Total Environment

    Impacts of sediment resuspension on phytoplankton biomass production and trophic transfer: Implications for shallow lake restoration

    Wind-induced sediment resuspension in shallow lakes may enhance nutrient availability while reducing light availability for phytoplankton growth, thereby affecting the entire food-web. Lake restoration projects that reduce wind-induced resuspension are expected to enhance trophic transfer efficiencies, thereby improving food-web structure and functioning. Yet, reduced resuspension may also lead to lower nutrient concentrations in the water column, promote benthic algae development, reduce phytoplankton biomass production and thereby reduce secondary production by zooplankton. Lake Markermeer is a shallow delta lake in The Netherlands subject to wind-induced sediment resuspension. Restoration project Marker Wadden consists of newly built islands aiming to reduce sediment resuspension and promote higher trophic levels. Here, we tested the effects of reduced sediment resuspension on phytoplankton biomass build-up, benthic algae development, and zooplankton abundances at different temperatures in a 14-day indoor microcosm experiment. We used Marker Wadden sediment with three resuspension intensities combined with three temperatures, to also test effects of higher temperatures in shallow sheltered waters. Reduced sediment resuspension decreased nutrient concentrations and phytoplankton biomass build-up, while increasing light availability and enhancing benthic algae biomass development. Reduced sediment resuspension furthermore increased zooplankton biomass. Enhanced sediment resuspension and higher temperatures synergistically interacted, maintaining a high level of inorganic suspended solids. Our experimental results are in line with long-term seasonal observations from Lake Markermeer. Our findings demonstrate that for shallow lakes suffering from wind effects, measures such as Marker Wadden aimed at reducing sediment resuspension can be effective in restoring secondary production and supporting higher trophic levels.
  • Ecological Solutions and Evidence

    Enhancing ecological integrity while preserving ecosystem services: constructing soft-sediment islands in a shallow lake

    Casper van Leeuwen, Ralph J.M. Temmink, Hui Jin, Y Kahlert, B.J.M. Robroek, M.P. Berg, Leon P. M. Lamers, Marloes van den Akker, R. Posthoorn, A. Boosten, Han Olff, (Liesbeth) E.S. Bakker
    Abstract Ecosystems are increasingly managed to provide multiple benefits to humans, which often degrades their ecological integrity. This strongly applies to aquatic ecosystems, in which engineering can enhance flood protection, drinking water supply, fisheries and recreation. Although these activities typically increase ecosystem functionality to humans, they often impair key aspects of biodiversity and natural functioning. Classical restoration of such degrading freshwater ecosystems can lead to societal opposition, if returning to a former ecosystem state affects previously acquired ecosystem services. Innovative nature-based solutions are therefore needed that enhance natural values in ecosystems, without affecting existing services. We present a large-scale project aiming to increase the ecological integrity of a human-modified freshwater lake while maintaining its services to humans. The freshwater lake Markermeer in the Netherlands was formed by closing off an estuary for flood protection. The ecological integrity of this lake diminished over time, likely because a declining primary productivity impaired biodiversity at higher trophic levels. This decline is associated with a lack of gradual land?water transitions, strong resuspension of fine sediments, low nutrient availability and lack of dynamics typically to be expected in a natural temperate freshwater lake. Restoring the lake to its former marine state would conflict with current ecosystem services. A nature-based solution was initiated in 2016, consisting of constructing a five-island archipelago from the lake's own soft-sediments called the ?Marker Wadden?. The project aims to increase the lake's primary production by creating gradual land?water transitions, more heterogeneity in water depths and decreasing turbidity by creating shelter and deep sinks reducing fine-sediment resuspension by the wind ? thus introducing currently missing elements that are typical for natural lakes. We present the underlying ecological framework and first scientific results of this innovative ongoing project. Within 4 years, the Marker Wadden project shows how forward-looking sustainable development of lake ecosystems using a rewilding approach can enhance natural processes and attract birds and fish, without conflicting with existing ecosystem services. This inspires new directions for halting and reversing the degradation of other vital ecosystems worldwide.
  • Water (Switzerland)

    Using freshwater bivalves (Corbicula fluminea) to alleviate harmful effects of small-sized crucian carp (carassius carassius) on growth of submerged macrophytes during lake restoration by biomanipulation

