Royal Netherlands Institute for Sea Research
Royal Netherlands
Institute for Sea Research
Phone number
+31 (0)222 36 9490
Senior Research Assistant
  • Wadden Sea field work
  • Geographic Information System
  • Marine Ecology
  • Field and project coordinating
  • Marine Macrozoobenthos

Sander Holthuijsen

Senior Research Assistant

Research interests

My fascination for the Wadden Sea (only) started when I was 18 years old. But has never ended. Since 2001 I yearly spend up to 15 weeks per year on the mudflats, from 2008 onwards in a professional way, as research assistant at NIOZ, department of Coastal Systems.  Currently, among working on other projects, I am technical coordinator of the SIBES project.

In 2008 we have started the largest intertidal benthic survey in the world, called SIBES (Synoptic Intertidal Benthic Survey), where we sample the entire intertidal Dutch Wadden Sea at more than 5000 locations for sediment grain size and macrozoobenthos.

The sample locations are visited by boat or on foot. During fieldwork, samples are taken to assess the macrofauna on the surface or in the upper sediment layer of the tidal flats. The findings offer valuable information about the availability of benthic species as food resource for birds and fish.

Since 2014 we expanded our efforts to a part of the German Wadden Sea adjacent to the Dutch Ems estuary. Across the world the SIBES method is implemented in a wide range of intertidal areas, ranging from Alaska to Kamchatka, from Mauritania to Australia and many more.






Please find my list of publications at the bottom of this webpage. 

You can download all my publications on ResearchGate


Professional education



Awards and Prized





Linked news

Thursday 11 November 2021
Oceans of Energy will build 1 MW offshore solar off the coast of Scheveningen
Scheveningen, The Netherlands; November 11, 2021 - Today Oceans of Energy and partners & observers announce the upscaling of the world's first offshore solar farm system 20 times and expand it to 1 MW (MegaWatt). In the coming years, the company…
Wednesday 22 January 2020
Public lectures by NIOZ scientists at Ecomare
In February and March, 7 NIOZ scientists will give 4 public lectures at Ecomare. The lectures are a run-up to the new exhibition Wonderlijk Wad that will be opened at the beginning of May at Ecomare. The main language is Dutch, tickets cost € 5,-,…
Wednesday 26 June 2019
NIOZ treft zeldzame levende maanvis aan in Waddenzee
Een bijzondere waarneming vanaf het NIOZ onderzoekschip Navicula in de Blauwe Balg, een vaargeul tussen Terschelling en Ameland. Hier werd gistermiddag een levende maanvis waargenomen. Maanvissen (Mola mola) worden zo nu en dan levend gezien in de…
Tuesday 25 June 2019
Project SIBES start 12de seizoen bemonsteringsklus bodemdieren op het wad
Het NIOZ Koninklijk Nederlands Instituut voor Onderzoek der Zee is met het project: Synoptic Intertidal Benthic Survey of the Wadden Sea, kortweg: SIBES, voor het twaalfde opeenvolgende jaar gestart met het bemonsteren van alle droogvallende delen…
Tuesday 18 July 2017
Algae living on mudflats are the solar panels that fuel the Wadden Sea food web
What fuels the Wadden Sea food web? One of the largest ecological research projects in the Netherlands, the recently finalized ‘Waddensleutels’ program, revealed that the most important energy source for the majority of animals higher up the food…

Linked blogs

Thursday 04 November 2021
NIOZ@SEA | Hard substraat verrijkt de Waddenzee
Sinds april 2020 stonden er verspreid over de Waddenzee 60 korven die gevuld waren met verschillende harde materialen (substraten). De afgelopen twee weken ben ik met mijn collega’s van het project Waddenmozaïek aan boord van RV Navicula hard aan het…
Thursday 18 June 2020
NIOZ@Sea I Waddenzee onderzoek SIBES 2020
De RV Navicula is voor het dertiende jaar op rij vertrokken naar de Waddenzee voor het SIBES onderzoek. Dit Synoptic Intertidal Benthic Survey of the Wadden Sea (SIBES) project, bemonstert op duizenden punten alle droogvallende delen van de…

