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The FORBIO experiment

“The FORBIO experiment”

News !

New experiment planted!

On February 17, UGent planted - with a lot of volunteers - a climate forest in Melle. The trees were planted following the Nelder Wheel design in both monoculture and mixed plots to investigate the effects of tree diversity and density on tree growth and carbon sequestration. We called the experiment ‘TWIG’: Tree Wheels In Geerbos.

5th annual FORBIO meeting

On February 16, the fifth annual FORBIO meeting was organized at BELSPO in Brussels. Thomas, Bjorn, Hans, and Bram presented their research results. We discussed the ongoing research and new ideas, and the management of the experimental sites.

Survey results in Bosrevue and Silva Belgica

Rita’s research on the adaptive capacity of forest owners and managers to climate change has been recently highlighted in Bosrevue and Silva Belgica. It describes the main findings of the survey carried out among forest stakeholders in Belgium during 2015. You can read the Dutch text online.

NSABS 2017

On 7 February 2017, Thomas and Rita took part in the 22nd National Symposium for Applied Biological Sciences (NSABS), in Leuven, where they presented their research to a broad audience of PhD students in the field of applied biological sciences. Rita won the prize for “outstanding presentation” in ‘Environment and Agriculture’ topic.

TreeDivNet meeting 2017

At the 7th TreeDivNet meeting, Thomas presented the approach he used in the FORBIO experiment to partition diversity effects on biomass production. We also visited the ORPHEE experiment near Bordeaux.

ForNaLab went pruning

An extra treatment is applied to the FORBIO experiment to investigate the effect of pruning, in combination with diversity, on the future tree shape and wood quality. A selection of trees was pruned formatively; control trees were also marked. At the Zedelgem site, the pruning and marking was done by the ForNaLab team at the end of November - beginning of December.

And yet another FORBIO paper

Thomas’ next paper will appear in Forest Ecology and Management in 2017. Thomas looked at the effects of inter- and intraspecific competition on the plasticity of crown architecture in the FORBIO plantation of Zedelgem.

Another FORBIO paper

The last paper of Nuri’s PhD is in press in Forest Ecology and Management. Nuri measured the diameter and height of c. 5500 saplings and saw that tree species identity is more important than neighbourhood diversity for tree growth in these young saplings.

A new FORBIO paper

Mathias published the first paper of his PhD on an experiment with oak saplings in the FORBIO platform in Forest Ecology and Management: “Identity rather than richness drives local neighbourhood species composition effects on oak sapling growth in a young forest”.

FORBIO Climate’s first paper published

Rita has investigated the adaptive capacity among forest stakeholders to respond to climate change. She concluded that improving the communication and demonstration of possible solutions for climate change adaptation is likely to be the most effective strategy for increasing their adoption. This research, which resulted from a survey conducted in Belgium among forest owners and forest managers, is now accepted for publication in Forest Ecosystems.

FORBIO Climate PhD meeting

Six months have passed and the four PhD students engaged in the FORBIO Climate project have come together once again, on September 20, to share their progresses. Splitting their time between field work and desk work, they have their first paper out (see publications), and more are to come!

The next meeting will be held in March in Gent.

GFÖ 2016 Marburg

Mathias presented part of his FORBIO research at the GFÖ meeting in Marburg: “Identity rather than richness drives local neighbourhood species composition effects on oak sapling growth in a young forest”.

Ecosummit 2016: Ecological Sustainability: Engineering Change

Rita, Bart and Kris attended the 5th International EcoSummit Congress, which took place in Montpellier, France. Rita presented a poster showing the effects of species identity and species diversity in terms of forest defoliation response to drought, while Bart and Kris gave a talk about engineering mixed planted forests for sustainable provision of ecosystem services.

