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Prof. dr. Luc De Meester

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Luc De MeesterI am fascinated by how communities and populations respond to environmental gradients, and to what extent ecological and evolutionary processes interact in shaping these responses. My research interests are broad, ranging from the ecology of lakes and ponds to ecological genomics.

Our aquatic ecological research focuses on analyzing the structure and functioning of lakes and pond ecosystems, and we study biodiversity and species composition in relation to environmental gradients and human impact. We study micro-evolutionary dynamics in response to environmental gradients, mainly using the waterflea Daphnia as a model species. We focus on trait evolution as well as on linking trait responses to population structure and signatures of evolution at the genome level.

By combining metacommunity research with analyses of micro-evolution, we explore eco-evolutionary dynamics, mainly focusing on how evolution may impact community dynamics at a local and regional scale. In this research, we focus on strong environmental gradients, including human impact (climate change, pollution). Exploring the importance of evolution-mediated priority effects is a key focus of our research.

While most of our research focuses on Daphnia and zooplankton as model organisms, some of our studies cover the whole range of organisms inhabiting ponds and lakes, from bacteria to fish. Our microbial ecological research mainly focuses on how metacommunity ecology and eco-evolutionary dynamics may increase our insight into the structure and dynamics of natural microbial communities.

Our research combines field observations and field experiments with large-scale outdoor container experiments, laboratory experiments, resurrection ecology and ecological genomics.

Postdocs: Mieke Jansen, Jelena Pantel, Kevin Pauwels, Caroline Souffreau and Joost Vanoverbeke
Phds:  Jessie Engelen, Lynn Govaerts, Aurora Geerts, Fabio Taquicava Hanashiro, Xavier Karreman, Veerle Lemaire, Pieter Lemmens, Koen Rummens, Katina Spanier, Ine Swillen, Andros Tarouco Gianuca, Edwin van den Berg, Matthias Vanhammel, Evelyne Vanvlasselaer and Dino Verreydt
Associated researchers and former team members: Tom De Bie, Ellen Decaestecker, Steven Declerck, Joachim Mergeay, Luisa Orsini, Sarah Rousseaux

Research topics

Projects:

Eve-net

STRESSFLEA

Eco-evolutionary dynamics

Other research projects


Ecology and conservation biology of lakes and ponds

We have a long tradition in studying biodiversity and food web structure in shallow lakes and ponds,  both in the context of European projects (BIOMAN, co-ordinated by K.U.Leuven; ALARM, EUROLIMPACS) and national consortia (Belspo projects on farmland ponds MANSCAPE and PONDSCAPE) as well as through targeted projects in Belgium (Vijvergebied Midden-Limburg; shallow lakes in nature reserve De Maten) and in other regions of the world (e.g. reservoir ecology in Ethiopia). We are interested in how food web structure impacts the functioning and biodiversity in shallow lakes, how environmental stress impacts biodiversity in lakes and ponds, and how biodiversity relates to ecosystem functioning . Our studies involve lake restoration projects (biomanipulation), large-scale standardized field surveys, analyses of ecosystem services of lakes and ponds, field experiments, and population genetic analyses.  We use genetic tools to document colonization dynamics and cryptic invasions.

Example studies:

