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PhD students and post-docs



Karen Tuytens (2012 – present)

Karen is developing hydrological models to reconstruct and predict inundation patterns in temporary pond systems. She is currently expanding earlier developed models for rock pool systems to more complex aquatic systems. Her main study system consists of temporary clay pans in the subtropics in the Malilangwe Conservancy in Zimbabwe. For this we collaborate with Tamuka Nhiwatiwa (University of Zimbabwe) and Bruce Clegg (Malilangwe). Promotership is shared with Luc Brendonck, KU Leuven.



Arnout Grégoir (2013 – present)

Arnout has a past in fish-parasite phylogeny but recently abandoned the parasites in favor for the fish. He is studying the relative role of phenotypic plasticity, epigenetic modification and local adaptation in life history differentiation in African killifishes from the genus Nothobranchius. Promotership is shared with Luc Brendonck, KU Leuven.

bioloog in actie

Lise Beirinckx (2013- present)

Lise studies connectivity in wetlands in Southern France. She is interested in community ecology and population genetic structure and the relative importance of temporal and spatial dispersal generating diversity patterns. Promotership is shared with Ludwig Triest (VUB).


Evelien Deboelpaep  (2015 – present)

Evelien was awarded a FWO PhD fellowship to study the importance of connectivity in wetland networks during bird migration. As a model system she uses the migration flyway across the Balkans and Greece towards Lybia. Promotership is shared with Nico Koedam (VUB).



Mathil Vandromme  (2015 – present)

Mathil Vandromme joined the research group after having succefully obtained a VLADOC PhD grant awarded by the Flemish Interuniversity Council for Developmental Aid. Mathil will start to work on the potential ecosystem services provided by bromeliad plants that grow in plantations of coffee and cocoa in Nicaragua. After completing her BSc at VUB, she enrolled in the Erasmus Mundus MSc programme in tropical ecology (TROPIMUNDO). During her MSc degree she worked on an elevational gradient in the Monteverde Cloud Forest in Costa Rica.


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Joren Snoeks  (2017 – present)

Joren Snoeks finished his MSc thesis at KULeuven and joins us to study the ecological and evolutionary role of ancient granite inselbergs in landscapes. Besides from his PhD, Joren will also teach a number of practicals in our BSc program.



Post doctoral researchers:

Dr. Tom Pinceel (2015 – present) – (PhD 2010 – 2014)

Tom is working on the diapause ecology of temporary pond crustaceans. He is interested in the different mechanisms these organisms use to achieve staggered hatching over different inundations enabling them to reduce the risk of reproductive failure and population extinction. Tom works with fairy shrimp, clam shrimp and cladocerans and also contributes to parallel research lines on killifish. In addition, Tom has been involved in a number of phylogenetic and phylogeographic studies we have done over the years on different branchiopod crustaceans. After finishing his PhD in 2015, he is now a post doctoral fellowship with the FWO Flanders. Promotership is shared with Luc Brendonck, KU Leuven.


Dr. Hendrik Trekels (2014-present)

Hendrik studies the role of habitat selection affecting species distribution patterns in metacommunities using aquatic insect communities as models. He combines field and mesocosm experiments with survey data. He was beneficiary of a three year postdoctoral fellowship with the Scientific Research Fund Flanders (FWO) and is currently funded by a VUB Global Minds post doctoral fellowship.

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Dr. Jayme Santangelo (2016-present)

Jayme is a professor at  the Federal Rural University of Rio de Janeiro in Brazil and joins us for a one year post doc. He collaborates with Hendrik Trekels on habitat selection in pond communities.

Past members of the research group:



Dr. Falko Buschke (2011 – 2014)

Falko is interested in the spatial and environmental drivers of diversity patterns and species distributions and the relative role of stochastic and deterministic processes. For this he makes use of biodiversity databases of African vertebrates and a combination of statistical tools including variation partitioning and null models. Promotership is shared with Luc Brendonck, KU Leuven.

Falko has a sharp pen and shares interesting articles on general science, conservation and macro ecology on his blog: The Solitary Ecologist!

Definitely worth a visit.


Dr. Jane Reniers (2010 – 2014)

Jane is working on life history adaptations of frogs with special emphasis on developmental plasticity, variable offspring investment and habitat selection as risk spreading strategies. For this she uses two model systems: an Australian rock pool breeding frog (the bleating froglet Crinia pseudinsignifera) – in collaboration with Dale Roberts (University of Western Australia) – and the brown frog (Rana temporaria) – in collaboration with Ivan Gomez Mestre (Estacion Biologica de Donana) -. Promotership is shared with Luc Brendonck, KU Leuven.