Royal Netherlands Institute for Sea Research
Royal Netherlands
Institute for Sea Research
Phone number
+31 (0)113 577 489
Senior Scientist

Dr. Ir. Dick van Oevelen

Senior Scientist

Measuring the food chain

Marine biologist Dick van Oevelen studies the food web on the floor and in the water column of estuaries and seas, such as the Eastern Scheldt, the Grevelingen and the North Sea. ‘An important theme within these Dutch coastal ecosystems is the presence of oyster reefs with mainly Japanese oysters. Initially, there was considerable uncertainty years ago when it became clear that these exotic oysters could reproduce in our cold climate. Now that picture has become more nuanced. Nevertheless, it is still unclear what the effect of this invasive exotic species is on indigenous shellfish and the rest of the marine life. To better understand this, we place instruments on an oyster reef at low tide. These instruments allow us to measure how much food the shellfish filter from the water and the quantity of nutrients they excrete again during high tide. Determining the consequences of the encroaching Japanese oysters requires a detailed study of these reefs. The same is true for the reattachment of indigenous oyster reefs on the floor of the North Sea because that also has consequences for the ecosystem.’

Camera measures minuscule sea life

‘We also measure the food chain in the water column. For decades, zooplankton has been captured from different depths by pulling a fine net through the water. However, this method has many limitations: by definition, you acquire a collection of organisms from different locations and depths, and these organisms are pulled from the water in a “knocked out” state. We can avoid these problems with a brand-new imaging system. With the help of a camera that photographs the organisms of 500 micrometres to 2 centimetres in size several times per second, we can gain an accurate image to the nearest centimetre of which organisms live at a certain depth and how their occurrence relates to environmental conditions. Eventually, we want to have computers automatically classifying these images and save an enormous amount of manpower behind the microscope. Furthermore, with this technique, we can see the organisms “in action” in their natural environment. That means we can also gain an idea of the predator-prey interactions, for example.’

‘I expect that, in the coming years, this imaging system will enable us to add a new dimension to analysing the marine food web. A dimension we could never have investigated using the old methods and mere manpower.’

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@work in the blue waters of Curacao

​​​​​Research Interests & Expertise

  • Food webs, going from the deep-sea to shallow estuaries
  • Species interactions
  • Functioning of warm- and cold-water coral reefs
  • Organism physiology
  • Nitrogen cycling
  • Food web modeling and data assimilation
  • Linear inverse modeling
  • Using stable isotopes at natural abundance and tracer level
  • Compound-specific isotope analysis (carbohydrates, fatty acids and amino acids)
  • Aquatic Eddy covariance

I was recently appointed as senior scientist in the Department of Estuarine and Delta Systems, where I will work on new challenges including the nitrogen cycling in mussel and oyster reefs, reef dynamics and the role of zooplankton in the pelagic food web. In the past years, I have applied inverse models to quantify carbon and nitrogen fluxes in marine food webs going from intertidal mudflats, continental shelves and slopes to the abyssal plains. Many of these studies were done in international collaborations within large EU-projects (e.g. HERMESHERMIONE and CoralFISH. This food web modelling still continues in the deep-sea mining projects MIDAS and "Ecological aspects of deep-sea mining" (JPI-Oceans), in which we try to determine recovery rates of abyssal food webs by combining (historical and novel) field data and modeling. Another prime interest is the functioning of warm- and cold-water coral reefs, which is primarily focussed on the mechanisms that allow these hotspot ecosystems to flourish, including the interaction of hydrodynamics and organic matter transport. Together with my colleagues Prof. dr. Klaas Timmermans and Prof. dr. Tjeerd Bouma, I enjoy teaching the MSc. course Marine Ecosystem Services and Global Change at Groningen University. 

Current Research and Projects

Nitrogen cycling in oyster reefs
Close up of an oyster reef

Oyster and mussel reefs play a disproportionately large role in organic matter uptake in estuaries due to their high filtration capacity. Yet, the consequences for carbon and in particular nitrogen cycling remain poorly understood. Using a combination of field and laboratory studies using 15N-labelled substrates (NH4 and NO3) we aim to get grip on the nitrogen cycle associated with oyster reefs.

Surviving in a Deep-Sea Desert - Uncovering the Functioning of Cold Water Coral Reefs in the Deep Ocean

The deep sea harbours one of the most biodiverse ecosystems on our planet: cold-water coral reefs. Like their tropical counterparts, they  form structurally complex habitats that support a diverse community. It is still paradoxical how such a rich ecosystem can thrive in an environment that is considered to be food limited. In the EU-project ATLAS and my NWO-VIDI project we target this paradox by an integrated study on the delivery, uptake and processing of organic matter by cold-water coral reef communities.

Ecological impacts of seabed mining

The deep seafloor is rich in mineral resources that are a target for the mining industry in the near future. These mining operations will generate large scale disturbances at the seafloor with unknown consequences and potentially slow recovery. Within several international projects, we investigate how food web functions are altered using in situ experimentation and food web modeling.


