Royal Netherlands Institute for Sea Research
Phone number
+31 (0)222 36 9555
Senior Scientist

Dr. Laura Govers

Senior Scientist

Research interests









Please find my list of publications at the bottom of this webpage or on Google Scholar

You can download all my publications on ResearchGate


Professional education



Awards and Prizes





Linked news

Thursday 16 November 2023
Succesful sanderlings go for shrimp
Against the trends for many shorebirds, sanderlings have been doing relatively well in the Wadden Sea for the past years. The key to that success lies in the timing of these little birds' main food: shrimp on the mudflats. That is one of the…
Thursday 24 August 2023
Pear trees teeming with fish and other sea life
Artificial reefs in the Wadden Sea, made from discarded pear trees are teeming with marine life after more than a year underwater. That's shown in experiments by Jon Dickson, PhD candidate at NIOZ. "After four months, we already saw lots of fish and…
Wednesday 10 May 2023
Salt marshes protect the coast – but not where it is needed most
Salt marshes provide multiple ecosystem services, one of those is protection of the coast against flooding. This is especially important in low-lying countries like the Netherlands. Scientists from the University of Groningen and the Royal…
Tuesday 18 May 2021
Grazing by herbivores contributes to coastal protection
Grazing by cows and small herbivores like hare and geese can help reduce the erosion of vulnerable coastal salt marshes and therefore contribute to nature-based coastal defense. This conclusion was published in a peer-reviewed paper by ecological…
Monday 20 July 2020
Improving coastal restoration by temporarily imitating nature
Coastal ecosystems are in rapid decline around the world. Restoring them is very expensive and is often unsuccessful. But an international team of researchers discovered a way of increasing restoration success of salt marshes and seagrass meadows,…
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…
Monday 25 February 2019
Project Waddenmozaïek van start met monsterklus onder water
Vandaag start het project Waddenmozaïek met het bemonsteren van de bodem onder de zeespiegel van de Waddenzee. In totaal worden 1.500 hapjes uit de wadbodem genomen. Het is voor het eerst dat op deze schaal en zo integraal de onderwaternatuur in…
Wednesday 09 January 2019
RUG en NIOZ onderzoeken plasticvervuiling containerramp op Schiermonnikoog
In de nacht van 1-2 januari 2019 zijn boven de kust van de oostelijke Waddeneilanden naar schatting 280 containers over boord geslagen van het vrachtschip MSC Zoe. Op Schiermonnikoog, Ameland, Terschelling en Vlieland en de Friese/Groningse kust is…
Friday 23 November 2018
Waddenmozaïek grote Waddenfondsbeurs voor onderzoek onderwaternatuur in de Waddenzee
Een rijke en gezonde Waddenzee is een onmisbare schakel in de levenscyclus van vele trekvogels en –vissen. Het realiseren van zo’n rijke Waddenzee is daarom ook het streefbeeld van het Waddenfonds en de drie Waddenprovincies: Groningen, Friesland en…

Linked blogs

Monday 15 May 2023
Marine biodiversity in the Ems Dollart area
As part of the project Wadden Mosaic, the habitats and biodiversity of the subtidal Wadden are mapped for the first time - the part of the Dutch Wadden Sea that is permanently submerged. The Wadden Sea is a nature area of international and national…

