An integrated hydro-ecological model for fen conservation


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Title An integrated hydro-ecological model for fen conservation
Period 04 / 2005 - 03 / 2009
Status Completed
Dissertation Yes
Research number OND1317414
Data Supplier Website Sense


Deterioration of a groundwater-dependent ecosystem in the Netherlands Species-rich fens, a type of groundwater-dependent vegetation, are one of the threatened ecosystems in the Netherlands. The Dutch fens typically emerge as a successional stage of terrestrialization from turf ponds dug for peat extraction since the 17th century. Despite their anthropogenic origin, they have a rich biodiversity and contain many internationally-rare plant species. During the last decades, however, the fens are severely deteriorated because of 1) absence of new creation of turf ponds and 2) change in water quantity and quality. The latter is mainly triggered by eutrophication and acidification of surface water and fragmentation of groundwater which otherwise contributes in lowering nutrient availability and buffering acidity. As a result, the species-rich fen communities have declined not only in extent but also in connectivity, leaving the remnant populations even more vulnerable. Needs for integrated eco-hydrological models for fen conservation Under the given conditions there are no single remedies which can ideally conserve the fens. Rather, attempts to seek for an optimal combination and arrangement of several conservation measures are needed. A modeling study will help examining the mutual effects of conservation options and human disturbances that are difficult to study empirically. As fens are subject to strong influence of water, explicit consideration of hydrological and ecological processes, as well as their interactions, is a prerequisite for such a model. A challenging topic in the eco-hydrological integration is that the cause-effect chains of the fen systems involve a number of interacting processes which occur on a variety of scales both in time and space. There have been many studies in the past to link hydrological and ecological knowledge by use of statistical methods or expert knowledge. However these models have weaknesses in handling different scales and/or extrapolating their prediction to other domains. In contrast, process-based, mechanistic models have a potential to overcome these issues. Aim - Understanding the influence of human interference on fen ecosystems: how do individual plants response to resources and stress in the rhizosphere which are strongly regulated by hydrological processes? How do species-specific responses influence species interaction on a local scale and thus species composition? - Evaluating various conservation measures to provide scientific underpinnings for decision making

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Supervisor Prof.dr. P.C. (Peter) de Ruiter
Supervisor Prof.dr. M.J. (Martin) Wassen
Doctoral/PhD student Y. Fujita

Related research (upper level)


D22400 Ecology

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