  • Large-scale whole-lake experiment involving +20 shallow lakes to quantify the impact of fish community structure on biodiversity and ecosystem functioning in lakes in “Vijvergebied Midden-Limburg”; this study will contribute to an optimization of the management of this biodiversity hot-spot in Flanders (PhD Research Pieter Lemmens)
  • Linking land use to water quality and biodiversity in farmland ponds (e.g. Declerck et al. 2006 Biological  Conservation)
  • Across-group biodiversity patterns in shallow lakes along a North-South gradient in Europe; this study covered organism groups ranging from bacteria to fish (e.g. Declerck et al. 2005 Ecology)
  • Colonization of newly created ponds in natural settings, monitoring the success of nature restoration projects (e.g. Louette & De Meester 2005 Ecology; using genetic markers: Louette et al. 2007 Oikos)
  • Quantifying responses to lake restoration (e.g. Van de Meutter et al. 2006 Journal of Applied Ecology; Louette et al. 2009 Restoration Ecology)
  • Biodiversity in farmland ponds (PhD research Tom De Bie)
  • Plankton diversity and submerged aquatic vegetation (mesocosm experiment: Declerck et al. 2007 Ecology; conceptual paper discussing field patterns: Scheffer et al. 2006 Oikos)
  • Tracking invasion of an exotic species in Africa using a genetic marker and paleogenetics (Mergeay et al. 2005 Limnol. Oceanogr.; Mergeay et al. 2006 Proc. Roy. Soc. B)
  • Tracking extinction and recolonization using paleolimnology and paleogenetics (Mergeay et al. 2007 Ecology)
  • Quantifying cryptic invasion in the European water frog complex and its consequences  using genetic tools (e.g. Holsbeek et al. 2008 Mol. Ecol.; Holsbeek et al. 2009 Mol. Ecol.; Holsbeek et al. 2010 Biological Invasions)
  • Quantifying biodiversity using dormant egg banks (e.g. Vandekerckhove et al. 2005a Oecologia; Vandekerckhove et al. 2005b Limnology and Oceanography Methods)
  • The ecology of artificial reservoirs in the semi-arid highlands of Tigray, Northern Ethiopia (PhD research Mekonen Teferi; e.g. Dejenie et al. 2008 Hydrobiologia; Dejenie et al. 2009 Freshwater Biology)
  • Tropical lake ecology (e.g. Rejas et al. 2005, Freshwater Biology)
  • Ecological responses to climate warming (Jeppesen et al. 2010 Hydrobiologia; Moss et al. 2011 Inland Waters; Kosten et al. 2011 Global Change Biology)
  • Quantifying ecosystem services of shallow lakes and ponds (projects ECOFRESH and BEES; case study of the Vijvers of Midden-Limburg)

People:

  • PhD students: Tom De Bie, Pieter Lemmens, Mekonen Teferi
  • Associated staff: Steven Declerck (NIOO, NL)

Partners within K.U.Leuven:

Our research on pond systems is closely linked to the research carried out in the research group of Luc Brendonck, who focuses mainly on temporary pools. Several of the research activities have and are being carried out in a joined effort with this team. There is also a strong link to this team with respect to egg bank ecology. The work on European water frogs has been done as a joined effort with the group of Filip Volckaert; the work on macro-invertebrates was developed together with the team of Robby Stoks. We also collaborate with the team of Koenraad Muylaert at K.U.Leuven Campus Kortrijk.

    National and international partners:

    This research is often done in larger national (Manscape/Pondscape projects) and international consortia (EU projects ALARM, EUROLIMPACS), involving many partners. Our collaboration with Erik Jeppesen (NERI, Denmark) has been crucial to the development of our expertise in standardized field surveys.  Key partners in our national survey analyses are Wim Vyverman (UGent) and Koen Martens (KBIN). The work on ecosystem services is strongly rooted in our collaboration with the research team of Patrick Meire (UAntwerpen).

      Broader picture and integration:

      This research line is strongly linked to our studies on metacommunity structure, evolutionary ecology and eco-evolutionary dynamics. In these analyses, we often focus on strong environmental gradients in nature, and use the large data sets generated by our research on pond and shallow lake ecology to characterize abiotic and biotic characteristics of habitats. This integration of ecological and evolutionary biological research is very important to us.


       

      Metacommunity ecology

      Starting with the pioneering work of Karl Cottenie on local and regional factors structuring zooplankton communities in the interconnected shallow lakes of the “De Maten” system, we developed a strong interest in metacommunity ecology. We focus on the relative importance of local and regional dynamics in structuring communities in nature, identifying the importance of habitat connectivity, habitat age,  and environmental gradients. Ponds are excellent model systems to study metacommunity structure. Our field studies involve analyses on different spatial scales and comparing different organism groups. Using outdoor container experiments, we study the impact of dispersal and its interaction with environmental gradients. In several of our studies, we explicitly link metacommunity structure to population genetic structure and to genetic differentiation in traits of focal species (cf. research line on eco-evolutionary dynamics).

        Example studies:

        • Metacommunity structure of zooplankton (Cottenie et al. 2003 Ecology; PhD research Tom De Bie)
        • Field and mesocosm experiments on species sorting along environmental gradients, priority effects and community assembly in zooplankton (species sorting: Cottenie & De Meester 2004 Ecology; local interactions: Louette et al. 2006 Limnology & Oceanography; priority effects: Louette & De Meester 2007 Oikos; Phd research Tom De Bie)
        • Dispersal and colonization in zooplankton (Louette & De Meester 2005 Ecology; Louette et al. 2007 Oikos; Van de Meutter et al. 2008 Biology Letters)
        • Historical reconstruction of zooplankton assemblages and priority effects (Mergeay et al. 2006 Freshwater Biology; Mergeay et al. 2011 Ecology)
        • Dispersal and species sorting along environmental gradients (PhD research Dino Verreydt)
        • Metacommunity structure of macro-invertebrates in interconnected pond systems (Van de Meutter et al. 2006 Ecography; Van de Meutter et al. 2007 Ecology)
        • Metacommunity structure and dispersal in phytoplankton (Vanormelingen et al. 2008 Freshwater Biology; van Gremberghe et al.  2011 PLoS One)
        • Lineage sorting and metacommunity structure at various spatial scales in microbial communities (Van der Gucht et al. 2007, PNAS)
        • Priority effects in protists and microbial communities (e.g. van Gremberghe et al. 2010 Environmental Microbiology)
        • Parasite community assembly (Jansen et al. 2010 Journal of Animal Ecology)
        • Ponds and pools as model systems for metacommunity ecology (De Meester et al. 2005 Aquatic Conservation)
        • Linking metacommunity ecology to biogeography (e.g. Jocque et al. 2010 Global Ecology and Biogeography)

        People :

        • PhD students: , Tom De Bie, Sarah Rousseaux, Dino Verreydt
        • Postdoctoral Researcher: Caroline Souffreau
        • Associated staff: Steven Declerck (NIOO, NL)

        Partners within K.U.Leuven:

        • There is close collaboration on metacommunity ecology research with the research group of Luc Brendonck. This team focuses on metacommunity ecology of temporary pools, similarly using both field studies and mesocosm or field experiments, and both teams share the interest in pond systems as models for metacommunity studies at different spatial scales.

        National and international partners:

        • Our interactions with Mathew Leibold (Univ. Texas at Austin) have been important in the development of our expertise in the field of metacommunity ecology. A large part of the metacommunity analyses on protists and microbial communities have been carried out as a joint effort with the research team of Wim Vyverman (UGent). Paleolimnological reconstructions of community dynamics were carried out in collaboration with Dirk Verschuren (UGent).

        Broader picture and integration:

        • This research line is strongly linked to our studies on lake and pond ecology, evolutionary ecology and eco-evolutionary dynamics. The integration of metacommunity ecology and evolutionary ecology is a key focus of our research team.  

         
        Evolutionary ecology and resurrection ecology
        • We are interested in understanding micro-evolutionary responses of natural populations to environmental change, both in space (environmental gradients in natural landscapes) as well as in time. We study both responses to natural (e.g. predation, competition, parasite exposure) as well as  anthropogenic stressors (climate change, pollution) stressors.  We invest much energy in trying to obtain an encompassing view by taking a multi-stressor and multi-trait approach, so that trade-offs among responses to different stressors or among responses in different traits structuring evolutionary dynamics can be unveiled. Most of our work on evolutionary ecology focuses on the water flea Daphnia, where we capitalize on specific assets such as the short generation time, the possibility to work with clonal lineages and the formation of layered egg banks to study genotype x environment interactions as well as genotype x genotype interactions, and to use both experimental evolution and resurrection ecology to obtain better insight into evolutionary potential and constraints and into the dynamics of evolutionary change through time. There is a strong link between our evolutionary ecological work and our metacommunity (cf. eco-evo dynamics) and population genetics and genomics work.

        Example studies:

        • Evolutionary ecology of anti-predator traits
          • Resurrection ecology analysis (Cousyn et al. 2001 PNAS)
          • Evolutionary ecology of diel vertical migration (e.g. De Meester 1993 Ecology; De Meester et al. 1995 Nature)
          • Multiple-trait analyses and biochemical traits (Boersma et al. 1998 American Naturalist; Pauwels et al. 2007 American Naturalist)
          • Interactions between anti-predator defences and food stress (Pauwels et al. 2010 Functional Ecology)
        • Host-parasite co-evolution
          • Resurrection ecology analysis of Red Queen dynamics in nature (Decaestecker et al. 2007 Nature)
          • Genotype-genotype interactions and trade-offs with predation risk (Decaestecker et al. 2002 PNAS; Decaestecker et al. 2003 Evolution)
          • Evolution of immune responses (Pauwels et al. 2010 Limnology and Oceanography; Pauwels et al. 2011 Biology Letters)
        • Adaptation to climate change
          • Quantifying thermal genetic adaptation using experimental evolution (Van Doorslaer et al. 2007 Global Change Biology; Van Doorslaer et al. 2009 Evolution; Van Doorslaer et al. 2010 Climate Research; Van Doorslaer et al. 2011 Integrative and Comparative Biology)
        • Evolutionary ecotoxicology
          • Synergistic effects of pollution resistance and natural stressors (Coors et al. 2008 Oikos; Coors & De Meester 2008 Journal of Applied Ecology)
          • Local genetic adaptation to land use intensity (Coors et al. 2009 Aquatic Toxicology)
          • Genetic adaptation to pollution and its costs (experimental evolution and follow-up experiments: Jansen et al. 2011 Evolution; Jansen et al. 2011 Functional Ecology; Jansen et al. 2011 Ecotoxicology)
        • Evolutionary ecological consequences of inbreeding (PhD research Ine Swillen)
        • Evolutionary ecology of DaphniaMicrocystis interactions (van Gremberghe et al. 2008 Oikos; van Gremberghe et al. 2008 Environmental Microbiology; PhD research Veerle Lemaire)
        • Evolutionary ecology of phytoplankton (Vanormelingen et al. 2009 Limnology and Oceanography; van Gremberghe et al. 2009 Oikos)

        People:

        • PhD students: Cathy Duvivier, Aurora Geerts, Veerle Lemaire, Ine Swillen, Dino Verreydt
        • Postdoctoral Researcher: Mieke Jansen, Kevin Pauwels
        • Associated staff: Ellen Decaestecker (KULeuven Campus KULAK)

        Partners within K.U.Leuven:

        • Several of the evolutionary ecological research lines, especially those focusing on physiological traits and multiple-trait analyses, are developed in close collaboration with the research group of Robby Stoks. The research on host-parasite co-evolution is developed in close collaboration with Ellen Decaestecker, who as an independent PI at KULeuven Campus KULAK currently develops several additional research lines on host-parasite dynamics in Daphnia .

        National and international partners:

        • Collaboration with Dieter Ebert (Univ. Basle) has been crucial in the development of our expertise in studying host-parasite interactions in Daphnia. The experimental evolution trials on climate change were only possible thanks to collaboration with the research teams of Erik Jeppesen (NERI) and Brian Moss (Univ. Liverpool). The development of our expertise in evolutionary ecotoxicology strongly benefited from the input of Dr Anja Coors (ECT Oekotoxicologie, D).

        Broader picture and integration:

        • This research line together with our ecological and metacommunity research is a corner-stone for our integrated analysis of eco-evolutionary dynamics. It also links closely to our research on population genetics and genomics.

         
        Eco-evolutionary dynamics and evolving metacommunities
        • There is growing evidence that populations may show rapid evolutionary change in response to environmental challenges, which may potentially impact ecological dynamics, including community and ecosystem characteristics. We aim at gaining better insight into the importance of eco-evolutionary dynamics in nature. Building on our metacommunity and evolutionary ecological research, showing dynamics of species and genotype sorting along environmental gradients in space and time, we take an evolving metacommunity approach to study parallel patterns and interactions between genetic and ecological responses, and between metapopulation and metacommunity structure. More specifically, we aim at quantifying feedbacks of micro-evolutionary responses to ecological processes such as immigration, and to community structure and ecosystem functioning. We want to develop our insight into evolution-mediated priority effects (“monopolization”) and its consequences , and aim at quantifying the consequences of eco-evolutionary feedbacks in response to strong environmental gradients in space and time. In this latter research, we both focus on natural and anthropogenic selection pressures, and in the end aim for an integrated approach across levels of biological organization, traits, stressors and spatial scales. In addition to using experimental approaches (e.g. experimental evolution and follow-up experiments on feedbacks; transplant experiments), we also aim at findings ways to unveil the signature of eco-evolutionary dynamics in field surveys.

        Example studies:

        • Evolution-mediated priority effects and the dispersal – gene flow paradox: the monopolization hypothesis (De Meester et al. 2002 Acta Oecologica)
        • Community monopolization: simulations (Urban & De Meester 2009 Proc. Roy. Soc. B)
        • Genotype identity impacts establishment success of immigrant species (De Meester et al. 2007 Oecologia)
        • Evolving metacommunity concept (Urban et al. 2008 Trends in Ecology and Evolution)
        • Genetic adaptation to climate change reduces establishment success of immigrant genotypes (Van Doorslaer al. 2009 Global Change Biology)
        • Ecological feedback of genetic adaptation to predator exposure (PhD research Cathy Duvivier)
        • The signature of evolving metacommunity dynamics in nature (PhD research Sarah Rousseaux)
        • Bottom-up impact of priority effects along the food chain (PhD research Veerle Lemaire)
        • Eco-evolutionary dynamics of colonization (PhD research Ine Swillen)

