Royal Netherlands Institute for Sea Research

Prof. Dr. Johan van de Koppel

Senior Scientist
Phone number
+31 (0)113 577 455
Location
Yerseke
Function
Senior Scientist

Expertise

  • Spatial Ecology
  • Self-organisation spatial patterns
  • Ecosystem complexity
  • Animal movement

Current positions

The study of Spatial Ecology

My primary interests are the processes that generate spatial complexity in ecosystems, in the form of spatial patterns, aggregations and fronts in marine intertidal ecosystems. I study the principles that underlie these processes, and how the pattern forming processes affect ecosystem functioning. The focus is on self-organized spatial complexity, e.g., patterns and other spatial structures that result from the interactions between organisms, or between organisms and their physical environment. Examples of systems that have such patterns are mussel beds, arid bush lands, and salt marshes.

Mussels making a self-organized pattern

Unifying principles

Identification of the unifying principles that explain spatial patterns in a wide range of ecosystems is an important goal of my work. I build on the work of Alan Turing (the activator-inhibitor principle of pattern formation), Albert Einstein (Brownian motion resulting from interactions between organisms, or atoms in Einstein’s case), and John Cahn (the phase separation principle from material science, explaining aggregations of animals).

Why work links to universal principles outlined by Turing, Einstein and Cahn

Integrating math with experiments

Integration of experimental and mathematical approaches is an important characteristic of my work. I try to develop general concepts that should work in many ecosystems, but provide clear-cut examples of these concepts in my study systems (mussel beds, salt marshes, intertidal flats), and try to experimentally test both the assumptions and predictions of these models.

Click on the image to run this model

I am a member of the Spatial Ecology group at NIOZ-Yerseke since 2002, first as a postdoc researcher, and as a tenured senior scientist since May 2007. Since November 2011, I am honorary professor at the University of Groningen. My area of expertise is the spatial ecology of intertidal ecosystems, and spatial ecology in general.

To see more about me, go to: https://www.johanvandekoppel.nl

Linked news

Tuesday 11 July 2017
Mosselpatronen blijken blauwdruk voor landschapsherstel wadplaten
Mosselbanken zijn de koraalriffen van de Waddenzee. Deze krachtige biobouwers trekken vissen, vogels en kleine organismen aan en houden het getijde-ecosysteem veerkrachtig. Op welke manier mosselen deze veerkracht bewerkstelligen, wisten onderzoekers…
Friday 09 June 2017
Langzamer herstel kondigt kantelpunten aan in kustecosystemen
~ ENGLISH version below Dutch version ~ Ecosystemen kunnen plotseling verloren gaan wanneer de druk te groot wordt. Het voorspellen van het kantelpunt is dan ook van groot belang. Wiskundige modellen lieten al mogelijke waarschuwingssignalen zien.…
Saturday 11 February 2017
Diepwatermosselen zijn watjes vanwege kalme jeugd
Het wilde maar niet lukken om mosselbanken in de Waddenzee terug te brengen. Welke technieken de terreinbeheerders van Natuurmonumenten en Staatbosbeheer en de onderzoekers van Rijksuniversiteit Groningen en NIOZ ook probeerden, de mosselen die…
Thursday 18 August 2016
Mussels speed up saltmarsh recovery after long droughts
Mussels are well-known and important inhabitants of the deeper tidal flats and channels in the Dutch coastal waters. In the US, mussels prefer to live higher up among the plants. Research now shows that they play an important role there: they ensure…