Below a few links to items that have made it to the media on my work:

  • Launch of the ATLAS project featured on the BBC
  • Documentary on the sponge loop by the VPRO
  • Item "Koudwaterkoralen vormen een luilekkerland" op Vroege Vogels
  • Item "Knollen in de diepzee" op Vroege Vogels
  • Item "Mijnbouw onder water funest voor zeeleven" in het Reformatorisch Dagblad 


Find all my publications, including downloadable PDFs, at ResearchGate. Below, I highlight some personal favorites.

Soetaert K, Mohn C, Rengstorf A, Grehan A and Van Oevelen (2016) Ecosystem engineering creates a direct nutritional link between 600-m deep cold-water coral mounds and surface productivity. Scientific Reports 6:35057  full text

Cold-water corals (CWCs) form large mounds on the sea oor that are hotspots of biodiversity in the deep sea, but it remains enigmatic how CWCs can thrive in this food-limited environment. Here, we infer from model simulations that the interaction between tidal currents and CWC-formed mounds induces downwelling events of surface water that brings organic matter to 600-m deep CWCs. This positive feedback between CWC growth on carbonate mounds and enhanced food supply is essential for their sustenance in the deep sea and represents an example of ecosystem engineering of unparalleled magnitude. This ’topographically-enhanced carbon pump’ leaks organic matter that settles at greater depths. The ubiquitous presence of biogenic and geological topographies along ocean margins suggests that carbon sequestration through this pump is of global importance. These results indicate that enhanced strati cation and lower surface productivity, both expected consequences of climate change, may negatively impact the energy balance of CWCs.


Cathalot C, Van Oevelen D, Cox TJS, Kutti T, Lavaleye M, Duineveld G and Meysman FJR (2015) Cold-water coral reefs and adjacent sponge grounds: hotspots of benthic respiration and organic carbon cycling in the deep sea. Frontier in Marine Science 2: full text

Cold-water coral reefs and adjacent sponge grounds are distributed widely in the deep ocean, where only a small fraction of the surface productivity reaches the seafloor as detritus. It remains elusive how these hotspots of biodiversity can thrive in such a food-limited environment, as data on energy flow and organic carbon utilization are critically lacking. Here we report in situ community respiration rates for cold-water coral and sponge ecosystems obtained by the non-invasive aquatic Eddy Correlation technique. Oxygen uptake rates over coral reefs and adjacent sponge grounds in the Træna Coral Field (Norway) were 9–20 times higher than those of the surrounding soft sediments. These high respiration rates indicate strong organic matter consumption, and hence suggest a local focusing onto these ecosystems of the downward flux of organic matter that is exported from the surface ocean. Overall, our results show that coral reefs and adjacent sponge grounds are hotspots of carbon processing in the food-limited deep ocean, and that these deep-sea ecosystems play a more prominent role in marine biogeochemical cycles than previously recognized.


De Goeij JM, D Van Oevelen, MJA Vermeij, R Osinga R, JJ Middelburg, AFPM de Goeij, and W Admiraal (2013) Surviving in a Marine Desert: The Sponge Loop Retains Resources within Coral Reefs. Science 342(6154): 108-110. full text 

Ever since Darwin’s early descriptions of coral reefs, scientists have debated how one of the world’s most productive and diverse ecosystems can thrive in the marine equivalent of a desert. It is an enigma how the flux of dissolved organic matter (DOM), the largest resource produced on reefs, is transferred to higher trophic levels. Here we show that sponges make DOM available to fauna by rapidly expelling filter cells as detritus that is subsequently consumed by reef fauna. This “sponge loop” was confirmed in aquarium and in situ food web experiments, using 13C- and 15N-enriched DOM. The DOM-sponge-fauna pathway explains why biological hot spots such as coral reefs persist in oligotrophic seas—the reef’s paradox—and has implications for reef ecosystem functioning and conservation strategies.


Mueller, CE, T Lundalv, JJ Middelburg, and D van Oevelen (2013) The symbiosis between Lophelia pertusa and Eunice norvegica stimulates coral calcification and worm assimilation. Plos One 8:e58660-e58660. full text

The cold-water coral L. pertusa and the polychaete E. norvegica live together in close association. In this paper we show that the association is beneficial for both species involved. Calcification by the coral is enhanced, which increases reef strength and the worm takes up more food. The high worm abundance suggests that this symbiosis has implications for the ecosystem scale. 


Van Oevelen D, K Soetaert, CHR Heip. (2012) Carbon flows in the benthic food web of the Porcupine Abyssal Plain: The (un)importance of labile detritus in supporting microbial and faunal carbon demands. Limnology and Oceanography 7(2): 645–664 full text

Pulses of fresh phytodetritus arriving on the deep seafloor are considered an important food source for organisms living there. Here we merged various data sources from the Porcupine Abyssal Plain (4800 m) and arrive at the conclusion that these fresh pulses are not very important in the diets. Instead, the biota still relies largely on detritus already present in the sediment.


