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René van der Wal

René Van Der Wal
Professor of Environmental Citizen Science, at SLU's Department of Ecology in Uppsala, Sweden. Interdisciplinary researcher, notably working with social scientists and computing scientists, specialized in environmental citizen science and outreach research. Key interdisciplinary research interests: Ecology in Society, Interdisciplinary working, Digital innovation in Nature Conservation, Citizen Science. Key ecological research interests: Community ecology, Plant-herbivore interactions, Invasive species, Arctic ecology.


Environmental citizen science: learning and working together, with others in society, to understand and address pressing environmental issues - that's the power of citizen science if done well

By studying ongoing initiaves and develop new ones, we are trying to work out where to improve and innovate. This, we hope, will allow citizen science to become a participatory research approach with the power to broker new contracts between science and society, through which environmental issues can be addressed. 

Interdisciplinary approaches: not much beats learning-by-doing from working with passionate researchers in fields fundamentally different than yours. I have thoroughly enjoyed working with, for example, social scientists and computer scientists to understand Digital Innovation in Nature Conservation

Community ecology: Working with social scientists has helped me reflect on my own discipline, Ecology, which has been immensely valuable and led to an increased emphasis on the role of humans in the ecology of a place;  be this in people's gardens, working out how best to plant for pollinators; on the smallest of islands ( to unravel the complexities of an invasive plant species and its management; or in the remote archipellago of Svalbard ( to work out how climate and grazers (reindeer and geese - both increasing in response to human factors) drive plant productivity and species change in High Arctic tundra.


Selected publications


Researcher at the Department of Ecology; NJ, Insect Ecology Unit
Telephone: +4618672357
Postal address:
Inst för ekologi, Box 7044
756 51 UPPSALA
Visiting address: Ulls Väg 16, Uppsala