Royal Netherlands Institute for Sea Research
Phone number
+31 (0)113 57 7322
Tenure track Scientist
Radboud Universiteit Nijmegen
  • Stability and resilience of self-organised adaptive systems
  • Scientific modelling & computation of coastal ecosystems
  • Scale-bridging in ecology
  • Experimental ecology
  • Serious gaming

MSc. Jim van Belzen

Tenure track Scientist

Stability and Resilience of Coastal Systems

Understanding how coastal systems will respond to change as the result of climate change and sea level rise is paramount in the current age of global change. Especially because coastal societies are often strongly contingent upon their functioning and the services they provide. The stability and resilience of these ecosystems is often underpinned by ecosystem-engineering species that modify and attenuate the physical conditions that force them. This can lead to positive feedback and a rich set of possible responses that shape the stability and resilience of these coastal systems.

Developing new insights that can help us understand what ecosystem responses can be expected is the main focus of my research. Therefore, I combine experimental, observational and modelling approaches. Most of the time I work on tidal marshes, but I also have a keen interest in reef building organisms.

Personal motivation

At the core the science I do is driven by my childish curiosity to better understand the natural world around me. Yet, I strongly believe that my research -and that of my college’s- is highly needed and contributes to a fact-based understanding of our blue planet. Thereby providing the much needed information to help decision-making into a responsible and sustainable use of our coasts and oceans.

Introducing Jim van Belzen @ NIOZ

Watch the above short video to get an introduction into my work as an ecologist and modeller.

Linked news

Friday 22 September 2023
Harnessing and moving with natural forces in Zeeland's delta - Landscape plan wins Eo Wijers prize
The regional final of the Eo Wijers Prize Competition 2022-2023 for central Zeeland has been won by a collaboration of Bureau B+B urbanism and landscape architecture, RO&AD Architects and the Royal Netherlands Institute for Sea Research (NIOZ). In…
Thursday 26 January 2023
Dossier: Dijkdoorbraken en natuurlijke kustverdediging
Op 1 februari 2023 herdenkt Nederland de Watersnoodramp van 70 jaar geleden. Hoewel ons laaggelegen land sindsdien goed beschermd is geweest, stellen de gevolgen van klimaatverandering, zoals zeespiegelstijging en weersextremen Nederland voor nieuwe…
Monday 21 November 2022
Giving land back to the sea: it sounds scary, but results in a safer, more biodiverse coast
It has taken more than 30 years of talking and arguing, but by the end of this month the excavators will have finished removing the dykes of the Hedwige and Prosperpolder on the Dutch-Flemish border. On the rhythm of the tides, seawater once again…
Monday 09 May 2022
Variation provides opportunities for organisms in search for a place to live
Summers are getting hotter on average, showers are becoming more intense, and sea levels are rising ever so slightly. “But it's not just the changing averages that determine whether an organism can settle somewhere or not. It's often all about the…
Friday 25 March 2022
NIOZ viert 10 jarig bestaan in Zeeland
Vandaag, 25 maart, is het gebouw van het Koninklijk Nederlands Instituut voor Onderzoek der Zee (NIOZ) in Yerseke feestelijk heropend na een flinke verbouwing. Ook vieren we het 10-jarig bestaan van NIOZ in Zeeland. Tijdens de opening spraken oa.…
Tuesday 16 November 2021
Machine learning helps to locally restore wetlands for coastal protection
By using large experimental data sets to feed a machine learning model, we can enable wetland establishment for flood defense by managing the local conditions, thereby overruling uncontrollable global change stressors. This is revealed by an…
Monday 25 January 2021
Coastal defence between double dykes. A safe, natural and cheaper solution
Allowing low and high tide to return to a so-called ‘transitional polder' between two dikes will make coastal defence much more sustainable, natural and affordable. This is what Jim van Belzen, Gerlof Rienstra and Tjeerd Bouma write in a report…
Thursday 07 May 2020
Koolstofopslag langs de Nederlandse kust; niet alleen bos, ook schorren en kwelders remmen klimaatverandering
Kwelders en schorren zorgen voor biodiversiteit, hoogwaterveiligheid en kunnen CO2 vastleggen. Dankzij natuurlijke processen bieden zij een buffer tegen klimaatverandering. Vorig maand zijn de resultaten van drie studies gepubliceerd, waaronder ‘Blue…
Wednesday 17 July 2019
Sea level rise requires extra management to maintain salt marshes
Salt marshes are important habitats for fish and birds, and protect coasts under sea level rise against stronger wave attacks. However, salt marshes themselves are much more vulnerable to these global change threats than previously thought.
Friday 14 June 2019
NIOZ nieuws | Kleine stapjes, grote sprongen – hoe helmgras duinen bouwt
In Europa zijn ze hoog en smal, in Amerika laag en breed: vorm en hoogte van duinen verschillen wereldwijd sterk. Dit komt mede doordat planten duinen bouwen met verschillende ‘bewegingsstrategieën’ waarmee ze de vorm van de duin bepalen, vonden…

