Faculty of Biology
PhD thesis: Optimising the configuration of woody riparian buffer strips along rivers to enhance biodiversity and ecosystem services
My contribution to the OSCAR project (Optimising the configuration of woody riparian buffer strips along rivers to enhance biodiversity and ecosystem services) deals with the relationship between woody riparian vegetation and instream biodiversity.
It is well established that riparian trees generally benefit the aquatic biocoenosis by regulating fluxes of energy (shading from solar radiation) and matter (e.g. fine sediment or nutrient retention, input of leaf litter or woody debris). Consequently, they also benefit the ecological assessment and are therefore a common key element of restoration efforts.
In this context we extent the scope of consideration of woody trees from the reach to upstream scale and establish catchment wide effects on aquatic biodiversity. To do so we rely on landuse data enhanced with new very-high resolution orthophotography from a large dataset covering a wide geographic extent. Through structural equation modelling the study will identify biotic responses to the presence or absence of riparian trees in multi-pressure catchment situations and we may link these to certain causal pathways regarding the various functions of riparian trees. Ultimately, we will derive a Bayesian belief network that allows managers to predict effectiveness of restoration measures involving riparian trees.