Research team

Ecosystem Management

Greenhouse gas emissions from rewetted and eutrophied fens: from carbon sink to source? 01/10/2019 - 30/09/2022

Abstract

Fens are nutrient-poor wetlands characterized by active accumulation of organic plant matter (peat). This process requires waterlogged conditions and low microbial activity. Fens are important global sinks for atmospheric carbon dioxide (CO2), an important greenhouse gas (GHG). Unfortunately very few undisturbed fens remain, and most fens have been drained by human activity. Drainage triggers a myriad of cascading effects on fen biogeochemistry, vegetation and microbiology, and turns fens into sources of CO2. To make matters worse, fens are also increasingly threatened by nitrogen (N) enrichment. This may hamper peat formation, and could increase emissions of other potent GHGs such as methane (CH4) and nitrous oxide (N2O). The idea that degraded fens can quickly be restored by raising water levels seems naïve: recent observations suggest that rewetted fens often become nutrient-rich marshes. The effect of the drainage-rewetting cycle on GHG emissions is largely unknown, but might be dramatic. In this project, I will disentangle the interactive effects of fen hydrology and nitrogen enrichment on GHG emission. Moreover, I will investigate the influence of shifts in plant- and microbial community composition on altered GHG emissions. We hypothesize that drainage and N enrichment turn fens from sinks into sources of GHGs, and that this is partly due to shifts in plant- and microbial community composition. This change may be irreversible within human time-scales.

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Development opportunities for Nardus grasslands on selected parcels in Landschap de Liereman. 13/03/2020 - 31/12/2020

Abstract

The central question in this study is whether the development of the microbial community in species-poor grasslands in nature reserve "de Liereman" can be controlled by the introduction of sod cut material collected in species-rich and well-developed reference grasslands ("soil inoculation"). We use state-of-the-art molecular techniques such as metabarcoding and qPCR.

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Restoration and prognosis of peat formation in fens - linking diversity in plant functional traits to soil biological and biogeochemical processes (REPEAT-BE). 01/03/2017 - 29/02/2020

Abstract

Belowground biodiversity is formed by fungi, bacteria, archaea, animals and plants that altogether affect soil functioning, particularly by controlling rates of production and decomposition of organic matter. Peat soils, being the most concentrated stores of soil carbon, are formed by a long-term net exceedance of production over decomposition. The REPEAT project addresses the mechanisms contributing to peat formation in fen peatlands in order to improve restoration prospects of these threatened ecosystems that provide vital ecosystem services for mitigation of climate change, regional hydrology, nutrient retention and biodiversity conservation (Bonn et al. 2016) . In Europe most fen peatlands have been severely degraded by land use. Drainage has turned the peatlands from carbon sinks into significant sources of greenhouse gases (GHG) and has made Central Europe – after Indonesia - the second largest hot-spot of peat GHG emissions worldwide (Joosten 2009). Peat formation is a precondition to re-install the vital ecosystem services provided by the fen ecosystem. However, re-establishment of high groundwater tables alone is often not sufficient to restore peat formation (Grootjans et al. 2012). In spite of decades of trials, processes that control peat accumulation (including their rates, pathways and drivers) remain unknown. Previous research on peatland carbon cycling has focused almost exclusively on rainwater-fed bogs with upward growing peatmoss (Sphagnum) as the prevailing mode of peat formation. In contrast, in groundwater-fed fens roots and rhizomes of sedges and grasses grow into the older peat matrix to form 'displacement peat'. Therefore, peat formation models developed for bogs (Clymo et al. 1998, Frolking et al. 2001) do not fully apply to fens. REPEAT aims to clarify the mechanisms of peat formation in fens by linking biogeochemical processes to soil community structure and biodiversity, as well as to plant belowground litter quality, with special focus on the prospects of restoring peat formation mechanisms. Paludiculture (biomass harvest) will receive special attention because it has recently been recognized as an key management approach that allows sustainable use of wet and rewetted peatlands.

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Project website

Iron-mediated catastrophic shifts in peatlands: positive feedbacks and phytotoxicity. 01/10/2015 - 30/09/2017

Abstract

In this study, I aim to conduct fundamental research on a set of biogeochemical processes that, after rewetting, inhibit a shift from a drained (previously peat-accumulating) organic soil with net decomposition towards a soil with organic matter accumulation and nutrient retention. The emphasis will be on positive feedback loops on OM decomposition, with experiments to elucidate the effects of water table dynamics, iron chemistry and vegetation assembly.

