Prof. Dr.


Vrije Universiteit Brussel
Room 7F407
Pleinlaan 2
1050 Brussels | Belgium


Bram joined the Department of Biology at VUB in 2013 and started up an ecological research group. He is the principal investigator of the Community Ecology lab. The main research focus is to explain distribution patterns of species at different spatial scales. Current research makes use of different model systems, databases and models to test fundamental and more applied ecological questions. Examples of current research lines include:

1. Metacommunity ecology and analysis of species distributions across scales

We use island model systems such as ponds, rock pools, moss patches and bromeliads to study how species can coexist in fragmented landscapes. In addition, we also make use of the IUCN database and null models to study the emergence of species distributions at large scales. Mesocosm experiments are used to gain insight into the importance of habitat selection as a driver of colonization.

2. Risk spreading strategies in unpredictable environments  

We study how populations can survive in highly disturbed habitats such as temporary rock pools. We specifically look at dispersal and dormancy adaptations and the potential importance of bet hedging strategies using African killifish and pond crustaceans as models.  

3. Ecosystem services of small water bodies

We study the ecosystem processes provided by tank bromeliads in the Neotropics, looking at benefits in terms of pollination of tropical crops and the role of epiphytes as catalysts for biodiversity. 


Reniers, J., Brendonck, L., Roberts, J. D., Verlinden, W. & Vanschoenwinkel, B. (2015). Environmental harshness shapes life-history variation in an Australian temporary pool breeding frog: a skeletochronological approach. Oecologia 178: 931-941 (SCI: 3.248) 

Buschke, F. T., Brendonck, L. & Vanschoenwinkel, B. (2015) Simple mechanistic models can partially explain local but not range-wide co-occurrence of African mammals. Global Ecology and Biogeography 24: 767-773 (SCI: 7.242) 

Brendonck L., Jocque M., Tuytens K., Timms B.V., Vanschoenwinkel B.(2014) Hydrological stability drives both local and regional diversity patterns in rock pool metacommunities. Oikos 124: 741-749 (SCI: 3.559) pdf

Buschke F.T., De Meester L., Brendonck L., Vanschoenwinkel B. (2014) Partitioning the variation in African vertebrate distributions into environmental and spatial components – exploring the link between ecology and biogeography.Ecography 38: 450-461 (SCI: 4.207) 

Vanschoenwinkel, B., Buschke, F., Brendonck, L. (2013) Disturbance alters the impact of dispersal on alpha and beta diversity in a natural metacommunity.Ecology 94: 2547–25571 (SCI: 5.175) 

Pinceel, T., Brendonck., L., Larmuseau, M.H.D., Vanhove M.P.M., Timms, B.V. & Vanschoenwinkel B. (2013) Environmental change as a driver of diversification in temporary aquatic habitats – does the genetic structure of extant fairy shrimp populations reflect historic aridification? Freshwater Biology 8: 1556-1772 (SCI: 3.082) pdf

Vanschoenwinkel, B., Gielen, S., Seaman, M.T. & Brendonck, L. (2008a) Any way the wind blows: frequent wind dispersal drives species sorting in ephemeral aquatic communities. Oikos 117: 125-134 (SCI: 3.309)

Vanschoenwinkel, B., De Vries, C., Seaman, M.T. & Brendonck, L. (2007) The role of metacommunity processes in shaping invertebrate rock pool communities along a dispersal gradient. Oikos 116: 1255-1266. (SCI: 3.309)

Hubin, E., Vanschoenwinkel, B., Broersen, K., De Deyn, P.P., Koedam, N., van Nuland, N.A., Pauwels, K. (in press) Could ecosystem management provide a new framework for Alzheimer’s disease? Alzheimer’s & Dementia (SCI: 12.407)

Geerts, A. N., Vanoverbeke, J., Vanschoenwinkel, B., Van Doorslaer, W., Feuchtmayr, H., Atkinson, D., Moss, B., Davidson, T. A., Sayer, C. D. & De Meester, L. (2015). Rapid evolution of thermal tolerance in the water flea Daphnia.Nature Climate Change 5-665-668. (SCI: 14.547)

A full list of publications can be found on my personal website

All papers are available for download via my Rearchgate profile