Current Themes 2023 - Optimizing ecological structures in agricultural landscapes to enhance biodiversity

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♦ 26th edition Current Themes in Ecology ♦

Optimizing ecological structures in agricultural landscapes to enhance biodiversity

17 November 2023

De Werelt, Lunteren


The increased area of agricultural fields has not only resulted in a decline of the surface area of the natural landscape but also the structural complexity in the landscape. In the Netherlands alone there has been a reduction of 60% of hedgerows, tree lines, patches and strips. This reduction in landscape complexity is common throughout Europe and in many areas is seen as an attributing factor of biodiversity decline.

Indeed, recent studies indicate the importance of ecological structures and their spatial arrangement in agricultural landscapes to enhance biodiversity and genetic vitality of indigenous species. Homogenous agricultural landscapes, landscapes characterised by extensive monotonous agricultural fields and a lack of ecological structures generally support lower levels of biodiversity. Consequently, important ecosystem services such as natural pest suppression and pollination are not sufficient in these landscapes, leading to a higher susceptibility of crops to pests and lower yields. In addition, the absence of ecological structures reduces the genetic vitality of indigenous species, due to the lack of geneflow and small genetic reservoirs. In contrast, agricultural landscapes with high structural complexity hold higher levels of biodiversity and ecosystem services such a pest resistances, insect pollination and soil water retention. Moreover, they facilitate genetic exchange and vital gene pooling.

While the value of enhancing heterogeneity of the agricultural landscape is increasingly recognised, the degree in which this occurs depends on the type and form of arrangement of ecological structures and at which spatial scale. Concretely, the question is how can we optimise arrangements of ecological structures to obtain desired effects in enhancing biodiversity and genetic vitality and benefit from pollination, disease and pest suppression. In addition, the socio-economic aspects of a large-scale transition to eco-inclusive farming also need to be assessed.

Current Themes 2023 will explore the present day insights in the relationship between ecological structures, their spatial arrangement and biodiversity. More specifically the presentations of the day will give insight in:  

  • How ecological structures enhance biodiversity and genetic vitality in areas with intensive agriculture.
  • How to map, quantify and analyse ecological structures?  
  • What tools are available for assessing and predicting the effects of ecological structures on biodiversity, ecosystem services and genetic vitality?

Registration closes 2nd of November 2023.

09:30 - 10:00 Registration & Coffee / Tea
10:00 - 10:20 Welcome by the Chairs of the Day
Jetske de Boer, Researcher and Lecturer @NIOO-KNAW/AERES, the Netherlands
Kenneth Rijsdijk, Assistant Professor @ University of Amsterdam, The Netherlands
10:20 - 11:00 Dynamics of Dutch Landscapes (Hans de Kroon, Radboud University)  
11:00 - 11:30 Coffee / Tea  
11:30 - 12:10 Evolutionary Adaptations in the Anthropocene with an Emphasis on Landscape Genetics (Joscha Beninde, Vrije University)
12:10 - 12:50 Monitoring spatial dynamics of landscapes and ecosystem services (Judith Westerink, Wageningen University)
12:50 - 14:00 Lunch  
14:00- 14:40 Optimising ecological structures to enhance biodiversity (Flavia Aschi, Utrecht University)
14:40- 15:20 Quantifying ecological structure and ecosystem services (Matteo Dainese, University of Verona)
15:20- 15:50 Coffee / Tea  
15:50- 16:30 “Whose landscapes are these anyway?” Biodiversity restoration from an socio-ecological perspective (Noelle Aarts, Radboud University)
16:30- 17:00 Plenary discussion and a wrap-up of the day  
17:00 - 18:00 Farewell drinks  

This edition of Current Themes in Ecology is organised by:


De Werelt hotel is located on the edge of the most beautiful nature reserve in the Netherlands, the Veluwe. Adress: Westhofflaan 2, 6741 KH Lunteren

Fees 1
Bsc and MSc students / PhD candidates € 50,-
All other participants € 100,-

1 The participation fee includes coffee/tea, lunch, and drinks.

  • If you need an invoice to complete your payment, please send an email to, including ALL relevant details that should be mentioned on the invoice (e.g., purchase order no., specific addresses, attendees, etc.).
  • Please make sure that your payment is arranged within two weeks after your registration.
  • It is the participant's responsibility to make sure that payment is completed correctly and in time.
NERN Cancellation Conditions
  • In case of cancellation before and including 20th October 2023, cancellation is free of charge.
  • In case of cancellation after the 20th of October, a fee of € 100,- will be charged.
  • Note: If you would like to cancel your registration, ALWAYS inform us (and do note that you will be kept to the cancellation conditions)
More information

Dr Sanja Selaković  (NERN)
Phone: +31317480269

Dr Claudius van de Vijver (NERN)
Phone: +31317485116


To register, please enter your details below and click "Register".