    Jiao Gu, Kuanyi Li, Erik Jeppesen, Xiaoyu Ning, Yanqing Han, Hui Jin, Hu He

    Increased recruitment of small-sized fish following biomanipulation by reducing the biomass of plankti-benthivorous fish, not least in (sub)tropical lakes, may deteriorate water quality and thereby potentially hamper the recovery of submerged macrophytes. Filter-feeding bivalves remove suspended particles from the water and may, thereby, somewhat or fully counteract this negative effect of the increasing abundance of small-sized fish. So far, only few studies have investigated the interactive effects of fish and bivalves on water clarity and macrophyte growth. We conducted a 2 × 2 factorial designed outdoor mesocosm experiment with two densities of small crucian carp Carassius carassius (low 10 g m−2 and high 40 g m−2) and two densities of bivalves Corbicula fluminea (low 204 g m−2 and high 816 g m−2). We found significant interactive effect of fish and bivalves on the growth of the macrophyte Vallisneria natans. In the low density bivalve regime, the relative growth rates, root mass, root:shoot ratio and number of tubers were 30.3%, 30.8%, 21.6% and 27.8% lower in the high than in the low density fish treatments, while the decrease was less pronounced in the high density bivalve regime: 1.2%, 8.7%, 2.1% and 13.3%, respectively. Thus, bivalves reduced the negative effects of fish, not least when bivalve density was high. The weaker effects of small fish on plants in the high-than in the low-density C. fluminea regime can be attributed to lower total suspended solids (TSS) and Chl a in the first week of the experiment. Better light conditions further stimulated the growth of benthic algae, potentially increasing the removal of nutrients from the water and reducing fish-driven resuspension of the sediment. In addition, high densities of C. fluminea also enriched the sediment total nitrogen (TN) and total phosphorus (TP) content, favouring plant growth as indicated by an increase in leaf tissue TN and TP contents. Our results demonstrate that.
  • Water Research

    Fish-mediated plankton responses to increased temperature in subtropical aquatic mesocosm ecosystems: Implications for lake management

    Hu He, Hui Jin, Erik Jeppesen, Kuanyi Li, Z. Liu, Y. Zhang
    Although it is well established that climate warming can reinforce eutrophication in shallow lakes by
    altering top-down and bottom-up processes in the food web and biogeochemical cycling, recent studies
    in temperate zones have also shown that adverse effects of rising temperature are diminished in fishless
    systems. Whereas the removal of zooplanktivorous fish may be useful in attempts to mitigate eutrophication
    in temperate shallow lakes, it is uncertain whether similar mitigation might be achieved in
    warmer climates. We compared the responses of zooplankton and phytoplankton communities to
    climate warming in the presence and absence of fish (Aristichthys nobilis) in a 4-month mesocosm
    experiment at subtropical temperatures. We hypothesized that 1) fish and phytoplankton would benefit
    from warming, while zooplankton would suffer in fish-present mesocosms and 2) warming would favor
    zooplankton growth but reduce phytoplankton biomass in fish-absent mesocosms. Our results showed
    significant interacting effects of warming and fish presence on both phytoplankton and zooplankton. In
    mesocosms with fish, biomasses of fish and phytoplankton increased in heated treatments, while biomasses
    of Daphnia and total zooplankton declined. Warming reduced the proportion of large Daphnia in
    total zooplankton biomass, and reduced the zooplankton to phytoplankton biomass ratio, but increased
    the ratio of chlorophyll a to total phosphorus, indicating a relaxation of zooplankton grazing pressure on
    phytoplankton. Meanwhile, warming resulted in a 3-fold increase in TP concentrations in the mesocosms
    with fish present. The results suggest that climate warming has the potential to boost eutrophication in
    shallow lakes via both top-down (loss of herbivores) and bottom-up (elevated nutrient) effects. However,
    in the mesocosms without fish, there was no decline in large Daphnia or in total zooplankton biomass,
    supporting the conclusion that fish predation is the major driver of low large Daphnia abundance in
    warm lakes. In the fishless mesocosms, phytoplankton biomass and nutrient levels were not affected by
    temperature. Our study suggests that removing fish to mitigate warming effects on eutrophication may
    be potentially beneficial in subtropical lakes, though the rapid recruitment of fish in such lakes may
    present a challenge to success in the long-term

Projects & collaborations


  • Rewilding wetlands

    Project 2016–2024
    Restoring wetlands by allowing water level dynamics and connecting terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems can be considered as a form of aquatic rewilding. Lake restoration project Marker Wadden and the Oostvaardersplassen marsh reset are part of our research program studying the impact of lake and wetland restoration measures on the biodiversity and functioning of aquatic ecosystems.
    Water research Marker Wadden