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Professor of Functional Ecology, Wageningen University

The world harbors a tremendous diversity of plant species. I am fascinated how these species differ in their plant characteristics (traits), and how these traits shape species performance, distribution, community assembly and species coexistence. I am interested how traits scale up at the community level, determining ecosystem processes and services. Such an understanding is needed, if we want to design sustainable, multifunctional landscapes, that benefit both nature and society.

I do so by combining empirical field work with experiments and modeling. For the past 25 years I have mainly worked in tropical forests in Latin America and Africa, in close collaboration with my PhD students and a large network of colleagues from all over the world.

I have obtained my Masters Biology at Wageningen University (1991), my PhD at Utrecht University (1998) and work since 1999 at the Forest Ecology and Management group, first as a Veni laureate, then as a PE&RC laureate, Associate Professor (2010), Personal Professor (2014), and Personal Professor Hoogleraar 2 (2019).

I have received a prestigious Advanced Grant from the European Research Council on Biodiversity and recovery of forests in tropical landscapes (PANTROP; 2018-2025, and I am coordinating together with others the 2ndFOR research network on Secondary forest succession in the tropics (


  • –present
    Professor of Functional Ecology, Wageningen University