Dr. Hilde Eggermont


Belgian Biodiversity Platform
Royal Belgian Institute for Natural Sciences
Vautierstraat 29
1000 Brussels, Belgium


Belgian Science Policy
R&D department
Louizalaan 231
1050 Brussels, Belgium


Research affiliation:
Research group Limnology
Ghent University
K.L. Ledeganckstraat 35
9000 Ghent, Belgium


Email: h.eggermont@biodiversity.be or hilde.eggermont@ugent.be

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Research interest

Research interests fall primarily into two areas:

1. Long-term dynamics of aquatic communities and ecosystem function in African (mountain) lakes
I have been involved in several projects aiming to understand the long-term dynamics (years to millennia) of aquatic communities and ecosystem function in African lakes, using biological tracers extracted from high-resolution lake-sediment records. Fossils of diverse groups of aquatic invertebrates preserved in these records are among the most accurate biological indicators of environmental change, be it natural (climate-driven hydrological variability, ecological succession) or anthropogenic (eutrophication, fish introduction, soil erosion). I am mainly specialized in subfossil larval Chironomidae (Insecta: Diptera). My PhD work concentrated on the use of chironomids as quantitative indicators for past salinity variation in East African lakes. My most recent work focused on East African mountain regions and explored the potential of chironomids as paleothermometers. Over the past 12 years, I have been involved in projects reconstructing past lacustrine environments and climate in the Rwenzori Mts (Uganda-Dr Congo), Bale Mts (Ethiopia), Mt Kenya (Kenya), Central Sahara (Chad) and Indonesia (Java).




2. Community dynamics of water fleas in East African mountain lakes: integration of (palaeo)limnology and (palaeo)genetics
This research initiative aims to disentangle the relative importance of local, regional and temporal processes driving the community ecology of afro alpine Cladocera (water fleas; Crustacea). The study comprises various spatial and temporal scales in the isolated islands of East Africa’s highest mountain ranges (Bale Mts-Ethiopia, Mt Kenya-Kenya, Rwenzori Mts-Uganda), and integrates traditional techniques (downcore fossil analysis, DNA barcoding) with more novel approaches such as palaeogenetics. Besides providing fundamental insight in evolutionary and ecological drivers of multi-scale community ecology, this project also aims at providing means to assess global change effects on the biodiversity and ecological integrity of tropical cold-water lakes. As such, theoretical ecological concepts will eventually feed back to bioconservation policy.

Photographs by Joachim Mergeay






Current Position

Scientific coordinator of the Belgian Biodiversity Platform, in charge of international science-policy initiatives on biodiversity (coordinating national focal point activities for IPBES, and WP leader for the BiodivErsA era-net).






Research publications and Book chapters

2000

Eggermont H. & D. Verschuren, 2000. Chironomidae as indicators of substrate quality in Lake Tanganyika: application potential in studies of climate history and human impact. Bulletin for the International Decade of East African Lakes (IDEAL) 10-11.


2003
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Eggermont H. & D. Verschuren, 2003. Subfossil Chironomidae from Lake Tanganyika, East Africa 1. Tanypodinae and Orthocladiinae. Journal of Paleolimnology 29: 31-48.

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Eggermont H. & D. Verschuren, 2003. Subfossil Chironomidae from Lake Tanganyika, East Africa 2. Chironomini and Tanytarsini. Journal of Paleolimnology 29: 423-457.

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Eggermont H. & D. Verschuren, 2003. Impact of soil erosion in disturbed watersheds on the benthic invertebrate fauna of Lake Tanganyika, East Africa. Biological Conservation 113: 99-109.


2004
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Eggermont H. & D. Verschuren, 2004. Subfossil Chironomidae from East African low- and mid-elevation lakes. 1. Tanypodinae and Orthocladiinae. Journal of Paleolimnology 32: 383-412.

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Eggermont H. & D. Verschuren, 2004. Subfossil Chironomidae from East African low- and mid-elevation lakes. 2. Chironomini and Tanytarsini. Journal of Paleolimnology 32: 413-455.


