Erik van Zwol
My passion for arctic ecology stems from a career as a naturalist. Visible effects of climate change in the arctic led me to do a PhD on the subject . I now study the impact of invasive plant species on the arctic ecosystem. Since this is a relatively species-poor ecosystem, invasive species are likely to seize key roles in it and drive ecosystem changes. Established invaders may act as ‘invasion engineers’ and make it possible for other species to invade, thereby creating a cascade of alien impacts. My main research interest is investigating the chances of success for different types of invaders and their potential to act as invasion engineers. Changes in the ecosystem may affect ecosystem traits, which may have an effect on soil carbon released from the permafrost due to global warming.
Plant competition experiments will be performed to mimic invasion scenarios, using plant species from the high-arctic peninsula of Svalbard (78⁰N) as target species and species from northern Sweden (Abisko, 68⁰N) as model invaders. Warming studies will establish the effects of climate on invader success while field studies with artificial plants will test the effect of invasion engineers on the abiotic (micro) environment. Translocation in the field alongside climate chamber research will hopefully yield a robust image of the effects of alien invasions of the artic.