Below you can find information on the main topics I'm currently working on. Using current observational knowledge on changing species distributions and abundances, I try to identify interesting plant study systems to use in mesocosm experiments. In this way I aim to further expand fundamental knowledge on biotic interactions of plant species in a global change context.
Novel plant communities
Plan communities are increasingly becoming re-assembled due to the introduction of alien plant species from other continents, latitudinal and altitudinal plant range expansions in response to climate change, as well as redistributions of plant species within their native range. In these 'novel plant communities', both native and non-native plants will be exposed to non-coevolved competitors and natural enemies, leading to the establishment of novel interactions. During my PhD I have focussed on novel interactions between plants and soil organisms, and in the coming years I aim to expand this research to include plant-plant and plant-insect interactions as well.
Determinants of plant-soil feedback variation
Plant-soil feedbacks - the indirect effects of individual plants on next generations of plants via the conditioning of soil communities - are important drivers of vegetation succession and plant community dynamics. I am especially interested in the roles generalist and specialist natural enemies play in plant-soil feedback variation in grassland ecosystems, and how these roles depend on the structure and diversity of the plant communities.
Drought and warming effects on plant-soil interactions
Climate change exposes terrestrial plant communities to increasing temperatures and more regularly occurring periods of drought. Drought and warming directly affect plant performance, but also affect the structure and functioning of soil communities. In several experimental projects, including plant-soil feedback studies, I try to increase the understanding on how these climate change factors alter the interactions between plants and their associated soil communities, and how this affects plant performance.