Mussel patterns discussed at Vara’s Vroege Vogels

This Sunday morning I was interviewed at the radio show Vroege Vogels (early birds), talking with Menno Bentveld about the importance of spatial patterns in mussel beds.

See the Vroege Vogels website (in Dutch):

My interview appears at 1:48:50-1:51:00 and at 2:31:16-2:42:28.

Spatial Patterns: A Blueprint for Ecosystem Resilience

How to make a sturdy ecosystem? It might be a good idea to design it with a nice regular pattern. Helene de Paoli and Aniek van der Berg showed it makes all the difference when restoring a mussel bed. Their work was published today in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Link to the paper:

Link to the NIOZ press release (in Dutch):

Mussels crucial for recovery US marshes

New research together with colleagues from the US shows that the humble mussel and marsh grass form an intimate interaction that is critical to helping these ecosystems bounce back from die-off triggered by extreme climatic events such as drought. We published that in the latest issue of Nature Communication.

See the Dutch and English press release at the NIOZ website.

The original paper can be found here.


An aggregation of Elk

Phase separation: a new mechanism for ecological patterns

Have you ever wondered what a clump of mussels, a herd of grazers, or a spot of bacteria under the microscope have in common? All these aggregations follow from similar physical movement process, where organisms move a lot when alone, but move less when in aggregation.

We outline this new principle in a paper that just appeared online in Physics of Life Reviews, The paper was a collaboration with first author Quan-Xing Liu (a former PhD student of mine) Max Rietkerk, Peter Herman, John Fryxell, and Theunis Piersma.


Pdf: Link to Liu’s Researchgate.

(Elk photo is from:

Planting Marsh Grass in Clumps Doubles Salt Marsh Recovery Rate

Planting marsh grass in clumps may contribute considerably to the recovery of salt meadows and marshes. This is one of the results of a joint research project by Duke University in the US and the NIOZ Royal Dutch Institute for Sea Research, which was published in the leading scientific journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the USA.

See the press release: link to the NIOZ Website.

The publication: Link to PNAS.