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.
To mitigate climate change, global agricultural soils needs to store more carbon and emit less greenhouse gasses (GHG). In ClipsMicro, together with partners in agro-business, this is realised by steering soil microbes by application of novel, refined compost and crops that can reduce emissions of GHG.
Our water-dominated landscape, combined with a dense human- and livestock population make the Netherlands particularly vulnerable to outbreaks of zoonotic viral diseases that are transmitted by mosquitoes among avian and mammalian host species.
Migratory birds show a suite of innate dispositions that enable them to travel between breeding, staging and wintering grounds. However, we still lack a good understanding of the cues that migratory birds use to orient and navigate.
Urban environments are ever expanding and differ markedly from natural and rural ecosystems. We study how exposure to toxins, the prevalence of zoonotic pathogens, and the interaction between these stressors differs between these contrasting environments in birds.
As a response to global climate change, which is putting increased pressure on most ecosystems, national and international agreements aim at creating forests that are productive, resilient to climate change, and that store carbon to mitigate global warming. However, these aims are being challenged by increased tree mortality rates and decreased tree growth rates in response to increased incidence of drought. The summer drought of 2018 alone resulted in 100 million m3 of dead trees in Europe, equivalent to a loss of approximately 3.5 billion euros wood.
Therefore, the challenge is to develop climate-smart forestry (CSF) in order to sustain or increase forest productivity, forest resilience and forest carbon storage under climate change. Currently, there is a lack of crucial insights into the effects of forest management on the growth and survival of trees, and on carbon storage in both trees and forest soils, particularly under increased incidence of drought. We test the hypothesis that CSF aims can be achieved via controlling stand density by applying intermediate levels of tree harvest intensity. The main aim of this proposed project is to quantify the effects of drought and management-controlled stand density on forest productivity, forest resilience, and carbon storage in trees and soils.
Temperate food forests have gained attention over the last decade because of their potential to contribute to restoration of biodiversity and carbon storage. So far scientific research has been limited to case studies and identifying socio-economic values. In this project, we aim to understand how food forestry affects belowground biodiversity and functioning (including carbon storage) compared to other types of land use (e.g., arable farming, grassland). We collect field observations and use controlled experiments. This project is part of a larger TKI program, where also aboveground biodiversity and earning models of food forests are investigated. For information see: https://www.wur.nl/nl/Onderzoek-Resultaten/Onderzoeksinstituten/Environmental-Research/Projecten/Wetenschappelijke-bodemvorming-onder-de-voedselbosbouw-1.htm
The Maasheggen area is a unique cultivated landscape in the Netherlands (near Boxmeer, province Noord-Brabant) and has been designated as a UNESCO biosphere reserve (https://www.maasheggenunesco.com/en/). Its mosaic of hedgerows, small arable fields and meadows make this a very interesting area to study the effects of land use and landscape elements on functional biodiversity and ecosystem services.
Sufficient Phosphorus (P) and Iron (Fe) supply is essential for crop production. Most of the P and Fe in soil is not readily available for the plant, making agriculture depending on inorganic fertilizers mainly derived from depletable resources. An alternative to this unsustainable practice is to use recycled compounds recovered during wastewater treatment. This project focuses on the use of the two recycled compounds struvite (MgNH4PO4·6H2O) and vivianite (Fe3(PO4)2·8H2O) which are both insoluble and hard to synchronize with the nutrient needs during early plant development. To increase efficient nutrient release of these recycled sources, we propose the use of microbes that can solubilize P and release siderophore, both recognized traits of plant growth promoting microbes. Several plant growth-promoting microbes have been isolated, but their transfer to agriculture, so far, resulted in an inconsistent success, due to competition or resistance of the resident soil microbiome to inoculants. This project will circumvent this challenge by steering the local microbiome with the addition of recycled nutrients and will further optimize the microbiome by microbial community breeding. Overall, this project will focus on identifying microbial community members with struvite and vivianite solubilizing function, optimizing these communities, determining the role of these communities on increasing the nutrient release as well as monitoring the recruitment of these beneficial microbes in the rhizosphere and the effect on plant growth.
The aim of this project is to determine the ecological relationship between bacteria and soil aggregates. We inoculate individual beneficial bacteria and different microbial communities from different natural soils in simulated Mars soil, attempting to explain their improvement in soil aggregate stability by bacterial exudates (EPS), necromass and microbial functional traits.