Van Oevelen D, GCA Duineveld, MSS Lavaleye, F Mienis, K Soetaert and CHR Heip (2009) The cold-water coral community as hotspot of carbon cycling on continental margins: a food web analysis from Rockall Bank (northeast Atlantic). Limnology and Oceanography 54:1829–1844 full text

Cold-water corals form large carbonate reef structures on the seafloor, that become home to a associated fauna. We knew that this is a diverse faunal community. In this paper, we show for the first time that the biomass and carbon processing acitivity is substantially higher than that of the surrounding sediments. We speculate that this high activity has implications for the surrounding sediments. 


Van Oevelen D, K Van den Meersche, F Meysman, K Soetaert, JJ Middelburg and AF Vézina (2010) Quantitative reconstruction of food webs using linear inverse models. Ecosystems 13:32–45 full text

The food web is a cornerstone concept in modern ecology as it describes the exchange of matter among different compartments within an ecosystem. In this paper, we describe a modeling technique to construct a mass-balanced food web model based on all available data. 


Van Oevelen D, JJ Middelburg, K Soetaert and L Moodley (2006) The fate of bacterial carbon in an intertidal sediment: Modeling an in situ isotope tracer experiment. Limnology and Oceanography 51:1302-1314 full text 

Biogeochemical cycling in most sediments is dominated by heterotrophic bacteria, yet we understand very little of the factors that control bacterial biomass. A this study, we used intepretated data from an stable isotope tracer data with a model experiment and concluded that grazing by fauna represents only a minor fate, instead mortality (e.g. viral lysis) seemed to be the dominant fate of bacterial carbon production.

Linked news

Friday 29 January 2021
Cold-water coral reefs: Oases in a world without sun
The deep sea, a vast area beneath 200 meters of water depth. Hidden from the eye, its seafloor harbours one of the most biodiverse ecosystems on our planet. For food, most life here relies on organic material that is produced at the ocean surface.…
Thursday 01 October 2020
Unravelling the ecosystem effects of bottom trawling in the North Sea
The ban on pulse fishing that will be implemented from 1 July 2021, didn’t stop a young scientists’ research on the impact of the much-debated technique versus beam trawling. On Friday, 2 October, Justin Tiano (NIOZ and Ghent University) defends his…
Tuesday 29 October 2019
Largest mapping of breathing ocean floor key to understanding global carbon cycle
Marine sediments play a crucial role in the global carbon cycle due to the oxygen consumption and CO2 respiration of the organisms that live in and on the ocean floor. To help predict the changing contribution of this respiration to the carbon cycle…
Thursday 27 September 2018
Diepzeemijnbouw veroorzaakt langdurige schade aan het ecosysteem
[English below Dutch] Het winnen van mangaanknollen in de diepzee levert langdurige milieuschade op. Dat concludeert NIOZ-onderzoekster Tanja Stratmann in haar proefschrift 'Benthic ecosystem response to polymetallic nodule extraction in the deep…
Tuesday 06 June 2017
Short-term effects of deep-sea mining waste on microbes and meiofauna at the seafloor
The addition of waste particles from deep-sea mining (iron ore mine tailings) affected the activity of nematodes and the microbial community in microcosm experiments with natural sediments collected at 200m depth in the Hardanger fjord (Norway).…
Friday 02 December 2016
Good things come from above for deep-sea coral reefs
Deep-sea coral reefs grow in the oceans at great depths in the dark. They can be found around the peaks of limestone mounds rising from the seafloor up to hundreds of meters. The corals produce these limestone mounds themselves: they consist of dead…

Linked blogs

Tuesday 02 October 2018
NIOZ@SEA | Ecologisch onderzoek in de Nederlandse delta’s
De ecosystemen in de Oosterschelde, Grevelingen en Haringvliet zijn aan het veranderen door de invloed van onze Deltawerken, maar ook door klimaatverandering. In de Oosterschelde verdrinken de zandplaten langzaam door zandhonger, de bodem in het…
Sunday 07 May 2017
NIOZ@Sea: Rockall Bank Expedition
Surviving in a Deep-Sea Desert – Uncovering the Functioning of Cold-Water Coral Reefs in the Deep Ocean

