Freshwater Biology (FWB)

Our scientists investigate the biodiversity and evolutionary ecology of animals in habitats ranging from small pools to vast lakes, river systems and wetlands, and also of more exceptional freshwater habitats such as springs and groundwater. In the last years, the team has also expanded into marine habitats. Our research primarily focuses mainly on four animal groups: mussel shrimps (ostracods, bivalved crustaceans that look like small mussels measuring about 1 mm long), marine shrimps (amphipods) and micro- (rotifers, water fleas, tardigrades), and macro-invertebrates (such as aquatic beetles, bugs, larvae of other insect groups, molluscs, etc.) and their parasites. The team applies two different kinds of methods, morphological and molecular analyses using classic but also state-of-the-art and novel techniques. We investigate the evolution, ecology and taxonomy of our target animals and their communities in various parts of the world. We focus first on Belgium, of course, including the North Sea, but also on the whole of Europe, Brazil, several parts of Africa, West Australia, parts of the US, Antarctic lakes, the Southern Ocean around Antarctica, and the deep sea. We have several main evolutionary and ecological research programmes: speciation in ancient lakes and in Antarctica, (ancient) asexual reproduction, and biodiversity in ponds, wetlands and marine habitats, the latter primarily in support of science policy, and the database on Freshwater Animal Diversity (FADA).