        People:

        • PhD students: Cathy Duvivier, Aurora Geerts, Veerle Lemaire, Ine Swillen, Dino Verreydt 
        • Postdoctoral researcher:  Joost Vanoverbeke
        • Associated staff: Steven Declerck (NIOO, NL)

        Partners within K.U.Leuven:

        • Our eco-evolutionary research is embedded in an Excellence Center financing of the K.U.Leuven Research Fund. This project involves the research groups of Luc Brendonck, Ellen Decaestecker, Olivier Honnay, Herman Ramon, Robby Stoks, Filip Volckaert and Tom Wenseleers. This excellence financing integrates eco-evolutionary research across organism groups and across interaction types (competition, predation, parasitism, mutualism), both in terrestrial as well as in aquatic model systems.

        National and international partners:

        • Our research on evolving metacommunities benefits strongly from collaboration with Mark Urban (Univ. Connecticut), Mathew Leibold (Univ. Texas at Austin) and Pedro Peres-Neto (UQUAM, Montreal, Ca).

        Broader picture and integration:

        • This research line heavily builds on our expertise in aquatic ecology, metacommunity ecology, evolutionary ecology and population genetics/genomics. It also capitalizes strongly on the broad ecological and evolutionary knowledge on Daphnia, and on the assets of this model system for ecological and evolutionary research. In the longer term, we hope to be able to come to unified insights into eco-evolutionary dynamics and its consequences in natural systems across a broad range of organism types and systems.

         
        Ecological genomics and population genetics
        • We use genetic markers to understand the genetic structure of zooplankton populations in natural landscapes, combining phylogeographic analyses with more detailed analyses of genetic variation and differentiation. Questions include identification of colonization patterns and the impact of cyclic parthenogenetic reproduction on metapopulation structure. We also reconstruct genetic changes within natural populations through time using a paleogenetic approach on layered dormant egg banks. We contribute to the development of genomic resources for Daphnia magna as part of the Daphnia Genomics Consortium, and use these genomics tools to identify genomic regions under selection. We use a genome scan approach to link genomic regions to key environmental gradients, and verify the obtained signals using populations from layered dormant egg banks (reconstruction in time) and from experimental evolution trials. In addition to genomics, we also apply transcriptomics and proteomics in an effort to obtain better insight into the mechanistic underpinning of ecological responses.

        Example studies:

        • Genetic structure of cyclical parthenogenetic populations and genetic differentiation in natural landscapes (De Meester et al. 2006 Archiv Hydrobiologie; Vanoverbeke et al. 2007 Heredity; Thielsch et al. 2009 Molecular Ecology; Vanoverbeke & De Meester, Journal of Evolutionary Biology)
        • Metapopulation structure in interconnected ponds (Michels et al. 2001 Molecular Ecology)
        • Phylogeography of Daphnia (De Gelas & De Meester 2005 Molecular Ecology; Mergeay et al. 2008 Molecular Ecology)
        • Concept papers on local genetic adaptation, dispersal and gene flow (De Meester 1996 Ecoscience; De Meester et al. 2002 Acta Oecologica)
        • Development of markers and genomics resources (Ortells et al. 2009 Molecular Ecology Resources; Routtu et al. 2010 BMC Genomics; Jansen et al. 2011 Molecular Ecology Resources; Orsini et al. 2011 BMC Genomics)
        • Genome scan analyses identifying genome markers associated with environmental gradients (Postdoctoral research Luisa Orsini)

        People :

        • PhD student: Katina Spanier
        • Postdoctoral researchers: Luisa Orsini,  Joost Vanoverbeke
        • Associated staff: Joachim Mergeay (INBO)

        Partners within K.U.Leuven:

        • We collaborate intensively with Stein Aerts on the development of bioinformatics tools for the analysis of the Daphnia genome.  Proteomics work is developed in collaboration with the teams of Liliane Schoofs and Rony Swennen / Bart Panis.

