Participant 13 - Wageningen University (WU), The Netherlands (WP3)

Institute description: Wageningen University is a leading European university in Life Sciences and has been involved in agricultural education and research in many parts of the world. It is part of the Wageningen University and Research Centre (WUR). The Land Degradation and Development Group (LDD) focuses on physical and socio-economic processes leading to land degradation and on the design and economic impact assessment of technologies for soil and water conservation and rural development.
Role in the project: WP3 leader, participating in WPs 1, 3, 4, 6, 7, and 9.
Past experience: The LDD group has a long-term experience in semi-arid zones in West and East Africa and in southern Europe, has been leading partner in inter-university research on Management of Natural Resources in Burkina Faso, in a regional research project in East Africa (EROAHI), in EU projects on wind erosion in Europe (WEELS), on water harvesting in Northern Africa (WAHIA) and Central Asia (AWACAD), on the future of olive groves on sloping land in southern Europe (OLIVERO; QLRT-2002-01841), and now on mitigation and remediation of desertification (DESIRE; GOCE-037046).WU is partner in a.o. the Partnership for European Environmental Research (PEER), the Global Water Partnership (GWP), the World Water Council (WWC), the Netherlands Water Partnership (NWP) and Climate Change and Biosphere (CCB).

Involved personnel

  • Prof. Peter de Ruiter Mathematical Ecologist. Specialized in modeling the interplay between land use, dynamics in resources, and the structure and stability of biological communities. Takes part is several large international programs (EU projects, DIVERSITAS). 
  • Dr Jaap Bloem Soil microbial ecologist. Broad experience in problem-oriented research on questions related to biodiversity, soil quality, sustainable agriculture and nature restoration.
  • Dr Violette Geissen Agricultural engineering, habilitation in soil science and soil ecology, extensive experience in coordination of (more than 20) international projects. Her research is mainly focused on land degradation and remediation.
  • Dr Manuel Seeger Geo-ecologist and physical geographer. Has been working on soil and land-degradation processes as well as on water resources and soil hydrology. Also on the development of experimental and monitoring methods for land degradation processes.
  • Prof. Coen J. Ritsema Coordinating large international research projects; soil physicist and hydrologist, fundamental and applied research related to droughts, water scarcity, degradation and desertification

Prof. Peter de Ruiter (H-index: 28, cited by others: 2490 times) has 25 years of experience in fundamental and applied research in the area of community ecology, soil ecology and modelling. He has been part of various large international projects, at present in 3 EU projects (SoilService, SoilTrec and Ecofinders). At present Peter de Ruiter is Professor Mathematical Ecology at Wageningen University. Furthermore, he is member of various advisory committees, scientific councils and boards. At present he is chair of the council of ISRIC (Unesco Soil Information Centre) and of the Institute for Biodiversity and Ecosystem Dynamics (IBED - University of Amsterdam).


  • Bloem, J., D.W. Hopkins and A. Benedetti (editors) 2006. Microbiological methods for assessing soil quality. 307 pp. CABI, Wallingford, UK
  • Bloem, J. T. Schouten, W. Didden, G. Jagers op Akkerhuis, H. Keidel, M. Rutgers, T. Breure. 2004. Measuring soil biodiversity: experiences, impediments and research needs. In “Agricultural impacts on soil erosion and soil biodiversity: developing indicators for policy analysis” (R. Francaviglia, editor), Proceedings of the OECD expert meeting on soil erosion and soil biodiversity indicators, 25-28 March 2003, Rome, Italy. OECD, Paris, p. 109-129. (
  • De Ruiter P.C., A.M. Neutel & J.C. Moore. 1995. Energetics, patterns of interaction strengths, and stability in real ecosystems. Science, 269, 1257-1260.
  • Geissen, V., Huerta,-Lwanga, E., de Jong, B. 2009. Defining the ecological condition of cattle ranching systems using fuzzy set theory Aspects of Applied Biology 93: Integrated Agricultural Systems: Methodologies, Modelling and Measuring: 275–280.
  • Kéfi, S., Rietkerk, M., Alados, C.L., Pueyo, Y., Papanastasis, V.P., ElAich, A., de Ruiter, P.C. 2007. Spatial vegetation patterns and imminent desertification in Mediterranean arid ecosystems. Nature 449, 213-217
  • Neutel, A.M., Heesterbeek, J.A.P, van de Koppel, J., Hoenderboom, G., Vos, A., Kaldeway, C., Berendse, F., de Ruiter, P.C. 2007. Reconciling complexity with stability in naturally assembling food webs. Nature 449, 599-602
  • Postma-Blaauw, M.B., De Goede, R.G.M., Bloem, J., Faber, J.H., Brussaard, L. 2010. Soil biota community structure and abundance under agricultural intensification and extensification. Ecology, 91 (2), pp. 460-473.
  • Rietkerk, M., Dekker, S.C, de Ruiter, P.C., van de Koppel, J. 2004. Self-organized Patchiness and Catastrophic Shifts in Ecosystems Science 305, 1926-1929. 
  • Ritsema, C.J. (Ed.) 2005. Special issue “Characteristics and Management of Hydrophobic Soils’, Austr. J. Soil. Res., 43, 220 pp.
  • Ruiter, P.C. 2007. Spatial vegetation patterns and imminent desertification in Mediterranean arid ecosystems. Nature 449, 213-217
  • Seeger, M., and J. B. Ries (2008), Soil degradation and soil surface process intensities on abandoned fields in Mediterranean mountain environments, Land Degradation & Development, 19(5), 488-501.