Dr Maarten van Hardenbroek

As long as I remember I’ve always enjoyed poking around in ponds and ditches and playing with the little critters living there. When I was first introduced to palaeoecology during my undergraduate degree I was immediately sold to the concept of using invertebrates and their remains in lake sediments to reconstruct past environments.

In my work I study the invertebrate communities in lakes, because these organisms are very sensitive to changes in climate, nutrients, hydrology, pollutants, and several other environmental factors. Among the (microscopic) animals I work with are chironomids (larvae of non-biting midges), Cladocera (water fleas), Coleoptera (beetles), Bryozoans (moss animals), and several others to understand changes in lakes in the past and the present. It is very interesting to work at the interface between modern limnology and palaeolimnology, because this is where we can see how today’s environmental issues developed in time. It can give insights in what lake ecosystems looked like before humans began to influence them.

I’ve been developing new techniques like the use of stable isotopes of C, N, O, and H to investigate changes in lake food webs, carbon cycling, and hydrology. I also use established techniques based on the assemblage composition of living and (sub)fossil invertebrates.

For example, I’m currently working on a research project that investigates the impact of crannogs, artificial islands in lakes, that were built and occupied from the Bronze Age to the Medieval Period (CELTIC CRANNOGS). I’m also investigating how changes in climate and vegetation affect carbon cycling in arctic lakes (LAC) and the role of methane in past and present food webs in lakes across Europe, using stable carbon isotopes (RECONMET). My study sites include arctic lakes in Alaska, Greenland and Siberia, boreal lakes in Sweden and Finland, and temperate lakes in Germany, the Netherlands and Switzerland.

More information, including publications and a CV can be found on my personal website.