NIOZ publications

  • 2024
    Gräfnings, M.L.E.; Grimm, I.A.; Valdez, S.R.; Findji, I.; van der Heide, T.; Heusinkveld, J.H.T.; Meijer, K.J.; Eriksson, B.K.; Smeele, Q.; Govers, L.L. (2024). Restored intertidal eelgrass (Z. marina) supports benthic communities taxonomically and functionally similar to natural seagrasses in the Wadden Sea. Front. Mar. Sci. 10.
    Witte, S.; Dickson, J.; Franken, O.; Holthuijsen, S.; Govers, L.L.; Olff, H.; van der Heide, T. (2024). Enhancing ecological complexity in soft‐bottom coastal ecosystems: the impact of introducing hard substrates. Restor. Ecol. 32(4).
  • 2023
    de Fouw, J; Holmer, M.; Beca-Carretero, P.; Boström, C.; Brice, J.; Brun, F.G.; Cruijsen, P.M.J.M.; Govers, L.L.; Garmendia, J.M.; Meysick, L.; Pajusalu, L.; Richir, J.; Robroek, B.J.M.; Valle, M.; van der Ven, P.; Eklöf, J.S.; van der Heide, T. (2023). A facultative mutualism facilitates European seagrass meadows. Ecography 2023(5): e06636.
    Dickson, J.; Franken, O.; Watson, M.S.; Monnich, B.; Holthuijsen, S.; Eriksson, B.K.; Govers, L.L.; van der Heide, T.; Bouma, T. (2023). Who lives in a pear tree under the sea? A first look at tree reefs as a complex natural biodegradable structure to enhance biodiversity in marine systems. Front. Mar. Sci. 10.
    El-Hacen, E. M.; Lemrabott, S.Y.C.; Meijer, K.J.; Piersma, T.; Govers, L.L.; van Gils, J.A.; Olff, H. (2023). Growth and population structure of bloody cockles Senilia senilis at Banc d’Arguin and Bijagós with different environmental conditions and harvesting regimes. Mar. Ecol. Prog. Ser. 710: 71-83.
    El-Hacen, E.M.; Lemrabott, S.Y.C.; Meijer, K.J.; Piersma, T.; Govers, L.L.; van Gils, J.A.; Olff, H. (2023). Growth and population structure of bloody cockles Senilia senilis at Banc d’Arguin and Bijagós with different environmental conditions and harvesting regimes. Mar. Ecol. Prog. Ser. 710: 71-83.
    Gräfnings, M.L.E.; Govers, L.L.; Heusinkveld, J.H.T.; Silliman, B.R.; Smeele, Q.; Valdez, S.R.; van der Heide, T. (2023). Macrozoobenthos as an indicator of habitat suitability for intertidal seagrass. Ecol. Indic. 147: 109948.
    Gräfnings, M.L.E.; Heusinkveld, J.H.T.; Hijner, N.; Hoeijmakers, D.J.J.; Smeele, Q.; Zwarts, M.; van der Heide, T.; Govers, L.L. (2023). Spatial design improves efficiency and scalability of seed‐based seagrass restoration. J. Appl. Ecol. 60(6): 967-977.
    Kwakernaak, C.; Hoeijmakers, D.J.J.; Zwarts, M.P.A.; Bijleveld, A.I.; Holthuijsen, S.; de Jong, D.J.; Govers, L.L. (2023). Ragworms (Hediste diversicolor) limit eelgrass (Zostera marina) seedling settlement: Implications for seed-based restoration. J. Exp. Mar. Biol. Ecol. 560: 151853.
    Leurs, G.; Nieuwenhuis, B.O.; Zuidewind, T.J.; Hijner, N.; Olff, H.; Govers, L.L. (2023). Where land meets sea: Intertidal areas as key‐habitats for sharks and rays. Fish Fish. 24(3): 407-426.
