Expertise Ellen van Donk, NIOO-KNAW

Department of  Food web Studies (FS), Centre for Limnology (CL), Netherlands Institute of Ecology (NIOO-KNAW)

Research within FS aims to elucidate how evolutionary principles, ecological mechanisms and abiotic factors govern the dynamics and structure of lake food webs. We link levels of organization, ranging from microevolutionary change in phytoplankton populations, through trophic and indirect interactions of food web modules, to the biotic and abiotic factors that structure aquatic communities in entire lakes. We focus on interacting ecological and evolutionary mechanisms that underlie the major patterns and processes in freshwater food webs. Examples of such mechanisms are inducible defences, fungal parasitism of phytoplankton and keystone predation by fish and birds. Many of our projects are of a fundamental nature, but have a strategic aspect in that they address questions and problems that are relevant for the sustainable use of freshwater ecosystems and predicting the impacts of global change on these systems.



  • qRT-PC
  • markers (microsatellites, RFLP)


  • Microarray facilities


  • Focus on: interaction between aquatic organisms and their (a)biotic environment
  • Research objects: phytoplankton and zooplankton
  • Main research discipline: Aquatic Ecology / Evolutionary Biology

Project Topics:

  • Cyanobacterial genomics: towards a better control of toxic blue-green algae; building a library of gene expression profiles under defined sets of environmental conditions
  • Demonstrating parasite driven microevolution in natural diatom host populations.