Press releases

Each year, some 50 of our experts are in the news. From toxic cyanobacteria to soil biodiversity and bird personality. For press inquiries, please contact Froukje Rienks,  head of PR & Science Communication.

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  1. Restoring nature the fast way

    Press release
    Restoring nature is not for the impatient: it takes a lot of time before the right plant species establish themselves. But experiments show there's a way to speed up the process, from decades to just a few years. A new website from the Netherlands Institute of Ecology (NIOO-KNAW) tells you everything you need to know. Meanwhile, one of the researchers working on this pioneering approach defended his PhD thesis this week.
  2. Extreme weather has greater impact on nature than expected

    Press release
    An oystercatcher nest is washed away in a storm surge. Australian passerine birds die during a heatwave. A late frost in their breeding area kills off a group of American cliff swallows. Small tragedies that may seem unrelated, but point to the underlying long-term impact of extreme climatic events. In the special June issue of Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B, NIOO researchers launch a new approach to these 'extreme' studies.
  3. Can barnacle geese predict the climate?

    Press release
    The breeding grounds of Arctic migratory birds such as the barnacle goose are changing rapidly due to accelerated warming in the polar regions. They won't be able to keep up with these climatic changes unless they can somehow anticipate them. A team of researchers from the Netherlands Institute of Ecology (NIOO-KNAW) employed computer models to assess the prospects of the geese and their young. The results can be found in the scientific journal Global Change Biology.
  4. The world's most spoken language is...Terpene

    Press release
    If you’re small, smells are a good way to stand out. A team of researchers led by the Netherlands Institute of Ecology (NIOO-KNAW) has demonstrated for the first time that two different types of micro-organisms – bacteria and fungi – use fragrances, known as terpenes, to hold conversations. And that’s not all. “We actually believe that terpenes are the most popular chemical medium on our planet to communicate through.”
  5. Exotic species aren't all bad

    Press release
    When it comes to their role in aquatic ecosystems, exotic water plants are generally no different than indigenous species. In fact, they can be an asset, argues Bart Grutters (NIOO-KNAW) in his PhD thesis. That doesn't mean all exotic species should be given free rein. But they can be managed more effectively if you focus on their properties and not their place of origin.
    Persbericht Bart Grutters
  6. Micro-organisms will help African farmers

    Press release
    Sorghum is the fifth most important cereal in the world. In sub-Saharan Africa, many farmers rely on this grain for food and feed. But Striga, a parasitic weed, can have a devastating impact on crop yield. With an 8-million-dollar grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, an international team will now explore the potential of soil microbes to offer crop protection. The Netherlands Institute of Ecology (NIOO-KNAW) is coordinating this 5-year project.
    Working in a sorghum field
  7. Why nature restoration takes time: fungi grow 'relationships'

    Press release
    ‘Relationships’ in the soil become stronger during the process of nature restoration. Although all major groups of soil life are already present in former agricultural soils, they are not really ‘connected’ at first. These connections need time to (literally) grow, and fungi are the star performers here. A European research team led by the Netherlands Institute of Ecology (NIOO-KNAW) has shown the complete network of soil life for the first time. This Wednesday, the results of the extensive study are published in Nature Communications.
  8. Sniffing out your dinner in the dark: how miniature predators get their favourite soil bacteria

    Press release
    Tiny predators in the soil can literally sniff out their prey: soil bacteria, which communicate with each other using scent. A team of researchers from the Netherlands Institute of Ecology (NIOO-KNAW) has discovered that these predators - called protists - 'eavesdrop' on the bacteria's communication. It's a discovery that opens up perspectives for agriculture. The results are available online this month in The ISME Journal, from the publishers of Nature.
  9. Loss of soil carbon due to climate change will be "huge"

    Press release
    55 trillion kilograms: that's how much carbon could be released into the atmosphere from the soil by mid-century if climate change isn't stopped. And all in the form of greenhouse gases such as CO2 and methane. Tom Crowther (NIOO-KNAW) and his team are publishing the results of a worldwide study into the effects of climate change on the soil in the issue of Nature that came out on 1 December.
  10. Testing early warning signals for crises, in lakes

    Press release
    Wouldn't it be great if we could tell the state of an ecosystem or the like - healthy or heading for a crisis - by keeping track of a few key signals? Thanks to the theory of ‘tipping points’, that’s not unthinkable. Now a team of researchers led by Alena Gsell of the Netherlands Institute of Ecology (NIOO-KNAW) has tested early warning signals: in lakes. In the Early Edition of PNAS online, they conclude that predicting works...but not yet in all cases.
  11. Predicting plant-soil feedbacks from plant traits

    Press release
    In nature, plants cannot grow without soil biota such as fungi and bacteria. Successful plants are able to harness positive, growth-promoting soil organisms while avoiding the negative effects of others. Which plant traits can predict these interactions, or the success of a plant? Researchers and plant breeders would like to know. In a paper in the Journal of Ecology of August 24, a team from the Netherlands Institute of Ecology (NIOO-KNAW), Wageningen University and the Universität Leipzig tested exactly this and found thick roots to be a leading trait.
  12. Soil inoculation works!

    Press release
    Restoring nature, for instance on former farmland? That works a lot faster, more precise, and less disruptive via soil inoculation. Take a bit of healthy soil from a natural area close by and restore the desired type of nature within a couple of years. In the journal Nature Plants, the Netherlands Institute of Ecology (NIOO-KNAW) and Natuurmonumenten (Society for Nature Conservation) also solve a long-lasting subject of discussion: it’s the soil bugs that steer such nature restoration.
    Field exp photos