Olivier Honnay

Olivier Honnay
KU Leuven | ku leuven · Department of Biology

Professor
Conservation Biology -- Agronomic Ecology

About

409
Publications
128,376
Reads
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15,048
Citations
Introduction
I am a conservation ecologist with a Master´s degree in agronomy and rural planning (agricultural engineer) and a PhD (2000) in Plant Ecology.
Additional affiliations
October 2013 - present
KU Leuven
Position
  • Professor (Full)
October 2009 - September 2013
KU Leuven
Position
  • Professor (Associate)
October 2005 - September 2009
KU Leuven
Position
  • Professor (Assistant)
Education
April 1995 - February 2000
KU Leuven
Field of study
  • Plant Ecology
October 1988 - June 1993
KU Leuven - Faculty of Agricultural Sciences
Field of study
  • Agronomy/Rural planning

Publications

Publications (409)
Article
Full-text available
In tropical regions, the extent of agricultural land is rapidly increasing at the expense of natural forest with associated losses of biodiversity and ecosystem services. Agroforestry has long been proposed as a more sustainable agricultural system, conserving biodiversity and ecosystem services, while providing significant local livelihood. In thi...
Article
Species diversity is commonly hypothesized to result from trade-offs for different limiting resources, providing separate niches for coexisting species. As soil nutrients occur in multiple chemical forms, plant differences in acquisition of the same element derived from different compounds may represent unique niche dimensions. Because plant produc...
Article
Despite the ecological significance of ericoid mycorrhizal fungi, little is known about abiotic and biotic factors driving their diversity and community composition. To determine the relative importance of abiotic and biotic filtering in structuring ericoid mycorrhizal fungal communities, we established 156 sampling plots in two highly contrasting...
Article
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Understanding how biological and environmental factors interactively shape the global distribution of plant and animal genetic diversity is fundamental to biodiversity conservation. Genetic diversity measured in local populations (GD P ) is correspondingly assumed representative for population fitness and eco-evolutionary dynamics. For 8356 populat...
Article
Despite their key role in biodiversity conservation, forests in the Congo Basin are increasingly threatened by human activities, but it remains challenging to assess the impact of forest deg- radation under a more or less intact canopy. Likewise, forest recovery following agricultural abandonment remains poorly understood in the Congo Basin. Here,...
Article
Full-text available
Aims In low-input agricultural systems, arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi (AMF) play a role in plant nutrition, protection and water use. Evaluating how agricultural practices affect the composition of AMF communities is therefore an important step towards sustainable intensification. We characterized the AMF communities in enset (Ensete ventricosum) ro...
Article
Epigenetic inheritance can drive adaptive evolution independent of DNA sequence variation. However, to what extent epigenetic variation represents an autonomous evolutionary force remains largely elusive. Through gene ontology and comparative analyses of genomic and epigenomic variation of wild strawberry plants raised in distinct drought settings,...
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Conventional wisdom states that genetic variation reduces disease levels in plant populations. Nevertheless, crop species have been subject to a gradual loss of genetic variation through selection for specific traits during breeding, thereby increasing their vulnerability to biotic stresses such as pathogens. We explored how genetic variation in Ar...
Article
Tropical moist evergreen forests provide key ecosystem services for human well‐being. However, due to human pressure, Afromontane forests have lost much of their natural species composition and structure. In this study, vegetation surveys were carried out with the aim of investigating woody species composition and structure and their drivers of deg...
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Background Attempts to restore degraded highlands by tree planting are common in East Africa. However, up till now, little attention has been given to effects of tree species choice on litter decomposition and nutrient recycling. Method In this study, three indigenous and two exotic tree species were selected for a litter decomposition study. The...
Article
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Conversion of natural ecosystems into agricultural land may strongly affect the soil microbiome and the functioning of the soil ecosystem. Alternative farming systems, such as organic farming, have therefore been advocated to reduce this impact, yet the outcomes of different agricultural management regimes often remain ambiguous and their evaluatio...