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Hydrology of fen systems 25/02/2015 - 01/07/2017

Abstract

Sustainable recovery of groundwater fed fen vegetation and associated fauna requires waterlogging by restoring water management. That is why there has been a lot money invested in restoration measures in and around degraded fens. The emphasis of these measures was generally reduction of drainage within the nature reserve. An important knowledge gap is the question to what degree water management needs to be restored for the development of fen peat vegetation and the start of peat formation. A common bottleneck is that the water level dynamics in the restored fens are still too large after rewetting for the development of the desired peat-forming vegetation. The bottlenecks behind insufficient recovery of the groundwater level are not yet well known, because research into ground- and surface water flow patterns in rewetted fens has hardly been conducted. More insight into these bottlenecks is necessary in order to find the right control and management measures in the right areas, and in the right order

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Evaluation of alternative nature conservation strategies under excessive nutrient availability 12/02/2015 - 31/12/2016

Abstract

Voor natuurherstel en -ontwikkeling in Nederland is de omvorming van landbouwgrond naar natuur een grote en moeilijke opgave. Deze omvorming van landbouwgronden is van belang voor behoud en herstel van natuurgebieden en de ontwikkeling van een samenhangend netwerk van natuurgebieden. Door een intensief landbouwverleden is de nutriëntenvoorraad en -beschikbaarheid groot, waardoor het herstel van natuurtypen die gebonden zijn aan een relatief lage nutriëntenbeschikbaarheid een zeer lastige opgave is. In Nederland zijn de afgelopen twee decennia een aantal strategieën regelmatig toegepast: plaggen c.q. ontgronden van de nutriëntenrijke toplaag, uitmijnen van P, verschralen door middel van maaien en afvoeren of begrazen, bevorderen van het vastleggen van P, en het laten zitten van de nutriëntenrijke toplaag en overschakelen op andere, meer productieve doelen. Zowel in Nederland als daarbuiten is onderzoek verricht naar de effectiviteit en de werking van de deze strategieën, maar de resultaten daarvan en de gevolgtrekkingen daaruit lijken elkaar deels tegen te spreken. Zulke ogenschijnlijke tegenstrijdigheden hebben daarnaast geleid tot controverses in het debat over de omvorming van voedselrijke landbouwgronden. Deze gaan over het wel of niet ontgronden, de omgang met bodemfauna, de vraag of met andere strategieën voedselarme natuurtypen kunnen worden gerealiseerd en over hoe de beschikbaarheid van fosfaat het beste kan worden gemeten.

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Research into the effects of fire on the ecological potential of moors. 01/11/2014 - 31/12/2016

Abstract

This project represents a formal research agreement between UA and on the other hand the Flemish Public Service. UA provides the Flemish Public Service research results mentioned in the title of the project under the conditions as stipulated in this contract.

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Analysis of soil chemistry in the regular vegetation monitoring network of the province of Drenthe. 01/09/2014 - 01/05/2015

Abstract

This project represents a formal research agreement between UA and on the other hand the client. UA provides the client research results mentioned in the title of the project under the conditions as stipulated in this contract.

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Soil Sampling Vegetation 2014. 26/06/2014 - 15/10/2014

Abstract

This project represents a formal research agreement between UA and on the other hand Province of Drenthe. UA provides Province of Drenthe research results mentioned in the title of the project under the conditions as stipulated in this contract.

Researcher(s)

Research team(s)

Iron-mediated catastrophic shifts in peatlands: positive feedbacks and phytotoxicity. 01/10/2013 - 30/09/2015

Abstract

In this study, I aim to conduct fundamental research on a set of biogeochemical processes that, after rewetting, inhibit a shift from a drained (previously peat-accumulating) organic soil with net decomposition towards a soil with organic matter accumulation and nutrient retention. The emphasis will be on positive feedback loops on OM decomposition, with experiments to elucidate the effects of water table dynamics, iron chemistry and vegetation assembly.

Researcher(s)

Research team(s)

Chance on influx of contaminated ground and surface water from the sub-area "Steertse Heide" to the vulnerable nature reserve "Grote Meer". 24/12/2012 - 24/12/2013

Abstract

This project represents a formal research agreement between UA and on the other hand INBO. UA provides INBO research results mentioned in the title of the project under the conditions as stipulated in this contract.

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Research team(s)

Interpreting soil chemical analyses of soil samples from various nature reserves in the province of Drenthe. 22/10/2012 - 22/10/2013

Abstract

This project represents a formal research agreement between UA and on the other hand Prov. Drenthe. UA provides Prov. Drenthe research results mentioned in the title of the project under the conditions as stipulated in this contract.

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Research team(s)

Catastrophic shifts mediated by biogeochemical processes: feedback loops in organic soils. 01/10/2012 - 30/09/2013

Abstract

In this study, I aim to conduct fundamental research on a set of biogeochemical processes that, after rewetting, inhibit a shift from a drained (previously peat-accumulating) organic soil with net decomposition towards a soil with organic matter accumulation and nutrient retention. The emphasis will be on positive feedback loops on OM decomposition, with experiments to elucidate the effects of water table dynamics, iron chemistry and vegetation assembly.

Researcher(s)

Research team(s)

Analysis of soil chemistry in the vegetation monitoring network of the province of Drenthe. 15/08/2012 - 01/12/2013

Abstract

This project represents a formal research agreement between UA and on the other hand the Province Drenthe. UA provides the Province Drenthe research results mentioned in the title of the project under the conditions as stipulated in this contract.