    Leurs, G.; Verkuil, Y.I.; Hijner, N.; Saalmann, F.; Dos Santos, L.; Regalla, A.; Ledo Pontes, S.; Yang, L.; Naylor, G.J.P.; Olff, H.; Govers, L.L. (2023). Addressing data-deficiency of threatened sharks and rays in a highly dynamic coastal ecosystem using environmental DNA. Ecol. Indic. 154: 110795.
    Marín Díaz, B.; van der Wal, D.; Kaptein, L.; Martinez-Garcia, P.; Lashley, C.H.; de Jong, K.; Nieuwenhuis, J.W.; Govers, L.L.; Olff, H.; Bouma, T. (2023). Using salt marshes for coastal protection: Effective but hard to get where needed most. J. Appl. Ecol. 60(7): 1286-1301.
    Meijer, K.J.; Gusmao, J.B.; Bruil, L.; Franken, O.; Grimm, I.A.; van der Heide, T.; Hijner, N.; Holthuijsen, S.; Hübner, L.; Thieltges, D.W.; Olff, H.; Eriksson, B.K.; Govers, L.L. (2023). The seafloor from a trait perspective. A comprehensive life history dataset of soft sediment macrozoobenthos. Scientific Data 10(1).
    Nauta, J.; Christianen, M.J.A.; Temmink, R.J.M.; Fivash, G.S.; Marín Díaz, B.; Reijers, V.C.; Didderen, K.; Penning, E.; Borst, A.C.W.; Heusinkveld, J.H.T.; Zwarts, M.; Cruijsen, P.M.J.M.; Hijner, N.; Lengkeek, W.; Lamers, L.P.M.; van der Heide, T.; Bouma, T.J.; van der Wal, D.; Olff, H.; Govers, L.L. (2023). Biodegradable artificial reefs enhance food web complexity and biodiversity in an intertidal soft‐sediment ecosystem. J. Appl. Ecol. 60(3): 541-552.
    Nauta, J.; Lammers, C.; Lexmond, R.; Christianen, M.J.A.; Borst, A.; Lamers, L.P.M.; Van Lavieren, H.; Naipal, S.; Govers, L.L. (2023). Habitat complexity drives food web structure along a dynamic mangrove coast. Mar. Pollut. Bull. 196: 115597.
    Tan, Y.M.; Coleman, R.A.; Biro, P.A.; Dalby, O.; Jackson, E.L.; Govers, L.L.; Heusinkveld, J.H.T.; Macreadie, P.I.; Flindt, M.; Dewhurst, J.; Sherman, C.D. (2023). Developing seed‐ and shoot‐based restoration approaches for the seagrass, Zostera muelleri. Restor. Ecol. 31(5): e13902.
    van Bemmelen, R.S.A.; Duijns, S.; Govers, L.L.; Fijn, R.C. (2024). Habitat use across the tidal cycle by black-headed gulls breeding in the Wadden Sea. J. Ornithol. 165: 69-79.
  • 2022
    Bosco Gusmao, J.; Thieltges, D.W.; Dekker, R.; Govers, L.L.; Meijer, K.J.; Eriksson, B.K. (2022). Comparing taxonomic and functional trait diversity in marine macrozoobenthos along sediment texture gradients. Ecol. Indic. 145: 109718.
    Clements, O.N.; Leurs, G.; Witbaard, R.; Pen, I.; Verkuil, Y.I.; Govers, L.L. (2022). Growth, maturity, and diet of the pearl whipray (Fontitrygon margaritella) from the Bijagós Archipelago, Guinea-Bissau. PeerJ 10: e12894.
    Colina Alonso, A.; van Maren, D.S.; Herman, P.M.J.; van Weerdenburg, R.J.A.; Huismans, Y.; Holthuijsen, S.J.; Govers, L.L.; Bijleveld, A.I.; Wang, Z. (2022). The existence and origin of multiple equilibria in sand‐mud sediment beds. Geophys. Res. Lett. 49(22): e2022GL101141.
    Fijn, R.C.; Govers, L.L.; Lutterop, D.; Middelveld, R.P.; van Bemmelen, R.S.A. (2022). Evidence of nocturnal migration over sea and sex-specific migration distance of Dutch Black-Headed Gulls. Ardea 110(1): 15-29.