Article
Growing concerns about the negative environmental impacts of agriculture have resulted in the increasing adoption of farming systems that try to reconcile crop production with environmental sustainability, such as organic farming. As organic farming refrains from using synthetic inputs, it heavenly reli es on maintaining soil health. However, it is...
Article
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Cassava, forming starch-rich, tuberous roots, is an important staple crop in smallholder farming systems in sub-Saharan Africa. Its relatively good tolerance to drought and nutrient-poor soils may be partly attributed to the crop’s association with arbuscular mycorrhiza fungi (AMF). Yet insights into AMF-community composition and richness of cassav...
Article
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Ons voedselsysteem, en meer in het bijzonder de manier waarop we aan landbouw doen, legt momenteel een onhoudbare druk op milieukwaliteit, biodiversiteit en klimaat. In deze bijdrage formuleren de auteurs eerst een reeks bedenkingen bij een eerder in Natuurfocus verschenen artikel waarin als oplossing voor dit probleem de agro-ecologische landbouw...
Preprint
Full-text available
Background: Attempts to restore degraded highlands by tree planting are common in East Africa. However, up till now, little attention has been given to effects of tree species choice on litter decomposition and nutrient recycling. Method: In this study, three indigenous and two exotic tree species were selected for a litter decomposition study. The...
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...
Article
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ContextHabitat fragmentation and land use intensification are major threats to biodiversity worldwide, affecting both species (SD) and genetic (GD) diversity. It remains unclear whether SD and GD respond to the same components of landscape changes and to what extent they correlate in fragmented systems.Objectives We explore the role of current and...
Article
We tested whether roots from indigenous wild enset in Southern Ethiopia harboured a more diverse and different AMF community compared to cultivated enset. Illumina MiSeq amplicon sequencing showed that AMF communities in both cultivated and wild enset were dominated by Glomeraceae which accounted for 64% of the 145 OTUs recorded. The majority of ra...
Preprint
Full-text available
Despite their key role in biodiversity conservation, forests of the Congo Basin are increasingly threatened by human activities. Whereas deforestation is very conspicuous, it remains challenging to monitor the impact of forest degradation under a more or less intact canopy. Likewise, the outcomes of forest regeneration following agricultural abando...
Article
Interspecific hybridization events have played a major role in plant speciation, yet, the evolutionary origin of hybrid species often remains enigmatic. Here, we inferred the evolutionary origin of the allotetraploid species Coffea arabica, which is widely cultivated for Arabica coffee production. We estimated genetic distances between C. arabica a...
Article
Full-text available
Drastic loss in the area and quality of natural and semi‐natural habitats over the last hundred years has placed biodiversity and related ecosystem functions under substantial threat. Restoration of degraded ecosystems is among the main solutions to counteract this trend. However, past restoration efforts have not always led to the anticipated halt...
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Aim Forest herbs might be unable to track shifts in habitat suitability due to rapid climate change and habitat fragmentation. In this study, we quantified the role of dispersal limitation and the potential mitigating effect of large-scale reforestation on the redistribution of the herbaceous forest plant species Primula elatior under climate chang...
Article
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Leaf mass per area (LMA), leaf dry matter content (LDMC) and leaf water content/ equivalent water thickness (EWT) are commonly used functional plant traits in ecology. Whereas spectroscopy has recently proven to be a powerful tool to collect such functional trait information across large scales, it remains unclear whether these reflectance-based tr...
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
Aims The aim of the study was to explore whether the encroachment of an East-African savannah ecosystem by the invasive shrub Dichrostachys cinerea L. Wight & Arn has resulted in changes in the Arbuscular Mycorrhizal Fungus (AMF) communities which are associated with roots of the extant herbaceous plant communities. We hypothesized that this could...
Article
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Arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi (AMF) are ubiquitous in agroecosystems, but their role in mediating agricultural yield remains contested. Field experiments testing effects of realistic agronomic practices of intensification on AM fungus composition and yields are scarce, especially in the low-input systems of sub-Saharan Africa. A large, full-factoria...
