Newsletter 13 | 3 November 2016

Newsletter 13, 3 November 2016

We gladly present you with a new Centre for Wetland Ecology (CWE) newsletter full of information concerning Wetland Ecology.

This newsletter will come to you twice per year to inform you about CWE symposia, STOWA activities and to announce other events and news.

Bart Grutters (coordinator CWE)
Liesbeth Bakker (chair CWE)

Please e-mail us so we can spread news about any upcoming events, job offers, symposia, PhD defences or publications, either on our website, twitter or the next newsletter (released April 2017).

Newsletter contents


Upcoming events in the Netherlands

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  • EU projects on water quality: learning from other European countriesDierenpark Amersfoort, 10 November 2016. The EU subsidises a number of research projects that produce knowledge and tools with the aim to improve water quality. On this symposium the EU projects will be presented.
  • NWO Biodiversity Works final symposium. Artis Zoo Amsterdam, 8 December 2016. Pitches and presentations on 'Healthy soil', 'Functional nature' and 'Future biodiversity' and a panel discussion on the future of biodiversity.
  • Symposium “Wat te doen aan exotische waterplanten? Samen naar efficiënte en effectieve bestrijdingsmethoden”, Netherlands Institute of Ecology (NIOO-KNAW), Wageningen, 14 december 2016
  • Op woensdag 14 december organiseren Bureau Waardenburg en het Nederlands Instituut voor Ecologie een symposium over de rol van invasieve exotische waterplanten in watersystemen en de effectiviteit van bestrijding van invasieve exotische waterplanten. Het symposium vormt de start van een meerjarig landelijk onderzoek naar de bestrijding van invasieve exotische waterplanten en is gericht op het uitwisselen van ervaringen met (de bestrijding van) invasieve exotische waterplanten en het vormen van een Community of Practice. Opgave per e-mail bij Iris van Gogh (Bureau Waardenburg) voor 5 december. Download hier het programma.

Upcoming CWE Symposium

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CWE Symposium 'From Wadden Sea to Marker Wadden: functioning and restoration of large aquatic ecosystems'
9 December 2016 in Groningen. Attendance is free, but registration mandatory.
The programme is available on the CWE website.

International conferences

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  • Netherlands Annual Ecology Meeting, Lunteren (NL), 14 - 15 February 2017. More information.
  • International Conference on Shallow Lakes, Mérida City (Mexico), 19 - 24 February 2017.
  • ASLO 2017, Honolulu (United States), 26 February - 3 March 2017. More information.
  • SWS Europe Chapter, Faro (Portugal), 4 - 6 May 2017. More information.
  • SEFS, Olomouc (Tsjechië), 2 - 7 July 2017. More information.


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  • Research on Marker Wadden
  • Expedition Marker Wadden
    Several members of the CWE used the opportunity to visit Marker Wadden on September 24. The creation of the Marker Wadden is an initiative of Natuurmonumenten and is one of the most challenging wetland creation projects going on in The Netherlands at the moment (see: 
    Research by several CWE partners
    Institute for Biodiversity and Ecosystem Dynamics (IBED) from the University of Amsterdam (info: Dr. Harm van der Geest,
    Several projects were started in the last years, aiming to provide quantitative insight in the drivers for productivity and food web structure in lake Markermeer, together with partners as RWS, water authorities, Deltares, Wageningen Environmental Research and Wageningen Marine Research.  A new PhD student will study the ecological effects of obstructed fish migration. A new and fully equipped research vessel for Markermeer research is expected to be launched before summer 2017.
    Consortium consisting of Utrecht University, Deltares, Alterra Wageningen UR, TU Delft, TNO, IBED (info:
    Two PhD students and a postdoc work at the Marker Wadden with a focus on regime shifts within the context of alteration of fine sediment into clay soil. The interplay of biological, chemical and physical interactions is studied and there is a focus on risks in a governance setting for this ecosystem design. The acquired scientific knowledge will be used to assess which ecosystem services will evolve and how such systems should be managed.
    Consortium of Netherlands Institute of Ecology, University of Groningen and Radboud University (info: Dr. Liesbeth Bakker,
    Two PhD students will study the development in ecosystem productivity and trophic interactions in this newly created wetland. A bottom-up and top-down approach will be used to study vegetation development and settlement of foundation species, food web assembly and how waterbirds and fish move between neighboring lakes and wetlands and thus import or export nutrients.
  • Society of Wetland Scientists and the Ramsar convention will sign an memorandum of understanding (MoU) in Faro
    SWS and the Ramsar Convention will enhance their cooperation by signing a Memorandum of Understanding. This MoU will be signed by the leadership of both organizations during the SWS Europe meeting in Faro, 4-6 May 2017.
  • PhD defense Rob Fraaije. On 31 Aug Rob Fraaije successfully defended his thesis, titled "Plants living on the edge: colonization processes of aquatic and riparian vegetation along restored lowland streams". His thesis and thesis abstract are available online here. The day preceding his defense, 30 Aug, the Ecology & Biodiversity group at Utrecht University organized a well-attended symposium on "Stream valley restoration: clearing the way for riparian vegetation". The program and all presentation slides can be found here.

