In my research I focus on benthic ecosystems in estuarine and coastal environments. I study the diversity of benthic macrofauna, and how their distribution is influenced by the environment, but also vice versa, how organisms, as ecosystem engineers, modify their environment. I try to get a fundamental understanding about the mutual interaction between benthic organisms and the physical environmental, for instance how oyster reefs affect hydrodynamics and sediment dynamics, or how stabilizing organisms and destabilizing organisms shape intertidal flats. This fundamental understanding I translate into concepts and guidelines for restoration and nature-based solutions, this is integrating coastal ecosystems into management of our estuaries, deltas and coasts. Monitoring of the effectiveness of restoration projects or nature-based solutions is one of my key interests; this includes for instance the projects in the Oosterschelde related to the sand deficit problem (nourishments of tidal flats, oyster reefs), restoration projects in the Westerschelde, the sand engine along the Dutch coast, ... Finally, I am working on benthic communities and benthic habitats as indicators for ecosystem health, as well as their importance for delivering ecosytem services to society (coastal protection, nutrient cycling, food production, etc.).
My main focus research area is the Southwest Delta, with the Schelde estuary and the Oosterschelde as my principal research areas, but I also worked in other coastal systems worldwide, including Ems estuary (Netherlands), China (Yangtze, Yellow River), Bangladesh, Denmark (Limfjorden), Finland, Spain (Ria de Vigo), New Zealand, etc.
Tom Ysebaert studied biology at the University of Antwerp (Belgium), where he also received his PhD in 2000, dealing with macrobenthic communities in the Schelde estuary. Since 2001 he is working at NIOZ - Yerseke (former NIOO-CEME), and since 2007 he is also part-time senior researcher at Wageningen Marine Research in Yerseke. Since 2013 he is also lecturer at the University of Antwerp, teaching courses on Ecological Engineering (within the master Technology for Integrated Water Management) and Estuarine and Coastal Systems (within the master Oceans & Lakes).
October 2013 - now
Lecturer (0.05 fte)
University of Antwerp, Department Biology
November 2007 - now
Senior researcher (0.6 fte)
Wageningen Marine Research, Yerseke, the Netherlands
January 2001 – now
Senior researcher (1.0 fte until nov 2007, 0.4 fte afterwards)
Royal Netherlands Institute for Sea Research – NIOZ, Estuarine & Delta Systems Department, Yerseke, The Netherlands
1992 – December 2000
Scientist / project manager
Institute of Nature Conservation, Ministry of the Flemish Community, Brussels, Belgium
1988 - 1992
Ghent University, Laboratory of Ecology, Zoogeography & Nature Conservation, Ghent, Belgium