Seminar: "MANGROVE RESEARCH FROM BRUSSELS: FATE AND FORTUNE, STRESS AND SERENDIPITY" by Prof. Nico Koedam
Title: MANGROVE RESEARCH FROM BRUSSELS: FATE AND FORTUNE, STRESS AND SERENDIPITY
Speaker: Prof. Nico Koedam
Affiliation: Vrije Universiteit Brussel
Abstract: Mangroves do not occur in Belgium, yet the Brussels universities have made mangroves one of their core biological research targets. In this short presentation Nico Koedam outlines the genesis of mangrove research started FROM Brussels and its hubs in the tropics. ‘Fate and fortune’ refers both to the genesis of this research, but mostly to the interactions of mangrove dispersal units, the mangroves, with their environment as a driver of their establishment and dispersal. ‘Stress’ indicates that the mangrove physiology reflects adaptations to reduce stress and allows these trees to thrive under demanding conditions, while ‘serendipity’ indicates the joy of unexpected discoveries. With these 4 words the Brussels mangrove research is concisely presented, however with many open questions to be dealt with through further research and collaboration.
Biography: Nico Koedam is a professor at the Vrije Universiteit Brussel, the Dutch speaking university in Europe’s capital. His teaching assignment is ecology, physio-ecology and plant phylogeny in the Bachelor years, biogeography and nature management amongst others in the Master years, with extended educational fieldwork. His research group is now mostly oriented towards mangrove research, with a strong emphasis on the (Western) Indian Ocean. The mangrove focus covers the range from water uptake, mangrove tree vascular systems, over mangrove dispersal, vegetation structure and eventually, human mangrove-utilization patterns. This range almost seamlessly touches upon governance and policy or mangrove management altogether. Most of this research takes place in close collaboration with teams worldwide, often with alumni of the VUB. Besides these, ongoing research in the Ecology & Biodiversity group of Nico Koedam’s team also comprises the wetland connectivity and suitability for Western Palaearctic migratory shorebirds in Europe. The general strong coastal and marine interest in the group is one of the pillars of the MSc Marine and Lacustrine Science and Management (‘Oceans & Lakes’), an international 2 year MSc programme, jointly organized by the Vrije Universiteit Brussel, the Universiteit Gent and the Universiteit Antwerpen, all in Flanders (Belgium). The ‘Oceans & Lakes’ programme is coordinated by Nico Koedam