        National and international partners:

        • Our expertise in population genetic analyses benefited strongly from long-standing collaborations with Piet Spaak (EAWAG, CH) and Klaus Schwenk (Univ. Koblenz-Landau, D). Our genomics work was developed within the framework of the Daphnia Genomics Consortium and benefited strongly from collaboration with John Colbourne (Univ.  Indiana at Bloomington). Our current genomics work is carried out within the international ESF consortium STRESSFLEA (co-ordinated by K.U.Leuven) in which 9 teams are involved in addition to ourselves: Dieter Ebert (Univ. Basle), Christoph Haag (Univ. Fribourg), Adam Petrusek (Charles Univ. Prague), Chistian Laforsch (Univ. München), Mikko Frilander (Univ. Helsinki), Karel Deschamphelaere (UGent), Andrew Beckerman (Univ. Sheffield) and John Colbourne (Univ. Indiana at Bloomington).  For transcriptomics work we collaborate with Dries Knapen (UAntwerpen).

        Broader picture and integration:

        • Our population genetic and genomics analyses provide important insights for a broad range of questions, but also provide essential information on population history, colonization dynamics and dispersal that are crucial for our research on metacommunity ecology, evolutionary ecology and eco-evolutionary dynamics. In addition, we often use genetic markers in our manipulative mesocosm experiments.

         
        Microbial ecology
        • We aim at understanding how bacterial communities are structured in nature, and test how concepts such as metacommunities and evolving metacommunities apply to the microbial world. In this way, we want to use microbial communities to build more general insight in the processes determining the dynamics of (meta)communities in time and space. We have expertise in microbial culturing procedures, molecular fingerprinting and high throughput analyses, and work with both bacterioplankton and biofilms.  Interactions between the bacterioplankton and biofilms and among biofilm communities are a key focus of our research. In an applied context, we study the build-up of bacterial communities in biofilms and screen for environmentally friendly ways to combat biofouling.

        Example studies:

        • Lineage sorting and metacommunity structure of bacterial communities in shallow lakes (Van der Gucht et al. 2001 Environmental Microbiology; Muylaert et al. 2001 Applied and Environmental Microbiology; Van der Gucht et al. 2005 FEMS – Microbial Ecology; Van der Gucht et al. 2007 PNAS)
        • Zooplankton grazing structuring bacterioplankton communities (Degans et al. 2001 FEMS - Microbial Ecology; van Gremberghe et al. 2009 Oikos)
        • Dormant stage banks of zooplankton microparasites (Decaestecker et al. 2004 Limnology and Oceanography; Jansen et al. 2010 Journal of Animal Ecology)
        • Microbial ecology in tropical lakes (Rejas et al. 2005 Aquatic Microbial Ecology)
        • Priority effects in microbial communities and its consequences (van Gremberghe et al. 2009 Environmental Microbiology; PhD research Veerle Lemaire).
        • Bacterial communities of activated sludge (Vanysacker et al. 2010 Applied Microbiology and Biotechnology)
        • Biofilm development on membrane surfaces (PhD research Louise Vanysacker)

        People involved in the local team:

        • PhD students: Louise Vanysacker, Raphaella Goyvaerts
        • Postdoctoral researcher: Caroline Souffreau

        Partners within K.U.Leuven:

        • The research on membrane biofouling is developed in close collaboration with the research team of Ivo Vankelecom and  em. Prof. Frans Ollevier. We collaborate on socio-microbiology and risk spreading strategies with Jan Michiels, Kevin Verstrepen and Tom Wenseleers.

        National and international partners:

        • Much of our research on bacterioplankton communities in shallow lakes and on the ecology of Microcystis was developed in a joint effort with the research team of Wim Vyverman (UGent).

        Broader picture and integration:

        • Our analysis of microbial communities in waste-waters and biofilms as they develop on membrane surfaces has important applications in understanding the development of biofilms and finding ways to avoid excessive biofouling. O      ur expertise in characterizing bacterial communities expands the scope of our field surveys and experimental work considerably and offers possibilities to test the generality of ecological concepts for a wide variety of organisms, including microbes. More specifically, we work towards applying a metacommunity and evolving metacommunity approach to better understand how bacterial communities are structured.

         

        Daphnia biology 

        While we do not see the study of biology of Daphnia as a key focus of our research, our studies do capitalize very strongly on knowledge of the biology of this model, and have contributed to insights into its ecology and evolution. We here list the topics on which our analyses have shed some light, and refer to key publications.

