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“Contribute to a greener, more stable and better functioning system.”

Posted at 08/08/2023 by Evelien van Eijsbergen

Anouk Boon (Utrecht University) and Joshua Climo (Radboud University) are the PhD students within Rivers2Morrow's latest research project. The research on ecology and morphology in the Common Meuse has just started: a good time to talk to the brand new researchers. They talk extensively about the research, what they are most looking forward to and the collaboration with Rivers2Morrow.

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Evelien van Eijsbergen


Love of nature and water

As participants in the Rivers2Morrow program, the researchers are engaged daily with the Dutch river landscape, but where did the enthusiasm for nature and water originate? For both of them, it appeared to be in there at a young age. Joshua: “We used to regularly go on vacation to the water around Maastricht. Coincidentally, the research area, which runs from just north of Maastricht to Maasbracht, is also where I visited a lot as a child. “A love of nature and water was also in Anouk from an early age. Anouk: “As a child I also always went outside, into nature. My parents were involved in nature a lot, so it really went down well with me. I come from Zeeland, so the interaction between water and land has always been a big part of my life. Every school report was about subjects like deltas or tides.”

Working together on applied research

For Joshua, choosing Rivers2Morrow was a logical choice: “I knew a number of people within the program, which made the choice easier. Besides, it is a research with a very direct application. As a researcher, I don’t want to sit behind my laptop all day and work on something that is never going to be used.I want to do applied research that actually gets something done.The program fits this perfectly.”For Anouk, collaboration is also an important factor. “I want to cooperate with parties who will eventually also do the implementation. You get a lot of new insights by working with colleagues and Rijkswaterstaat. To me, that makes it much more interesting than doing theoretical research on your own.” Joshua sees two other big advantages: “There are super many relevant contacts within Rivers2Morrow. It is also an advantage for me as an ecologist that part of the data collection is done by external parties. That helps me tremendously to spend more time on research.”

The collaboration

In the study area is a protected natural area, and measures are needed to maintain and sometimes improve the characteristic populations. With this premise, the research questions were formulated. What are bottlenecks for ecology? And what morphology management measures are effective in removing ecology limiting factors? According to Anouk, their collaboration is going to play an important role in this: “Joshua is an ecologist and I am a hydrologist. Joshua looks at what the state of the ecology is and I look at what the relevant hydromorphological processes are. What exactly is the status and cause of the deteriorated ecological state, and the role of morphology in it, we don’t know yet. This we find out together and depending on what we discover, our collaboration forms.

Impact on the future

The reason and importance of the research are clear, but what are Joshua and Anouk most looking forward to right now? For Anouk, it is the lab and field work: “I really like that there is a lot of lab and field work coming up. With your hands in the sediment, catching small bugs and measuring water movement. It’s really nice that you can see the theory in the field.” Joshua is also very curious about what problems are really at play. “For example, we know that the water quality is not good and in the bottom a lot of silt accumulates between the rocks. But it’s going to take a lot of time to really get a good picture of this.” According to Anouk, the ultimate goal is to come up with solutions together. Joshua adds, “I hope that in four or five years we will have ideas on how to improve the system and we can say that we have contributed to a greener, more stable and better functioning system.”

Related organisations

Utrecht University

Radboud University

Last modified: 26/09/2023