In the Netherlands, lake research is mainly focused on shallow lakes. I say mainly, because my project is focusing on the deep lakes. Most people do not realize that due to sand mining activities, lakes of up to 40 meters in depth, have been created all over the Netherlands. Because of the low position of the Netherlands (hence the name), these filled up very quickly with rain- and groundwater. The ecological functioning of these lakes is largely unknown. Thermal and chemical stratification takes place during summer, and even during cold winters. Because the lakes are relatively small (1-50 ha), benthic- pelagic exchange is of great influence on lake chemistry. Together these facts set these man-made lakes apart from natural large deep lakes, as well as from shallow lakes, not only in function but also in the ecosystem services they provide.
This project is a collaboration of the Netherlands Institute of Ecology (NIOO-KNAW) with the Dutch Province of North Brabant, giving it a distinct applied goal. We will not only try to unravel the ecological functioning of ‘sand mining lakes’, but also determine their ecosystem services. This will lead to a decision support system for managers to be able to correctly assess, and assign, lake functions.
I started my PhD last January and just finished my first field season where I sampled the first 23 lakes. I’m looking forward to a more theoretical approach and meeting everyone at the course!