NIOZ publications

  • 2021
    de Kluijver, A.; Bart, M.C.; van Oevelen, D.; de Goeij, J.M.; Leys, S.P.; Maier, S.R.; Maldonado, M.; Soetaert, K.; Verbiest, S.; Middelburg, J.J. (2021). An integrative model of carbon and nitrogen metabolism in a common deep-sea sponge (Geodia barretti). Front. Mar. Sci. 7: 596251.
    Vonnahme, T.R.; Leroy, M.; Thoms, S.; van Oevelen, D.; Harvey, H.R.; Kristiansen, S.; Gradinger, R.; Dietrich, U.; Völker, C. (2021). Modeling silicate–nitrate–ammonium co-limitation of algal growth and the importance of bacterial remineralization based on an experimental Arctic coastal spring bloom culture study. Biogeosciences 18(5): 1719-1747.
  • 2020
    Daggers, T.D.; van Oevelen, D.; Herman, P.M.J.; Boschker, H.T.S.; van der Wal, D. (2020). Spatial variability in macrofaunal diet composition and grazing pressure on microphytobenthos in intertidal areas. Limnol. Oceanogr. 65(11): 2819-2834.
    de Jonge, D.S.W.; Stratmann, T.; Lins, L.; Vanreusel, A.; Purser, A.; Marcon, Y.; Rodrigues, C.F.; Ravara, A.; Esquete, P.; Cunha, M.R.; Simon-Lledó, E.; van Breugel, P.; Sweetman, A.K.; Soetaert, K.; van Oevelen, D. (2020). Abyssal food-web model indicates faunal carbon flow recovery and impaired microbial loop 26 years after a sediment disturbance experiment. Prog. Oceanogr. 189: 102446.
    Kazanidis, G.; Orejas, C.; Borja, A.; Kenchington, E.; Henry, L.-A.; Callery, O.; Carreiro-Silva, M.; Egilsdottir, H.; Giacomello, E.; Grehan, A.; Menot, L.; Morato, T.; Ragnarsson, S.A.; Rueda, J.L.; Stirling, D.; Stratmann, T.; van Oevelen, D.; Palialexis, A.; Johnson, D.; Roberts, J.M. (2020). Assessing the environmental status of selected North Atlantic deep-sea ecosystems. Ecol. Indic. 119: 106624.
    Maier, S.R.; Bannister, R.J.; van Oevelen, D.; Kutti, T. (2020). Seasonal controls on the diet, metabolic activity, tissue reserves and growth of the cold-water coral Lophelia pertusa. Coral Reefs 39: 173-187.
    Maier, S.R.; Kutti, T.; Bannister, R.J.; Fang, J.K.-H.; van Breugel, P.; van Rijswijk, P.; van Oevelen, D. (2020). Recycling pathways in cold-water coral reefs: Use of dissolved organic matter and bacteria by key suspension feeding taxa. NPG Scientific Reports 10(1): 13 pp.
    Morato, T.; González‐Irusta, J.-M.; Dominguez‐Carrió, C.; Wei, C.-L.; Davies, A.; Sweetman, A.K.; Taranto, G.H.; Beazley, L.; García‐Alegre, A.; Grehan, A.; Laffargue, P.; Murillo, F.J.; Sacau, M.; Vaz, S.; Kenchington, E.; Arnaud‐Haond, S.; Callery, O.; Chimienti, G.; Cordes, E.; Egilsdottir, H.; Freiwald, A.; Gasbarro, R.; Gutiérrez‐Zárate, C.; Gianni, M.; Gilkinson, K.; Wareham Hayes, V.E.; Hebbeln, D.; Hedges, K.; Henry, L.‐A.; Johnson, D.; Koen‐Alonso, M.; Lirette, C.; Mastrototaro, F.; Menot, L.; Molodtsova, T.; Durán Muñoz, P.; Orejas, C.; Pennino, M.G.; Puerta, P.; Ragnarsson, S.Á.; Ramiro‐Sánchez, B.; Rice, J.; Rivera, J.; Roberts, J.M.; Ross, S.W.; Rueda, J.L.; Sampaio, Í.; Snelgrove, P.; Stirling, D.; Treble, M.A.; Urra, J.; Vad, J.; van Oevelen, D.; Watling, L.; Walkusz, W.; Wienberg, C.; Woillez, M.; Levin, L.A.; Carreiro‐Silva, M. (2020). Climate‐induced changes in the suitable habitat of cold‐water corals and commercially important deep‐sea fishes in the North Atlantic. Glob. Chang. Biol. 26(4): 2181-2202.
    Rakka, M.; Orejas, C.; Maier, S.R.; van Oevelen, D.; Godinho, A.; Bilan, M.; Carreiro-Silva, M. (2020). Feeding biology of a habitat-forming antipatharian in the Azores Archipelago. Coral Reefs 39(5): 1469-1482.
    Rix, L.; Ribes, M.; Coma, R.; Jahn, M.T.; de Goeij, J.M.; van Oevelen, D.; Escrig; Meibom, A.; Hentschel, U. (2020). Heterotrophy in the earliest gut: a single-cell view of heterotrophic carbon and nitrogen assimilation in sponge-microbe symbioses. ISME J. 14(10): 2554-2567.
    Schulz, K.; Soetaert, K.; Mohn, C.; Korte, L.F.; Mienis, F.; Duineveld, G.C.A.; van Oevelen, D. (2020). Linking large-scale circulation patterns to the distribution of cold water corals along the eastern Rockall Bank (northeast Atlantic). J. Mar. Syst. 212: 103456.
