My main research focuses on conservation genetics and population viability of (endangered) species, ranging from various plant species to carabid beetles and rabbits. In particular, I am interested in the interplay between demography, local adaptation and genetic processes such as inbreeding and outbreeding depression. Even though it is now widely acknowledged that genetics is a very important component of both short- and long-term population viability, it is still hardly being incorporated in species recovery projects across the globe (read our recent paper in Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment: Pierson et al. 2016). One of my missions is to change this disregard of genetics, so that we can make species conservation efforts much more effective than they are at present.
With this aim, we founded Science4Nature in 2012. Using IBED-knowledge and lab- and greenhouse facilities, Science4Nature is currently performing a large number of applied species conservation/restoration projects, funded mainly by subsidies from provinces. Projects range from demographic monitoring of Fritillaria meleagris along the IJssel river and Thesium humifusum in the coastal dunes, analysis of genetic diversity in the rare weed Arnoseris minima in the entire country, to ex situ breeding program-assisted species recovery projects on Primula vulgaris, Antennaria dioica, Lathyrus linifolius, Phyteuma spicatum, and Scorzonera humilis.
In addition, we work on various biodiversity research projects related to connectivity and gene exchange, e.g. in the context of so-called "ecoducts" built to connect previously fragmented nature reserves and on biodiversity in the urban ecosystem of the city of Amsterdam. I am one of IBED's ambassadors in the collaborative networks Amsterdam Green Campus and Groen Kapitaal Academie.
Currently, we work on answering the following questions: