Newsletter 14 | 21 April 2017

Newsletter 14, 21 April 2017

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.

Annette Janssen (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 October 2017).

Newsletter contents

Upcoming events in the Netherlands

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  • STOWA symposium eDNA in het waterbeheer (14 juni). Op 14 juni organiseert STOWA een symposium over environmental DNA (eDNA) in het waterbeheer. We bespreken de toepassingen en potenties van veelbelovende eDNA-technieken, u krijgt inzicht in de techniek achter eDNA en via een interactief gesprek tussen ontwikkelaars en aanbieders worden de belangrijkste vragen van beide kanten beantwoord. In de middag kunt u op een markt en in werksessies inzicht krijgen in het gebruik en de meerwaarde van eDNA in de praktijk.

  • Symposium in honor of Lucas Stal. Prof. Lucas Stal will retire this year. In his honor, NIOZ and IBED are organizing a scientific symposium. Date: 30 June 2017 Location: Doelenzaal (UvA bibliotheek, Singel 425) in Amsterdam. A full program will follow at a later stage.

Upcoming CWE Symposium

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CWE Symposium 'Multiple stressors and ecological complexity in aquatic systems'
23 June 2017 at the Institute of Environmental Sciences (CML) in Leiden. Attendance is free, but registration mandatory. The program will soon be available on the CWE website. Registration will be possible in a few weeks on the CWE website.

International conferences

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  • SWS Europe Chapter, Faro (Portugal), 4 - 6 May 2017. More information.
  • SEFS, Olomouc (Tsjechië), 2 - 7 July 2017. More information.
  • WETPOL, The 7th International Symposium for Wetland Pollutant Dynamics and Control, 21-25 August, 2017. More information
  • ICAIS, The International Conference on Aquatic Invasive Species, 22-26 October 2017. More information


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  • EU project REFRESH results Effects of increased flooding on riparian vegetation: field experiments simulating climate change along European lowland streams. In many parts of the world, climate change is expected to result in increased winter and spring flooding by rain-fed streams and rivers. To find out how this will affect stream and river plant communities, researchers from Utrecht University (the Netherlands) and Aarhus University (Denmark) experimentally modified the water levels of five streams across the Netherlands, Germany and Denmark. These experiments were part of the EU-funded project ‘REFRESH’, which aimed to design adaptive strategies to mitigate the impacts of climate change on European freshwater ecosystems. The results of their combined experimental efforts demonstrate that changes in stream riparian plant communities can occur rapidly following increased winter flooding. After three years of increased flooding, there was an overall decline in riparian species richness. Riparian plant biomass increased, most likely caused by the higher soil nitrogen and phosphorus levels following the flooding. Increased flooding also resulted in the arrival of more seeds of additional species to the riparian zone, facilitating the shifts in plant species composition. Particularly in catchments dominated by agricultural land use and high nutrient loadings, increased winter flooding will rapidly result in lower stream and river plant diversity and replacement of rare species by common, fast-growing species. Effective mitigation therefore requires immediate action to reduce nutrient loadings in these catchments. More information: Garssen A.G. et al. (2017) (see publication list below for more information)

  • De belangrijke rol van kennisinstituten bij de uitwerking van de ecologische sleutelfactoren. Het jaar 2017 staat voor STOWA/Watermozaïek in het teken van de uitwerking en verankering van de ecologische sleutelfactoren (ESF’s) voor zowel stilstaande als stromende wateren. De ecologische sleutelfactoren vormen de basis voor het maken van watersysteemanalyses. Deze analyses geven waterbeheerders inzicht in de huidige ecologische situatie van een watersysteem, helpen bij het stellen van reële doelen en ondersteunen waterbeheerders bij het afleiden van effectieve maatregelen ter verbetering van de ecologische waterkwaliteit. De set ESF’s bestaat uit 19 factoren, 9 voor de stilstaande wateren en 10 voor de stromende wateren. Op de website van Watermozaïek is meer informatie te vinden over de inhoud, uitwerking, voortgang en planning van de verschillende sleutelfactoren.
  • LIFE+ project Blues in the Marshes. De natuur ten zuidwesten van ‘s-Hertogenbosch gaat kleur bekennen! Blauw krijgt weer een kans dankzij de uitvoering van het LIFE+-project ‘Blues in the Marshes’. Blauw staat symbool voor de zeldzame natte natuur, die op Europese schaal wordt bedreigd en daarom bescherming behoeft. Voor meer informatie.
  • Postcode loterij subsidie voor het IJsselmeer gebied. Een grotere verscheidenheid aan dieren en planten in het IJsselmeer. Dat komt een stuk dichterbij, nu de Vogelbescherming aan de slag kan met het verbeteren van de IJsselmeeroevers en het creëren van een visverbinding naar het achterland. De Nationale Postcode Loterij verraste de Vogelbescherming met een donatie van 1,7 miljoen euro om dit te realiseren. Voor meer informatie

