E (Elke) Wenting MScPromovendus
I am a PhD candidate studying how scavengers are incorporated in the terrestrial nutrient cycle. I am deeply fascinated by natural cycles in general. As many natural cycles are interrupted due to anthropogenic causes, I am interested in how we can restore these natural cycles to improve ecosystem resilience. As all animals die and have accumulated nutrients in their bodies over their entire lifespan, I believe that the scavenging process is an interesting starting point to restore natural cycles, and to obtain new insights into the importance of the fundamental ecological processes they represent.
In my opinion, the nutrient cycle is one of the most fundamental ecological processes, that still receives too little attention, especially in nutrient-poor ecosystems. Interestingly, in the Netherlands, we see that scavenger communities are remarkably the most developed in the most nutrient-poor areas, e.g. the Veluwe. This area is home to many species that are known to be frequent scavengers, e.g. raven and wild boar. I wonder whether and how such species - that can have key roles in the decomposition process of carcasses - can also provide key roles in restoring natural cycles.