Drone flights

In collaboration with the Laboratory of Plant Ecology of Ghent University, UAV flights were conducted at the FORBIO Zedelgem site. The UAV had visual, thermal, and hyperspectral sensors on board. This field campaign will feed new studies, among which the PhD of Bjorn Rombouts on the remote sensing exploration of ecosystem stability-diversity relationships in forests.

Postdoc position

Vacancy for a postdoc (3 years) with solid background in Functional Biodiversity Research and Quantitative Ecology. See here for the full vacancy text

Pro Silva excursion

On June 30, Thomas and his colleagues welcomed forest owners and managers at FORBIO-Zedelgem to discuss the relevance of tree species mixing.

Thomas’ first FORBIO paper published

Thomas saw in the FORBIO experiment that mixing tree species insures young plantations against planting failure. He thus concluded that mixing tree species is highly recommended as a low-risk management strategy. His research is now accepted for publication in Journal of Applied Ecology.

The first FORBIO PhD

Nuri Nurlaila Setiawan defended her PhD on the FORBIO experiment on June 24. She assessed tree growth, crown damage and the crown arthropods in the young saplings of the experiment and used litterbags to study litter decomposition.

MSc thesis defences at Ghent University

Isabelle Clairhout, Sanne Govaert, Manon Pien, and Siebe Verholle successfully defended their MSc theses related to the the TREEWEB platform (see the publications) in June. Manon and Sanne used plasticine caterpillars and tea bags to study the effects of tree species diversity and forest fragmentation on the predation of herbivores and potential litter decomposition rates in the 53 TREEWEB plots. Within the TREEWEB study region, Siebe used radio tracking to investigate the home range and spatial behaviour of great tit in winter. Isabelle used PIT tags, RFID technology, and feeders to study the effects of supplementary feeding on the health of wild birds in the Aelmoeseneie forest.

MSc thesis defences at KU Leuven

Corinne Deffontaine, Valérie Adriaensen and Andries Saerens successfully defended their MSc theses (see the publications) on May 24. They showed a higher productivity in more diverse tree assemblages and a strong crown plasticity in response to tree neighborhood competition in the FORBIO experiment, and the believe of forest managers that adaptation to climate change is urgently needed (FORBIO Climate project).

FORBIO Climate PhD meeting

On April 8, the four PhD students involved in the FORBIO Climate project met in Louvain-la-Neuve to present their preliminary results and discuss their research. Next month, they will reach the half-way point of the project and they are working as hard as they ever were. The next meeting will be held in Leuven in September.

Startersdag Brussels

Andries, Corinne and Sanne presented their Master thesis research on the FORBIO Climate project, FORBIO experiment and TREEWEB platform in Brussels on March 25. Corinne won the poster prize!

SRC article in Biomass and Bioenergy

Mathias sampled the growth of the Klara, Tordis and Gudrun willow clones at the Short Rotation Coppice plantation in 2011 and 2013. To check whether drought stress drove the diversity effects, thermal images were flown in summer 2013. The research results are now published in Biomass and Bioenergy!

FORBIO 4th annual meeting

On February 10, we met in Louvain-la-Neuve to discuss the status and management of the FORBIO plantations (pruning? thinning?), the ongoing research at the FORBIO sites and in other treediv|Belgium projects, and ideas for future research.

treediv|Belgium newsletter

The first treediv|Belgium newsletter gives an overview of the activities within the network between November 2014 and February 2016.

FORBIO article in Biodiversity and Conservation

In summer 2013 and 2014, Nuri sampled the crown arthropods in young saplings of the Gedinne and Zedelgem sites of the FORBIO experiment. She looked for the effects of the tree species richness and composition in the local neighbourhood of saplings on their crown arthropod community composition. The article is now in press!

FORBIO article in Acta Oecologica

In December 2011, Nuri installed litterbags with monoculture and mixed litter in the young plantation at the Zedelgem site of the FORBIO experiment. She looked for the effects of species richness and composition of the litter on its decomposition rate. The results of the litterbag study are now published in Acta Oecologica.