Jointly meeting global challenges Annual report 2012


2011 Willem Koerselman Award for Witte

3 April 2012Research

Flip Witte, ecohydrologist at KWR and professor at VU University Amsterdam, receives the 2011 Willem Koerselman Award from his ex-colleague, and the person the award is named after, Willem Koerselman, for his article: “A global study of relationships between leaf traits, climate and soil measures of nutrient fertility”, which was published in Global Ecology and Biogeography. The Willem Koerselman Award is granted every year by KWR to the KWR researcher who has written the most-cited peer-reviewed article the previous year.

Witte’s much-cited article, which he co-authored with doctoral candidate Jenny Ordoñez, deals with the relationship between soil nutrient fertility and the vegetation’s response. It is part of wider KWR research into making more robust (reliable) models that predict the effects of climate change and hydrology on soil and vegetation.

In order to chart the effects of climate change, among the factors looked at are spring groundwater levels. But this is not a robust measure, because spring constantly varies and the groundwater level is an indirect measure of what really matters to plants: namely, having sufficient water and oxygen. Witte and his team are developing new models and gathering measurement data at different locations. This will soon allow them to make more reliable predictions about what vegetation will look like under future climate conditions, and thus how much evaporation will

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