Dr. Merel B. Soons

Associate professor

Utrecht University
Institute of Environmental Biology
Ecology and Biodiversity group
Padualaan 8
3584 CH Utrecht
The Netherlands
+31 30 253 6837


Associate professor in Ecology and Biodiversity, Utrecht University
Guest researcher in Movement Ecology, Netherlands Institute of Ecology (NIOO-KNAW)
NWO-Aspasia laureate
NWO-VIDI laureate

Research interests
Biodiversity; Conservation & restoration; Movement ecology; Landscape ecology; Spatial ecology;
Wetlands & ecology of freshwater ecosystems; Global (climate) change; Habitat fragmentation

My main research interests lie in the field of spatial ecology: the mechanisms of dispersal, colonization and migration of plants and animals, the interactions of these processes with ongoing global change (mainly habitat fragmentation and climate change), and their consequences for biodiversity patterns. In my research I investigate spatial ecological processes at the ecosystem to landscape scale, using a combination of field data collection, experiments and modeling approaches. In my dispersal research I use a movement ecology framework to investigate both plant and animal movement. I combine work on the building of fundamental ecological theory with the application of ecological knowledge in nature conservation and restoration. I consider this combination interesting, challenging, and important, as I believe the combination of fundamental science and its application to key environmental problems is what society needs from the scientific community. Most of my research is on wetlands and the ecology of freshwater ecosystems, which are globally threatened but of great natural and societal importance.


My research focusses on three broad questions, addressing these in various research projects:
1) How do plants (and animals) move through landscapes?
2) How do these movements contribute to biodiversity?
3) How do these movements interact with human-induced changes in landscapes (habitat fragmentation, land use change, climate change, but also conservation and restoration activities)?  

Current projects



10 key publications


Peer-reviewed international publications


Peer-reviewed publications in Dutch


Contributions to books


PhD thesis


Supervised PhD theses ('co-promotor')



BSc level
Biology programme

MSc level
Master programme Environmental Biology

MSc student research projects

PhD level
PE&RC course Spatial Ecology 2011

Member of advisory groups on 'Sustainability' in the curriculum of Utrecht University 2012-2014

Member of the Education Advisory Committee for the Biology programme (Opleidingsadviescommissie Biologie, OAC-B) 2011-2013


Dr. M.B. Soons
Ecology and Biodiversity group
Institute of Environmental Biology
Utrecht University
Padualaan 8
3584 CH Utrecht
The Netherlands

+31-30-253 6837