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Research GELIFES Conservation Ecology Group

Conservation Ecology Group

Coordinator: Chris Smit

The world is changing at an unprecedented rate, and organisms have to adapt to these changing circumstances or they will perish. The loss of biodiversity is thus partly due to the inability of species to adapt to changing circumstances. The mission of the Conservation Ecology Group is to study how organisms are affected by these changing environmental conditions: whether and by what means can they adjust, how are population numbers affected, and under what conditions is community resilience maintained. We do so by studying natural populations and communities in the field, by long-term monitoring, and with focused field experiments. The fundamental understanding of adaptive processes in their ecological context helps to improve conservation, and we actively stimulate our work to be used in the public arena.

Our ecological research contributes to actual conservation in the following ways: (1) focused long-term population studies on individually marked birds, illuminates important phases in the annual cycle responsible for their decline or growth, and which areas are key to preserve. (2) finding best practices to restore disturbed ecosystems and their ecosystem services, relying on the capacity of ecosystem engineers (e.g. restoring seagrass and mussel beds in the Waddensea), (3) actively communicating about our results in the media to increase awareness on the beauty and fragility of nature.

The staff members all have their own research lines, but many cross-collaborations exist:

Last modified:21 June 2022 5.45 p.m.