Our mission is to generate scientific knowledge and facilitate societal partners to strengthen biodiversity. We do scientific research, develop biodiversity tools, and give advice to partners. We combine science, policy and practice. Our expertise areas are: pollinators and pollination, spatiotemporal shifts in biodiversity, biodiversity monitoring and biodiversity tools.
Pollinators and Pollination
Pollinators are crucial for the natural environment and for human food production. We aim to use the results of our research directly in societal projects and include citizen science and awareness in our work. Research subjects we work on include pollinator declines and shifts, the structure of plant-pollinator networks and communities, crop pollination, the main causes of pollinator shifts and developing predictions and scenarios for pollinators and pollination under climate- and land use change. We are currently working on gaining a better understanding of climate and land use impacts on plant-pollinator networks and crop pollination, the interaction between figs and fig wasps, developing pollinator monitoring schemes and technology and improving species distribution modelling tools for societal impact.
Spatiotemporal shifts in biodiversity
We make use of state-of-the-art analytical techniques such as Species Distribution Modelling (SDM), Artificial Intelligence and statistical tools to detect patterns and causes of biodiversity change through time focusing on The Netherlands and EU. We currently work on gaining more insight in the relative importance of biotic and abiotic factors that drive biodiversity change and the impacts of climate change. Model outcomes are also used in prediction of biodiversity recovery of natural areas, in planning for sustainable agriculture and for nature-inclusive cities and infrastructure.
Understanding the responses of biodiversity to current and future pressures requires that species, interactions and systems can be monitored. We study the effectiveness of different monitoring methods across species groups to gain insight in system-level responses to agricultural interventions in human-dominated landscapes. This involves both standard and novel techniques such as image recognition and DNA-barcoding and is linked to the ARISE program for species identification infrastructure.
Based on the above we develop tools to enable end-users to act positively for biodiversity and give advice to societal partners. Current examples include our urban ecology research and solutions, defining nature quality, our tools for improving green infrastructure for pollinators and plants and combining solar parks and biodiversity and our decision-tools for selection of garden plants for bees and butterflies, for example the 'Flowering Arches' and ‘Bee plants’ (both in Dutch).
The team achieves societal impact by liaising with societal partners and in co-created development of knowledge and tools that make a difference.
Within the scientific domain several universities and institutes are currently partners. For policy and practice we are actively working with (semi)governments, companies and NGOs. Internationally, we are strongly connected to the pollinator and pollination community both the scientific work and the society and policy arena (e.g. CBD, FAO and Promote Pollinators).
Moreover, team members play central roles in several networks aimed at biodiversity research and biodiversity recovery or circular economy. Special attention deserves our role in the Dutch Delta Plan for Biodiversity Recovery where Prof. Koos Biesmeijer is board member as well as chair of the Working Groups on Knowledge and Innovation as on Biodiversity Monitoring, and the EU Life IP All4Biodiversity project of which Francisca Wit is project leader.
Who work here
Our group is led by prof. Koos Biesmeijer and consists of a team of researchers, PhDs, postdocs and guest researchers, policy officers and students. The team liaises with societal partners from their deep understanding of biodiversity and natural systems.
Students do internships on a broad range of subjects diverging from ecological scientific research to testing methods of citizen science. Students acquire competences like: species recognition, general fieldwork skills, data analysis using statistics and modelling and public outreach skills.