Michiel Paul Veldhuis

Michiel Paul Veldhuis
Leiden University | LEI · Institute of Environmental Sciences

Doctor of Philosophy

About

26
Publications
7,367
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472
Citations
Introduction
My research concentrates on the organization of communities and ecosystems, how this is affected by people and its consequences for ecosystem services and robustness. I work at multiple spatial scales, from grazing lawn formation at several meters to changes in ecosystem robustness at the global scale. I use a broad range of tools, including remote sensing products, DNA metabarcoding and camera traps, preferably in combination with experimental manipulations in the field.
Additional affiliations
July 2019 - present
Leiden University
Position
  • Professor (Assistant)
January 2018 - June 2019
Princeton University
Position
  • PostDoc Position
November 2015 - December 2017
University of Groningen
Position
  • PostDoc Position

Publications

Publications (26)
Preprint
Carbon and nutrient recycling by free-living microbial decomposers and fire - two key recycling pathways - are highly sensitive to climatic variation. However, mutualistic associations of microbiomes with plants and animals cause previously underestimated environmental buffering effects. This close cooperation between small and large organisms solv...
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Full-text available
Regular vegetation patterns have been predicted to indicate a system slowing down and possibly desertification of drylands. However, these predictions have not yet been observed in dryland vegetation due to the inherent logistic difficulty to gather longer‐term in situ data. Here, we evaluate the theoretical prediction that regular vegetation patte...
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Full-text available
The rapid expansion of human populations in East Africa increases human‐wildlife interactions, particularly along borders of protected areas (PAs). This development calls for a better understanding of how human‐modified landscapes facilitate or exclude wildlife in savannas and whether these effects change through time. Here, we used camera traps to...
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Determining the drivers of aboveground net primary production (ANPP), a key ecosystem process, is an important goal of ecosystem ecology. However, accurate estimation of ANPP across larger areas remains challenging, especially for savanna ecosystems that are characterized by large spatiotemporal heterogeneity in ANPP. Satellite remote sensing metho...
Preprint
Full-text available
Regular vegetation patterns have been predicted to indicate a system slowing down and possibly desertification of drylands. However, these predictions have not yet been observed in dryland vegetation due to the inherent logistic difficulty to gather longer-term in situ data. Here, we use recently developed methods using remote-sensing EVI time-seri...
Article
Full-text available
In the Greater Serengeti-Mara ecosystem, with the Serengeti National Park (SNP) at its core, people and wildlife are strongly dependent on water supply that has a strong seasonal and inter-annual variability. The Mara River, the only perennial river in SNP, and a number of small streams originate from outside SNP before flowing through it. In those...
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Global warming compels larger endothermic animals to adapt either physiologically or behaviourally to avoid thermal stress, especially in tropical ecosystems. Their adaptive responses may however be compromised by other constraints, such as predation risk or starvation. Using an exceptional camera-trap dataset spanning 32 protected areas across sou...
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Full-text available
Climate and land use change modify surface water availability in African savannas. Surface water is a key resource for both wildlife and livestock and its spatial and temporal distribution is important for understanding the composition of large herbivore assemblages in savannas. Yet, the extent to which ungulate species differ in their water requir...
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The coexistence of different species of large herbivores (ungulates) in grasslands and savannas has fascinated ecologists for decades. However, changes in climate, land‐use and trophic structure of ecosystems increasingly jeopardise the persistence of such diverse assemblages. Body size has been used successfully to explain ungulate niche different...
Article
Protected areas provide major benefits for humans in the form of ecosystem services, but landscape degradation by human activity at their edges may compromise their ecological functioning. Using multiple lines of evidence from 40 years of research in the Serengeti-Mara ecosystem, we find that such edge degradation has effectively “squeezed” wildlif...
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Full-text available
Ecosystems comprise flows of energy and materials, structured by organisms and their interactions. Important generalizations have emerged in recent decades about conversions by organisms of energy (metabolic theory of ecology) and materials (ecological stoichiometry). However, these new insights leave a key question about ecosystems inadequately ad...
Article
Territorial or resting behaviour of large herbivores can cause strong local deposits of dung, in different places than where they graze. Additionally, dung beetles and other macrodetritivores can subsequently affect local nutrient budgets through post-depositional re-dispersion of dung and accompanying nutrients. Such horizontal displacement of nut...
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Full-text available
The coastal ocean of the climatically-sensitive west Antarctic Peninsula is experiencing changes in the physical and (photo)chemical properties that strongly affect the phytoplankton. Consequently, a shift from diatoms, pivotal in the Antarctic food web, to more mobile and smaller flagellates has been observed. We seek to identify the main drivers...
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Full-text available
It is widely recognized that the release of nutrients by herbivores via their waste products strongly impacts nutrient availability for autotrophs. The ratios of nitrogen (N) and phosphorus (P) recycled through herbivore release (i.e., waste N:P) are mainly determined by the stoichiometric composition of the herbivore’s food (food N:P) and its body...
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The ecological impact of rapid environmental change will depend on the resistance of key ecosystems processes, which may be promoted by species that exert strong control over local environmental conditions. Recent theoretical work suggests that macrodetritivores increase the resistance of African savanna ecosystems to changing climatic conditions,...
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Full-text available
Savanna grasslands are characterized by high spatial heterogeneity in vegetation structure, aboveground biomass and nutritional quality, with high quality short-grass grazing lawns forming mosaics with patches of tall bunch grasses of lower quality. This heterogeneity can arise because of local differences in consumption, because of differences in...
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Full-text available
How is woody vegetation patchiness affected by rainfall, fire and large herbivore biomass? Can we predict woody patchiness and cover over large-scale environmental gradients? We quantified variation in local patchiness as the lacunarity of woody cover on satellite-derived images. Using Random Forest regression we analysed how both average woody cov...
Article
Nutrient availability in terrestrial ecosystems has been found to vary along regional climatic and soil gradients and drive variation in plant community composition and vegetation structure. However, more local biotic feedbacks also affect nutrient availability, but their importance in determining vegetation structure relative to regional drivers i...
Article
1. Large herbivores play a key-role in creating spatial heterogeneity through the formation of grazing lawns. Recent research suggests that the currently accepted nutrient-based theory on the formation of these grazing lawns cannot universally explain their formation in all ecosystems where they are found.2. We developed and investigated an alterna...
Article
Full-text available
The grass layer of African savannas consists of two main vegetation types: grazing lawns, dominated by short, mostly clonally reproducing grasses, and bunch grasslands, dominated by tall bunch grasses. This patchy distribution of vegetation types is mostly created by large herbivores, which selectively feed on the more nutritious lawn grass species...

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Projects

Projects (2)
Project
Quantify how regional gradients in rainfall and soil fertility drive variation in ecosystem organization, with consequences for resilience, tipping points and alternative states, and specific attention for spatial interactions between landscape zones in the Greater Serengeti-Mara Ecosystem.