Article
Semi-natural grasslands harbour many of Europe's species of conservation interest. Although larger grasslands are the focus of most conservation activity, many grassland fragments are scattered across landscapes –in small patches or along linear elements– which can form Grassland Green Infrastructure (GGI). GGI has the potential to enhance landscap...
Article
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AimsArbuscular Mycorrhizal Fungi (AMF) are ubiquitous soil microorganisms playing a vital role in the functioning of agricultural ecosystems. Although AMF are generally considered to have a low host specificity, it has been suggested that modern plant breeding has selected crop genotypes that are more selectively associated with AMF, possibly resul...
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Currently, one of the most important challenges is to provide sufficient and affordable food and energy for a fast-growing world population, alongside preserving natural habitats and maintaining biodiversity. About 35% of the global food production depends on animals for pollination. In recent years, an alarming worldwide decline in pollinators has...
Preprint
Adaptive evolution is generally thought to be the result of natural selection predominantly acting upon pre-existing DNA sequence polymorphisms through gene-environment interactions. Epigenetic inheritance is, however, recently considered an additional molecular force driving adaptive evolution independent of DNA sequence variation. Through compara...
Article
Alien plant species invasiveness and impact on diversity (i.e. species richness and composition) can be driven by the altered competitive interactions experienced by the invader in its invaded range compared to its native range. Trait‐based competition effects on invasiveness can be mediated through size‐asymmetric competition, i.e. a trait suit of...
Article
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Context Functional connectivity is vital for plant species dispersal, but little is known about how habitat loss and the presence of green infrastructure interact to affect both functional and structural connectivity, and the impacts of each on species groups. Objectives We investigate how changes in the spatial configuration of species-rich grass...
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‘Conference’ (Pyrus communis L.) is a self-incompatible cultivar, although it can also set fruit parthenocarpically. Stimulating parthenocarpy through gibberellin (GA) applications increases the fruit set, but it may also negatively affect the fruit size and shape. The aim of this study was to investigate the effects of a bumblebee (BB) amendment i...
Article
Invasieve uitheemse soorten worden gezien als een van de grote bedreigingen voor onze biodiversiteit. Aan de Belgische kust blijkt ondertussen 60% van de flora uitheems te zijn. Een aantal van deze soorten beginnen zich invasief te gedragen. Een van de meest problematische invasieve uitheemse soorten in de duinen is Rimpelroos Rosa rugosa, waarvan...
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Worldwide, invasive alien plant species (IAS) threaten the biodiversity and the functioning of ecosystems. Most invasion research so far has focused on the properties underlying species invasiveness and community invasibility, yet IAS impact and the underlying causal pathways remain largely unknown. Here we dealt with this knowledge gap by extendin...
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Our ability to measure plant characteristics across space and time is crucial for understanding and tracking the diversity and functioning of ecosystems. Ecological approaches to synthesize these characteristics have evolved from allocating species to predefined conventional plant functional types (cPFTs) to describing vegetation through delineatin...
Article
Epigenetic change is considered relatively unstable and short‐lived, raising questions of its contribution to long‐term adaptive potential. However, epigenetic modifications can accumulate in the presence of environmental stress, resulting in beneficial epigenetic memories where environments are challenging. Diverging epigenetic memories have been...
Article
Questions: Woody encroachment is increasingly affecting biodiversity and ecosystem functioning of savannah ecosystems worldwide, yet the direction and magnitude of these impacts often seem context‐dependent. Here, we investigated the potential of a trait‐based framework to understand the effect of the encroaching shrub Dichrostachys cinerea on plan...
Article
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Soil salinization due to sea level rise and groundwater irrigation has become an important agronomic problem in many parts of the world. Symbiosis between crop species and arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi (AMF) may alleviate salt stress-induced detrimental effects on crop growth and yield, for example, through helping the host plant to selectively abso...
Article
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De bomen in de stad vormen samen het stadsbos en spelen een cruciale rol voor de leefbaarheid van de stad (Straatsburg). Bomen leveren onmisbare diensten aan de stad, maar ze worden vaak geconfronteerd met een moeilijke en stres-serende groeiomgeving. In de natuur dragen ectomycorrhizale bodemschimmels bij aan de groei en gezondheid van bomen. Toch...