    Govers, L.L.; Heusinkveld, J.H.T.; Gräfnings, M.L.E.; Smeele, Q.; van der Heide, T. (2022). Adaptive intertidal seed-based seagrass restoration in the Dutch Wadden Sea. PLoS One 17(2): e0262845.
    Gräfnings, M.L.E.; Heusinkveld, J.H.T.; Hoeijmakers, D.J.J.; Smeele, Q.; Wiersema, H.; Zwarts, M.; van der Heide, T.; Govers, L.L. (2023). Optimizing seed injection as a seagrass restoration method. Restor. Ecol. 31(3): e13851.
    Marín Díaz, B.; Govers, L.L.; van der Wal, D.; Olff, H.; Bouma, T.J. (2022). The importance of marshes providing soil stabilization to resist fast‐flow erosion in case of a dike breach. Ecol. Appl. 32(6): e2622.
    Meijer, K.J.; Franken, O.; van der Heide, T.; Holthuijsen, S.; Visser, W.; Govers, L.L.; Olff, H. (2023). Characterizing bedforms in shallow seas as an integrative predictor of seafloor stability and the occurrence of macrozoobenthic species. Remote Sensing in Ecology and Conservation 9(3): 323-339.
    Temmink, R.J.M.; Fivash, G.S.; Govers, L.L.; Nauta, J.; Marín Díaz, B.; Cruijsen, P.M.J.M.; Didderen, K.; Penning, E.; Olff, H.; Heusinkveld, J.H.T.; Lamers, L.P.M.; Lengkeek, W.; Christianen, M.J.A.; Reijers, V.C.; Bouma, T.J.; van der Heide, T. (2022). Initiating and upscaling mussel reef establishment with life cycle informed restoration: Successes and future challenges. Ecol. Eng. 175: 106496.
  • 2021
    Gagnon, K.; Christie, H.C.; Didderen, K.; Fagerli, C.W.; Govers, L.L.; Gräfnings, M.L.E.; Heusinkveld, J.H.T.; Kaljurand, K.; Lengkeek, W.; Martin, G.; Meysick, L.; Pajusalu, L.; Rinde, E.; van der Heide, T.; Boström, C. (2021). Incorporating facilitative interactions into small‐scale eelgrass restoration—challenges and opportunities. Restor. Ecol. 29(5): e13398.
    Govers, L.L.; Reijers, V.C (2021). Griend: een bewogen eiland. KNNV Uitgeverij: Zeist. ISBN 9789050118125.
    Leurs, G.; van der Reijden, K.J.; Cheikhna Lemrabott, S.Y.; Barry, I.; Nonque, D.M.; Olff, H.; Ledo Pontes, S.; Regalla, A.; Govers, L.L. (2021). Industrial fishing near West African Marine Protected Areas and its potential effects on mobile marine predators. Front. Mar. Sci. 8: 602917.
    Marín Díaz, B.; Fivash, G.S.; Nauta, J.; Temmink, R.J.M.; Hijner, N.; Reijers, V.C; Cruijsen, P.M.J.M.; Didderen, K.; Heusinkveld, J.H.T.; Penning, E.; Maldonado-Garcia, G.; van Belzen, J.; de Smit, J.C.; Christianen, M.J.A.; van der Heide, T.; van der Wal, D.; Olff, H.; Bouma, T.J.; Govers, L.L. (2021). On the use of large-scale biodegradable artificial reefs for intertidal foreshore stabilization. Ecol. Eng. 170: 106354.
    Marin-Diaz, B.; Govers, L.L.; van der Wal, D.; Olff, H.; Bouma, T.J. (2021). How grazing management can maximize erosion resistance of salt marshes. J. Appl. Ecol. 58(7): 1533-1544.
    Meijer, K.J.; El-Hacen, E.-H.M.; Govers, L.L.; Lavaleye, M.S.S.; Piersma, T.; Olff, H. (2021). Mangrove-mudflat connectivity shapes benthic communities in a tropical intertidal system. Ecol. Indic. 130: 108030.
