Project properties

Title Fertilization impacts on interactions between ungulates and forest vegetation
Group Forest Ecology and Forest Management Group
Project type thesis
Credits 24-36
Supervisor(s) FEM: J (Jan) den Ouden, WEC: IMA (Ignas) Heitkonig; PA (Patrick) Jansen; S (Sylvana) Harmsen MSc. Leontien Krul (De Hoge Veluwe National Park)
Depending on the topic, collaboration with Biometris supervisors is possible
Examiner(s) J (Jan) den Ouden
Contact info
Begin date 2020/03/01
End date 2025/03/01
Description Open to:
Mainly MSc thesis projects, but there might be possibilities for MSc internship/ BSc thesis/ BSc internship.

Anthropogenic nitrogen deposition leads to eutrophication and soil acidification globally, which may change vegetation composition and cause biodiversity loss. This can in turn lead to decreased ecosystem functioning. A possible mitigation measure is the application of rock dust, a slow-release fertilizer that can partially restore lost minerals and enhance soil buffering capacity.

One big uncertainty, however, is how ungulates respond to rock dust and how this in turn influences forest regeneration and development. Past experiments focusing on N, P and/or K fertilization found increased browsing, which may hamper forest regeneration. So, will rock dust be a possible solution to improve forest quality or will we worsen regeneration problems in forest ecosystems?
More information can be found on the project page:

Possible student projects:
1. How do ungulates use the landscape and how does this influence the forest vegetation?
Long-term dataset, exclosures, experiments
Best time period: March-June and for vegetation mid-August to October*
2. How do different tree species respond to rock dust?
Big full-factorial experiment on 8 tree species
Measurements executed March-May and July-August
3. How does rock dust influence the utilization rate of ungulate herbivores?
Multiple experiments, camera traps (e.g. Snapshot Hoge Veluwe), etc.
Best time period: March-June
4. How does rock dust influence ungulate food preference?
Feeding experiments
Best time period: March-June
5. Other projects are possible, you can give your own input!
Please email Sylvana if you are interested to see what is possible.

*We are always looking for multiple students to help with the annual vegetation inventory from mid-August (3rd week) to the end of October. MSc theses using this data will start 1-2 months ahead with proposal writing.
Pre-requisite: knowledge about native flora and the ability to work with Heukels or other reliable flora guides.
Preferably: good general understanding about statistics and basic skills in R

Topic(s): Biodiversity and functional diversity/ Plant-animal interactions/ Population and forest dynamics/ Sustainable forest management/ Forest restoration and succession / Ecosystem services / Agroforestry/ Ecophysiology
Region(s): The Netherlands, forests on sandy soils at the Veluwe, mainly situated in De Hoge Veluwe National Park. Some projects also include other habitat types on sandy soils in Noord-Brabant and Gelderland.
Climate(s): Temperate zone

Corona proof: Yes
Used skills Depending on the project: data analysis in R(Studio), possibly Canoco; field work; flora species inventory; working with camera traps; soil and/or leaf chemical analysis (lab work), basic lab work
Requirements Standard for MSc thesis:
- WEC-31806 Ecological Methods I, or a comparable alternative course;
- One FEM course (at least), depending on the topic of the thesis: FEM-30306 Forest Ecology and Forest Management, FEM-30806 Resource Dynamics Sustainable Utilization, FEM-32306 Agroforestry, or Models for Ecological Systems FEM-31806

Standard for BSc thesis
minimal 120 credits