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- Research interest:The Laboratory of Environmental and Urban Ecology (EUREC-Air) of which I am spokesman, is one of the two laboratories belonging to the Research Group ENdEMIC (Research Group on Environmental Ecology and Applied Microbiology).EUREC-Air focusses on the following research topics, which are of huge scientific and social interest: (i) air quality monitoring and its ecological impacts, (ii) nature-based solutions for sustainable and ecological cities and (iii) air pollution and human health. To cover these topics EUREC- AIR makes use of specific tools, i.e. (i) enviromagnetic monitoring, (ii) citizen science, (iii) low-cost sensors for air quality and meteorological monitoring, (iv) biomonitoring and (v) modelling.The first research line on air quality monitoring and its ecological impacts comprises the biomagnetic monitoring of particulate matter (PM) pollution, or enviromagnetic monitoring. The laboratory aims to optimise the technique, so that the contributions of different PM sources (like traffic and industry) can be distinguished from each other. EUREC-AIR has a strong track record in biomonitoring of air pollution, not only via leaves but also via other plant parts (including stems and branches), and by insects and birds as indicators of urban environmental quality. Moreover, EUREC-Air also includes the study of the soil compartment (as an indicator of historical air pollution) in comparison with vegetation (as indicator of actual air pollution). By combining air pollution measurements with enviromagnetic monitoring of plants, soil, river beds and animals, EUREC-Air wants to gain holistic insight in the fate of metal containing PM in the environment. EUREC-Air has a very broad experience in the use of citizen science as a tool to obtain data, but especially to raise awareness for the problem and danger of air pollution in densely inhabited and highly urbanized areas as Flanders. EUREC-Air complements is integrative biomonitoring and enviromagnetic approach with the use of low-cost and low-tech sensors for air pollution monitoring.The second research line is build on nature-based solutions for sustainable and ecological cities. EUREC-Air investigates the role of green and blue infrastructure (GBI) on the reduction of urban heat stress, the so-called urban-heat-island (UHI), and their air pollution mitigation potential. Besides the potential of GBI, also the role of phyllosphere microorganisms for air pollution mitigation is studied. The role of GBI on urban biodiversity is also an important research topic of the laboratory, thereby considering biodiversity from the level of microorganisms up to ecosystem level over all kind of GBI. Because of their importance in the urban ecosystem, and in relation to the limited space in cities, the study of ecosystem services of urban trees remains an important research topic, to support deliberate species’ choices for those species best fulfilling the city’s needs at the considered place.The third and last research line focusses on the link between air pollution and human health. EUREC-Air investigates the dynamic exposure of different transport modes (e.g. cycling, walking, public transport, cars) and helps assessing the effect of PM pollution on respiratory functioning.
- Keywords:AIR PARTICULATE MATTER, AIR POLLUTION, BIODIVERSITY, GREEN SPACES, ECOLOGICAL URBANISM, CITIZEN INVOLVEMENT, PHYTOREMEDIATION, SUSTAINABLE TECHNOLOGIES, Applied biological sciences, biotechnology
- Disciplines:Terrestrial ecology, Plant ecology, Ecosystem services, Environmental monitoring, Urbanism and regional planning
- Research techniques:The Laboratory of Environmental and Urban Ecology (EUREC-Air) can, for the realisation of its research lines, make use of specific tools, i.e. (i) enviromagnetic monitoring, (ii) citizen science, (iii) low-cost sensors for air quality and meteorological monitoring, (iv) biomonitoring and (v) modelling.
- Users of research expertise:Because air pollution is a non-evitable problem for all living humans, and as most people in Flanders, and an ever increasing number of people worldwide live in cities, our research is of importance for all citizens worldwide. Our research yields sound scientific evidence which supports the design of sustainble and ecological cities, and is thus of relevance also for policy-makers and companies active in relevant aspects of urbanisation. Of course our research is also relevant for colleague scientists to build further upon the new knowledge we gathered.