Suzanne McGowan

Dr. Suzanne McGowan

Head of department
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Visiting Address

Droevendaalsesteeg 10
6708 PB Wageningen

+31 (0) 317 47 34 00

The Netherlands


Understanding how and why aquatic ecosystems respond to environmental changes over a variety of timescales.


I combine limnology and palaeolimnology (the use of lake sediment cores to investigate past environments) to understand aquatic ecosystems. I use long-term studies to investigate how environmental problems such as nutrient pollution, climate change and hydrological manipulations have changed lakes and aquatic biota. Combining long-term monitoring, palaeolimnology and experimental studies provides integrated insights into ecosystem functioning. I am an expert in the use of chlorophyll and carotenoid pigments as bioindicators of algae and phototrophic bacteria. Such approaches are particularly informative for tracking past dynamics of cyanobacterial blooms. I have developed and applied the use of pigment proxies in sediment cores to investigate long-term changes across a very broad range of systems spanning six continents and also frequently work with other sedimentary proxies such as diatoms and stable isotopes. I am interested in pushing the capabilities of palaeolimnology beyond descriptions and quantifications of environmental change towards its use as a tool for understanding mechanisms. Landscape-scale comparisons of multiple sediment cores can help to distinguish how local versus regional stressors interact to alter the trajectory of lake ecosystem development. Comparisons of socio-economic data and sedimentary archives can help to understand linkages in socioecological systems.

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Peer-reviewed publications

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