    Stratmann, T.; van Oevelen, D.; Martinez Arbizu, P.; Wei, C.L.; Liao, J.-X.; Cusson, M.; Scrosati, R.; Archambault, P.; Snelgrove, P.; Ramey-Balci, P.; Burd, B.J.; Kenchington, E.; Belley, R.; Soetaert, K. (2020). The BenBioDen database, a global database for meio-, macro- and megabenthic biomass and densities. Scientific Data 7: 206.
    van der Kaaden, A.-S.; van Oevelen, D.; Rietkerk, M.; Soetaert, K.; van de Koppel, J. (2020). Spatial self-organization as a new perspective on cold-water coral mound development. Front. Mar. Sci. 7: article 631.
    van Duyl, F.C.; Lengger, S.K.; Schouten, S.; Lundälv, T.; van Oevelen, D.; Müller, C.E. (2020). Dark CO2 fixation into phospholipid-derived fatty acids by the cold-water coral associated sponge Hymedesmia (Stylopus) coriacea (Tisler Reef, NE Skagerrak). Mar. Biol. Res. 16(1): 1-17.
  • 2019
    Bart, M.C.; de Vet, S.J.; de Bakker, D.M.; Alexander, B.E.; Van Oevelen, D.; van Loon, E.E.; van Loon, J.W.A.; de Goeij, J.M. (2019). Spiculous skeleton formation in the freshwater sponge Ephydatia fluviatilis under hypergravity conditions. PeerJ 6: 6055.
    de Froe; Rovelli; Glud, R.N.; Maier, S.R.; Duineveld, G.; Mienis, F.; Lavaleye, M.; van Oevelen, D. (2019). Benthic oxygen and nitrogen exchange on a cold-water coral reef in the North-East Atlantic Ocean. Front. Mar. Sci. 6.
    Johnson, D.E.; Barrio Froján, C.; Neat, F.; van Oevelen, D.; Stirling, D.; Gubbins, M.J.; Roberts, J.M. (2019). Rockall and Hatton: Resolving a super wicked marine governance problem in the High Seas of the northeast Atlantic Ocean. Front. Mar. Sci. 6: 69.
    Maier, S.R.; Kutti, T.; Bannister, R.J.; van Breugel, P.; van Rijswijk, P.; van Oevelen, D. (2019). Survival under conditions of variable food availability: Resource utilization and storage in the cold-water coral Lophelia pertusa. Limnol. Oceanogr. 64(4): 1651-1671.
    Mienis, F.; Bouma, T.J.; Witbaard, R.; van Oevelen, D.; Duineveld, G.C.A. (2019). Experimental assessment of the effects of coldwater coral patches on water flow. Mar. Ecol. Prog. Ser. 609: 101-117.
    Orejas, C.; Taviani, M.; Ambroso, S.; Andreou, V.; Bilan, M.; Bo, M.; Brooke, S.; Buhl-Mortensen, P.; Cordes, E.; Dominguez-Carrió, C.; Ferrier-Pagès, C.; Godinho, A.; Gori, A.; Grinyó, J.; Gutiérrez-Zárate, C.; Hennige, S.; Jiménez, C.; Larsson, A.I.; Lartaud, F.; Lunden, J.; Maier, C.; Maier, S.R.; Movilla, J.; Murray, F.; Peru, E.; Purser, A.; Rakka, M.; Reynaud, S.; Roberts, J.M.; Siles, P.; Strömberg, S.M.; Thomsen, L.; van Oevelen, D.; Veiga, A.; Carreiro-Silva, M. (2019). 38 Cold-Water Coral in Aquaria: Advances and Challenges. A Focus on the Mediterranean, in: Orejas, C. et al. Mediterranean cold-water corals: Past, present and future. Understanding the deep-sea realms of coral. Coral Reefs of the World, 9: pp. 435-471.
    Schratzberger, M.; Holterman; van Oevelen, D.; Helder, J. (2019). A worm's world: Ecological flexibility pays off for free-living nematodes in sediments and soils. BioScience 69(11): 867-876.
    Stratmann, T.; Soetaert, K.; Wei, C.L.; Lin, Y.-S.; Van Oevelen, D. (2019). The SCOC database, a large, open, and global database with sediment community oxygen consumption rates. Scientific Data 6: article number: 242.
    Sweetman, A.K.; Smith, C.R.; Shulse, C.N.; Maillot, B.; Lindh, M.; Church, M.J.; Meyer, K.S.; van Oevelen, D.; Stratmann, T.; Gooday, A.J. (2019). Key role of bacteria in the short-term cycling of carbon at the abyssal seafloor in a low particulate organic carbon flux region of the eastern Pacific Ocean. Limnol. Oceanogr. 64(2): 694-713.
    Tiano, J.C.; Witbaard, R.; Bergman, M.J.N.; van Rijswijk, P.; Tramper, A.; Van Oevelen, D.; Soetaert, K. (2019). Acute impacts of bottom trawl gears on benthic metabolism and nutrient cycling. ICES J. Mar. Sci./J. Cons. int. Explor. Mer 76(6): 1917–1930.
