Prof. Dries Bonte: Professor in ecology and evolution, research and teaching in spatial ecology and modelling with a background in coastal dune ecology.
Dr. Martijn Vandegehuchte: postdoctoral assistant with a background in plant-herbivore and above-below-ground interactions research and coastal dune ecology
The Terrestrial Ecology Unit is embedded within the Department of Biology of the Faculty of Sciences of Ghent University.
The unit investigates how the spatial configuration and diversity of habitats affect ecological dynamics such as population persistence, species coexistence and species ranges. Quantitative empirical approaches are used to develop predictive models. Coastal dunes are a focus of study and we translate fundamental ecological principles into applications related to coastal dune functioning and resilience.
Our participation in ENDURE will strengthen the unit’s role in developing an ecologically sound and sustainable coastal zone management that maximises functioning, resilience and biodiversity of the dune ecosystem.
Our group is leading the development of early warning systems for dunes. This will be accomplished by quantifying and mapping marram grass vegetation along the coastline of the 2-Seas region. Based on already available data and collaborative efforts by the partnership to collate aerial photographs as well as biological and morphological data from selected sites in the study area, quantitative tools will be developed to assess the dunes’ health status with respect to biological values and resilience to climate change and recreational pressure.
These vulnerability maps will be eventually integrated into a novel visualisation tool. As the group is embedded in the educational programme of Ghent University as well as in inter-university education, ENDURE is used as platform for training future coastal and marine scientists.