Guest column: Lake Ohrid and its very last wetland
Jos Verhoeven (Universiteit Utrecht)

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In the late 1970s I enjoyed a spring holiday in Ohrid, part of Yugoslavia at the time. There was a weekly flight from Amsterdam bringing mostly Dutch tourists to this beautiful old town bordering the large, very deep lake with the same name. We stayed in a small, very pleasant hotel just south of the town, bordering the lake. The atmosphere was that guests could bring their own wine that would then be kept under your name and served with meals. It was a lively bunch of Dutch tourists staying there, some of them interested in nature, others in swimming and sunbathing, others in the beautiful Macedonian churches and their medieval wall paintings.

[Lake Ohrid, a European lake on the Macedonian-Albanian border (Photo Daniel Joveski)]

We did a little bit of everything. The town and the lake were so famous in our country because the Dutch writer A. den Doolaard loved this area and had pictured a number of his novels here, the most well-known example was “De Bruiloft der Zeven Zigeuners”. It was very pleasant to be at the lakeshore just outside the hotel and take in the spectacular scenery: the lake with crystal-clear water, across on the other side the steep, black mountains of Albania, a country that was a complete mystery at the time where only a few lights were visible in the evenings. And then the town of Ohrid to the right on the shore, with some beautiful churches in the skyline. Great to go for a regular swim, to read the novel, which made you curious to visit the various monasteries at different locations on the lakeshore. We hitchhiked along the road to the south to the cloister Sveti Naum and got a ride from a captain in the Yugoslav army. We had sort of a conversation in German, where he talked about the tense situation with Albania and Greece at the 3-country border very near Sveti Naum. He dropped us there and warned us not to walk in a more southerly direction, where the Albanian army would be in a status of alert. We enjoyed seeing the monastery and its surroundings. We did read about the very special characteristics of Lake Ohrid: it is the deepest lake of Europe and has had a history of a million years without large disturbances, enabling a long, continuous evolution. The high age and relatively isolated location have resulted in the largest number of endemic species in a freshwater body in Europe. Among them are several fish species, one of which was a salmonid appearing several times on our plate in the hotel.

About a year ago, I was approached by a Spanish member of the Society of Wetland Scientists (SWS) who had read an alarming article in “El Pais” about a plan to destroy the very last wetland bordering Lake Ohrid. It seemed appropriate that we would express our concern from the part of SWS. I was brought into contact with the OhridSOS group, very active people who are trying to stop major threats to Lake Ohrid and its immediate environment. Members of that group have briefed me about the situation. There are quite some long-term issues threatening the integrity of the lake ecosystem but there was also an immediate threat: Studenchiste Wetland, the last wetland on the shores of the lake, was planned to be drained and turned into a mass tourism resort. There is also a plan for a large marina just where the wetland borders the lake. I have discussed the issue with the SWS leadership and we have come into action: earlier this year we have written letters to express our major concern to the Mayor of Ohrid, the Macedonian minister of the environment and several other authorities in the region. At the same time we have encouraged members of the OhridSOS group to write a scientific article about the current status of the Studenchiste Wetland, which has materialized in a contribution to the journal Wetland Science and Practice (Apostolova et al. 2016). We also invited two members of the group to attend the SWS Europe meeting in Potsdam in May, where Dr. Apostolova presented a highlight about the wetland and the lake. Although there were no answers to our letters to the authorities, the attendance of the OhridSOS members in Potsdam led to a news article in the major Macedonian national newspaper.