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Background and aims-Deforestation and forest degradation have hugely affected the Southern Ethiopian Rift Valley, jeopardizing biodiversity conservation and ecosystem service provisioning. Quantifying the impacts of human activities on the remaining woody plant communities and recognizing vegetation-environment relationships provide the basis for t...
Article
Full-text available
Background and aims-Deforestation and forest degradation have hugely affected the Southern Ethiopian Rift Valley, jeopardizing biodiversity conservation and ecosystem service provisioning. Quantifying the impacts of human activities on the remaining woody plant communities and recognizing vegetation-environment relationships provide the basis for t...
Preprint
Full-text available
Interspecific hybridization events have played a major role in plant speciation, yet, the evolutionary origin of hybrid species often remains enigmatic. Here, we inferred the evolutionary origin of the allotetraploid species Coffea arabica , which is widely cultivated for Arabica coffee production. We estimated genetic distances between C. arabica...
Article
1. Functional traits can help elucidate and predict the impact of invasive plant species on ecosystem functioning. Yet, this approach requires comprehensive and labor-intensive trait collection campaigns, covering intraspecific trait variation of both the invader and native species in the invaded community. One potential way to overcome these logis...
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2010 was het Internationaal Jaar van de Biodiversiteit. Dat jaar genoot het veelvormige leven op onze planeet bijzondere aandacht. Het was de start van het Decennium van de Biodiversiteit. Nieuwe akkoorden werden gesmeed, doelstellingen vooropgesteld en strategieën uitgerold. We zijn nu tien jaar later. Tijd voor een nieuwe balans. Natuur.focus bes...
Article
1.Climate change will increase the level of drought stress experienced by plant communities, but the spatial distribution of projected changes in dryness remains highly uncertain. Species can, to some extent, deal with climate uncertainty through natural variation in adaptive responses to environmental heterogeneity and predictability. Biodiversity...
Article
Invader success and ecosystem impact are both expected to be largely driven by the functional trait distinctiveness of the resident species relative to the invaded communities. To understand the importance of trait distinctiveness for plant invasions, and the native community's trait response to the invasion, it is key to measure multiple traits si...
Article
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Plant traits—the morphological, anatomical, physiological, biochemical and phenological characteristics of plants—determine how plants respond to environmental factors, affect other trophic levels, and influence ecosystem properties and their benefits and detriments to people. Plant trait data thus represent the basis for a vast area of research sp...
Article
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Production of many agricultural crops and fruits strongly depends on pollinators. For instance, pome fruits such as apple and pear are highly dependent on pollination for fruit set, fruit quality, and yield. Nectar is often inhabited by microbes, most often yeasts and bacteria, which may change nectar quality and therefore also affect plant-pollina...
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Crop wild relatives (CWRs) play a key role in crop breeding by providing beneficial trait characteristics for improvement of related crops. CWRs are more efficiently used in breeding if the plant material is genetically characterized, but the diversity in CWR genetic resources has often poorly been assessed. Seven seed collections of Musa balbisian...
Article
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Urban trees provide many ecosystem services, including carbon sequestration, air quality improvement, storm water attenuation and energy conservation, to people living in cities. Provisioning of ecosystem services by urban trees, however, may be jeopardized by the typically poor quality of the soils in urban areas. Given their well-known multifunct...
Preprint
Adaptive trait divergence between populations is regulated by genetic and non-genetic processes. Compared to genetic change, epigenetic change is unstable and short-lived, questioning its contribution to long-term adaptive potential. However, epigenetic change can accumulate over time, and may result in beneficial epigenetic memories where environm...
Article
Agricultural expansion and intensification threaten pollinator populations worldwide, potentially jeopardizing crop pollination. Although the highest rates of cropland expansion are currently found within the tropics, quantifying effects of landscape composition on tropical pollinator communities and the provided pollination services to crops has r...