2005
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Eggermont H., D. Verschuren & H.J. Dumont, 2005. Taxonomic diversity and biogeography of Chironomidae (Insecta: Diptera) in lakes of tropical West Africa, using sub-fossil remains extracted from surface sediments. Journal of Biogeography 32: 1063-1083.

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Rumes B., H. Eggermont & D. Verschuren, 2005. Subfossil representation of aquatic invertebrate communities in a salinity gradient of western Uganda crater lakes. Hydrobiologia 542: 297-314.


2006
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Eggermont H., O. Heiri, D. Verschuren, 2006. Subfossil Chironomidae (Insecta: Diptera) as quantitative indicators for past salinity variation in African lakes. Quaternary Science Reviews 25:1966-1994.

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Verschuren D. & H. Eggermont, 2006. Quaternary paleoecology of aquatic Diptera in tropical and southern Hemisphere regions, with special reference to the Chironomidae. Quaternary Science Reviews 25: 1926-1947.

Lens, L. & H. Eggermont, 2006. The Afrotropical Region. In: Gosler, A. (ed). Philips Birds of the World, Philip's Ltd, Octopus Publishing Group, London 184-235.


2007
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Eggermont H. & D. Verschuren, 2007. Taxonomy and diversity of Afroalpine Chironomidae (Insecta: Diptera) on Mount Kenya and the Ruwenzori Mountains, East Africa. Journal of Biogeography 34: 69-89.

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Eggermont H., P. De Deyne & D. Verschuren, 2007. Spatial variability of chironomid death assemblages in surface sediments of a shallow fluctuating tropical lake (Lake Naivasha, Kenya). Journal of Paleolimnology 38: 309-328.

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Verschuren D. & H. Eggermont, 2007. Sieve mesh size and quantitative chironomid paleoclimatology. Journal of Paleolimnology 38:329-345.

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Russell J.M., H. Eggermont & D. Verschuren, 2007. Spatial complexity during the Little Ice Age in tropical East Africa: sedimentary records from contrasting crater lake basins in western Uganda. The Holocene 17(2): 183-193.

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Eggermont H., J. Russell, G. Schettler, K. Van Damme, I. Bessems & D. Verschuren, 2007. Physical and chemical limnology of alpine lakes and pools in the Rwenzori Mountains(Uganda-Congo). Hydrobiologia 592: 151-173.


2008
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Kroepelin S., D. Verschuren, A.M. Lezine, H. Eggermont, C. Cocquyt, P. Francus, J.-P. Cazet, M. Fagot, B. Rumes, J.M. Russell, D. Conley, M. Schuster, H. von Suchodoletz, D.R. Engstrom, 2008. Climate-driven ecosystem succession in the central Sahara: the last 6000 years. Science 320: 765-768.

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Eggermont H., D. Kennedy, S.T. Hasiotis, D. Verschuren & A.S. Cohen, 2008. Distribution of larval Chironomidae (Insecta: Diptera) along a depth transect at Kigoma Bay, Lake Tanganyika (East Africa): implications for paleoecology and paleoclimatology. African Entomology 16: 162-184.

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Lens L. & H. Eggermont, 2008. Fluctuating asymmetry as putative marker for stress in avian conservation. Bird Conservation International 18: 125-143.

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Eggermont H, 2008. Book review - The identification and Use of Palaearctic Chironomidae Larvae in Palaeoecology. S.J. Brooks, P.G. Langdon & O. Heiri (Eds) (2007). DRA Technical Guide No10, Quaternary Research Association, London, UK. Freshwater Biology.

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Kaczmarek L., L. Michalczyk & H. Eggermont, 2008. Dactylobiotus luci, a new freshwater tardigrade (Eutardigrada, Macrobiotidae) from the Rwenzori Mountains (Uganda/DR Congo). AfricanZoology 43: 150-155.

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Eggermont H., D. Verschuren, M. Fagot, B. Rumes, B. Van Bocxlaer & S. Kröpelin, 2008. Aquatic community response to salinity increase in a groundwater-fed lake system duringlate-Holocene desiccation of the central Sahara desert. Quaternary Science Reviews 27: 2411-2425.