NIOZ publications

  • 2017
    de Jager, M.; Weissing, F.J.; van de Koppel, J. (2017). Why mussels stick together: spatial self-organization affects the evolution of cooperation. Evolutionary Ecology 31(4): 547-558. https://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s10682-017-9888-1
    de Paoli, H.C.; van der Heide, T.; van den Berg, A.; Silliman, B.R.; Herman, P.M.J.; van de Koppel, J. (2017). Behavioral self-organization underlies the resilience of a coastal ecosystem. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. U.S.A. 114(30): 8035-8040. https://dx.doi.org/10.1073/pnas.1619203114
    Howison, R.A.; Olff, H.; van de Koppel, J.; Smit, C. (2017). Biotically driven vegetation mosaics in grazing ecosystems: the battle between bioturbation and biocompaction. Ecol. Monogr. 87(3): 363-378. https://dx.doi.org/10.1002/ecm.1259
    Nieuwhof, S.; van Belzen, J.; Oteman, B.; van de Koppel, J.; Herman, P.M.J.; van der Wal, D. (2017). Shellfish Reefs Increase Water Storage Capacity on Intertidal Flats Over Extensive Spatial Scales. Ecosystems Early view. https://dx.doi.org/10.4121/uuid:55acb58a-008f-4d04-af1e-e423931bdf8f
    Read more
    Onrust, B.; Bidarra, B.; Rooseboom, R.; van de Koppel, J. (2017). Ecologically Sound Procedural Generation of Natural Environments. International Journal of Computer Games Technology 2017: 7057141. https://dx.doi.org/10.1155/2017/7057141
    Schwarz, C.; Cox, T.; van Engeland, T.; van Oevelen, D.; van Belzen, J.; van de Koppel, J.; Soetaert, K.; Bouma, T.J.; Meire, P.; Temmerman, S. (2017). Field estimates of floc dynamics and settling velocities in a tidal creek with significant along-channel gradients in velocity and SPM. Est., Coast. and Shelf Sci. 197: 221-235. https://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.ecss.2017.08.041
    van Belzen, J.; van de Koppel, J.; Kirwan, M.L.; Guntenspergen, G.R.; Bouma, T.J. (2017). Disturbance-recovery experiments to assess resilience of ecosystems along a stress gradient . Protocol Exchange June 2017. https://dx.doi.org/10.1038/protex.2017.028
    van Belzen, J.; van de Koppel, J.; Kirwan, M.L.; van der Wal, D.; Herman, P.M.J.; Dakos, V.; Kéfi, S.; Scheffer, M.; Guntenspergen, G.R.; Bouma, T.J. (2017). Vegetation recovery in tidal marshes reveals critical slowing down under increased inundation. Nature Comm. 8: 15811. https://doi.org/10.1038/ncomms15811
    van Belzen, J.; van de Koppel, J.; van der Wal, D.; Herman, P.M.J.; Dakos, V.; Kéfi, S.; Scheffer, M.; Bouma, T.J. (2017). Timing recovery of ecosystems in sequential remotely sensed and simulated data . Protocol Exchange June 2017. https://dx.doi.org/10.1038/protex.2017.038
  • 2016
    Angelini, C.; Griffin, J.N.; van de Koppel, J.; Lamers, L.P.M.; Smolders, A.J.P.; Derksen-Hooijberg, M.; van der Heide, T.; Silliman, B.R. (2016). A keystone mutualism underpins resilience of a coastal ecosystem to drought. Nature Comm. 7: 12473. dx.doi.org/10.1038/NCOMMS12473
    Cornacchia, L.; Licci, S.; van de Koppel, J.; van der Wal, D.; Wharton, G.; Puijalon, S.; Bouma, T.J. (2016). Flow Velocity and Morphology of a Submerged Patch of the Aquatic Species Veronica anagallis-aquatica L., in: Rowinski, P. et al. Hydrodynamic and Mass Transport at Freshwater Aquatic Interfaces : 34th International School of Hydraulics. pp. 141-152
    de Fouw, J.; Govers, L.; van de Koppel, J.; van Belzen, J.; Dorigo, W.; Sidi Cheikh, M.A.; Christianen, M.J.A.; van der Reijden, K.J.; van der Geest, M.; Piersma, T.; Smolders, A.J.P.; Olff, H.; Lamers, L.P.M.; van Gils, J.A.; van der Heide, T. (2016). Drought, mutualism breakdown, and landscape-scale degradation of seagrass beds. Curr. Biol. 26(8): 1051-1056. https://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.cub.2016.02.023
