Zoek medewerkers/organisaties prof.dr.ir. FJ Sterck
Naamprof.dr.ir. FJ Sterck

OrganisatieDepartement Omgevingswetenschappen
OrganisatieeenheidBosecologie en Bosbeheer
Telefoon+31 317 487 399
Telefoon secretariaat+31 317 486 195
Telefoon 2+31 317 486 195
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BezoekadresDroevendaalsesteeg 3a
PostadresPostbus 47
  • - Geen nevenwerkzaamheden
    apr 2019 - Nu


Woody plants in action:

environment, physiology and plant traits, and their consequences for forests.


Trees look like solid, static and architectural creations, but they are continuously in action and fulfil many functions that influence their growth and structure. Functions include acquisition, transport and use of resources, biomechanical support, hydraulics, resource allocation, and development.


My work focusses on the understanding of trees in action – the role of different functions and pressures on growth - and on the consequences of trees in action - for the niche differentiation and distributions of species and the sustainable management of trees and forests.I therefore develop mechanistic plant models and collect data on morphological and physiological traits, plant growth and survival, species distributions, the production of timber or non-timber products, soil properties and climate conditions in a variety of forest ecosystems around the globe.





Understanding growth patterns of trees from underlying eco-physiological and evolutionary principles.

Current projects include studies on understanding plastic growth responses of trees to contrasting soil conditions, by integrating underlying trait responses in roots, stem and leaves for canopy trees (PhD Weemstra), and comparative studies where we upscale the functioning of anatomical properties in xylem, phloem and leaves to the architecture, functioning and growth for trees across Dutch forests (with MSc students) and European forests (European research networks) . In addition, I explore diel and seasonal patterns in carbon and water relationships within trees and consequences for overall tree growth (European research networks)

Understanding the consequences of the growth patterns for niche differentiation and species distributions along environmental gradients.

Current projects focus on the impacts of responses in functional traits and architecture for distributions of woody plant species along gradients in climate, for example for tree species across Europe (with European networks), woody plant species from boreal, temperate to tropical forest biomes (PhD Zhang), for liana and tree species in forests of Panama (PhD Medina), Brazil (Post-Doc ) and tropical China (Chinese research networks), and for trees across the Mediterranean (European research networks).

Understanding the consequences of growth patterns for the management of trees or forests.

Current projects include multiple studies on environmental and physiological impacts on frankincense production by a woodland tree species in Ethiopia (with Frans Bongers, and a whole team of Ethiopian PhD students), and on mono and mixed forest species impacts on forest productivity in the Netherlands (PhD Lu Huicui).


My ambition to educate students in the field of forest ecology and forest management starts from my personal fascination with nature in all its diversity, and my professional fascination with understanding the functioning of forest and trees from underlying principles. As a lecturer, I am active in courses for BSc. or MSc. students in Forest and Nature Conservation and Biology. I recently became a member of the Program Committee for the BSc. and MSc. in Forest and Nature Conservation to contribute to the quality and coherence of the overall study program.

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