Keynote speakers

Prof. Jake Vander ZandenCenter for Limnology, Madison, WI

Keynote - New perspectives in the study of lake food webs

Jake Vander Zanden is a Professor at the Center for Limnology, University of Wisconsin – Madison. He has conducted research on topics ranging from the giant trout of Mongolia, to giant insect emergence events in Iceland. In the process he has trained over 35 graduate students and postdocs at UW-Madison. His basic research has focused on developing a more holistic understanding of lake food webs that includes benthic pathways and linkages among habitats and ecosystems. On the applied side, his work includes efforts to understand and predict the spread and impact of aquatic invasive species in inland waters. Along with numerous national and international awards and plenary talks, Jake is author of over 100 peer review publications. In addition to communicating with public audiences, he teaches several courses at UW-Madison, including the world’s largest ‘Limnology’ course. 


Dr. Steven Declerck Netherlands Institute of Ecology, Wageningen, NL

Keynote - Implications of global change for aquatic communities: do micro-evolutionary shifts in population functional traits make a difference?

I am interested in the question how patterns in biodiversity are shaped by dynamics at both local and regional scales, and how knowledge on these dynamics can be used for the development of effective conservation and management schemes. Metacommunity ecology is a rapidly expanding field in community ecology with an increasing impact on current thinking about communities, biodiversity, ecosystem functioning and conservation biology. An important part of my recent research has focused on how spatial dynamics can affect the structure, biodiversity and trophic interactions in aquatic metacommunities. Using data from large scale field surveys (e.g., ditch networks in The Netherlands, farmland ponds in Belgium and temporary pools in the Bolivian Andes), we study how the structure of metacommunities is related to the dispersal mode of organisms, connectivity patterns in the landscape, heterogeneity in the environment and spatial scale. We also use mesocosm to explore potential interaction effects of dispersal with environmental heterogeneity.

Traits of species are not necessarily fixed but can be prone to rapid evolutionary change. Such changes can have important implications for the interactions of populations with their biotic, physical and chemical environment. For this reason, we are currently setting up a research line that will address contemporary micro-evolutionary change in zooplankton populations and the consequences this may have for the dynamics of food web interactions, biodiversity and ecosystem functions.


Prof. David HarperProfessor (Emeritus) of Limnology, University of Leicester and Director, Aquatic Ecosystem Services Ltd., UK

Keynote - Long-term research on an unstable tropical lake, Lake Naivasha, Kenya - does it tell us anything about the future?

David Harper took his first degree in Zoology at Oxford and studied eutrophication of Scottish lochs for his PhD in Dundee, Scotland. He began his career in the water industry as the biologist for the newly-created Rutland Water in middle-England, at that time the largest man-made water body in Europe. His academic career began 4 years later as a Science Tutor in the erstwhile Adult Education Department of the University of Leicester, the university he was to spend the rest of his career in. He became Senior Lecturer in Ecology in the Zoology Department, retiring in 2014 as Professor in Catchment Science in the Biology Department.

Throughout his career at Leicester he initiated and led research teams to Lakes Naivasha and Bogoria, Kenya; initially as Adult Education study tours (1980s), latterly funded by the Earthwatch Institute as Citizen Science expeditions (1989-2007), the Darwin Initiative (2007-10) and the British Council (2010-3), as training courses for new East African academics. Dr Nic Pacini, one of his early PhD students and now at Calabria University, Italy, joined him on these recent funding projects and is a joint author of this presentation.


Winner of the EFFS Award for the best PhD Dissertation in Freshwater Sciences