Royal Netherlands Institute for Sea Research
Royal Netherlands
Institute for Sea Research

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‘Flatfish exchange mudflats for the North Sea’

Marine ecologist Henk van der Veer studies the functioning of coastal areas as spawning and nursery grounds for various fish species. ‘From a historical perspective, the Wadden Sea has always played an important role in the life cycle of North Sea flatfish, such as plaice, flounder, sole, dab and turbot. With the gigantic pump that ebb and flood currents effectively form, many fish larvae always were transported to the coast and entered the Wadden Sea, where they settled and grew up as juveniles until they joint the adult population. In the past, there were far more flatfish in the Wadden Sea than there are now. Plaice and flounder grew up there during three or even four years. Currently, those fish age classes are absent and the majority of young plaice now already leave the Wadden Sea in the summer. It is questionable whether this has anything do with the conditions inside the Wadden Sea. The conditions along the North Sea coastal zone simply seem to be suitable enough as well.’

The base of many food chains

‘In my research, I am trying to discover what drives and determines the use of the area by the various life stages of different fish species. For example, why does a plaice prefer sandy bottoms, compared to a flounder that concentrates in more muddy bottoms or a sole that can be found in deeper waters? The distribution of different life stages of flatfish and other species is, of course, an important condition for other predatory species higher up in the food chain, such as birds and seals.’

Climate creates new spawning grounds

‘Due to global warming, the distribution of various flatfish species is and will further shift. In the future, the Wadden Sea will be a less suitable area for young plaice, being a cold water species, to grow up, but it will become more suitable for young sole, a warm water species. Also, development during the early life cycle will be faster and hence shorter. For example, with increasing seawater temperatures, the spawning grounds of flatfish in the North Sea, will also shift predictably. The fishing industry should already leave these future spawning areas undisturbed.’

Specialisation

Functioning of coastal systems, with focus on fish communities

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Interests

Research interests

From my start at NIOZ, research on fishes has been a leitmotiv thread in my carrier. After a PhD on recruitment in juvenile plaice in the Wadden Sea, research has been extended to other species and expanded to other areas with the central theme: the functioning of coastal systems as nursery areas for fish species.

From tropical to (sub)arctic coastal areas, habitat quality and quantity in terms of carrying capacity has been studied for a variety of flatfish and other species, interlinked by the analysis to what extend latitudinal patterns in recruitment mechanisms are operating. 

The common tokin in all these sudies has been energy, more specificly, the energetics of a species in relation to the environment studied by means of Dynamc Energy Budgets. In combination with long-term (50-years) observations of the fish fauna of the western Wadden Sea from fyke net catches, long term trends are analysed with the aim to analyse the processes determining the carrying capacity of coastal systems and to predict the impact of climate changes.

Functions

Functions

From 2017: Head, Department of Coastal systems, Guest scientist RUG

From 2013: Editor-in-chief of the Journal of Sea Research

From 2008: Head, Department of Marine Ecology at Royal NIOZ, Guest scientist RUG

2006-2007: Head ad interim, Department of Marine Ecology at Royal NIOZ

From 2000: Deputy head, Department of Marine Ecology at Royal NIOZ

From 1996: Senior scientist, Department of Marine Ecology at Royal NIOZ

From 1994: Senior scientist, Department of Coastal Systems at Royal NIOZ

1991-2012: Adjunct associate-professor of Zoology, North Carolina State University, Raleigh, U.S.A.,  Adjunct associate-professor of Marine Science, University of South Carolina, Columbia, U.S.A.

From 1988: Employed as scientist part-time at the Department of Applied Science (50%) and at the Department of Coastal Systems (50%) at Royal NIOZ

1987-1988: Employed as scientist at the Department of Applied Science at Royal NIOZ

1986-1987: Employed as scientist at the project group 'Ecological Research Wadden Sea and North Sea' at Royal NIOZ

1979-1985: Ecological research on the recruitment of 0-group plaice in the Wadden Sea, employed by Organization of Pure Scientific Research, carried out at royal NIOZ (PhD project)

1978-1979: Ecological research on the effects of dredging in the Dutch Wadden Sea, employed by the Dutch government

Publications

Key-publications

Van der Veer HW (1986). Immigration, settlement and density-dependent mortality of a larval and early post-larval 0-group plaice (Pleuronectes platessa) population in the western Dutch Wadden Sea. Mar Ecol Prog Ser 29, 223-236.

Freitas V, Cardoso JFMF, Peck MA, Kooijman SALM, Van der Veer HW (2010). Analysis of physiological performance of North Atlantic marine organisms by means of interspecies differences in DEB parameters. Phil Trans Royal Soc B 365, 3553-3565.

Hunsicker ME, Ciannelli L, Bailey KM, Buckel JA, White JW, Link JS, Essington TE, Gaichas S, Anderson T, Brodeur RD, Chan K-S, Chen K, Englund G, Frank KA, Freitas V, Hixon M, Hurst T, Johnson D, Kitchell JF, Reese D, Rose GA, Sjodin H, Sydeman WJ, van der Veer HW, Vollset K, Zador S (2011). Functional responses and scaling in marine predator-prey interactions: contemporary issues and emerging concepts. Ecology Letters 14, 1288-1299.