        • Anti-predator defences
          • Genetic variation in diel vertical migration and phototactic behaviour (e.g. De Meester 1991 Hydrobiologia; De Meester 1993 Ecology)
          • Phototactic behaviour: changes in behaviour in response to environmental gradients (food availability: De Meester & Dumont 1989 Limnology and Oceanography; temperature and pH: Van Uytvanck & De Meester 1990 Journal of Plankton Research; food quality: Michels & De Meester 1998 Hydrobiologia)
          • Phototactic behaviour of males (De Meester 1992 Animal Behaviour)
          • Fish-induced plasticity in phototactic behaviour (De Meester 1993 Ecology; De Meester & Cousyn 1997 Hydrobiologia)
          • Habitat selection and genetic polymorphism (De Meester et al. 1995 Nature)
          • Local genetic adaptation for anti-predator defences (De Meester 1996 Evolution; Cousyn et al. 2001 PNAS)
          • Diel horizontal migration (Michels et al. 2007 Hydrobiologia)
          • Life history traits (De Meester 1994 Oecologia; Boersma et al. 1999 Limnology and Oceanography; De Meester & Weider 1999 Limnology and Oceanography)
          • Physiological and biochemical traits (Pauwels et al. 2005 Journal of Evolutionary Biology)
          • Integrated analysis of multiple traits (Boersma et al. 1998 American Naturalist)
          • Anti-predator defences under food stress (Pauwels et al. 2010 Functional Ecology)
          • Responses to invertebrate predators (Van de Meutter et al. 2004 Oikos; Van de Meutter et al. 2005a,b Oecologia)
        • Host-parasite interactions (see also Ellen Decaestecker)
          • Red Queen dynamics (Decaestecker et al. 2007 Nature)
          • Genotype-genotype interactions (Decaestecker et al. 2003 Evolution)
          • Trade-off with anti-predator behaviour (Decaestecker et al. 2002 PNAS)
          • Ecological impact of parasites (Decaestecker et al. 2005 Oecologia)
          • Evolution of heat shock protein expression and phenoloxidase (Pauwels et al. 2007 American Naturalist; Pauwels et al. 2010 Limnology and Oceanography; Pauwels et al. 2011 Biology Letters)
          • Dormant egg banks of Daphnia parasites (Decaestecker et al. 2004 Limnology and Oceanography; Jansen et al. 2010 Journal of Animal Ecology)
        •  Thermal adaptation and climate change
          • Genetic adaptation: experimental evolution (laboratory: Van Doorslaer et al. 2009 Evolution; outdoor mesocosms: Van Doorslaer et al. 2010 Climate Research)
          • Feedback of evolution on establishment of immigrant genotypes (Van Doorslaer et al. 2009 Global Change Biology)
          • Thermal adaptation in Daphnia in an eco-evolutionary perspective (De Meester et al. 2011 Integrative and Comparative Biology)
        • Adaptation to habitat quality, land use and pollution
          • Genetic adaptation to land use in nature (Coors et al. 2009 Aquatic Toxicology)
          • Synergistic effect of exposure to pollution and parasites (Coors et al. 2008 Oikos; Coors & De Meester 2008 Journal of Applied Ecology; Jansen et al. 2011 Evolution)
          • Experimental evolution of pollution resistance (Jansen et al. 2011 Ecotoxicology)
          • Costs of evolution of pesticide resistance (Jansen et al. 2011 Functional Ecology; Jansen et al. 2011 Evolution)
          • Phototactic behaviour impacted by pollutants: Michels et al. 1998 Water Research; Michels et al. 2000 Ecotoxicology and Environmental Safety; Kieu et al. 2001 Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry)
        • Feeding
          • Top-down control of phyto- and bacterioplankton by Daphnia (Degans & De Meester 2002 Hydrobiologia)
          • Impact on Microcystis (van Gremberghe et al. 2009 Oikos; Dejenie et al. 2009 Freshwater Biology)
          • Impact on bacterial communities (Degans et al. 2002 FEMS – Microbial Ecology)
        • Physiology and biochemical characteristics
          • Carotenoid content (De Meester & Beenaerts 1993 Limnology and Oceanography)
          • Heat shock proteins (Pauwels et al. 2005 Journal of Evolutionary Biology; Pauwels et al. 2007 American Naturalist)
          • Phenoloxidase expression (Pauwels et al. 2010 Limnology and Oceanography; Pauwels et al. 2011 Biology Letters)
        • Dormant egg banks and hatching
