I am an interdisciplinary researcher rooted in soil sciences and biogeochemistry, aiming to bring various (sub)disciplines within the fields of earth and life sciences closer together. My main research interest is to better understand the effects of environmental changes on plants and soils across various spatiotemporal scales. At the moment I work on soil carbon cycling in Dutch forest soils within the NWO-TTW project ‘Climate-smart forestry (CSF): delivering operational tools for managing forests with increasing drought’.
My research project
Global climate change induces an increase in the frequency of severe drought events, threatening forest ecosystems. Climate-smart forestry is needed to secure and enhance forest productivity, forest resilience and climate change mitigation potential via carbon storage in trees and soils. A way to increase forest resilience to drought is by reducing stand density (i.e., number of trees per area), lowering the competition between trees for water. My part of the project focusses on examining how stand density and drought affect carbon cycling and (microbial) carbon stabilization in Dutch forest soils, with special attention for the important role of soil fungi. I make use of a large field experiment with 15 forest stands that have all received the same combination of harvest treatments, creating different stand densities. This will be complemented by a pot experiment in which I will trace carbon from plant to soil microbial community to mineral soil along a drought gradient.
The obtained soil data will be combined with tree data (other PhD student, Eva Meijers) and included in a model that will be upscaled from tree level to forest level (post-doc Jorad de Vries). All this knowledge will form the backbone of new and improved operational tools for foresters, including a training app to successfully implement climate-smart forestry.