Guest column: Into the heart of borneo

Jan Kuiper (NIOO-KNAW)
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“Visit Kalimantan’s awesome wilderness as soon as you can, while you still can”, is written on the first page of the Lonely Planet. The latter part of the sentence referring the massive overexploitation of Borneo’s natural resources. Sadly, as soon as we flew over land we indeed observed the endless palm-oil plantations, as far as our eyes could reach. Only half of Borneo’s forest cover remains today, most of it to be found in the highlands, which are so remote and impassable that the rainforest is still untouched. Hence that was exactly where we were heading. The same Lonely Planet had convinced us that completing the ‘Cross-Borneo Trek’ would be a priceless - yet very expensive - once in a lifetime experience. Indeed, traveling all the way from east to west Borneo, straight through the heart, whereby crossing the Muller Mountains on foot, was exactly the Redmond O’Hanlon type of adventure my girlfriend and I, two 20-somethings suffering from a quarter-life crisis, thought they needed. Two weeks before our trip the newest version of the Lonely Planet was published. We noticed that the description of our upcoming adventure had been revised, now stating: “This journey holds significant hazards, from deadly rapids to remote and brutal hiking where the smallest misstep could have life-changing consequences”, “There will be blood, from leaches if nothing else”, “Pack Epinephrine and know why”, “This should not be your first rainforest trek”. Oops..

We started our trip in Samarinda, a large industrial city in East Kalimantan on the banks of a kilometer wide river: the Mighty Mahakam. In the early morning we boarded a two-story wooden ferry on which we spent the next two days and nights. The boat slowly plowed upstream against the current, along countless meanders and floodplain wetlands, bringing use deeper and deeper inside Borneo. To our dismay we also crossed countless bulk carriers crammed with coal on their way to Chinese power plants. Our guide agreed that it is unfortunate that his land is being plundered, but also reminded us that both his sons were working in the coal mines, as it is practically impossible to make a living otherwise. The third day we spent on several speedboats and motorized canoes, crossing the deadly rapids (chicken eggs were sacrificed to the river to secure a safe passage), until we reached Tiong Ohang, the last settlement upstream. Meanwhile the mighty Mahakam had turned into little more than the river Drôme in Southern France. In the village we met with three original inhabitants (Dayak people) who would join us as guides/porters/hunters. All three incredibly muscled, covered with tattoos and armed with machetes and a shotgun. Nonetheless, the following morning, before taking off, they humbly called upon the forest to allow us a safe passing, and asked us to do our own little prayers.

Spending 6 days and 5 nights in the natural habitat of the orangutan was absolutely breathtaking. We ran into countless skyscraping trees, glow-in-the-dark mushrooms, stick insects, lesser mouse-deer (which we had for dinner that night) and one of the largest flowers in the world, the Borneo Titan Aroid. Remarkable was a huge parasitic horsehair worm coming out of the back of a living grasshopper, which was rather creepy. But it was also literally a breathtaking experience, because of the exercise we had to endure. We walked almost continuously from sunrise to sunset, crossing a myriad of streams, rivers and swamps, and thus with wet feet all day. At other parts we had to climb steep and slippery slopes, which required using both our hands and feet and a constant focus. The grave of a Dutch man along the route, who died after having slipped, sadly reminded us of the danger. What also didn’t help was that basically the only food we got was plain rice with dried fish, the latter soon starting to ferment. We slept directly on a single sheet of plastic where roots on the ground were poking through. Also our roof was a single sheet of plastic, with tiny holes allowing tiny drops of rain to leak on our foreheads, every night. A fire was kept underneath the tarp, as the smoke would keep insects away, implicating that we, on the other hand, had to sleep inside the smoke. Interestingly, probably prompted by the tiredness, I started to sense the nutrient limitation in the forest around us. Bloodsucking leaches kept on finding every tiny hole in our outfit. Blisters started to infect, fungus between my toes started to grow. Many shrubs have barbed and venomous thorns that created new blisters upon contact with the skin. It became clear that if we would stay too long in this forest, it would simply consume us. When we arrived at Tanjung Lokan, the first settlement on the other side of the Muller Mountains, we were both physically and mentally worn out, but still we wouldn’t have wanted to miss it for the world.

