Pick your thesis subject by searching our database based on your favourite supervisor! (Thesis supervisors are listed in alphabetical order.)
Tropical forests change continuously. This change, and the drivers responsible for it, is the heart of my scientific attention. Most of my work is on environmental drivers (e.g. light, water, soil, climate) but social factors increase. Successional pathways after deforestation (why are there so many?). Increasing importance of lianas (why are lianas taking over?). Increasing use of timber and non-timber forest products (as frankincense) (why in some cases forest are doomed by collection of products, while in other cases it is sustainable?). Integration of woody plants in agricultural fields (competition or facilitation?). Shifting distribution of tropical species along main environmental gradients (why some species shift and others don’t?). Interesting questions? Contact me.
Prof. dr. Frans Bongers
My main interest is in intersection between forest ecology and forest management. What can we learn from nature in order to design sustainable strategies for the management of forests? How do interventions in the structure and composition of forest affect ecological and biological processes like tree growth, biodiversity, stand development and succession? I believe that the answers to such questions are essential to design strategies for forest use that can maintain of even improve forest productivity and functioning, which is important in the light of the increasing need for energy and raw materials provided by our forests.
Dr. ir. Jan den Ouden
Dr. Marielos Pena Claros
I am interested in plant functional traits; anything that you can measure on a plant, and that is relevant for its response to the environment, or its effect on ecosystem processes. Together with students I have measured traits at different levels (the ecophysiological, whole-plant and population level) and analyze how they are associated into plant strategy spectra. I am interested how these traits shape species performance, species distribution, community assembly, and species coexistence, and how they scale-up at the community level, determining ecosystem processes and services.
I have been working in temperate and tropical forests at different continents, but mostly in Latin America. Most of my research has focused on theoretical aspects, such as tree species responses environmental gradients (light, water, soils) and niche differentiation, but I also work on more applied aspects, such as secondary forest succession, sustainable forest management, land use change, and ecosystem services. Using a combination of descriptive research, experiments, and modeling I evaluate the main avenues of specialisation of plants, and highlight their functional differences. This allows us to predict plant responses to environmental change and different management scenarios.
Dr. ir. L Poorter
I am supervising MSc theses is in tree-ring research and wood anatomy. In our DendroLab we have facilities to identify and measure tree rings from shrub and tree species from all over the world ranging from Arctic shrubs to tropical rainforest species.
The width and structure of tree rings is an archive to study past and present environmental factors that influence tree vitality and wood production. In our Lab we are working on fundamental research (how do trees pick up environmental signals in wood? how is water-transport capacity in the tree related to cell size?), but also applied research (how fast do tropical tree grow? how old are the frankincense trees in Ethiopia? when did the invasive beetle make the exit whole and infected the Dutch landscape?).
A MSc thesis at the DendroLab often involves fieldwork, extensive labwork in good company(!) and statistical data analyses. MSc students are regularly participating in PhD and post-doc projects meaning that they are adopted in our research team.
Dr. Ute Sass-Klaassen
In my research, I aim at understanding of patterns in growth and distributions of woody plants from underlying traits, physiology and environmental conditions. For this, I use both comparative (empirical) and mechanistic (modelling) methods. Starting from generic concepts of plant physiology / growth and plant trait collections, I try to explain why plants of different species occupy different niches along continental climate gradients, environmental gradients within forests, and in relation to different soil conditions. These studies are carried out in both tropical and temperate forest areas, and used to understand and predict forest dynamics in relation to climate change.
Dr. ir. Frank Sterck
I study the dynamics of tropical forests. I try to understand the natural population dynamics of tropical tree species, but also how climatic changes and human disturbances influence forest dynamics. Using tree ring measurements, forest monitoring plots, stable isotopes and population models, my colleagues and I answer questions such as: What are sustainable timber harvest levels? Did tree growth change over the last century? What is the disturbance history of tropical forests? And, are super-performing trees in a population much more important than others? Our studies are conducted in a number of tropical countries, including Cameroon, Colombia, Mexico, Vietnam, Thailand and Bolivia. MSc student projects involve field work, lab work and statistical/modelling analyses.
Dr. Pieter Zuidema