    Liu, Q-X; Rietkerk, M.; Herman, P.M.J.; Piersma, T.; Fryxell, J.M.; van de Koppel, J. (2016). Phase separation driven by density-dependent movement: A novel mechanism for ecological patter. Physics of Life Reviews 19: 107-121. https://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.plrev.2016.07.009
    Liu, Q-X; Rietkerk, M.; Herman, P.M.J.; Piersma, T.; Fryxell, J.M.; van de Koppel, J. (2016). Bridging physics and biology Reply to comments on “Phase separation driven by density-dependent movement: A novel mechanism for ecological patterns”. Physics of Life Reviews 19: 142-146. https://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.plrev.2016.11.006
    Reynolds, A.M.; Bartumeus, F.; Kölzsch, A.; van de Koppel, J. (2016). Signatures of chaos in animal search patterns. NPG Scientific Reports 6: 23492. http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/srep23492
    Van der Zee, E.M.; Angelini, C.; Govers, L.; Christianen, M.J.A.; Altieri, A.H.; van der Reijden, K.J.; Silliman, B.R.; van de Koppel, J.; van der Geest, M.; van Gils, J.A.; van der Veer, H.W.; Piersma, T.; de Ruiter, P.C.; Olff, H.; van der Heide, T. (2016). How habitat-modifying organisms structure the food web of two coastal ecosystems. Proc. - Royal Soc., Biol. Sci. 283(1826): 20152326. https://dx.doi.org/10.1098/rspb.2015.2326
    Wang, C.; Wang, Q.; Meire, D.; Ma, W.; Wu, C.; Meng, Z.; van de Koppel, J.; Troch, P.; Verhoeven, R.; De Mulder, T.; Temmerman, S. (2016). Biogeomorphic feedback between plant growth and flooding causes alternative stable states in an experimental floodplain. Adv. Water Resour. 93(Part B): 223-235. dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.advwatres.2015.07.003
  • 2015
    Agüera, A.; van de Koppel, J.; Jansen, J.M.; Smaal, A.C.; Bouma, T.J. (2015). Beyond food: a foundation species facilitates its own predator. Oikos (Kbh.) 124(10): 1367–1373. https://dx.doi.org/10.1111/oik.01949
    de Paoli, H.; van de Koppel, J.; van der Zee, E.; Kangeri, A.; van Belzen, J.; Holthuijsen, S.; van den Berg, A.; Herman, P.M.J.; Olff, H.; van der Heide, T. (2015). Processes limiting mussel bed restoration in the Wadden-Sea. J. Sea Res. 103: 42-49. dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.seares.2015.05.008
    Donadi, S.; van der Heide, T.; Piersma, T.; van der Zee, E.M.; Weerman, E.J.; van de Koppel, J.; Olff, H.; Devine, C.; Hernawan, U. E.; Boers, M.; Planthof, L.; Eriksson, B.K. (2015). Multi-scale habitat modification by coexisting ecosystem engineers drives spatial separation of macrobenthic functional groups. Oikos (Kbh.) 124: 1502–1510. dx.doi.org/10.1111/oik.02100
    Elschot, K.; Bakker, J.P.; Temmerman, S.; van de Koppel, J.; Bouma, T.J. (2015). Ecosystem engineering by large grazers enhances carbon stocks in a tidal salt marsh. Mar. Ecol. Prog. Ser. 537: 9-21. dx.doi.org/10.3354/meps11447
    Kölzsch, A.; Alzate, A.; Bartumeus, F.; de Jager, M.; Weerman, E.; Hengeveld, G.M.; Naguib, M.; Nolet, B.A.; Van de Koppel, J. (2015). Experimental evidence for inherent Lévy search behaviour in foraging animals. Proc. - Royal Soc., Biol. Sci. 282(1807): 20150424. dx.doi.org/10.1098/rspb.2015.0424
    Silliman, B.R.; Schrack, E.; He, Q.; Cope, R.; Santoni, A.; van der Heide, T.; Jacobi, R.; Jacobi, M.; van de Koppel, J. (2015). Facilitation shifts paradigms and can amplify coastal restoration efforts. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. U.S.A. 112(46): 14295-14300. dx.doi.org/10.1073/pnas.1515297112
    van de Koppel, J.; van der Heide, T.; Altieri, A.H.; Eriksson, B.K.; Bouma, T.J.; Olff, H.; Silliman, B.R. (2015). Long-Distance Interactions Regulate the Structure and Resilience of Coastal Ecosystems. Ann. Rev. Mar. Sci. 7: 139-158. dx.doi.org/ 10.1146/annurev-marine-010814-015805
  • 2014
    Altieri, A.H.; Van de Koppel, J. (2014). Foundation species in marine ecosystems, in: Bertness, M.D. et al. Marine community ecology and conservation.