NIOZ publications

  • 2021
    Colina Alonso, A.; Van Maren, D.S.; Elias, E.P.L.; Holthuijsen, S.J.; Wang, Z.B. (2021). The contribution of sand and mud to infilling of tidal basins in response to a closure dam. Mar. Geol. 439: 106544.
    Foekema, E.; van der Molen, J.; Asjes, A.; Bijleveld, A.; Brasseur, S.; Camphuysen, K. (C.J.); Van Franeker, J.A.; Holthuijsen, S.; Kentie, R.; Kühn, S.; Leopold, M.; Kleine Schaars, L.; Lok, T.; Niemann, H.; Schop, J. (2021). Ecologische effecten van het incident met de MSC Zoe op het Nederlandse Waddengebied, met focus op microplastics. NIOZ-rapport, 2021(03). NIOZ Royal Netherlands Institute for Sea Research: Texel. 98 pp.
  • 2019
    Holthuijsen, S.J. (2019). Waddenmozaïek cruise report bemonstering sublitoraal Nederlandse Waddenzee 2019. NIOZ-rapport, 2019(04). NIOZ Royal Netherlands Institute for Sea Research: Texel. 31 pp.
    Klunder, L.; Lavaleye, M.; Kleine Schaars, L.; Dekker, R.; Holthuijsen, S.; van der Veer, H. (2019). Distribution of the dwarf surf clam Mulinia lateralis (Say, 1822) in the Wadden Sea after first introduction. Bioinvasions Records 8(4): 818-827.
  • 2018
    Bijleveld, A.I.; Compton, T.J.; Klunder, L.; Holthuijsen, S.; ten Horn, J.; Koolhaas, A.; Dekinga, A.; Van der Meer, J.; van der Veer, H.W. (2018). Presence-absence of marine macrozoobenthos does not generally predict abundance and biomass. NPG Scientific Reports 8(1): 12.
    Oudman, T.; Piersma, T.; Ahmedou Salem, M.V.; Feis, M.E.; Dekinga, A.; Holthuijsen, S.; ten Horn, J.; van Gils, J.A.; Bijleveld, A.I. (2018). Resource landscapes explain contrasting patterns of aggregation and site fidelity by red knots at two wintering sites. Movement Ecology 6(24).
    van der Veer, H.W.; Holthuijsen, S. (2018). Advies omtrent de relatie tussen menselijke activiteiten en bodem (sediment) samenstelling en voorkomen van macrobenthos (SIBES) ten behoeve van beheeractiviteiten/beheerdoelstellingen. NIOZ-rapport, 2018(5). Royal Netherlands Institute for Sea Research (NIOZ): Texel. 41 pp.
  • 2017
    Christianen, M.J.A.; Middelburg, J.J.; Holthuijsen, S.J.; Jouta, J.; Compton, T.J.; van der Heide, T.; Piersma, T.; Sinninghe Damsté, J.S.; van der Veer, H.W.; Schouten, S.; Olff, H. (2017). Benthic primary producers are key to sustain the Wadden Sea food web: stable carbon isotope analysis at landscape scale. Ecology 98(6): 1498-1512.
    Christianen, M.J.A.; van der Heide, T.; Holthuijsen, S.J.; van der Reijden, K.J.; Borst, A.C.W.; Olff, H. (2017). Biodiversity and food web indicators of community recovery in intertidal shellfish reefs. Biol. Conserv. 213(Part B): 317-324.
    Compton, T.J.; Holthuijsen, S.; Mulder, M.; van Arkel, M.; Kleine Schaars, L.; Koolhaas, A.; Dekinga, A.; ten Horn, J.; Luttikhuizen, P.C.; Van der Meer, J.; Piersma, T.; van der Veer, H.W. (2017). Shifting baselines in the Ems Dollard estuary : A comparison across three decades reveals changing benthic communities. J. Sea Res. 127: 119-132.
    Folmer, E.; Dekinga, A.; Holthuijsen, S.; Van der Meer, J.; Mosk, D.; Piersma, T.; van der Veer, H. (2017). Species Distribution Models of Intertidal Benthos : Tools for Assessing the Impact of Physical and Morphological Drivers on Benthos and Birds in the Wadden Sea. NIOZ-rapport, 2017(3). NIOZ: Texel. 114 pp.
  • 2016
    Bijleveld, A.I.; MacCurdy, R.B.; Chan, Y.-C; Penning, E.; Gabrielson, R.M.; Cluderay, J.; Spaulding, E.L.; Dekinga, A.; Holthuijsen, S.; Ten Horn, J.; Brugge, M.; van Gils, J.A.; Winkler, D.W.; Piersma, T. (2016). Understanding spatial distributions: negative density-dependence in prey causes predators to trade-off prey quantity with quality. Proc. - Royal Soc., Biol. Sci. 283: 1828.
