Spatial self-organization in estuarine systems
Early ideas about the spatial organization of estuarine communities emphasized the depth gradient as the main driver of the spatial distribution of species. But how to explain these striking spatial patterns, as seen in mussel beds, mudflats and salt marshes? The organisms make it themselves! That is, a close interaction between the organisms and the physical world can cause spatial patterning in many estuarine ecosystems, in a process called spatial self-organization.

Animals in a self-organized world
Animals have to put a lot of effort in to finding food and safety from predation. Movement is an important process in this respect. But what if you don’t know where to move, because the world consists of an always changing self-organized ecosystem. Mussels know what to do! We study it in our experimental systems

Front formation and ecosystem collapse
Self-organized patterns are nice because they make the ecosystem more productive, resilient, and can buffer against disturbances. But there is more! In some salt marshes, spatial processes trigger raging fronts that can destroy huge proportions of the marsh.

Patterning all over the world!
My research is not entirely focussed on estruarine ecosystems. The principles originate and are applied to ecosystems all over the world, such as arid lands. This research is done in close cooperation with fellow reseachers Max Rietkerk, Brian Silliman, Tjisse van de Heide and others.