On Tuesday 16 May 2023 a small team of researchers from the Institute for Biodiversity & Ecosystem Dynamics (University of Amsterdam) visited the Maashorst (Netherlands) to visited an area “re-wilded” with European Bison (Bison bonasus). In addition to the bison the area is also now home to Tauros and Exmoor Ponies The purpose of the trip was to collect soil surface samples to examine for dung fungal spores. Certain fungi grow only on the dung of herbivores and the spores of these fungi can be preserved in the sedimentary record (for more information see Lee et al., 2022). Analysis of dung fungal spore diversity through the sedimentary record can therefore provide insights into the changes in the amount of dung (animals) in the landscape in the past. The purpose of this sampling effort was to see if we can quantify how many, and what type, of spores are representative of this group of bison. This information will help us to be able to interpret ancient records of fungal spores in more detail.
Yesterday was the second, and final, day of the Netherlands Annunal Ecology Meeting (NAEM) for 2018. Having stayed up rather later than I would normally for a Tuesday night, due to the the gezellig atmosphere, the scrambled eggs and coffee were very welcome for breakfast. We were then on with the conference with parallel sessions starting at 08:30.
First up I opted for the session on “Monitoring biodiversity change: Essential biodiversity variables and beyond” organised by Daniel Kissiling (University of Amsterdam) and Rob Jongman (Wageningen University & Research). In the session new IBED PhD research Zsofia Koma presented a nice talk on the potential of LiDAR for evaluating ecosystem change, and Franziska Schrodt (University of Nottingham) looked at how we can link biodiversity and geodiversity. I found the talk by Franziska highlighting the importance of linking the abiotic and biotic components of the landscape particulalry stimulating as it links very well with much ongoing work within both the Department of Theoretical & Computational Ecology (Biogeography & Macroecology) and Ecosystem & Landscape Dynamics (Biodiversity & Geodiversity in the tropics) here at IBED.
Having fun online at #NAEM2018
To take us to lunch were two plenary lectures on the theme of these were given by Katja Poveda (Cornell University) and Erik Polman (replacing Marchel Dicke; Wageningen University). Both talks illustrated the complexity of natural systems and landscapes.
After lunch I chose the “Animal Ecology” session charied by Chris Smit (University of Groningen) and Patrick Jansen (Wageningen Research & University). I really enjoyed the first two talks in this session which highlighted the complexity that animals add to ecosystems. First up Esther Rodriguez (PWN) showed the differential impact of European bison and wild horses on vegetation (Cromsigt et al., 2017). Then Annelies van Grinkel (University of Groningen) presented her work trying to discover if deer in the Netherlands are still scared of wolves after the absence of wolves from the Netherlands for the last 150 years; this included some nice camera trap footage of deer running away from hand soap!
Overall a fun meeting, I met lots of new people, and saw lots of great talks so will definatly be back next year. Thanks to all the organisers for putting on such as show.