I am a plant evolutionary ecologist with a broad interest in conservation biology. My research focuses on the ecological and evolutionary challenges that plants experience as a result of environmental change. Central in my research is the role of genetic erosion and inbreeding on plant performance and adaptive potential which I study in highly fragmented populations, marginal populations, and in crop species that suffer from inbreeding depression.
Due to high levels of fragmentation many plants occur in small and isolated population and are exposed to higher risks of inbreeding and genetic drift. This may eventually lead to reduced genetic variation and loss of adaptive potential. In addition, many plants are exposed to increased levels of environmental stress, such as changes in land use, eutrophication, acidification, (air) pollution and increasing temperatures. I study the interaction of these two major stresses, ´genetic stress´ (reduced genetic variation and inbreeding) and environmental stress. Particularly, I am interested in how such ´genetic stress´ influences plant responses to environmental stress and their adaptive potential.
By using a combination of field and greenhouse experiments, demographic and genomic studies, I analyse how various environmental and genetic factors affect the dynamics of plant populations and the evolution of plant traits.