Royal Netherlands Institute for Sea Research

Anieke van Leeuwen

Tenure track Scientist
Phone number
+31 (0)222 369 577
Tenure track Scientist


  • Community dynamics
  • Fish ecology, Species interactions
  • Size-structured population dynamics
  • Nonlinear dynamics
  • Life-history

Research interests

I study the dynamics of marine ecosystems with emphasis on the roles of individual life-history, species interactions, fisheries, and parasites. Ecologically diverse, these subjects share some crucial aspects: energy is the common currency for organismal interactions and low-level processes shape high-level dynamics. I use mathematical modeling to study interactions and feedbacks, within and between species.

My research questions revolve for example around the mechanisms that lead to population collapses of Atlantic cod, how size-structure in fish populations shapes the top-down and bottom-up regulation in marine ecosystems, and how predation can influence the size-structure of host species to the benefit of parasites.

My scientific approach and expertise are focused on the conceptual and theoretical aspects of research. At the same time, I study ecological questions with direct implications for real-world systems and I rely on the insights from empirical research to stay grounded with the fundamental ecology of these systems. The most beautiful science bridges various modes of research and integrates conceptual levels.




From 2017: Tenure track Scientist; Royal Netherlands Institute of Sea Research (NIOZ)

From 2016: Writing in Science and Engineering Fellow Instructor for the Princeton Writing Center; Princeton University 

From 2015: Postdoctoral Research Associate; Social-ecological complexity and adaptation in exploited marine systems; Princeton University 

2013 – 2015: Postdoctoral Research Associate; Trophic dynamics of Trematode parasites in size-structured networks; Princeton University


Key publications

Berdahl, A.*, A. van Leeuwen*, S.A. Levin, and C.J. Torney. 2016. Collective behavior as a driver of critical transitions in migratory populations. Movement Ecology 4:18 *Authors contributed equally.

Schröder, A., A. van Leeuwen*, and T.C. Cameron. 2014. When less is more: positive population-level effects of mortality. 
Trends in Ecology & Evolution 29 (11): 614–624 *Corresponding author.

Van Leeuwen, A., M. Huss, A. Gårdmark, and A.M. de Roos. 2014. Ontogenetic specialism in predators with multiple niche shifts prevents predator population recovery and establishment. Ecology 95:2409–2422.

Van Leeuwen, A., M. Huss, A. Gårdmark, M. Casini, F. Vitale, J. Hjelm, L. Persson, and A.M. de Roos. 2013. Predators with multiple ontogenetic niche shifts have limited potential for population growth and top-down control of their prey. The American Naturalist 182 (1), 53-66 Was recommended:

Van Leeuwen, A., A.M. de Roos, and L. Persson. 2008. How cod shapes its world. Journal of Sea Research 60, 89-104.

Please find my complete list of NIOZ-publications at the bottom of this webpage or on Google Scholar. You can download all my publications on ReserearchGate.



Professional education

2008-2012: Ph.D. Theoretical Ecology; The Cod delusion – Implications of life history complexity for predator-prey community dynamics; University of Amsterdam

2008: M.Sc. Biological Sciences with distinction; How Cod shapes its world; University of Amsterdam

2007: B.Sc. General Biology; Empirical evidence for apparent competition; University of Amsterdam


Awards and Prized

2014: Netherlands Ecological Research Network publication award 1st prize Predators with multiple ontogenetic niche shifts have limited potential for population growth and top-down control of their prey (van Leeuwen et. al. 2013. The American Naturalist)

2009: University of Amsterdam Master thesis award 2nd prize How Cod shapes its world (van Leeuwen et al. 2008. Journal of Sea Research)


Teaching and supervision

From 2016: Princeton Writing Program: Writing in Science and Engineering – Six-week graduate student and postdoc workshop resulting in full manuscript drafts. Instructor & Editor

From 2015: Prison Teaching Initiative: Algebra and Statistics for incarcerated students. Instructor

From 2010: BSc thesis advising and supervision, 2 students, University of Amsterdam Senior thesis advising and supervision, 2 students, Princeton University

2013- 2014: Parasitology (undergraduate level, instructed at the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute, Gamboa, Panama) Princeton University. Guest lecturer

2014: Tropical Field Ecology (graduate level, instructed at Mpala research center, Laikipia, Kenya) Princeton University. Assistant

2007- 2012: Theoretical Biology (BSc. level) University of Amsterdam. Teaching assistant (TA)

2010- 2011: Introduction to Ecology & Evolution (MSc. level) University of Amsterdam. TA

2007–2011: Quantitative Population Ecology (BSc. level) University of Amsterdam. TA

Conference contributions

2015: Main organizer of Organized Oral Session titled: Parasites in trophic networks: complex life cycles, coinfection dynamics, and community structure. ESA 100th Annual Meeting, Baltimore MD

2014: Convener of the session: Intraspecific body-size dynamics on ecological and evolutionary time scales. Netherlands Annual Ecology Meeting (NAEM), Lunteren, The Netherlands