Joachim Mergeay

Joachim Mergeay
Research Institute for Nature and Forest | INBO · Genetic Diversity

Professor

About

156
Publications
52,721
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Introduction
(he/him). My research mainly deals with applied population genetics, with an important focus on implementation of genetic criteria into conservation policy (European Habitats Directive), and using genetic principles to define and evaluate the conservation status of species and habitats. In addition, I use population genetics to evaluate the success of conservation translocations measures and monitor invasive species. I am also a parttime associate professor at KULeuven in population genetics
Additional affiliations
October 2009 - present
Research Institute for Nature and Forest
Position
  • Senior Researcher
Description
  • My research mostly deals with population/conservation genetics. Prime topics are the development and evaluation of genetic criteria for species conservation, conservation translocations, and the theory behind effective population sizes.
September 2000 - present
KU Leuven
Description
  • http://bio.kuleuven.be/de/dea/people_detail.php?pass_id=u0037361
September 2000 - present
KU Leuven
Position
  • Associated researcher

Publications

Publications (156)
Article
Full-text available
The gray wolf Canis lupus range in central Europe is dynamically expanding, reconnecting previously isolated populations. Thus, a recent paper has proposed to merge the current Baltic and Central European (CE) wolf management units, which are no longer isolated by distance. However, recent genetic findings indicate that these two populations are no...
Article
Full-text available
Global conservation policy and action have largely neglected protecting and monitoring genetic diversity—one of the three main pillars of biodiversity. Genetic diversity (diversity within species) underlies species’ adaptation and survival, ecosystem resilience, and societal innovation. The low priority given to genetic diversity has largely been d...
Article
Full-text available
International agreements such as the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) have committed to conserve, and sustainably and equitably use, biodiversity. The CBD is a vital instrument for global conservation because it guides 195 countries and the European Union in setting priorities and allocating resources, and requires regular reporting on prog...
Article
Full-text available
The rapidly emerging field of macrogenetics focuses on analysing publicly accessible genetic datasets from thousands of species to explore large-scale patterns and predictors of intraspecific genetic variation. Facilitated by advances in evolutionary biology, technology, data infrastructure, statistics and open science, macrogenetics addresses core...
Article
Full-text available
Biodiversity underlies ecosystem resilience, ecosystem function, sustainable economies, and human well‐being. Understanding how biodiversity sustains ecosystems under anthropogenic stressors and global environmental change will require new ways of deriving and applying biodiversity data. A major challenge is that biodiversity data and knowledge are...
Poster
Full-text available
Door het verlies aan habitat kwam de vroedmeesterpad in Vlaanderen in een zeer precaire situatie terecht. In 2017 werd een Soortenbeschermingsprogramma (SBP) opgesteld ter ondersteuning van de soort. In dit plan worden allerlei maatregelen voorgesteld, waaronder het opzetten van een kweekprogramma als laatste redmiddel om bestaande populaties te ve...
Article
Full-text available
Background: Ecosystem restoration is as a critical tool to counteract the decline of biodiversity and recover vital ecosystem services. Restoration efforts, however, often fall short of meeting their goals. Although functionally important levels of biodiversity can significantly contribute to the outcome of ecosystem restoration, they are often ov...
Technical Report
Full-text available
This report is the last part of a broader study assessing the appropriateness, the possibilities and the feasibility of the (re)introduction of the weatherfish Misgurnus fossilis in Flanders. This study relates to the Natura 2000 international directives to protect and restore the species and its habitat. It includes (1) a literature review of the...
Preprint
Full-text available
Background Ecosystem restoration is as a critical tool to counteract the decline of biodiversity and recover vital ecosystem services. Restoration efforts, however, often fall short of meeting their goals. Although functionally important levels of biodiversity can significantly contribute to the outcome of ecosystem restoration, they are often over...
Article
Full-text available
A correction to this paper has been published: https://doi.org/10.1007/s10592-021-01376-9
Technical Report
Full-text available
As part of the Flemish common midwife toad (Alytes obstetricans) species protection programme, the Research Institute for Nature and Forest (INBO) runs a breeding project. Goals are to sustain existing populations (through supplementation) and to found new populations (through (re)introduction). Ex situ breeding is conducted in several breeding...
Article
Full-text available
Millette et al. (Ecology Letters, 2020, 23:55–67) reported no consistent worldwide anthropogenic effects on animal genetic diversity using repurposed mitochondrial DNA sequences. We reexamine data from this study, describe genetic marker and scale limitations which might lead to misinterpretations with conservation implications, and provide advice...
Article
Full-text available
The appropriate response for controlling an invasive non-native species depends on the extent to which its invasion has progressed, which can be revealed by information on its distribution and abundance. Reeves’ muntjac is a native deer to China and Taiwan, but has been introduced and become well-established in Great Britain. Moreover, in recent ye...
Article
Full-text available
The database of the ORCA project (A comparative analysis of ORganic and Conventional Agriculture's impact on aquatic biodiversity) comprises species occurrence data of different organism groups (zooplankton, macro-invertebrates, macrophytes, amphibians (eDNA) and fish (eDNA)) and data on physical, chemical and morphometric variables of 48 small far...
