dr. NLMB (Loes) van Schaik

dr. NLMB (Loes) van Schaik

Assistant professor

I am an ecohydrologist, who works mainly on the interactions between soil fauna/ vegetation and soil hydrology. I studied soil, water, atmosphere in Wageningen and subsequently did a PhD at the Department of Physical Geography in Utrecht on the Role of macropore flow from plot to catchment scale in a semi-arid area. After a period of eleven years at different universities in Germany, where I worked on different geoecological projects, I have started as an assistant professor in Wageningen in August 2020.  

My main research interest lies on interactions between biological, physical and chemical processes in the unsaturated zone. Soil structure is known to determine in a large part the distribution of precipitation to surface runoff, soil moisture and preferential percolation to deeper layers or subsurface through flow to surface waters. Many macropores are built by soil organisms and are therefore spatially and temporally very variable. In recent years I have focussed on the interactions between soil fauna and soil hydrology from plot scale to catchment scale and on varying temporal scales, working both on large measurement campaigns, basic data analysis as well as various modelling approaches. I am now expanding my research field from the spatiotemporal variability in bioactivity and resulting preferential flow to the consequences of these for plant water availability and nutrient and pesticide distribution and leaching.

In many areas around the world climate change is predicted to lead to more extreme weather, with more intense precipitation events and longer dry spells. As a consequence, the importance of soil structure for water and solute transport will likely increase. Therefore I want to contribute to a better understanding of the interactions between soil biological, physical and chemical processes, which cause dynamic soil structure and may be crucial for predictions of changes in water and solute distribution and transport under future climate and land use change. Such improved understanding of the soil processes will contribute to recommendations for sustainable soil management.