Profile of Monique Heijmans

Dr. Ir. Monique M. P. D. Heijmans

Nature Conservation and Plant Ecology Group

Wageningen University                           


I am an ecosystem ecologist specialized in vegetation-climate interactions in northern ecosystems. Since 2003 I have a position as part-time assistant professor and postdoc at the Nature Conservation and Plant Ecology Group led by prof. Frank Berendse. My research often combines field studies with greenhouse experiments and ecosystem modelling. I am most interested in the impacts of climate change on vegetation composition, and vice versa how dominant plant species, including mosses, influence the climate system through exchange of greenhouse gases and heat fluxes. I have done studies in European peatlands, Alaskan boreal forest and recently in Siberian tundra. The main results of my research suggest that changes in vegetation composition should be taken into account when analysing long-term effects of climate change on northern ecosystems.

My current VIDI research, together with Ko van Huissteden, Daan Blok and PhD candidates Ake Nauta, Bingxi Li and Peng Wang, focuses on feedbacks of vegetation change to permafrost thawing, soil nutrient availability and carbon storage in tundra ecosystems. At a Siberian tundra site near Chokurdakh we have set up field experiments in which vegetation composition, thawing depth and/or soil nutrient availability has been manipulated. This together with ecosystem modelling will increase process understanding of vegetation-soil-permafrost feedbacks which is required to improve predictions of the future of the Arctic’s permafrost and its gigantic carbon stores.