2009
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Eggermont H., K. Van Damme & J.M. Russell, 2009. Rwenzori Mountains (Mountains of the Moon): headwaters of the White Nile. H.J. Dumont (ed). The Nile: Origin, Environments, Limnology and Human Use 243-261. Monographiae Biologicae, Springer Science.

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Russell J., H. Eggermont, R. Taylor & D. Verschuren, 2009. Paleolimnological Records of Recent Glacial Recession in the Rwenzori Mountains, Uganda-D. R. Congo. Journal of Paleolimnology 41: 253-271.

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D. Verschuren, J. Sinninghe Damsté, J. Moernaut, I. Kirsten, M. Blaauw, M. Fagot, G. H. Haug, B. van Geel, M. De Batist, P. Barker, M. Vuille, D. Conley, D.O. Olago, I. Milne, B. Plessen, H. Eggermont, C. Wolff, E. Hurrell, J. Ossebaar, A. Lyaruu, J. van der Plicht, B.F. Cumming, A. Brauer, S. M. Rucina, J. M. Russell, E. Keppens, J. Hus, R. S. Bradley, M. Leng, J. Mingram, N.R. Nowaczyk, 2009. Half-precessional dynamics of monsoon rainfall near the East Africa equator. Nature 462: 637-641.


2010
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Eggermont H., O. Heiri, J. Russell, M. Vuille, L. Audenaert & D. Verschuren, 2010. Chironomidae (Insecta: Diptera) as paleothermometers in the African tropics. Journal of Paleolimnology 43: 413-435.

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Eggermont H., D. Verschuren, L. Audenaert, L. Lens, J. Russell, G. Klaassen, O. Heiri, 2010. Limnological and ecological sensitivity of Rwenzori mountain lakes to climate warming. In H. Eggermont, M. Kernan, K. Martens (Eds). Global change impacts on mountain lakes. Special Issue, Hydrobiologia 648: 123-142. DOI 10.1007/s10750-010-0140-z.

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J.E. Tierney, J.M. Russell, H. Eggermont, E.C. Hopmans, J.S. Sinninghe-Damsté, D. Verschuren, 2010. Environmental controls on branched tetraether lipid distributions in tropical East African lake sediments. Geochimica et cosmochimica 74: 4902-4918.


2011
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Rumes B., H. Eggermont, D. Verschuren, 2011. Distribution and faunal richness of Cladocera in western Uganda crater lakes. In H. Eggermont & K. Martens (Eds). Cladocera as indicators of environmental change. Special Issue, Hydrobiologia 676: 39-56 DOI 10.1007/s10750-011-0829-7.

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K. Van Damme & H. Eggermont, 2011. The Afromontane Cladocera (Crustacea: Branchiopoda) of the Rwenzori (Uganda-DR Congo): Taxonomy, ecology and biogeography. In H. Eggermont & K. Martens (Eds). Cladocera as indicators of environmental change. Special Issue, Hydrobiologia 676: 57-100 (DOI 10.1007/s10750-011-0892-0) Special Issue, Hydrobiologia 676: 57-100 DOI 10.1007/s10750-011-0892-0.

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Eggermont H. & K. Martens, 2011. Cladoceran crustacea: sentinels of environmental change. In H. Eggermont & K. Martens (Eds). Cladocera as indicators of environmental change. Special Issue, Hydrobiologia 676: 1-7 DOI 10.1007/s10750-011-0908-9.

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Mergeay, J., L. De Meester, H. Eggermont, D. Verschuren, 2011. Priority effects and species sorting in a long paleo-ecological record of repeated community assembly through time. Ecology 92: 2267-2275.


2012
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Eggermont H. & Heiri O., 2012. The chironomid-temperature relationship: expression in nature and palaeoenvironmental implications. Biological reviews 87: 430-456 DOI 10.1111/j.1469-185X.2011.00206x.

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Rodysill, J. R., Russell J. M., Bijaksana S., Brown E.T., Safiuddin L. O. & H. Eggermont, 2012. A paleolimnological record of drought from East Java, Indonesia during the last 1400 years. Journal of Paleolimnology 47: 125-139 DOI 10.1007/s10933-011-9564.