    van Engeland, T.; Godø, O.R.; Johnsen, E.; Duineveld, G.C.A.; van Oevelen, D. (2019). Cabled ocean observatory data reveal food supply mechanisms to a cold-water coral reef. Prog. Oceanogr. 172: 51-64.
  • 2018
    Brown, A.; Hauton, C.; Stratmann, T.; Sweetman, A.; Van Oevelen, D.; Jones, D.O.B. (2018). Metabolic rates are significantly lower in abyssal Holothuroidea than in shallow-water Holothuroidea. Royal Society Open Science 5: 172162.
    Husson, B.; Sarrazin, J.; van Oevelen, D.; Sarradin, P.-M.; Soetaert, K.; Menesguen, A. (2018). Modelling the interactions of the hydrothermal mussel Bathymodiolus azoricus with vent fluid. Ecol. Model. 377: 35-50.
    Kazanidis, G.; Van Oevelen, D.; Veuger, B.; Witte, U.F.M. (2018). Unravelling the versatile feeding and metabolic strategies of the cold-water ecosystem engineer Spongosorites coralliophaga (Stephens, 1915). Deep-Sea Res., Part 1, Oceanogr. Res. Pap. 141: 71-82.
    Rix, L.; de Goeij, J.M.; Van Oevelen, D.; Struck, U.; Al-Horani, F.A.; Wild, C.; Naumann, M.S. (2018). Reef sponges facilitate the transfer of coral-derived organic matter to their associated fauna via the sponge loop. Mar. Ecol. Prog. Ser. 589: 85-96.
    Stratmann, T.; Lins, L.; Purser, A.; Rodrigues, C.F.; Ravara, A.; Cunha, M.R.; Simon-Lledó, E.; Jones, D.O.B.; Sweetman, A.K.; Köser, K.; Van Oevelen, D. (2018). Abyssal plain faunal carbon flows remain depressed 26 years after a simulated deep-sea mining disturbance. Biogeosciences 15(13): 4131-4145.
    Stratmann, T.; Mevenkamp, L.; Sweetman, A.K.; Vanreusel, A.; van Oevelen, D. (2018). Has phytodetritus processing by an abyssal soft-sediment community recovered 26 years after an experimental disturbance? Front. Mar. Sci. 5: 59.
    Stratmann, T.; Voorsmit, I.; Gebruk, A.; Brown, A.; Purser, A.; Marcon, Y.; Sweetman, A.K.; Jones, D.O.B.; Van Oevelen, D. (2018). Recovery of Holothuroidea population density, community composition, and respiration activity after a deep-sea disturbance experiment. Limnol. Oceanogr. 63(5): 2140-2153.
    van Oevelen, D.; Duineveld, G.; Lavaleye, M.S.S.; Kutti, T.; Soetaert, K. (2018). Trophic structure of cold-water coral communities revealed from the analysis of tissue isotopes and fatty acid composition. Mar. Biol. Res. 14(3): 287-306.
    Van Oevelen, D.; Mueller, C.E.; Lundälv, T.; van Duyl, F.C.; de Goeij, J.M.; Middelburg, J.J. (2018). Niche overlap between a cold-water coral and an associated sponge for isotopically-enriched particulate food sources. PLoS One 13(3): e0194659.
  • 2017
    Bell, J.B.; Woulds, C.; van Oevelen, D. (2017). Hydrothermal activity, functional diversity and chemoautotrophy are major drivers of seafloor carbon cycling. NPG Scientific Reports 7(1): 12025.
    Durden, J.M.; Ruhl, H.A.; Pebody, C.; Blackbird, S.J.; Van Oevelen, D. (2017). Differences in the carbon flows in the benthic food webs of abyssal hill and plain habitats. Limnol. Oceanogr. 62(4): 1771-1782.
    Gollner, S.; Kaiser, S.; Menzel, L.; Jones, D.O.B.; Brown, A.; Mestre, N.C.; Van Oevelen, D.; Menot, L.; Colaço, A.; Canals, M.; Cuvelier, D.; Durden, J.M.; Gebruk, A.; Egho, G.A.; Haeckel, M.; Marcon, Y.; Mevenkamp, L.; Morato, T.; Pham, C.K.; Purser, A.; Sanchez-Vidal, A.; Vanreusel, A.; Vink, A.; Martinez Arbizu, P. (2017). Resilience of benthic deep-sea fauna to mining activities. Mar. Environ. Res. 129: 76-101.
    Hossain, M.; Stewart, T.J.; Arhonditsis, G.B.; Van Oevelen, D.; Minns, C.K.; Koops, M.A. (2017). Uncertainty assessment of trophic flows in Hamilton Harbour : A linear inverse modellinganalysis. Aquat. Ecosyst. Health Manag. 20(3): 265-277.
    Maugendre, L.; Gattuso, J.-P.; de Kluijver, A.; Soetaert, K.; van Oevelen, D.; Middelburg, J.J.; Gazeau, F. (2017). Carbon-13 labelling shows no effect of ocean acidification on carbon transfer in Mediterranean plankton communities. Est., Coast. and Shelf Sci. 186(Part A): 100-111.