Preprint
Full-text available
Millette et al. (Ecology Letters, 2020, 23:55-67) reported no consistent worldwide anthropogenic effects on animal genetic diversity using repurposed mitochondrial sequences. We describe limitations to this study, some of which are common to other macrogenetic studies, that may lead to misinterpretations and unintended consequences for conservation...
Preprint
Full-text available
Genetic diversity is critically important for all species-domesticated and wild- to adapt to environmental change, and for ecosystem resilience to extreme events. International agreements such as the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) have committed to conserve and sustainably and equitably use all levels of biodiversity-genes, species and ec...
Article
Full-text available
The 196 parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) will soon agree to a post-2020 global framework for conserving the three elements of biodiversity (genetic, species, and ecosystem diversity) while ensuring sustainable development and benefit sharing. As the most significant global conservation policy mechanism, the new CBD framework...
Article
Full-text available
Genetic factors are often overlooked in conservation planning, despite their importance in small isolated populations. We used mitochondrial and microsatellite markers to investigate population genetics of the adder (Vipera berus) in southern Britain, where numbers are declining. We found no evidence for loss of heterozygosity in any of the populat...
Article
The European weather loach (Misgurnus fossilis) is a cryptic and poorly known fish species of high conservation concern. The species is experiencing dramatic population collapses across its native range to the point of regional extinction. Although eDNA‐based approaches offer clear advantages over conventional field methods for monitoring rare and...
Article
Full-text available
Capture-mark-recapture procedures are a basic tool in population studies and require that individual animals are correctly identified throughout their lifetime. A method that has become more and more popular uses photographic records of natural markings, such as pigmentation pattern and scalation configuration. As with any other marking tool, the v...
Article
Full-text available
Functional connectivity is crucial for the persistence of a metapopulation, because migration among subpopulations enables recolonization and counteracts genetic drift, which is especially important in small subpopulations. We studied the degree and drivers of connectivity among occupied patches of a coastal dune metapopulation of the Natterjack To...
Article
Full-text available
Founder effects introduce stochasticity in the genetic structure of species at the regional scale. To the extent that founder effects are important, they will result in a reduced signature of space, time, and environmental variation in landscape genetic data. We studied the metapopulation genetic structure of recently founded populations of the mic...
Article
Understanding connectivity among populations in fragmented landscapes is of paramount importance in species conservation because it determines their long-term viability and helps to identify and prioritize populations to conserve. Rare and sedentary species are particularly vulnerable to habitat fragmentation as they occupy narrow niches or restric...
Article
Spatial expansion, which is a crucial stage in the process to successful biological invasion, is anticipated to profoundly affect the magnitude and spatial distribution of genetic diversity in novel colonized areas. Here we show that, contrasting common expectations, Pyrenean rocket (Sisymbrium austriacum), retained SNP diversity as this introduced...
Article
Full-text available
We investigated how the establishment of sown target species for ecological restoration is affected by the early introduction of either dominant or subordinate species during the assembly of a restored topsoil stripped nutrient-poor grassland. Do dominant or subordinate species exert different priority effects on either wanted target species or unw...
Presentation
Full-text available
Dispersal is a crucial process in metapopulation persistence, both in terms of colonization-extinction dynamics and as a means to counter genetic drift and inbreeding in local demes. To investigate effective dispersal in a coastal dune metapopulation of Natterjack Toad (Epidalea calamita Laurenti), 256 larvae in four potential subpopulations were g...
Conference Paper
Founder effects introduce stochasticity in the genetic structure of species at the regional scale. To the extent that founder effects are important that they will result in a reduced signature of space, time and environmental variation in landscape genetic data. We studied the metapopulation genetic structure of recently founded populations of the...
Article
Full-text available
Species of the genus Daphnia O.F. Müller, 1785 (Cladocera: Daphniidae) have become very important models in evolutionary biology research. Previous morphological and genetic evidence suggests that numerous closely related "species groups" exist within the subgenus Daphnia (Ctenodaphnia) Dybowski & Grochowski, 1895, containing both described and und...
Article
Full-text available
Species of the genus Daphnia O.F. Müller, 1785 (Cladocera: Daphniidae) have become very important models in evolu-tionary biology research. Previous morphological and genetic evidence suggests that numerous closely related “species groups” exist within the subgenus Daphnia (Ctenodaphnia) Dybowski & Grochowski, 1895, containing both described and un...
Article
One of the most prominent manifestations of the ongoing climate warming is the retreat of glaciers and ice sheets around the world. Retreating glaciers result in the formation of new ponds and lakes, which are available for colonization. The gradual appearance of these new habitat patches allows us to determine to what extent the composition of ase...
Article