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Gelorini V, Verschuren D, Lens L, Eggermont H, Odgaard B, Verbeken A., 2012. Effects of land use intensity and habitat differentiation on fungal spore diversity in surface sediments of western Uganda crater lakes. Fungal Diversity DOI 10.1007/s13225-012-0155-z.

Lens L. & H. Eggermont, 2012. “Conservation Biology.” In Oxford Bibliographies Online: Ecology. Ed. David Gibson. New York: Oxford University Press - http://www.oxfordbibliographies.com/view/document/obo-9780199830060/obo-9780199830060-0072.xml?rskey=FRBfcW&result=1&q=conservation%20biology#firstMatch.

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Schön, I, H. Eggermont, E. Verheyen, K. Martens, 2012. Palaeogenetics for ostracods. In: D. J. Horne, J. Holmes, F. Viehberg, J. Rodriguez-Lazaro (Eds), Ostracoda as proxies for Quaternary climate change. Developments in Quaternary Science 17: 297-304. Elsevier..


2013
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J. C. Habel, W. W. Weisser, H. Eggermont & L. Lens, 2013. Food security versus biodiversity protection: an example of land-sharing from East Africa. Biodiversity and Conservation, DOI 10.1007/s10531-013-0479-3.

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E. Gaublomme, H. Eggermont, F. Hendrickx, 2013. Local extinction processes rather than edge effects affect ground beetle assemblages from fragmented and urbanized old beech forests. Insect Conservation and Diversity, doi: 10.111/icad.12036.

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Keune H., Kretsch C, De Blust G., Gilbert M., Flandroy L., Van Den Berge K., Versteirt V., Hartig T., De Keersmaecker L., Eggermont H., et al. , 2013. Science-policy challenges for biodiversity, public health and urbanization: Examples from Belgium. Environmental Research Letters 8: 025015 (special issue on “Biodiversity, Human Health and Well-Being”) doi:10.1088/1748-93261812/025015.

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Eggermont H., and Verschuren D., 2013. The Encyclopedia of Quaternary Science (updated version), Vol. 1, pp. 361-372. Amsterdam: Elsevier.

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Eggermont H., Le Roux X., Heughebaert A., Balian E. & BiodivERsA partners, 2013. The BiodivERsA database: Analysis of the competitive funding landscape for research on biodiversity and ecosystem services in Europe, 33 pp (http://www.biodiversa.org/8)

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Habel, J.C., Gossner, M.M., Meyer, S., Eggermont, H., Lens, L., & Weisser, W.W., 2013. Mind the gaps when using science to address conservation concerns. Biodiversity and Conservation, 22: 2413-2427.

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S. E. Loomis, J. M. Russell, H. Eggermont, D. Verschuren, J.S. Sinninghe Damsté, 2013. Effects of temperature, pH and nutrient concentrations on branched GDGT distributions in East African lakes: Implications for paleoenvironmental reconstructions. Organic Geochemistry, 66: 25-37.


2014
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Abebe, G., S. Mengistou, H. Eggermont, D. Verschuren, 2014. Chironomid distribution along a pollution gradient in Ethiopian rivers, and their potential for biological water quality monitoring. African Journal of Aquatic Science DOI: 10.2989/16085914.2013.870525.

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Pfeifer M., V. Lefebvre, T.A. Garden, ... H. Eggermont et al., 2014. BIOFRAG - a new database for analysing BIOdiversity responses to forest FRAGmentation. Ecology and Evolution DOI: 10.1002/ecc3.1036.




Special Issues

Eggermont H., M. Kernan & K. Martens, 2010. Global Change Impacts on Mountain Lakes. Special Issue Hydrobiologia Vol 648 (226 pp), Kluwer Academic Press.

Eggermont H., K. Martens, 2011. Cladocera as environmental indicators. Special Issue Hydrobiologia Vol 676 (315 pp), Kluwer Academic Press.




Current Funding

National Geographic Society, Grant #8938-11– Committee for Research and Exploration. Community dynamics of water fleas in East African mountain lakes: integration of (palaeo)limnology and (palae)genetics; 2011-2012


Research Foundation of Flanders (FWO-Vlaanderen), Grant 009612N. Community dynamics of water fleas in East African mountain lakes: integration of (palaeo)limnology and (palae)genetics;  2012-2015