Two big achievements yesterday: two of our master students defended their thesis, and will thus be able to put an endmark behind their education! A big congratulation to both Ilias Janssens and Bram Vanheule for all they achieved.


Virtual trial thesis defence by Ilias Janssens, discussing his cool results on patterns in plant community traits in the Scandinavian mountains

Ilias studied the relative importance of climate and disturbance as driver of plant community traits, using a huge dataset of plant traits from over 160 species from the Scandinavian mountains. Main result: local disturbances like roads and trails have surprisingly small effects on community traits in comparison with large-scale drivers such as temperature.


Trial defence by Bram, exploring the role of urban heat islands on plant invasions

Bram had a much different arena to work in: Western European cities. His question: how do non-native plant species perform during a heatwave along a gradient from city to rural zones. The conclusion? Urban Heat Island effects are much less important than we anticipated; it is at the smallest scale (e.g. amount of soil available around the plants) that stress-levels are defined.

We hope to bring you more details on these fascinating topics soon, but for now wish the students all the best in their upcoming careers.

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