          • Dormant egg banks: reviews (Jeppesen et al. 2001 Trends Ecology and Evolution; Brendonck & De Meester 2003 Hydrobiologia)
          • Hatching (De Meester & De Jager 1993ab Freshwater Biology; De Meester et al. 1998 Archiv Hydrobiologie; Vandekerckhove et al. 2004 Hydrobiologia)
          • The use of dormant egg banks to assess biodiversity (Vandekerckhove et al. 2005 Limnology and Oceanography Methods; Vandekerckhove et al. 2005 Freshwater Biology; Vandekerckhove et al. 2005 Oecologia)
          • Build-up of dormant egg banks in new habitats (Vandekerckhove et al. 2005 Archiv Hydrobiologie)
          • Viability of dormant eggs in layered egg banks (Cousyn & De Meester 1998 Archiv Hydrobiologie)
          • Recolonizaton of Daphnia populations from dormant egg banks (Mergeay et al. 2007 Ecology)
          • Risk spreading strategies and dormant egg banks (Vanoverbeke & De Meester 200 Ecoscience)
          • Ephippia morphology and species identification (Mergeay et al. 2005 Hydrobiologia)
          • Biochemical characteristics of dormant eggs (Pauwels et al. 2007 Hydrobiologia)
        • Population genetic structure and clonal erosion
          • Local genetic adaptation and gene flow: reviews (De Meester 1996 Ecoscience; De Meester et al. 2002 Acta Oecologica)
          • Local genetic adaptation within a regional metacommunity (to fish predation pressure: De Meester 1996 Evolution; to water quality and land use: Declerck et al. 2001 Freshwater Biology; Coors et al. 2009 Aquatic Toxicology)
          • Cyclical parthenogenesis and population genetic structure: review (De Meester et al. 2006 Archiv Hydrobiologie)
          • Population genetic differentiation in cyclical parthenogens (Vanoverbeke & De Meester 1997 Hydrobiologia; Vanoverbeke et al. 2007 Heredity; Michels et al. 2003 Freshwater Biology; Thielsch et al. 2009 Molecular Ecology; Vanoverbeke & De Meester 2010 Journal of Evolutionary Biology)
          • Genetic structure of recently founded populations (Louette et al. 2007 Oikos)
          • Population genetic structure of asexual Daphnia (Aguilera et al. 2007 Limnology and Oceanography)
          • Metapopulation structure (Michels et al. 2001 Molecular Ecology)
          • Phylogeography of Daphnia (De Gelas & De Meester 2005 Molecular Ecology; Mergeay et al. 2008 Molecular Ecology)
        • Genomics
          • Development of microsatellite markers (for D. atkinsoni: Ortells et al. 2009 Mol. Ecol. Resources; for D. magna: Jansen et al. 2011 Mol. Ecol. Resources)
          • SNP marker development (Orsini et al. 2011 BMC Genomics)
          • Genetic linkage map (Routtu et al. 2010 BMC Genomics)
        • Inbreeding and inbreeding avoidance
          • Inbreeding and outbreeding depression (De Meester 1993 Oecologia)
          • Inbreeding avoidance (De Meester & Vanoverbeke 1999 Proc Roy Soc B)
        • Invasion biology
          • Cryptic invasion documented by paleogenetics (Mergeay et al. 2005 Limnology and Oceanography; Mergeay et al. 2006 Proc. Roy. Soc. B)
        • Dispersal and (meta)community assembly
          • Zooplankton metacommunities (Cottenie & De Meester 2003 Freshwater Biology; Cottenie et al. 2003 Ecology; Cottenie & De Meester 2004 Ecology)
          • Dispersal (Michels et al 2001 Hydrobiologia; Van de Meutter et al. 2008 Biology Letters)
          • Habitat colonization (Louette & De Meester 2004 Hydrobiologia; Louette & De Meester 2005 Ecology)
          • Establishment success and community assembly (Louette et al. 2006 Limnology and Oceanography; Louette et al. 2008 Freshwater Biology)
          • Priority effects among Daphnia species (Louette & De Meester  1997 Oikos)
          • Paleolimnological reconstruction of Daphnia communities through time (Mergeay et al. 2004 Freshwater Biology; Mergeay et al. 2011 Ecology)
        • Eco-evolutionary dynamics
          • Daphnia genotype impacts community build-up (De Meester et al. 2007 Oecologia)
          • Feedback of thermal adaptation to establishment success of immigrant genotypes (Van Doorslaer et al. 2009 Global Change Biology)
          • Responses to climate change in an eco-evolutionary perspective (De Meester et al. 2011 Integrative and Comparative Biology)