ID 824 0705 7357
Coastal wetlands such as tidal flats and marshes provide highly valued ecosystem services, e.g. in terms of habitat biodiversity, carbon storage and mitigation of flood risks associated with storms and sea-level rise. Wetlands are typically dissected by tidal channel networks that control the in- and outflow of water, sediment and biota, thereby steering the biogeomorphic development of these landscapes. During my PhD research, I studied the spatial complexity of tidal channel networks, as network morphology (varying from simple parallel channels to complexly branching networks) may greatly affect wetland functioning and resilience to sea-level rise. I conducted field measurements, lab experiments and mathematical modelling to understand how such complexity arises from feedbacks between sediment-stabilizing organisms (algal mats, plants), sedimentary and hydrodynamic processes. Collectively, my findings might further improve the design of wetland restoration projects, stimulating the transition from conventional to nature-based flood protection of densely populated coastlines worldwide.
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