Global Change Ecology Centre welcomes 4 new FWO-fellows

Date: 2 July 2018

Introduction: Last week it was announced which new fellows will initiate a FWO-funded PhD or postdoc in the next year.

At the Global Change Ecology Centre we got the great news that 4 new fellows will start as from fall 2018, 2 postdocs and 2 PhD-fellows.

Genetically different subgroups of the Natal multimammate mouse occur in different African regions and likely carry different arenaviruses. During her PhD-fellowship, Laura Cuypers will investigate the divergence of three multimammate mouse subgroups in Tanzania, characterize the shape of the hybrid zones where these subgroups come into contact, assess the association of three arenaviruses with their host subgroups and study arenavirus evolution and viral load in the hybrid zones.

Ken Schoutens will have nostalgic memories of building castles with sand and mud, feeling disappointed when it is flushed away by the tides and the waves. But what if we add plants to protect our castle: Ken will study the interplay between waves, sediments and pioneer marsh plants during his PhD fellowship. He investigates the two-way interactions between waves and plants, how that results in the spatial plant species distribution, and how that spatial plant zonation affects the effectiveness of wave and erosion reduction, and hence the shoreline protection capacity of tidal marshes.

Jonas Lembrechts’ postdoc fellowship focuses on understanding how global changes (e.g. climate warming, land use changes) affect the distribution of plant species. If we want to predict where species will move to under global change, environmental conditions and species interactions at the local scale are crucial, yet poorly studied. Jonas will fill that research gap. With human influence in mountains (e.g. through the use of roads and trails) on plants as a case study, he will search for an answer on the question what happens to species distributions if both the climate and a species' local habitat change together?

Marcos Fernandez’ postdoc project aims to understand how biodiversity and nutrient availability interact with climate variability. He will gather satellite images and global databases of ecosystem carbon flux exchange, to test whether more diverse and nutrient-rich ecosystems are less sensitive to weather conditions. He will assess if more diverse ecosystems sequester more carbon, and how this is affected by nutrient availability.