PhD-cv

As a scientist, my main goal lies in the contributions to the world’s knowledge; a goal most notoriously achieved through the publication of scientific papers. For a list of all of them up till now, I gladly refer you to my profile on Google Scholar. On this page, I take the chance to give you a short summary of the main conclusions in them.

Small note: this list would be a whole lot less long if not for the fantastic network of dedicated colleagues, supervisors and co-authors I am a part of, many of them grouped within the MIREN network (Mountain Invasion Research Network). They deserve the biggest possible thank you.

Mountain roads

  • Mountain roads affect species composition, with higher species richness and a very different community in the roadsides than in the natural vegetation (Lembrechts et al. (2014). PLoS ONE).
  • These mountain roads thus have inevitable effects on species ranges, with lowland (native and non-native) species expanding their ranges on average 600 m upward in the roadside, and alpine species 200 m downwards (Lembrechts et al. (2017). Ecography).

Plant invasion in mountain plant communities

  • Alpine plant communities in the subarctic are more invasible for non-native species than lowland communities (Lembrechts et al. (2014). PLoS ONE).
  • Along the whole elevation gradient, invasion is mostly driven by disturbance, i.e. removal of the vegetation (Lembrechts et al. (2016). PNAS, Lembrechts et al. (2017b). Ecography).
  • Due to small-scale variation in biotic interactions and microclimate within such disturbances, size of a vegetation gap and location within the gap do matter for the success of the invaders (Lembrechts et al. (2015) AoB Plants).
  • Despite the higher invasibility of alpine areas, the highest elevations are so far relatively free from non-native plants (Alexander et al. (2016). Alpine Botany).
  • Nonetheless, in total nearly 200 non-native plant species have been recorded from alpine environments around the world (Alexander et al. (2016). Alpine Botany).
  • Surprisingly, most non-natives in alpine environments are warm-adapted species (Alexander et al. (2016). Alpine Botany).
  • Even though they like it warm, they perform best in disturbed sites at intermediate elevations. There, it is not yet too cold, but the native vegetation grows too slow to provide much resistance against invasion (Lembrechts et al. (2016). PNAS).
  • These warm-adapted species can tactically make use of warm spots in the mountains as stepping stones towards higher elevations, especially with a bit of human help (disturbance, nutrient addition, transportation of seeds (Lembrechts et al. (2017b). Ecography).
  • All of this suggest an increasing risk for plant invasion in cold ecosystems in a future that will combine a warming climate with persistent anthropogenic pressure.Buttercup is the earliest in spring, here

Belowground processes

  • Litter decomposition is driven more by climate than by species, site or origin of the litter. How much litter remains – and how much carbon and nitrogen within the litter – can thus be predicted best by precipitation, soil water content and air temperature (Portillo-Estrada et al. (2015). Biogeosciences).

Biodiversity experiments

  • We came up with a fast and easy alternative to resource-intensive experiments to explore the importance of species evenness for ecosystem functioning, by applying a little trick to existing species richness-ecosystem functioning experiments (Lembrechts et al. (2017). Oikos).

Eriophorum heads

PhD-projects
Co-developed and unoffically co-supervised by me

Charly – 2017-… – Cities: hotspots for future biological invasions?

Student projects
(Co)-supervised by me

Robin – masters thesis 2019 – Testing a thermometer of the past; bacterial communities and chemical fossils along a subarctic elevation gradient (Sweden).
Bram – masters thesis 2019 – Brussels’ urban heat island: a hotspot for future plant invasions (Belgium).
Amélie – masters thesis 2018 – plant species distribution shifts along mountain roads: microclimate (Norway).
Maria-Rose – masters thesis 2018 – plant species distribution shifts along mountain roads over time (Norway).
Jan – masters thesis 2018 – plant and mycorrhizal distribution shifts along mountain roads (Norway).
Sebastien – masters thesis 2017 – drivers of plant invasion in mountains: disturbance and trails (Sweden).
Sharissa –
masters thesis 2017 – microclimate explains patters of recolonisation in disturbed vegetation (Belgium).
Nina –
masters thesis 2016 – including roads into species distribution models of non-native plant invaders (modelling).
Gilles – masters thesis 2016 – drivers of plant invasion in mountains: microclimate and disturbance (Sweden).
Charly – masters thesis 2015 – limits to the invasibility of sub(ant)arctic mountain vegetation and the effects of microclimate (Chile and Sweden).
Pablo – 2015 – the combined effect of invading pine trees and cushion plants on understory alien species along a Patagonian steppe road (Chile).
Arne – masters thesis 2015 – limits to the invasibility of subarctic mountain vegetation (Sweden).
Niels – masters project 2015 – abiotic en biotic microvariation within gaps and their effect on winter survival of gap colonisers (Belgium).
Lotte and Kevin – bachelors thesis 2015 – microscale effects of savannah trees on understory diverity (Tanzania).

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Teaching

Cold stress in plants – Plant Ecology for the masters in Biology, Ecology and Environment, University of Antwerp (2013, 2015-present).
Fluorescence as a measure of plant stress – Plant Ecology for the masters in Biology, Ecology and Environment, University of Antwerp (2013-present).
Forest types – Ecosystem types for the Bachelors in Biology, University of Antwerp (2014-present).

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Presentations, posters and chairing sessions

October 2017 – poster Biology Research Day – Antwerp – Belgium.
October 2017
 – organisation Biology Research Day – Antwerp – Belgium.
August 2017 – 
several presentations at the 11th MIREN meeting – Montana – USA.
March 2017 – 
presentation JEF Functional Ecology – Montpellier – France.

October 2016 – poster Biology Research Day – Antwerp – Belgium.
September 2016 –
presentation Neobiota conference – Vianden – Luxemburg.
September 2016 – presentation seminar sessions – Abisko – Sweden.
August 2016 –
presentation ESA Conference – Florida – USA.
January 2016 
– presentation seminar Université de Picardie – Amiens – France.

October 2015 – presentation Perth III – mountains of our future earth – Perth – Scotland.
October 2015 – session chair Perth III – mountains of our future earth – Perth – Scotland.
September 2015 – pitch presentation Biology Research Day – Antwerp – Belgium.
September 2015 – poster Biology Research Day – Antwerp – Belgium.
September 2015 – presentation seminar sessions – Abisko – Sweden.
June 2015 – several presentations at the 10th MIREN meeting – Flen – Sweden.
May 2015 – poster Empowering Biodiversity Conference – Brussels – Belgium.

December 2014 –  presentation annual county board meeting – Umeå – Sweden.
August 2014 –  presentation ESA Conference – Sacramento – USA.
August 2014 – session chair ESA Conference – Sacramento – USA.

June 2014 – poster Heteroclim Workshop – Loches – France.
April 2014 – poster Benelux conference on invasive species – Ghent – Belgium.

September 2013 – presentation seminar sessions – Abisko – Sweden.
July 2013 – presentation proclamation – Antwerp – Belgium.

Enjoying the PhD

Awards and achievements

March 2017 – INTERACT Travel Grant
October 2015 –
finalist of  ‘Man and Mountain’ – Perth III Mountains of Our Future Earth photography contest
June 2014 – FWO PhD fellowship (4 years)
January 2014 – INTERACT Travel Grant
June 2013 – ActUA student award

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Scientific blogs

2015 – present – MRI, the Mountain Research Initiative, blog coordinator for the MIREN network.
2015 – present – Scilogs, the blog platform of EOS.
2015 – The Arctic Research blog from INTERACT.
2015 – latinamericanscience.org for the South-American part.
2015 – Biodiverse Perspectives, a joint blogging effort of graduate students.

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