My research

At the core of my research are the organisms that live in the soil, such as fungi, bacteria, nematodes, mites, and many, many more barely visible creatures of which most people don’t know that they exist. All these organisms work together to break down organic matter and release nutrients for plant growth, which is not only important for conserving our ecosystems, but also for producing our food. However, climate change, land use change, agricultural practices, and the loss and gain of plant species all threaten the diversity and functioning of these organisms, with direct consequences for the capacity of soils to feed us, but also for the diversity of aboveground organisms, and the conservation of ecosystems. Through my research, I want to find out how these human-induced disturbances affect communities of soil organisms, and how we can protect those to conserve our ecosystems, and to make agriculture more sustainable.

Through the years, my research has focussed more and more on the effects of climate change – drought, heatwaves, and extreme rainfall or flooding – on ecosystems. In particular, I study how these disturbances affect interactions between plants and soil organisms and how these changes affect the functioning of ecosystems. I am very interested in how these climate change-related disturbances interact with other disturbances, such as changes in land use, nutrient enrichment, or changes in grazing pressure.

You can read about current and past projects here, and you can read about my research group here.