I admit that I might have been a bit naïve, but as a ‘desk ecologist’ I always considered primary rainforest to be like paradise: Mother Nature in her full glory. When we had arrived in Tanjung Lokan I better understood why local inhabitants, in search for prosperity, often choose to give up that paradise and convert it into something seemingly less hostile. On the other hand, when we spent the final two full days of our trip in a bus traversing the endless palm-oil plantations in order to reach Borneo’s west coast, it became strikingly clear that such ‘ecocide’ is definitively not the way to go. If we want to save the last bits of primary rainforest and the orangutan, we need to take the local oran into account. An important question we need to answer is: how can rural livelihoods in Indonesia develop without causing destruction of the awe inspiring landscape? Sending tourists through the heart of Borneo to make them realize this dilemma might not be the easiest route.

PhD graduations

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  • Bart Grutters (NIOO-KNAW), Utrecht, 5 April 2017 12:45. "Beyond barriers: ecosystem functions of alien aquatic plants" More information
  • Guido Waajen (WUR), Wageningen, 3 May 2017 11:00, "Eco-engineering for clarity. Clearing blue-green ponds and lakes in an urbanized area" More information.
  • Annette Janssen (NIOO-KNAW/WUR), Wageningen, 16 June 2017 13:30, "A blooming business: Identifying limits to Lake Taihu's nutrient input". More information.

Recent key publications

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  • Auffret A.G., Rico Y., Bullock J.M., Hooftman D.A.P., Pakeman R.J., Soons M.B., Suárez-Esteban A., Traveset A., Wagner H.H. & Cousins S.A.O. (2017) Plant functional connectivity - integrating landscape structure and effective dispersal. Journal of Ecology,
  • Garssen A.G., Baattrup-Pedersen A., Riis T., Raven B.M., Hoffman C.C., Verhoeven J.T.A. & Soons M.B. (2017) Effects of increased flooding on riparian vegetation: field experiments simulating climate change along five European lowland streams. Global Change Biology,
  • Ibelings B. W., Fastner J., Bormans M., & Visser P. M. (2016). Cyanobacterial blooms. Ecology, prevention, mitigation and control: Editorial to a CYANOCOST Special Issue. Aquatic Ecology, 50(3), 327-331.
  • Janssen A.B.G., de Jager V.C.L., Janse J. H., Kong X. , Liu S., Ye Q., Mooij W.M. (2017). Spatial identification of critical nutrient loads of large shallow lakes: Implications for Lake Taihu (China). Water Research
  • Kleyheeg E, Treep H.J., de Jager M., Nolet B.A. & Soons M.B. (2017) Seed dispersal distributions resulting from landscape-dependent daily movement behaviour of a key vector species, Anas platyrhynchos. Journal of Ecology,
  • Kleyheeg E., Van Dijk J.G.B., Tsopoglou-Gkina D., Woud T., Boonstra D., Nolet B.A. & Soons M.B. (2017) Movement patterns of a keystone waterbird species are highly predictable from landscape configuration. Movement Ecology 5: 2,
  • Soons M.B., Hefting M.M., Dorland E., Lamers L.P.M., Versteeg C. & Bobbink R. (2017) Nitrogen effects on plant species richness in herbaceous communities are more widespread and stronger than those of phosphorus. Biological Conservation
  • Soons M.B., de Groot G.A., Cuesta Ramirez M.T., Fraaije R.G.A., Verhoeven J.T.A. & de Jager M. (2017) Directed dispersal by an abiotic vector: Wetland plants disperse their seeds selectively to suitable sites along the hydrological gradient via water. Functional Ecology 31: 499–508,
  • Temmink, R.J.M., C. Fritz, G. van Dijk, G. Hensgens, M. Krebs, L.P.M.
    Lamers, G. Gaudig, H. Joosten, 2017, Sphagnum farming in a eutrophic
    world: the importance of optimal nutrient stochiometry Ecological Engineering, 98, 196–205,
  • Van Dijk, G., J.J. Nijp, L.P.M. Lamers, K. Metselaar, A.J.P. Smolders, 2016, Salinity-induced increase of the hydraulic conductivity in the hyporheic zone of coastal wetlands, Hydrological processes,