Van der Veer HW, Freitas V, Leggett WC (2015). Recruitment level and variability. In: Gibson RN, Nash RDM, Geffen AJ, van der Veer HW (Eds.) Flatfishes. Biology and exploitation. Fish and Aquatic Resources Ser 9, Blackwell Oxford, London, 185-206.

Van der Veer HW, Dapper R, Henderson PA, Jung AS, Philippart CJM, Witte JIJ, Henderson PA (2015). Long–term changes of the marine fish fauna in the temperate western Dutch Wadden: degradation of trophic structure and nursery function. Estua Coastal Shelf Sci 155, 156-166.

Scientific results collected together with 45 master students and 2 post-docs, have critalized in more than 85 publications in peer-reviewed journals and books.  

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

Education

Professional education

1986: PhD 'Regulation of the population of 0-group plaice (Pleuronectes platessa L.) in the Wadden Sea' defense, Rijksuniversiteit Groningen 

1971-1977: Master Landbouw Hogeschool Wageningen (presently Wageningen University)

1966-1971: HBS-b Christelijk Lyceum Veenendaal

 

Awards

Awards, prizes and funded

2012: INFOWEB German-Dutch Duits – Nederlandse collaboration (250 k€)

2010: Waddensleutels (200 k€)

2009: DELTARES Coelenterate ecology (220 k€)

2008: NWO-ZKO fish monitoring (1.110 k€) 
2008: NWO-ZKO hypothesis driven (250 k€) 
2008: IFREMER AquaDEB (5 k€)

2007: IFREMER AquaDEB (5 k€)
2007: EU RECLAIM (90 k€) 
2007: NAM monitoring (100 k€)

2006: PRODUS subcontractor (47 k€) 
2006: Portuguese Science Foundation PhD project (122 k€)

2005: MV2 Maasvlakte 2 (80k€)
2005: Portuguese Science Foundation PhD project (122 k€)

2004: Proceedings Flatfish Symposium VI (20 k€)

2003: Portuguese Science Foundation PhD project (122 k€)

2002: MARE 3, Flyland (85 k€)

2001: Proceedings Flatfish Symposium V (20 k€)
2001: Portuguese Science Foundation PhD project (122 k€)

2000: Carrying capacity Western Scheldt Euro (35 k€) 

Other

Post-docs projects

2012: V. Freitas; Long-term changes in Wadden Sea fish fauna (ZKO-project)

2011-2014: J. Campos; Cannibalism as regulating mechanism in the recruitment of crustaceans over their distributional range in European waters (in cooperation with CIIMAR)

2009-2012: F. Martinho; Biogeographical patterns in nursery habitat quality for flatfishes: variations in fish condition, spawning season and physiological performance

2007-2010: J.F.M.F. Cardoso; Validation of age determination techniques in calcified structures (in cooperation with CIIMAR)

PhD projects

2017-2021: S. Poiesz; Long term changes in the Wadden Sea fish fauna: causes and consequences
PhD defense planned for 2021; Rijksuniversiteit Groningen

2012-2016: S. Jung; The impact of biological invasions on the Balgzand food web in the Wadden Sea (INFOWEB); PhD denfece planned for 2017; Utrecht University

2011-2015: J. Jouta; Spatial and temporal shifts in diets composition of predators Wadden Sea top predators (birds, fishes, crabs) in relation to intertidal mussel banks; PhD defence 2016; Rijksuniversiteit Groningen 

2010-2014: L. Van Walraven; Natural and anthropogenic impact on North Sea gelatinous zooplankton population dynamics: implications for ecosystem structure and functioning; PhD defence 2015; Rijksuniversiteit Groningen

2009-2013: E.M. van der Zee; A regime shift of benthic organisms in the Wadden Sea: causes and consequences for higher trophic levels; PhD defence 2014; Rijksuniversiteit Groningen

2013: C.J. Camphuysen; A historical ecology of two closely related gull species (Laridae): multiple adaptations to a man-made environment; PhD defence 2013; Rijksuniversiteit Groningen

2007-2011: S. Santos; Physiological performance of the Peppery furrow shell Scrobicularia plana (da Costa 1778) along the European coast; PhD defence 2012; Rijksuniversiteit Groningen

2005-2009; V. Freitas; Climate-induced changes in estuarine predator-prey systems: a DEB approach; PhD defence 2011; Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam

2002-2006: J. Campos; Latitudinal trends in the role of brown shrimp Crangon crangon in the functioning of the ecosystems in coastal European estuaries; PhD defence 2009; Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam

2000-2004: J.F.M.F. Cardoso; Intra- and interspecies comparison of energy flow in various bivalve species in Dutch coastal waters by means of dynamic energy budgets; PhD defence 2007; Rijksuniversiteit Groningen

1992-1997: M.J.M. Reichert; On the life history of the fringed flounder Etropus crossotus. A small tropical flatfish in the South Atlantic Bight; PhD defense 2002; Rijksuniversiteit Groningen

1992-1996: P.J. de Goeij; Buying depth as a trade-off in the bivalve Macoma balthica; PhD defence: 2001; Rijksuniversiteit Groningen

1992-1996: P.A.Walker; Fleeting images. Dynamics of North Sea ray populations; PhD defence 1998; Universiteit van Amsterdam

1991-1995: L.J. Bolle; Recruitment in North Sea dab Limanda limanda; PhD defence 2013; Wageningen University

1985-1989: F. Hovenkamp; On the growth of larval plaice in the North Sea; PhD defence 1991; Rijksuniversiteit Groningen