Prof. Dr.


Vrije Universiteit Brussel
Room 7F422
Pleinlaan 2
1050 Brussels | Belgium


Harry is leading the research group ‘Functional Ecology of Plants and Ecosystems’. His research and that of his co-workers focuses on the interactions between plants and ecosystem processes, and how these are influenced by environmental changes and human activities.

The group studies growth and performance of plants in relation to environmental conditions, including plant-soil and plant-herbivore interactions. It has a particular interest in endangered and invasive plant species, and in mechanisms of species coexistence, competition and facilitation.

A uniting research theme is the question of how ecological processes are affected by the stoichiometry (i.e. the balance) of elements as carbon, nitrogen and phosphorus. 

Lewandowska, A.M., A. Biermann, E. Borer, M.A. Cebrian Piqueras, S. Declerck, L. De Meester, E. van Donk, L. Gamfeldt, D. Gruner, N. Hagenah, W. S. Harpole, K.P Kirkman, C.A. Klausmeier, M. Kleyer, J.M.H. Knops, P. Lemmens, E. Lind, E. Litchman, J. Mantilla Contreras, K. Martens, S. Meier, V. Minden, J. L. Moore, H. Olde Venterink, E. Seabloom, T. Smyth, U. Sommer, M. Striebel, A. Trenkamp, J. Trinogga, J. Urabe, W.Vyverman, D. van de Waal, C. Widdicombe, H. Hillebrand (2016). The influence of balanced and unbalanced resource supply for biodiversity-functioning relationship across ecosystems. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences 371: 20150283.

Fujita, Y., H. Olde Venterink, P.M. van Bodegom, J.C. Douma, G.W. Heil, N. Hölzel, E. Jabłońska, W. Kotowski, T. Okruszko, P. Pawlikowski, P.C. de Ruiter & M.J. Wassen (2014). Low investment in sexual reproduction threatens plants adapted to phosphorus limitation. Nature 505: 82-86.

Göransson, H., P.J. Edwards, K. Perreijn, R.S. Smittenberg & H. Olde Venterink (2014). Rocks create N:P heterogeneity by funnelling rain. Biogeochemistry 121: 329-338.

Sitters, J., M. J. Maechler, P.J. Edwards, W. Suter & H. Olde Venterink (2014). Interactions of C:N:P stoichiometry and soil macrofauna in controlling dung decomposition of savanna herbivores. Functional Ecology 28: 776-786.

Blaser, W.J., J. Sitters, S. Hart, P.J. Edwards & H. Olde Venterink (2013). Facilitative or competitive effects of woody plants on understory vegetation depend on N-fixation, canopy height and rainfall. Journal of Ecology 101: 1598-1603

Lannes, L.S., M. M. C. Bustamante, P. J. Edwards & H. Olde Venterink (2012). Alien and endangered plants show contrasting patterns to productivity and N:P stoichiometry in the Brazilian Cerrado. New Phytologist 196: 816-823.

Scharfy, D., A. Funk, H. Olde Venterink & S. Güsewell (2011). Invasive forbs differ functionally from native graminoids, but are similar to native forbs. New Phytologist 189: 818-828.

Olde Venterink, H., & S. Güsewell (2010). Competitive interactions between two grasses under N and P limitation. Functional Ecology 24: 877-886.

Scharfy, D., S. Güsewell, M.O. Gessner & H. Olde Venterink (2010). Invasion of Solidago gigantea in contrasting experimental plant communities: effects on soil microbes, nutrients and plant-soil feedbacks. Journal of Ecology 98: 1379-1388.

Wassen, M.J., H. Olde Venterink, E.D. Lapshina & F. Tanneberger (2005). Endangered species persist under phosphorus limitation. Nature 437: 547-550.