    Christianen, M.J.A.; Herman, P.M.J.; Bouma, T.J.; vn Katwijk, M.M.; Lamers, L.P.M.; van der Heide, T.; Mumby, P.J.; Silliman, B.R.; Engelhard, S.L.; van de Kerk, M.V.; Kiswara, W.; van de Koppel, J. (2014). Habitat collapse due to overgrazing threatens turtle conservation in marine protected areas. Proc. - Royal Soc., Biol. Sci. 281(1777): 20132890. dx.doi.org/10.1098/rspb.2013.2890
    de Jager, M.; Bartumeus, F.; Kölzsch, A.; Weissing, F.J.; Hengeveld, G.M.; Nolet, B.A.; Herman, P.M.J.; de Koppel, J. (2014). How superdiffusion gets arrested: ecological encounters explain shift from Levy to Brownian movement. Proc. - Royal Soc., Biol. Sci. 281(1774): 20132605 . dx.doi.org/10.1098/rspb.2013.2605
    Donadi, S.; van der Zee, E.M.; van der Heide, T.; Weerman, E.J.; Piersma, T.; van de Koppel, J.; Olff, H.; Bartelds, M.; van Gerwen, I.; Eriksson, B.K. (2014). The bivalve loop: Intra-specific facilitation in burrowing cockles through habitat modification. J. Exp. Mar. Biol. Ecol. 461: 44–52. dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.jembe.2014.07.019
    Liu, Q.X.; Herman, P.M.J.; Mooij, W.M.; Huisman, J.; Scheffer, M.; Olff, H.; de Koppel, J. (2014). Pattern formation at multiple spatial scales drives the resilience of mussel bed ecosystems. Nature Comm. 5: 5234. hdl.handle.net/10.1038/ncomms6234
    Liu, Q.X.; Weerman, E.J.; Gupta, R.; Herman, P.M.J.; Olff, H.; van de Koppel, J. (2014). Biogenic gradients in algal density affect the emergent properties of spatially self-organized mussel beds. J. R. Soc. Interface 11(96): 20140089 . dx.doi.org/10.1098/rsif.2014.0089
    Matthews, B.; De Meester, L.; Jones, C.G.; Ibelings, B.W.; Bouma, T.J.; Nuutinen, V.; van de Koppel, J.; Odling-Smee, J. (2014). Under niche construction: an operational bridge between ecology, evolution, and ecosystem science. Ecol. Monogr. 84(2): 245-263. dx.doi.org/10.1890/13-0953.1
    Silliman, B.R.; Mozdzer, T.; Angelini, C.; Brundage, J.E.; Esselink, P.; Bakker, J.P.; Gedan, K.B.; van de Koppel, J.; Baldwin, A.H. (2014). Livestock as a potential biological control agent for an invasive wetland plant. PeerJ 2: e567. dx.doi.org/10.7717/peerj.567
    van der Heide, T.; Tielens, E.; van der Zee, E.M.; Weerman, E.J.; Holthuijsen, S.; Eriksson, B.K.; Piersma, T.; van de Koppel, J.; Olff, H. (2014). Predation and habitat modification synergistically interact to control bivalve recruitment on intertidal mudflats. Biol. Conserv. 172: 163-169. dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.biocon.2014.02.036
  • 2013
    Adams Krumins, J.; van Oevelen, D.; Bezemer, T.M.; de Deyn, G.B.; Hol, W.H.G.; van Donk, E.; de Boer, W.; de Ruiter, P.C.; Middelburg, J.J.; Monroy, F.; Soetaert, K.; Thébault, E.; van de Koppel, J.; van Veen, J.A.; Viketoft, M.; van der Putten, W.H. (2013). Soil and Freshwater and Marine Sediment Food Webs: Their Structure and Function. BioScience 63(1): 35-42. dx.doi.org/10.1525/bio.2013.63.1.8
    Bouma, T.J.; Temmerman, S.; van Duren, L.A.; Martini, E.; Vandenbruwaene, W.; Callaghan, D.P.; Balke, T.; Biermans, G.; Klaassen, P.C.; van Steeg, R.; Dekker, F.; van de Koppel, J.; Herman, P.M.J.; de Vries, M.B. (2013). Organism traits determine the strength of scale-dependent bio-geomorphic feedbacks: A flume study on three intertidal plant species. Geomorphology (Amst.) 180-181: 57-65. dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.geomorph.2012.09.005
    Donadi, S.; van der Heide, T.; van der Zee, E.M.; Eklöf, J.S.; van de Koppel, J.; Weerman, E.J.; Piersma, T.; Olff, H.; Eriksson, B.K. (2013). Cross-habitat interactions among bivalve species control community structure on intertidal flats. Ecology 94(2): 489-498. dx.doi.org/10.1890/12-0048.1
    Donadi, S.; Westra, J.; Weerman, E.J.; van der Heide, T.; van der Zee, E.M.; van de Koppel, J.; Olff, H.; Piersma, T.; van der Veer, H.W.; Eriksson, B.K. (2013). Non-trophic Interactions Control Benthic Producers on Intertidal Flats. Ecosystems 16: 1325-1335. hdl.handle.net/10.1007/s10021-013-9686-8