There are further initiatives which might hopefully lead to a better status of protection of the lake and the wetland. It is investigated whether Lake Ohrid and Studenchiste can be nominated for a site of International importance under the Ramsar convention. There is interest from the side of Albania to strengthen the UNESCO World heritage status of the lake jointly with Macedonia. Studenchiste is the last wetland remaining. Some features of its structure and functioning are known but more work is needed. For the far future, it is quite probable that there will be the potential to restore part of the wetlands on the lakeshore and the lake’s catchment that have already been lost. In order to be able to do that properly, it is of utmost importance that Studenchiste remains in place as a model from where scientific information can be gathered to restore other wetlands in a proper way. It is my hope that OhridSOS will be successful in the end. Then finally, if you are looking for a magnificent jewel for a wonderful ecotouristic holiday, I can recommend Ohrid. I will definitely take another look there soon.

Read more on the weblog: SOS Ohrid

[Church of St. John Kaneo, Ohrid]

PhD graduations

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  • Julia Grosse (NIOZ/UvA), Amsterdam, 4 October 2016 10:00, "Consequences of resource limitation on the stoichiometry of North Sea phytoplankton". More information.
  • Jacqueline Augusiak (WUR), Wageningen, 6 October 2016 11:00, "Improving communication and validation of ecological methods. A case study on the dispersal of aquatic macroinvertebrates", More information.
  • Luuk van Gerven (NIOO-KNAW/WUR), Wageningen, 16 November 2016 13:30, "The ecology of ditches. A modelling perspective". More information.
  • Jan Kuiper (NIOO-KNAW), Wageningen, 18 November 2016 13:30, "Making eco logic and models work - An itegrative approach to lake ecosystem modelling". More information.
  • Yingying Tang (RU), Nijmegen, 6 December 2016 14:30, "Nutrient polishing and carbon sequestration by macrophyte-dominated wetlands". More information.
  • Bart Grutters (NIOO-KNAW), Utrecht, 5 April 2017 12:45. More information.


Recent key publications

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  • Angelini et al. 2016. A keystone mutualism underpins resilience of a coastal ecosystem to drought. Nature Communications doi:10.1038/ncomms12473
  • Bakker et al. 2016. Herbivory on freshwater and marine macrophytes: A review and perspective. Aquatic Botany
  • Bennetsen et al. 2016. Species distribution models grounded in ecological theory for decision support in river management. Ecological modelling doi:10.1016/j.ecolmodel.2015.12.016
  • Cai et al. 2016. Conventional methanotrophs are responsible for atmospheric methane oxidation in paddy soils. Nature Communications doi:10.1038/ncomms11728
  • Govers et al. 2016. Marine Phytophthora species can hamper conservation and restoration of vegetated coastal ecosystems. Phil Trans R Soc B doi:10.1098/rspb.2016.0812
  • Howison et al. 2016. Facultative grazing and bioturbation by macrodetritivores alter saltmarsh plant–plant interactions under stress. Journal of Ecology doi:10.1111/1365-2745.12581
  • Kleyheeg et al. 2016. Seed dispersal potential by wild mallard duck as estimated from digestive tract analysis. Freshwater Biology doi:10.1111/fwb.12814
  • Kosten et al. 2016. Fate of methane in aquatic systems dominated by free-floating plants. Water Research
  • Lewandoska et al. 2016. The influence of balanced and imbalanced resource supply on biodiversity–functioning relationship across ecosystems. Phil Trans R Soc B doi:10.1098/rstb.2015.0283
  • Sandrini et al. 2016. Rapid adaptation of harmful cyanobacteria to rising CO2 bacter. PNAS doi:10.1073/pnas.1602435113
  • Scheffer 2016. Anticipating societal collapse; Hints from the Stone Age. PNAS doi:10.1073/pnas.1612728113
  • Soons et al. 2016. Directed dispersal by an abiotic vector: Wetland plants disperse their seeds selectively to suitable sites along the hydrological gradient via water. Functional Ecology doi: 10.1111/1365-2435.12771
  • Tang et al. 2016. A tool for easily predicting short-term phosphorus mobilization from flooded soils. Ecological Engineering
  • Urban et al. 2016. Improving the forecast for biodiversity under climate change. Science doi: 10.1126/science.aad8466
  • Van der Zee et a. 2016. How habitat-modifying organisms structure the food web of two coastal ecosystems. Phil Trans R Soc B doi:10.1098/rspb.2015.2326
  • Wubs et al. 2016. Going against the flow: a case for upstream dispersal and detection of other uncommon dispersal events. Freshwater Biology doi:10.1111/fwb.12736