Exploring synergies and trade-offs among species groups for biodiversity conservation in riverine landscapes

Supervisors

Jeroen Groot (FSE Wageningen UR)
Rob Lenders (Environmental Science Radboud University, Nijmegen) R.Lenders@science.ru.nl
Reinier de Nooij (Environmental Science Radboud University, Nijmegen) r.denooij@optimalplanet.nl

Introduction

The presence of species groups in landscapes is to a large extent dependent on the proportion and configuration of habitat areas. BIO-SAFE is a modeling tool based on ecological data and expert knowledge that allows to relate the proportion of ecotopes (landscapes ecological units such as river dune, soft wood alluvial forest, etc.) to the presence of species groups (higher plants, mammals, reptiles and amphibians, butterflies and dragon- and damselflies). This can be used to evaluate existing landscapes and to determine the consequences of changes in land-use and resource management. It can be expected that adjustments in landscapes are beneficial for some species and species groups, but could be detrimental to others. To support the development of new scenarios and to inform policy formulation for landscape restructuring, it would be helpful to have insight in the synergies and trade-offs among species groups in relation to changes in ecotope proportions. In this project these synergies and trade-offs will be assessed in a model-based exploration after coupling an ecological model (such as BIO-SAFE) to an optimization algorithm.

Objectives

Model-based exploration of synergies and trade-offs among species groups in selected riverine landscapes using the BIO-SAFE model.

Procedures

  • evaluating the functioning of the BIO-SAFE model
  • linking BIO-SAFE to an existing optimization framework
  • executing optimization runs and analyzing the outcomes
  • visualizing and quantifying synergies and trade-offs
Experiences gained
  • preparation of a detailed proposal
  • learning how to run models, and how to analyze the outcomes
  • applying ecological models and optimization algorithms
  • writing an MSc thesis (and preferably a manuscript for a journal) in English