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How to find us prof. dr. A.P. (Ab) Grootjans

prof. dr. A.P. Grootjans




Name:                         Albert Pieter Grootjans

Born:                          14-1-1951, Ruinen, The Netherlands

Present adress:           Westerveen 23, 9751 HV Haren, The Netherlands.

Nationality:                Dutch, Married; 2 children.

Education:                  HBS-B (1963-1968) in Assen, Studied Biology in Groningen with two majors (Plantecology and Microbiology (1968-1975)

Work Experience:     1976-1996 (staff member at the Department of Plant Ecology, University of Groningen, NL.

                                    1996-present: associate professor at the University of Groningen, NL.

                                    2007-present Visiting Professor at the Radboud University of Nijmegen, NL.


Research themes and projects:


At the University of Groningen I have developed several research themes since 1976 that are interconnected. They range from ecohydrological approaches on the landscape scale to very detailed research on the habitat scale using micro-electrodes. Via restoration ecology I continued to work on ecohydrological relationships on the landscape scale again, but now in more or less natural mires in various countries and continents.


1976-1985: Effects of changes in hydrological conditions in wetlands.

Key words: vegetation science, groundwater regime, nitrogen mineralization, groundwater composition, groundwater abstraction, drainage.

Most of this work was carried out with master students. In 1985 I concluded this research with a thesis “Changes of groundwater regime in wet meadows”. Promotor was Prof Jan Barkman.

1980-1990: Development of eco-hydrological survey methods and prediction models on the landscape scale.

Keywords: vegetation mapping, prediction models, indicator values.

Together with people working in private ecological firms I developed an efficient method to map vegetation types and distribution pattern of wetland species in order to indicate qualitative aspects of local and regional hydrological systems. In 1991 two dissertations were published on vegetation development of river valley systems (Everts & de Vries 1991). These methods are still used in 4 private ecological firms. We also developed a computer model to predict changes in hydrological conditions due to groundwater abstraction.

1988-2002: Ecohydrological research in reference areas

Keywords: Hydrological modelling, analyses of natural isotope tracers, positive-feedback switches, semi-stable states, Radial Oxygen Loss (ROL), denitrification, mesocosms, micro-electrodes.

I started this eco-hydrological research in a rather descriptive way in the Netherlands and Belgium (thesis A.J.M. Jansen) and in the former German Democratic Republic where less disturbed lowland river valleys were still present (thesis Van Diggelen 1998). We established firm contacts with Prof Succow, who created the national Park and Nature reserves in Eastern Germany. Later we moved to Poland and the Dutch Wadden Sea islands. The research on the Wadden Sea islands was on eco-hydrological relations on the landscape scale, on acidification (thesis F.P. Sival 1997) and on nutrient limitation (thesis E.J.Lammerts 1998). In a later stage we started experimental and theoretical research on alternative stable states and impact of microbial mats and Radial Oxygen Loss on succession rates (thesis E.B. Adema 2003).

1991-2004: Restoration of acidified and desiccated wetlands.

Keywords: hydrological modelling, long term monitoring, seed bank analyses, nutrient availability, nutrient limitation, buffering capacity.       

Since 1990 I have participated in a national programme (OBN = Survival Plan of Dutch Nature) aimed at restoring acidified nature reserves due to high atmospheric nitrogen deposition and drainage in surrounding agricultural areas. In co-operation with managers we carried out restoration projects aimed at rewetting and reducing nutrient availability in acidified wetlands. Vegetation changes and environmental factors have been monitored in 13 areas for 6-16 years. Some results were published in PhD theses (Lammerts 1999, Van Duren 2000, Jansen 2000, Strijkstra 2000). A new PhD project will continue to relate observed vegetation and hydrological changes with climate change in dune areas (Dullo).

2002-2011: Water flow in natural bog ecosystems.