    Mevenkamp, L.; Stratmann, T.; Guilini, K.; Moodley, L.; Van Oevelen, D.; Vanreusel, A.; Westerlund, S.; Sweetman, A.K. (2017). Impaired short-term functioning of a benthic community from a deep Norwegian Fjord following deposition of mine tailings and sediments. Front. Mar. Sci. 4(169): 1-16.
    Rix, L.; de Goeij, J.M.; Van Oevelen, D.; Struck, U.; Al-Horani, F.A.; Wild, C.; Naumann, M.S. (2017). Differential recycling of coral and algal dissolved organic matter via the sponge loop. Funct. Ecol. 31(3): 778-789.
    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.
  • 2016
    De Smet, B.; van Oevelen, D.; Vincx, M.; Vanaverbeke, J.; Soetaert, K. (2016). Lanice conchilega structures carbon flows in soft-bottom intertidal areas. Mar. Ecol. Prog. Ser. 552: 47-60.
    Dunlop, K.M.; Van Oevelen, D.; Ruhl, H.A.; Huffard, C.L.; Kuhnz, L.A.; Smith, K.L. (2016). Carbon cycling in the deep eastern North Pacific benthic food web: Investigating the effect of organic carbon input. Limnol. Oceanogr. 61(6): 1956–1968.
    Rix, L.; de Goeij, J.M.; Mueller, C.E.; Struck, U.; Middelburg, J.J.; van Duyl, F.C.; Al-Horani, F.A.; Wild, C.; Naumann, M.S.; Van Oevelen, D. (2016). Coral mucus fuels the sponge loop in warm- and cold-water coral reef ecosystems. NPG Scientific Reports 6(18715): 11 pp.
    Soetaert, K.; Mohn, C.; Rengstorf, A.; Grehan, A.; Van Oevelen, D. (2016). Ecosystem engineering creates a direct nutritional link between 600-m deep cold-water coral mounds and surface productivity. NPG Scientific Reports 6(35057 ): 9 pp.
    Sweetman, A.K.; Chelsky, A.; Pitt, K.A.; Andrade, H.; Van Oevelen, D.; Renaud, P.E. (2016). Jellyfish decomposition at the seafloor rapidly alters biogeochemical cycling and carbon flow through benthic food-webs. Limnol. Oceanogr. 61(4): 1449–1461.
    Van Oevelen, D.; Mueller, C.E.; Lundälv, T.; Middelburg, J.J. (2016). Food selectivity and processing by the cold-water coral Lophelia pertusa. Biogeosciences 13: 5789–5798.
    Zetsche, E.-M.; Baussant, T.; Meysman, F.J.R.; Van Oevelen, D. (2016). Direct visualization of mucus production by the cold-water coral Lophelia pertusa with digital holographic microscopy. PLoS One 11(2): e0146766.
    Zetsche, E.-M.; Baussant, T.; Van Oevelen, D. (2016). Ciliary removal of particles by the cold‐water coral Lophelia pertusa. Reef Encounter 31(1): 53-56
  • 2015
    Cathalot, C.; Van Oevelen, D.; Cox, T.; Kutti, T.; Lavaleye, M.S.S.; Duineveld, G.C.A.; Meysman, F.J.R. (2015). Cold-water coral reefs and adjacent sponge grounds: hotspots of benthic respiration and organic carbon cycling in the deep sea. Front. Mar. Sci. 2: 12 pp.
    Kędra, M.; Moritz, C.; Choy, E.S.; David, C.; Degen, R.; Duerksen, S.; Ellingsen, I.; Górska, B.; Grebmeier, J.M.; Kirievskaya, D.; van Oevelen, D.; Piwosz, K.; Samuelsen, A.; We? slawski, J.M. (2015). Status and trends in the structure of Arctic benthic food webs. Pol. Res. 34: 23775.
    Middelburg, J.J.; Mueller, C.E.; Veuger, B.; Larsson, A.I.; Form, A.; van Oevelen, D. (2015). Discovery of symbiotic nitrogen fixation and chemoautotrophy in cold-water corals. NPG Scientific Reports 5(17962): 9 pp.
  • 2014
    Baussant, T.; Nilsen, M.; Westerlund, S.; Ramanand, S.; Ravagnan, E.; Zetsche, E.M.; Gerla, D.J.; van Oevelen, D. (2014). Study of Lophelia pertusa coral under different food conditions and varying drill cutting exposure concentrations. Report IRIS – 2014/075. [S.n.]: [s.l.].
    Gillis, L.G.; Ziegler, A.D.; van Oevelen, D.; Cathalot, C.; Herman, P.; Wolters, J.W.; Bouma, T.J. (2014). Tiny is mighty: seagrass beds have a large role in the export of organic material in the tropical coastal zone. PLoS One 9(11): e111847.
    Kunihiro, T.; Veuger, B.; Vasquez Cardenas, D.; Pozzato, L.; Le Guitton, M.; Moriya, K.; Kuwae, M.; Omori, K.; Boschker, H.T.S.; Van Oevelen, D. (2014). Phospholipid-Derived Fatty Acids and Quinones as Markers for Bacterial Biomass and Community Structure in Marine Sediments. PLoS One 9(4): e96219.