    Liu, Q.X.; Doelman, A.; Rottschäfer, V.; de Jager, M.; Herman, P.M.J.; Rietkerk, M.; van de Koppel, J. (2013). Phase separation explains a new class of self-organized spatial patterns in ecological systems. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. U.S.A. 110(29): 11905-11910. dx.doi.org/10.1073/pnas.1222339110
  • 2012
    Biere, J.; Van Andel, J.; van de Koppel, J. (2012). Populations: Ecology and genetics, in: Van Andel, J. et al. (Ed.) (2006). Restoration ecology: the new frontier. pp. 73-87
    Fagherazzi, S.; Kirwan, M.L.; Mudd, S.M.; Guntenspergen, G.R.; Temmerman, S.; D'Alpaos, A.; van de Koppel, J.; Rybczyk, J.M.; Reyes, E.; Craft, C.; Clough, J. (2012). Numerical models of salt marsh evolution: ecological, geomorphic, and climatic factors. Rev. Geophys. 50(1). dx.doi.org/10.1029/2011RG000359
    Liu, Q.X.; Weerman, E.J.; Herman, P.M.J.; Olff, H.; van de Koppel, J. (2012). Alternative mechanisms alter the emergent properties of self-organization in mussel beds. Proc. - Royal Soc., Biol. Sci. 279(1739): 2744-2753. dx.doi.org/10.1098/rspb.2012.0157
    Scheffer, M.; Carpenter, S.R.; Lenton, T.M.; Bascompte, J.; Brock, W.; Dakos, V.; van de Koppel, J.; van de Leemput, I.A.; Levin, S.A.; van Nes, E.H.; Pascual, M.; Vandermeer, J. (2012). Anticipating Critical Transitions. Science (Wash.) 338(6105): 344-348. dx.doi.org/10.1126/science.1225244
    Silliman, B.R.; van de Koppel, J.; McCoy, M.W.; Diller, J.; Kasozi, G.N.; Earl, K.; Adams, P.N.; Zimmerman, A.R. (2012). Degradation and resilience in Louisiana salt marshes after the BP-Deepwater Horizon oil spill. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. U.S.A. 109(28): 11234-11239. dx.doi.org/10.1073/pnas.1204922109
    Van de Koppel, J.; Bouma, T.J.; Herman, P.M.J. (2012). The influence of local- and landscape-scale processes on spatial self-organization in estuarine ecosystems. J. Exp. Biol. 215(6): 962-967. dx.doi.org/10.1242/jeb.060467
    van de Koppel, J.; Van Andel, J.; Biere, J. (2012). Ecology of ecosystems and biotic communities, in: Van Andel, J. et al. (Ed.) (2006). Restoration ecology: the new frontier. pp. 59-72
    van der Heide, T.; Govers, L.L.; de Fouw, J.; Olff, H.; van der Geest, M.; van Katwijk, M.M.; Piersma, T.; van de Koppel, J.; Silliman, B.R.; Smolders, A.J.P.; van Gils, J.A. (2012). A three-stage symbiosis forms the foundation of seagrass ecosystems. Science (Wash.) 336(6087): 1432-1434. dx.doi.org/10.1126/science.1219973
    Wang, R.H.; Jin, Z.; Liu, Q.X.; van de Koppel, J.; Alonso, D. (2012). A Simple Stochastic Model with Environmental Transmission Explains Multi-Year Periodicity in Outbreaks of Avian Flu. PLoS One 7(2): e28873. dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0028873
    Weerman, E.J.; Van Belzen, J.; Rietkerk, M.; Temmerman, S.; Kéfi, S.; Herman, P.M.J.; Van de Koppel, J. (2012). Changes in diatom patch-size distribution and degradation in a spatially self-organized intertidal mudflat ecosystem. Ecology 93(3): 608-618. dx.doi.org/10.1890/11-0625.1

Linked projects

Mosselwad: how mussel beds thrive
Supervisor
Jaap van der Meer
Funder
Waddenfonds
Project duration
1 Jul 2009 - 30 Jun 2016
Mosselwad: how mussel beds thrive
Supervisor
Jaap van der Meer
Funder
Waddenfonds
Project duration
1 Jul 2009 - 30 Jun 2016
The New Delta - iSee
Supervisor
Johan van de Koppel
Funder
Netherlands Organization for Scientific Research
Project duration
1 Jun 2015 - 30 Sep 2019
Mosselwad
Supervisor
Johan van de Koppel
Funder
Waddenfonds
Project duration
1 Jul 2009 - 31 Dec 2016
Waddensleutels: Restoring mussel beds in the Wadden Sea
Supervisor
Johan van de Koppel
Funder
Waddenfonds
Project duration
1 Jul 2009 - 31 Dec 2016
The New Delta - iSee
Supervisor
Johan van de Koppel
Funder
Netherlands Organization for Scientific Research
Project duration
1 Jun 2015 - 30 Sep 2019
MERCES
Supervisor
Johan van de Koppel
Funder
European Community
Project duration
1 Jun 2016 - 31 May 2020