Keywords: buoyancy driven water flow, temperature regime, CO2-limitation, competition in hallow and hummocks,

In natural bog ecosystems we discovered that temperature driven water flow in the living Sphagnum layer could possible speed up the transport of nutrients, CO2 and oxygen from deeper layers to the top and vice-versa (PNAS 2003). This buoyancy driven water flow occurs in small convection cells of 4-8 cm in diameter. This phenomenon usually occurred during the night. Based on temperature differences and hydrological conductivity Adema (who worked in Groningen as a post-doc) was able to predict the exact time of occurrence of buoyancy driven water flow in Tierra del Fuego, where large differences occur during day and night in spring and autumn. In cooperation with Prof Elzinga (Groningen) a PhD project has started in 2006 (W. Patberg) on the physiological mechanisms of solute transport in Sphagnum plants and how this is influenced by buoyancy driven water flow. In cooperation with prof J. Roelofs (Nijmegen, NL) and prof. H. Joosten (Greifswald, DE) a new PhD project in Tierra del Fuego started in 2007 (C. Fritz) on competition between Sphagnum species and cushion plants (Astelia pumila) in coastal peatlands (C. Fritz).

2003-2013: Introducing eco-hydrological techniques and approaches to Eastern Europe and South Africa.

Keywords:, Hydrological modelling ,travertine formation, nutrient limitation, seed bank analyses, rewetting, stake holders, peat abstraction, biofuel.

Since 2003 I have coordinated two large eco-hydrological projects aimed at training NGO’s in eco-hydrology and restoration of wetlands. In Slovakia we worked with three counterparts on the restoration of calcareous mires and in Poland we worked with 7 counterparts on restoration of groundwater fed river valleys. The projects were funded by the Dutch government (Pin/Matra Program of the Ministries of Agriculture and Foreign Affairs) and carried out be a team of Dutch Scientists and Nature managers to educate counterparts in restoration and landscape analyses. One counterpart (Klimkowska) received a grant from the Groningen University to finish her PhD. In South Africa and Lesotho we have started cooperation with South African counterparts (J.P. & A. Grundling) and the University of Waterloo (J.Price, Canada). Future cooperation will include activities with Prof. Ellery (Rhodes University).


A focus point for the future will be on developing new strategies for a more natural and dynamic coastal development, in particular in the Dutch Wadden Sea islands.  This research includes population genetic studies on rare dune slack species since 2009 (R.Shahrudin) in cooperation with the University of Amsterdam (\Dr. Kooijman and dr. Oostermeijer).  I was also involved in developing eco-hydrological guidelines for dune habitats in England for English Nature in cooperation with the University of East Anglia. Since 2006 I am vice-president of a knowledge network of dune researchers and dune managers (OBN) aimed at developing restoration projects in the coastal area of the Netherlands.  I am responsible for developing a scientific program needed to increase the knowledge base of the network


Education and management skills: 


I have coordinated courses on: vegetation science, soil science, landscape ecology, eco-hydrology, science and society and restoration ecology. I have also much experience in problem driven education techniques. I regularly present lectures on eco-hydrology for nature managers, employees of water boards and civil servants as well as on Dutch universities.

Between 1978 and 1982 I was a member of the board of the sub-faculty Biology and also of the faculty Mathematics and Natural Sciences. In 1981 I was part of the reorganisation team of the sub-faculty Biology. Since then I have participated only in faculty commissions dealing with education. I was member of the faculty council (FWN) of the University of Groningen between 2010-2013. Between 1976 and 2013 I have coached ca 110 research projects of master students. 


Academic Reputation


General tasks.

  • Ø  Secretary of the Dutch working group Vegetation-Hydrology (1986-1987)
  • Ø  Founded the Dutch research group on Eco-hydrology in 1988.
  • Ø  Founded the Dutch working group on Restoration Ecology in 1996.
  • Ø  Secretary Working Group Restoration Ecology. (1998-2003)
  • Ø  Editorial board of the Journal of Coastal Conservation (1998-2005)
  • Ø  Editorial board of Archiv für Naturschutz und Landschaftsforschung (2003-2006).
  • Ø  Coordinating editor of Restoration Ecology (2002-2006)
  • Ø  Frequent referee for Journal of Vegetation Science, Applied Vegetation Science, Journal of Hydrology, Plant Ecology, Wetlands, and various other journals.
  • Ø  Co-editor Special Features on 'Restoration Ecology' in Applied Vegetation Science 3(1) (2000), Restoration Ecology 9 (2001), Applied Vegetation Science (2006)
  • Ø  Member Committee for Environmental Impact Assessment (1998-2013)
  • Ø  Member Expert Group fen meadows and dune slacks Ministry of Agriculture, Nature Conservation and Fisheries (1998-2006).
  • Ø  Member Expert Group bogs and heathlands, Ministry of Agriculture, Nature Conservation and Fisheries (2000-2009).
  • Ø  Member of the board of the IMCG, International Mires Conservation Group (2011-2013).
  • Ø  Vice president Expert Group on Coastal Dunes (2006-2013)