NIOZ publications

  • 2019
    Gourgue, O.; van Belzen, J.; Schwarz, C.; Bouma, T.J.; van de Koppel, J.; Temmerman, S. (2019). A new bio-geomorphic model approach accounting for subgrid-scale heterogeneity of biogenic structures, in: Mees, J. et al. (Ed.) Book of abstracts – VLIZ Marine Science Day. Bredene, Belgium, 13 March 2019. VLIZ Special Publication, 83: pp. 40
  • 2018
    van Belzen, J. (2018). Qualitative growth potential test for brackish Vaucheria species. Protocol Exchange april 2018.
  • 2015
    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.
    Hu, Zhan; van Belzen, J.; Van der Wal, D.; Balke, T.; Wang, Z.B.; Stive, M.; Bouma, T. (2015). Windows of opportunity for salt marsh vegetation establishment on bare tidal flats: The importance of temporal and spatial variability in hydrodynamic forcing. J. Geophys. Res. Biogeosciences: 120(7): 1450-1469.
    Monbaliu, J.; Bi, Q.; Bouma, T.J.; Toorman, E.A.; van Belzen, J.; Willems, P. (2015). Extreme estuarine water levels and channel morphology, effect on flood extents and habitat resilience: the Scheldt Estuary, Belgium and the Netherlands, in: Coastal Risk Management in a Changing Climate. pp. 332-357.
    Strain, E.M.A.; van Belzen, J.; van Dalen, J.; Bouma, T.J.; Airoldi, L. (2015). Management of Local Stressors Can Improve the Resilience of Marine Canopy Algae toGlobal Stressors. PLoS One 10(3): e0120837.
  • 2014
    Bouma, T.J.; van Belzen, J.; Balke, T.; Zhu, Z.; Airoldi, L.; Blight, A.J.; Davies, A.J.; Galván, C.; Hawkins, S.J.; Hoggart, S.P.G.; Lara, J.L.; Losada, I.J.; Maza, M.; Ondiviela, B.; Skov, M.W.; Strain, E.M.; Thompson, R.C.; Yang, S.L.; Zanuttigh, B.; Zhang, L.; Herman, P.M.J. (2014). Identifying knowledge gaps hampering application of intertidal habitats in coastal protection: Opportunities & steps to take. Coast. Eng. 87: 147-157.
    Firth, L.B.; Thompson, R.C.; Bohn, K.; Abbiati, M.; Airoldi, L.; Bouma, T.J.; Bozzeda, F.; Ceccherelli, V.U.; Colangelo, M.A.; Evans, A.; Ferrario, F.; Hanley, M.E.; Hinz, H.; Hoggart, S.P.G.; Jackson, J.E.; Moore, P.; Morgan, E.H.; Perkol-Finkel, S.; Skov, M.W.; Strain, E.M.; van Belzen, J.; Hawkins, S.J. (2014). Between a rock and a hard place: Environmental and engineering considerations when designing coastal defence structures. Coast. Eng. 87: 122-135.
    Hoggart, S.; Hawkins, S.J.; Bohn, K.; Airoldi, L.; van Belzen, J.; Bichot, A.; Bilton, D.T.; Bouma, T.J.; Colangelo, M.A.; Davies, A.J.; Ferrario, F.; Firth, L.; Galvan, C.; Hanley, M.; Heurtefeux, H.; Lara, J.L.; Rodriquez, I.L.; Maza, M.; Ondiviela-Eizaguirre, B.; Rundle, S.D.; Skov, M.W.; Strain, E.M.; White, A.; Zhang, L.; Zhu, Z.; Thompson, R.C. (2014). Ecological Approaches to Coastal Risk Mitigation, in: Zanuttigh, B. et al. Coastal Risk Management in a Changing Climate. pp. 171-236.
    Ondiviela, B.; Losada, I.J.; Lara, J.L.; Maza, M.; Galván, C.; Bouma, T.J.; van Belzen, J. (2014). The role of seagrasses in coastal protection in a changing climate. Coast. Eng. 87: 158-168.
  • 2013
    Christianen, M.J.A.; van Belzen, J.; Herman, P.M.J.; van Katwijk, M.M.; Lamers, L.P.M.; Bouma, T.J. (2013). Low-canopy seagrass beds still provide important coastal protection services. PLoS One 8(5): e62413.
  • 2012
    van Belzen, J.; Van de Koppel, J.; Herman, P.; Bouma, T. (2012). Disturbing signs: do real ecosystems slow down towards the verge of collapse? Poster presented at the Netherlands Annual Ecology Meeting 7 & 8 February, 2012 (NAEM). Department of Spatial Ecology, Royal Netherlands Institute for Sea Research: Yerseke.
    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.
  • 2011
    van Belzen, J.; van der Wal, D.; Bouma, T.; Herman, P.; Van de Koppel, J. (2011). Chess at the mudflat: Disturbance and recovery at salt-marsh pioneer zones. Netherlands Institute of Ecology (NIOO-KNAW), Centre for Estuarine and Marine Ecology: Yerseke. 1 poster pp.