    Compton, T.J.; Bodnar, W.; Koolhaas, A.; Dekinga, A.; Holthuijsen, S.; Ten Horn, J.; McSweeney, N.; van Gils, J.A.; Piersma, T. (2016). Burrowing Behavior of a Deposit Feeding Bivalve Predicts Change in Intertidal Ecosystem State. Front. Ecol. Evol. 4: 19.
    Piersma, T.; Pearson, G.; Lavaleye, M.S.S.; Hickey, R.; Rogers, D.I.; Holthuijsen, S.; Marin-Estrella, S.; de Goeij, P.; Findlay, N.; Storey, A.W. (2016). Anna Plains and Roebuck Bay Benthic Invertebrate Mapping 2016: AnnRoeBIM16, Field Report. [S.n.]: [s.l.]. 96 pp.
  • 2015
    Christianen, M.J.A.; Holthuijsen, S.J.; van der Zee., E.M.; van der Eijk, A.; Govers, L.L.; van der Heide, T.; De Paoli, H.; Olff, H. (2015). Ecotopen- en Kansrijkdomkaart van de Nederlandse Waddenzee : Project Waddensleutels : Fundament onder natuurherstel. NIOZ: Texel.
    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.
    van der Zee, E.M.; Tielens, E.; Holthuijsen, S.; Donadi, S.; Eriksson, B.K.; van der Veer, H.W.; Piersma, T.; Olff, H.; van der Heide, T. (2015). Habitat modification drives benthic trophic diversity in an intertidal soft-bottom ecosystem. J. Exp. Mar. Biol. Ecol. 465: 41–48.
  • 2014
    van der Heide, T.; Tielens, E.; van der Zee, E.M.; Weerman, E.J.; Holthuijsen, S.; Eriksson, B.K.; Piersma, T.; van de Koppel, J.; Olff, H. (2014). Predation and habitat modification synergistically interact to control bivalve recruitment on intertidal mudflats. Biol. Conserv. 172: 163-169.
  • 2013
    Compton, T.J.; Holthuijsen, S.; Koolhaas, A.; Dekinga, A.; Ten Horn, J.; Klunder, L.; McSweeney, N.; Brugge, M.; Smelter, M.; van der Veer, H.W.; Piersma, T.; Van der Meer, J. (2013). Progress report for the 2012 sampling of the synoptic intertidal benthic surveys across the Dutch Wadden Sea. NIOZ-rapport, 2013(9). NIOZ: Texel. 48 pp.
    Compton, T.J.; Holthuijsen, S.; Koolhaas, A.; Dekinga, A.; ten Horn, J.; Smith, J.; Brugge, M.; van der Wal, D.; van der Meer, J.; van der Veer, H.W.; Piersma, T. (2013). Distinctly variable mudscapes: Distribution gradients of intertidal macrofauna across the Dutch Wadden Sea. J. Sea Res. 82: 103-116.
    Compton, T.J.; Van der Meer, J.; Holthuijsen, S.; Koolhaas, A.; Dekinga, A.; Ten Horn, J.; Klunder, L.; McSweeney, N.; Brugge, M.; van der Veer, H.W.; Piersma, T. (2013). Synpotic Intertidal Benthic Surveys Across the Dutch Wadden Sea : 2008 to 2011. NIOZ-rapport, 2013(1). NIOZ: Texel. 50 pp.
    Duijns, S.; Holthuijsen, S.; Koolhaas, A.; Piersma, T. (2013). Het belang van de Ballastplaat voor wadvogels in de westelijke Waddenzee : een literatuurstudie naar de effecten van zoutwinning op de aanwezige wadvogels. NIOZ-rapport, 2013(8). NIOZ: Texel. 49 pp.
  • 2012
    Compton, T.J.; Holthuijsen, S.; Koolhaas, A.; Dekinga, A.; Ten Horn, J.; Smith, J.; Galama, Y.; Brugge, M.; Van der Meer, J.; van der Veer, H.W.; Piersma, T. (2012). Synoptic Intertidal Benthic Survey SIBES across the Dutch Wadden Sea : report on data collected from 2008-2010. NIOZ-rapport, 2012(1). NIOZ: Texel. 64 pp.
  • 2011
    Aarts, G.M; Koolhaas, A.; Dekinga, A.; Holthuijsen, S.; Ten Horn, J.; Smith, J.; Brugge, M.; Piersma, T.; van der Veer, H.W. (2011). Benthic macrofauna in relation to natural gas extraction in the Dutch Wadden Sea Report on the 2008 and 2009 sampling program. NIOZ-rapport, 2011(3). NIOZ: Texel. 41 pp.

Linked projects

Small steps, giant leaps
Netherlands Organization for Scientific Research - Veni/Vidi/Vici
Project duration
1 Jul 2018 - 30 Jun 2023
Project duration
1 Dec 2018 - 31 Dec 2023
UUNIOZ_The role of Marine Flavobacteria
Pierre Offre
Utrecht University
Project duration
1 Jan 2021 - 31 Dec 2025