At Wageningen University I am primarily teaching basic ecology and give advanced courses in insect ecology. Yearly, my group hosts over five BSc and Msc students for theses or internships and offers a broad range of topics.
I am coordinator of the course Ecology and Insect Ecology and lecture in several other courses:
Ecology (PEN-10503): In September and May a total of 750 first year students participates in the basic ecology course. We teach about speciation, population processes, interspecific competition, biomes, the role of environmental factors, energy flows, biodiversity and nature conservation. The lectures are illustrated with examples of plant and animal ecology.
Insect Ecology (ENT-54306): This course addresses the ecology of insects with an emphasis on biological traits that are characteristic for insects. The content ranges from adaptation to environmental conditions, life history evolution, population genetics, behavioural ecology, reproduction biology to community ecology. My lectures in particular focus on insect community ecology, interaction networks and multi-trophic interactions. The course won a price for best courses of Wageningen University in 2012.
Fundamental and Applied Aspects of the Biology of Insects (ENT-30806): In this course students write two essays on insect related topics. We train students in their scientific writing skills.
Ecological Aspects of Bio-interactions (ENT-30306): I lecture on applied aspects of plant-insect interactions, such as associational resistance, intercropping and push-pull technology.
Population and Systems Ecology (CSA-20806): I lecture about life history evolution and trade-offs illustrated by evolution of reproductive strategies in poison frogs. A second lecture for this course illustrates trade-offs in foraging strategies with the biology of parasitic wasps.
MSc and BSc thesis opportunities
Plant defence to multi-herbivore attack: In greenhouse and field experiments, you will study how plant species deal with attack by multiple herbivore species. This entails measurements of plant plasticity in molecular defence signaling as well as resistance measurements by herbivore preference-performance experiments. Here we link to applied sciences, by looking for resistance mechanisms to multi-herbivore attack that can be used in plant resistance breeding.
Insect community ecology: In field studies during May-September, you will study how insect communities on different plant species build up during the season. We test the importance of plant-mediated indirect interactions or historical contingency in the structure of insect communities on individual plants. We aim to identify the level of predictability of insect assembly on individual plants and which plant defence strategies are adaptive to these processes.
Parasitoid behavior: In lab and field studies, you will study host location behaviour by parasitic wasps. We study the use of plant volatile information in location of host infested plants under field conditions. In particular we are interested in identifying how parasitic wasps deal with various aspects of habitat complexity such as the presence of other plants and non-host insects. The approach includes measurement of parasitism efficiency as well as detailed behavioural studies on foraging. Understanding of the foraging behavior by parasitic wasps is crucial to improve biological control.
Hyperparasitoid ecology: In lab and field studies, you will study community composition of hyperparasitoids that lay their eggs in the larvae or pupae of parasitic wasps. We study how hyperparasitoids locate the larvae of parasitic wasps when those are concealed in the bodies of herbivorous insects. Feeding damage by parasitized herbivores induces plant volatile emission that may attract hyperparasitoids. We aim to identify the mechanisms of the interaction network between the parasitic wasp, herbivore, plant and ultimately the hyperparasitoid. This includes molecular techniques to identify how herbivores respond to parasitism, how plants respond to parasitized herbivores and behavioural studies on hyperparasitoids. Here we strongly link to applied aspects of biological control in which hyperparasitoids form a problem by reducing the parasitic wasp population released as biocontrol agents.