Onderzoeker / gast
Although the number of studies on sandy beach ecology, and the physical environment in particular, is increasing over the past years, we are only beginning to understand the way human activities interact with biological and physical factors in beach ecosystems. Studies on effects of human activities on sandy beaches are still relatively scarce and cumulative effects are seldom investigated. Moreover, existing studies have hardly made a link to the biological mechanisms involved. Understanding these mechanisms requires knowledge of the affected system, and of the nature of the activity. Up till now, community attributes like species richness, total abundance and biomass have been the main variables that were investigated in relation to human activities. However, to be able to truly understand and predict - beyond description - how the physical beach environment responds to human interventions, the overarching cause and effect mechanisms should be clarified at the individual and population level.
To deal with the above challenges, Lies analyses the human activities that alter the original beach environment by adding or disturbing sand and therewith changing the physics of a beach. She does this by studying both flora and fauna on the beach, in both the marine and terrestrial system, emphasizing the interconnectivity (through sand) of the coastal system as a whole, and the littoral active zone in particular. To get a grip on the mechanisms involved, I used both field investigations and laboratory experiments, in which beach changes were investigated through beach nourishment and beach grooming. Together, she aims at attaining a better understanding of the functioning of Dutch sandy beaches in particular, to add to the knowledge that is needed for optimal coastal management in times of increasing human (cumulative) activities and their pressures on the coastal ecosystem
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