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Research on biogeochemistry and experimental measures for restoration of "beekdaltrilvenen". 01/05/2012 - 31/12/2015

Abstract

This project represents a formal research agreement between UA and on the other hand the Bosschap. UA provides the Bosschap research results mentioned in the title of the project under the conditions as stipulated in this contract.

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Research team(s)

Analysis of the Soil Communities and Related Possibilities for Recovery of Nardetea in Nature Reserve 'De Liereman', in Function of Nature Design. 16/04/2012 - 16/10/2013

Abstract

This project represents a formal research agreement between UA and on the other hand the Flemish Public Service. UA provides the Flemish Public Service research results mentioned in the title of the project under the conditions as stipulated in this contract.

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Ecohydrological study SBZ-H De Maten. 16/01/2012 - 15/01/2015

Abstract

This project represents a formal research agreement between UA and on the other hand the Flemish Public Service. UA provides the Flemish Public Service research results mentioned in the title of the project under the conditions as stipulated in this contract.

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Ecohydrological analysis of "De Zegge". 01/01/2012 - 31/05/2013

Abstract

This project represents a formal research agreement between UA and on the other hand KMDA. UA provides KMDA research results mentioned in the title of the project under the conditions as stipulated in this contract.

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Water quality survey of peats in selected natural areas in the Kempen region. 01/12/2011 - 30/11/2013

Abstract

This project represents a formal research agreement between UA and on the other hand the Flemish Public Service. UA provides the Flemish Public Service research results mentioned in the title of the project under the conditions as stipulated in this contract.

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Soil Sampling in the province of Drenthe. 17/10/2011 - 17/10/2012

Abstract

This project represents a formal research agreement between UA and on the other hand Province of Drenthe. UA provides Province of Drenthe research results mentioned in the title of the project under the conditions as stipulated in this contract.

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Nl Latemse Meersen - Monitoring Keuzemeersen (T=2) and Meersbeek (T=-1). 16/09/2011 - 15/09/2013

Abstract

This project represents a formal research agreement between UA and on the other hand the Flemish Public Service. UA provides the Flemish Public Service research results mentioned in the title of the project under the conditions as stipulated in this contract.

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Research team(s)

Green infrastructure implementation and efficiency. 22/12/2010 - 21/12/2011

Abstract

This project represents a formal research agreement between UA and on the other hand a private institution. UA provides the private institution research results mentioned in the title of the project under the conditions as stipulated in this contract.

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Effects of mowing management on the development of ecosystems of small sedges in valleys of brooks and streams. 14/10/2010 - 01/12/2012

Abstract

This project represents a formal research agreement between UA and on the other hand KWR. UA provides KWR research results mentioned in the title of the project under the conditions as stipulated in this contract.

Researcher(s)

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Soil Sampling in the province of Drenthe. 15/07/2010 - 15/10/2010

Abstract

This project represents a formal research agreement between UA and on the other hand Province of Drenthe. UA provides Province of Drenthe research results mentioned in the title of the project under the conditions as stipulated in this contract.

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Research team(s)

Research of the ecological potential of grasslands in the region of Antwerp. 01/02/2010 - 31/12/2010

Abstract

The Agency for Nature and Forest of the Flemish Government manages several areas with extensive grassland surfaces in the Antwerp Campines. To optimise the management and plan restoration works it is necessary to study the potentials of these grasslands. The objective of this study is to figure out the maximum potentials based on the current biotic qualities, the main abiotic parameters and specific local settings (e.g. management objectives). Secondly measures to reach these objectives will be defined. An essential part of the study will be the current constraints and possible solutions.

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Species performance in peat-accumulating ecosystems under changing conditions. 01/01/2010 - 31/12/2011

Abstract

This project addresses the impact of changed hydrochemical conditions on plant-plant interactions in peat producing ecosystems. We will compare the response of typical species on different hydrolochemical constraints to those of general wetland species. Three possible bottle-necks will be investigated: germination, seedling establishment and competiton between adult plants.

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Layout of a vegetation map for the project area Ruggeveld - Boterlaar - Silsburg. 03/09/2009 - 27/11/2009

Abstract

The city of Antwerp has the ambition to turn its eastern outskirt, Rugeveld-Boterlaar-Silsburg, into a landscape park. This park will be part of the green finger of the Schijn valley that enters the urbanised area of Antwerp. Because of the presence of important nature values and the major aim of nature development, this research project was set up to produce a vegetation and landscape map of the area. The main aim is to map the vegetation and landscape and produce a set of directives for planning and management. The conclusions of this study must be directly applicable in the development plans of the area. The Ecosystem Management Research Group is proceeding with extensive field work, combined with the wide local knowledge, to localise all the ecological valuable sites and describe the available opportunities. For the different ecotopes points of interest are described to help to reach an optimal symbiosis between the ecological values and the established development plan.

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The inclusion of squares, taking groundwater and surface water samples, measuring flow rates, and perform analyzes in the Zegge. 01/01/2008 - 31/12/2010

Abstract

This project represents a formal research agreement between UA and on the other hand KMDA. UA provides KMDA research results mentioned in the title of the project under the conditions as stipulated in this contract.

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Research team(s)