Aquatic Research

The research group ECOBE has more than 15 years experience in aquatic ecology and the interaction between plants, water flow, sediments, nutrients and animals. We possess an elaborate set of data, experimental knowledge and numerical modelling experience. Major study sites are located in Belgium and Poland, and we have conducted several projects in Africa. Our research balances between a quest for fundamental scientific knowledge on aquatic ecosystems, and a practical implication of that knowledge in daily management issues of those systems. For instance, macrophytes create a self-organised pattern of vegetation patches which slow down the currents and accumulate significant amounts of particulate organic matter in the sediment. Here, rapid nutrient turnover occurs which determines river water quality. These relatively quiescent and nutrient rich macrophyte patches are also popular feeding spots for macroinvertebrates. This proves macrophytes to be very important ecosystem engineers. At the same time, water residence times increase which leads to higher water levels. These may cause water related problems for the adjoining landowners and an optimal river management is needed. This integrated approach of ecological and economical issues characterizes our research.

Estuarine Research Topics

The estuarine research (Scheldt, EU and world wide) adresses:

  • fundamental biogeochemical and biogeomorphological process research incl. e.g. small scale plant-flow-sediment feedbacks or element cycle interactions,
  • diagnostic functional analysis incl. e.g. inter-estuarine comparisons, high resolution data analysis such as Fourier analysis,
  • modelling incl. e.g. mass balance modelling, ecological system modelling (with present emphasis on primary production and scenario modelling), numerical modelling of hydrodynamics and geomorphology, large scale landscape pattern modelling
  • integrated system monitoring
  • management support incl. e.g. quantification of ecological objectives, integrated morphological management
  • measure design incl. ecological control of measure engineering such as controlled inundation areas with reduced tidal action
  • Integrated water management