Department Evolutionary & Population Biology (IBED-EPB)
The department of Evolutionary and Population Biology (EPB) is newly formed from three chair groups: Population Biology; Evolutionary Biology and part of Experimental Plant Systematics. Our research is on experimental and applied ecology and evolution, and focuses on understanding the fundamental ecological and evolutionary processes and mechanisms that link individuals, populations and communities of microorganisms, plants, and animals, and that ultimately drive community dynamics and speciation and determine biodiversity patterns.
It is the department's mission to understand ecological and evolutionary processes that determine persistence of populations, species and ecosystems. This knowledge is paramount for predicting the consequences of human impact on nature.
We witness a period of increased species extinctions and biodiversity loss, not least as a consequence of human activities. Human-induced environmental changes increasingly challenge the adaptive potential of species and have already led to massive biodiversity loss, disturbed ecosystem functioning and concomitant compromised ecosystem services. Yet, humans strongly depend on many ecosystems and their services. Increases of the human population and the individual ecological footprint only amplify the contrasts between human needs and biodiversity conservation. Humankind needs to face these challenges, which revolve around nature conservation and sustainable production methods. Our research will be aimed towards these challenges through fundamental and applied research on ecosystem services and natural ecosystems, dynamics and evolution of endangered and invasive species, evolution in the face of climate change, and sustainable crop protection. The department’s research also addresses several key questions of the Dutch research agenda (2015): “How do new species arise”, “How do ecosystems function” and “How to make agricultural production systems sustainable (with one of the 3 sub questions: How can we optimize biological control, thus reducing the use of pesticides?)”
We aim to contribute to a sustainable future and we will therefore encourage students to study the fundamental ecological and evolutionary processes that underpin the development of sustainable agriculture, the evolution of resistance, nature conservation and ecological risk assessments. We see a strong link between research and teaching in the Bachelor's and Master's phases as a cornerstone of an academic education. Both during courses and internships, students should be exposed to and participate in ongoing research. Our department coordinates the minor Evolutionary Psychobiology and the master tracks Ecology and Evolution and General Biology.