Background and Aims Many invasive species severely threaten native biodiversity and ecosystem functioning. One of the most prominent questions in invasion genetics is how invasive populations can overcome genetic founder effects to establish stable populations after colonization of new habitats. High native genetic diversity and multiple introducti...
Article
1. Due to climate change, Arctic ice sheets are retreating. This leads to the formation of numerous new periglacial ponds and lakes, which are being colonized by planktonic organisms such as the water flea Daphnia. This system provides unique opportunities to test genotype colonization dynamics and the genetic assemblage of populations. Here, we st...
Article
Many species are expanding their range polewards and this has been associated with rapid phenotypic change. Yet, it is unclear to what extent this reflects rapid genetic adaptation or neutral processes associated with range expansion, or selection linked to the new thermal conditions encountered. To disentangle these alternatives, we studied the ge...
Article
Bullhead is a small, bottom-dwelling freshwater fish species. It used to be common in Flanders (Belgium) but nowadays only few and isolated populations remain. Consequently bullhead is listed as IUCN susceptible in the national Red List and fully protected. It is also listed in the EC Habitats Directive (92/43/EEC). Management should aim to conserv...
Article
Both traits and the plasticity of these traits are subject to evolutionary change, and therefore affect the long-term persistence of populations and their role in local communities. We subjected clones from 12 different populations of Alnus glutinosa, located along a latitudinal gradient, to two different temperature treatments, to disentangle the...
Article
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Ponds throughout the world are subjected to a variety of management measures for purposes of biodiversity conservation. Current conservation efforts typically comprise a combination of multiple measures that directly and indirectly impact a wide range of organism groups. Knowledge of the relative impact of individual measures on different taxonomic...
Article
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QuestionsDoes addition of an arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi (AMF) inoculum increase the short-term restoration success of nutrient-poor grassland (NPG) after topsoil removal? Does distance to intact remnant grassland (IRG) patches affect restoration success, and does the effect of inoculum addition depend on distance to IRGs?LocationMeerdaal forest,...
Article
The evaluation of the molecular signatures of selection in species lacking an available closely related reference genome remains challenging, yet it may provide valuable fundamental insights into the capacity of populations to respond to environmental cues. We screened 25 native populations of the tree species Frangula alnus subsp. alnus (Rhamnacea...
Article
Full-text available
1. Many insects are expanding their distribution range polewards as a result of climate change, which has been shown to be associated with founder effects leading to a reduction in genetic diversity and an increase in genetic differentiation. These spatial genetic patterns may arise from colonisation from a broad expansion front or a limited neighb...
Article
1. Asian topmouth gudgeon Pseudorasbora parva has been recognized as a highly invasive cyprinid fish species in Europe that may present risk to native fish communities. 2. The present study aimed to investigate whether a native piscivorous fish, pike Esox lucius, is able to reduce the establishment success and invasiveness of topmouth gudgeon in sh...
Article
Full-text available
Species-rich grassland communities are one of the most important habitats for biodiversity and of high conservation priority in Europe. Restoration actions are mainly focused on the improvement of abiotic conditions, such as nutrient depletion techniques, and are generally based on the assumption that the target community will re-establish at the r...
Article
Full-text available
Northern Belgium (Flanders) is one of the most densely populated and urbanized regions in Europe. Many species are therefore likely to suffer from anthropogenic pressure and habitat destruction and fragmentation. Although many large mammals are recolonizing in parts of Europe, including Belgium, due to adaptation, a relaxation of persecution and ha...
Article
Geographic range size is a key ecological and evolutionary characteristic of a species, yet the causal basis of variation in range size among species remains largely unresolved. One major reason for this is that several ecological and evolutionary traits may jointly shape species' differences in range size. We here present an integrated study of th...
Article
Full-text available
Background Gene flow and adaptive divergence are key aspects of metapopulation dynamics and ecological speciation. Long-distance dispersal is hard to detect and few studies estimate dispersal in combination with adaptive divergence. The aim of this study was to investigate effective long-distance dispersal and adaptive divergence in the fen orchid...
Article
1.Delineation of seed zones or provenance regions to preserve local adaptation is a common practice in forestry and restoration, as locally adapted plants generally possess relatively high levels of productivity and resistance. Provenance trials typically quantify the degree of phenotypic divergence among individuals and populations raised under co...
Article
Human activities have increasingly introduced plant species far outside their native ranges under environmental conditions that can strongly differ from those originally met. Therefore, before spreading, and potentially causing ecological and economical damage, non native species may rapidly evolve. Evidence of genetically based adaptation during t...
Article
The adaptive potential of tree species to cope with climate change has important ecological and economic implications. Many temperate tree species experience a wide range of environmental conditions, suggesting high adaptability to new environmental conditions. We investigated adaptation to regional climate in the drought-sensitive tree species Aln...