External examiner dissertations

            University of Groningen, (1998, 1999, 2000, 2002, 2004, 2005, 2008, 2009)  

University of Utrecht (1999, 2000, 2003, 2007, 2010, 2013)

            Universities of Amsterdam, (2001, 2005)

            University of Nijmegen, (2001, 2003, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013)

            Universities of Wageningen, (2009)

            University of Regensburg, (2003)

            University of Dublin (2007).


Organisation of international meetings/conferences

Co-organiser Second International Conference on Restoration Ecology. (RUG/NECOV/European Ecological Federation/International Ecological Engineering Society) (Groningen, 1998).

            Organiser PhD-course Restoration Ecology (Schiermonnikoog 2001).

            Co-organiser 3rd European Conference on Restoration Ecology (Society of Ecological  restoration)(Boedapest 2002).

            Co-organiser symposia within 4th European Conference on Restoration Ecology (Society of Ecological  restoration)(Zaragossa 2004).

Co-organiser symposia within INTECOL wetland Conference Utrecht July 2005).

Co-organiser symposia within 5th European Conference on Restoration Ecology (Society of Ecological  restoration)(Greifswald 2006).


Granted projects (1991-2008). I have coordinated many projects financed by National science foundation, Companies, and by local and national government agencies. In the following only project larger than 100.000 Euro are listed.

-   Hydrological system analysis of the Kapenglop wetland on Schiermonnikoog. (Ministry of Agriculture, Ministry of Transport. 1991-1992; 180.000 Eur

-   Acidification of dune slacks on the Dutch Wadden Sea islands. 1 PhD University of Groningen (1992-1996).

-   Landscape Ecological research on the ecohydrological functioning of  the peene-Haffmoor near Anklam, Eastern Germany. (NWO-science foundation, 1 PhD, 1992-1995)

-   'Monitoring of restoration measures in Dune slack of Schiermonnikoog) (Province of Friesland/Natuurmonumenten/RWS) (200.000 Eur) (1993-2004).

-    'Monitoring of Restoration Projects in river valleys and coastal dune slacks (1991-2003) (Ministry of Agriculture, Nature Conservation  and Fisheries. 1998-2003; 120.000 Eur).

-   'Restoration of flood meadows. (Ministry of Agriculture, (2000-2006) (150.000 Eur).

     ‘Nutrient limitation in drained and rewetted fen meadows. (NWO-science foundation, 1993-1997)

-   'Restoration of small bogs in a heathland landscape’ (Ministry of Agriculture, 2000-2002 and 2008-2009, 210.000 Eur).

-   'Ecohydrological Research as a base for Restoration of Calcareous Fens in the Slovak Republic’ (PIN/Matra project; 3 PhD-students (Ministry of Agriculture and Ministry of Foreign affairs, 2002-2004: 275.000 Eur).

-   'Multifuncional use of Polish Peatlands’ (PIN/Matra project; 3 PhD-students (Ministry of Agriculture, Nature Conservation  and Fisheries and Ministry of Foreign affairs) (2003-2006) (236.000 Eur).

-    ''Possibilities for Dynamisch Coastal management of the Wadden Sea islands. (2 researchers for 1 year (Coastal Defense authority, RIKZ) en SBB (Life Nature project). 2006-2008) (280.000 Eur).

-    'Buoyancy driven water flow in bog ecosystems’ (NWO, University of Groningen, Nijmegen) 1 PhD, 2006-2011).

-    'Impact of  climate change on dune slack development’. (Shell 1 PhD, 2008-2012).

-    'Competitions between higher plants and Sphagnum moss species in Tierra del Fuego (Universities of Groningen, Nijmegen and Greifswald, 1 PhD, 2007-2011).

-    Ecohydrological conditions of Liparis loeselii habitats under Dynamic Coastal management (OBN 140.000 Eu, 2012-2013).

-    'Prolonging the life span of  pioneer stages in Dune slacks of the Dutch Wadden Sea islands (University of Groningen, 1 PhD, 2008-2013).

Last modified:01 February 2018 07.35 a.m.

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