    Mueller, C.E.; Larsson, A.I.; Veuger, B.; Middelburg, J.J.; van Oevelen, D. (2014). Opportunistic feeding on various organic food sources by the cold-water coral Lophelia pertusa. Biogeosciences 11(1): 123-133.
  • 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.
    Braeckman, U.; Vanaverbeke, J.; Vincx, M.; van Oevelen, D.; Soetaert, K. (2013). Meiofauna metabolism in suboxic sediments: currently overestimated. PLoS One 8(3): e59289.
    de Goeij, J.M.; van Oevelen, D.; Vermeij, M.J.A.; Osinga , R.; Middelburg, J.J.; de Goeij, A.F.P.M.; Admiraal, W. (2013). Surviving in a marine desert: The sponge loop retains resources within coral reefs. Science (Wash.) 342(6154): 108-110.
    Larsson, A.I.; Lundälv, T.; van Oevelen, D. (2013). Skeletal growth, respiration rate and fatty acid composition in the cold-water coral Lophelia pertusa under varying food conditions. Mar. Ecol. Prog. Ser. 483: 169-184.
    Larsson, A.I.; van Oevelen, D.; Purser, A.; Thomsen, L. (2013). Tolerance to long-term exposure of suspended benthic sediments and drill cuttings in the cold-water coral Lophelia pertusa. Mar. Pollut. Bull. 70(1-2): 176-188.
    Mueller, C.E.; Lundälv, T.; Middelburg, J.J.; van Oevelen, D. (2013). The Symbiosis between Lophelia pertusa and Eunice norvegica Stimulates Coral Calcification and Worm Assimilation. PLoS One 8(3).
    Pape, E.; van Oevelen, D.; Moodley, L.; Soetaert, K.; Vanreusel, A. (2013). Nematode feeding strategies and the fate of dissolved organic matter carbon in different deep-sea sedimentary environments. Deep-Sea Res., Part 1, Oceanogr. Res. Pap. 80: 94-110.
    Pozzato, L.; van Oevelen, D.; Moodley, L.; Soetaert, K.; Middelburg, J.J (2013). Sink or link? The bacterial role in benthic carbon cycling in the Arabian Sea's oxygen minimum zone. Biogeosciences 10: 6879-6891.
    Pozzato, L.; van Oevelen, D.; Moodley, L.; Soetaert, K.; Middelburg, J.J. (2013). Carbon processing at the deep-sea floor of the Arabian Sea oxygen minimum zone: A tracer approach. J. Sea Res. 78: 45-58.
    Tecchio, S.; van Oevelen, D.; Soetaert, K.; Navarro, J.; Ramírez-Llodra, E. (2013). Trophic Dynamics of Deep-Sea Megabenthos Are Mediated by Surface Productivity. PLoS One 8(5).
  • 2012
    Soetaert, K; van Oevelen, D.; Sommer, S. (2012). Modelling the impact of Siboglinids on the biogeochemistry of the Captain Arutyunov mud volcano (Gulf of Cadiz). Biogeosciences 9(12): 5341-5352.
    van Oevelen, D.; Soetaert, K.; Heip, C. (2012). Carbon flows in the benthic food web of the Porcupine Abyssal Plain: The(un)importance of labile detritus in supporting microbial and faunal carbon demands. Limnol. Oceanogr. 57(2): 645-664.
    Veuger, B.; van Oevelen, D.; Middelburg, J.J. (2012). Fate of microbial nitrogen, carbon, hydrolysable amino acids, monosaccharides, and fatty acids in sediment. Geochim. Cosmochim. Acta 83: 217-233.
  • 2011
    van Oevelen, D.; Soetaert, K.; Garcia, R.; de Stigter, H.C.; Cunha, M.R.; Pusceddu, A.; Danovaro, R.; Garcia, R. (2011). Canyon conditions impact carbon flows in food webs of three sections of the Nazare canyon. Deep-Sea Res., Part 2, Top. Stud. Oceanogr. 58(23-24): 2461-2476.

Linked projects

MIDAS_Managing Impacts of Deep-seA reSource exploitation
Dick van Oevelen
European Community
Project duration
1 Nov 2013 - 16 Feb 2018
MIDAS_Managing Impacts of Deep-seA reSource exploitation
Dick van Oevelen
European Community
Project duration
1 Nov 2013 - 16 Feb 2018
NWO-VIDI Surviving in a Deep-Sea Desert - Uncovering the Functioning of Cold-Water Coral Reefs in the Deep Ocean
Dick van Oevelen
Netherlands Organization for Scientific Research
Project duration
1 Jul 2014 - 30 Jun 2019
UUNIOZ_Smile, you're on camera
Dick van Oevelen
Utrecht University
Project duration
1 Jan 2021 - 31 Dec 2025