The focus of my PhD is the interaction between aquatic macroinvertebrates and macrophytes in lowland streams. Previous research by my colleagues at ECOBE has shown that aquatic macrophyte biomass development in these streams can be significant and that patches of macrophytes play a very important role in stream hydrology.
My research focusses on a number of different ways in which aquatic macrophytes can potentially affect the macroinvertebrate community. I hereby study the effects of macrophyte structure and complexity, as a means to improve habitat complexity and provide additional colonisable microniches but also as an obstacle in the water column that attenuates water flow velocity. Secondly, I study the role of macrophytes in the diet of several groups of macroinvertebrates. I hereby focus on both the direct inclusion of living and dead macrophyte derived tissue in the diet of mac roinvertebrates, but also on the indirect effects of macrophytes on the aquatic foodchain through their influence on attached epiphyton.
For this research, I use a number of different methods including: macroinvertebrate identification (up to species level), fractal complexities, plant-flow interactions, elemental analyses, stable isotopes and fatty acids.