    Penning, E.; Govers, L.L.; Dekker, R.; Piersma, T. (2021). Advancing presence and changes in body size of brown shrimp Crangon crangon on intertidal flats in the western Dutch Wadden Sea, 1984–2018. Mar. Biol. (Berl.) 168(11): 160.
    van der Molen, J.; van Leeuwen, S.M.; Govers, L.L.; van der Heide, T.; Olff, H. (2021). Potential micro-plastics dispersal and accumulation in the North Sea, with application to the MSC Zoe incident. Front. Mar. Sci. 8: 607203.
    van der Reijden, K.J.; Govers, L.L.; Koop, L.; Damveld, J.H.; Herman, P.M.J.; Mestdagh, S.; Piet, G.; Rijnsdorp, A.D.; Dinesen, G.E.; Snellen, M.; Olff, H. (2021). Beyond connecting the dots: A multi-scale, multi-resolution approach to marine habitat mapping. Ecol. Indic. 128: 107849.
    van der Reijden, K.J.; Koop, L.; Mestdagh, S.; Snellen, M.; Herman, P.M.J.; Olff, H.; Govers, L.L. (2021). Conservation Implications of Sabellaria spinulosa Reef Patches in a Dynamic Sandy-Bottom Environment. Front. Mar. Sci. 8: 642659.
  • 2020
    Koop, L.; van der Reijden, K.; Mestdagh, S.; Ysebaert, T.; Govers, L.L.; Olff, H.; Herman, P.M.J.; Snellen, M.; Simons, D.G. (2020). Measuring centimeter-scale sand ripples using multibeam echosounder backscatter data from the Brown Bank area of the Dutch Continental Shelf. Geosciences 10(12): 495.
    Mestdagh, S.; Amiri-Simkooei, A.; van der Reijden, K.J.; Koop, L.; O'Flynn, S.; Snellen, M.; van Sluis, C.; Govers, L.L.; Simons, D.G.; Herman, P.M.J.; Olff, H.; Ysebaert, T. (2020). Linking the morphology and ecology of subtidal soft-bottom marine benthic habitats: A novel multiscale approach. Est., Coast. and Shelf Sci. 238: 106687.
    Tan, Y.M.; Dalby, O.; Kendrick, G.A.; Statton, J.; Sinclair, E.A.; Fraser, M.W.; Macreadie, P.I.; Gillies, C.L.; Coleman, R.A.; Waycott, M.; van Dijk, K.; Vergés, A.; Ross, J.D.; Campbell, M.L.; Matheson, F.E.; Jackson, E.L.; Irving, A.D.; Govers, L.L.; Connolly, R.M.; McLeod, I.M.; Rasheed, M.A.; Kirkman, H.; Flindt, M.R.; Lange, T.; Miller, A.D.; Sherman, C.D.H. (2020). Seagrass restoration is possible: Insights and lessons from Australia and New Zealand. Front. Mar. Sci. 7: article 617.
  • 2019
    van der Reijden, K.J.; Koop, L.; O'Flynn, S.; Garcia, S.; Bos, O.; van Sluis, C.; Maaholm, D.J.; Herman, P.M.J.; Simons, D.G.; Olff, H.; Ysebaert, T.; Snellen, M.; Govers, L.L.; Rijnsdorp, A.D.; Aguilar, R. (2019). Discovery of Sabellaria spinulosa reefs in an intensively fished area of the Dutch Continental Shelf, North Sea. J. Sea Res. 144: 85-94.
  • 2018
    van der Reijden, K.J.; Hintzen, N.T.; Govers, L.L.; Rijnsdorp, A.D.; Olff, H. (2018). North Sea demersal fisheries prefer specific benthic habitats. PLoS One 13(12): e0208338.

Linked projects

Conservation of the dynamic Island of Griend
Theunis Piersma
Vereniging Natuurmonumenten
Project duration
1 May 2014 - 1 Jul 2020
UUNIOZ_The role of the aviant nutrient pump for back-barrier island dynamics
Kees Camphuijsen
Utrecht University
Project duration
1 Jan 2021 - 31 Dec 2025