The lab

The PhD students that I supervise are involved the development of theory of the mechanism of spatial self-organization, and its implications for ecosystem functioning and for animals that live in spatially self-organized ecosystems.

I am currently (co-)supervising the following PhD students:

Archontoula Valsamidou

Archontoula works on how the peatlands that once occupied the Dutch coast were able to follow sea level rise for 5000 years, and the importance of spatial patterning for this process.

Mingxuan Wu

Mingxuan works on the importance of multi-scale pattern formation on the resilience of coastal ecosystems to climate change, with special focus on saltmarshes, mussel beds and funny hummocks in the Yerseke Moer.

Eleonora Saccon

Eleonora works on the impact of salt intrusion on the vegetation of freshwater tidal wetlands, and how wetland development in turn affects salt intrusion in wetlands

Anna van der Kaaden

I work on how reefs are shaped by organisms and the environment and how these structures affect the environment. Besides that I’m interested in looking into how the interactions between corals and sponges affect their growth patterns.



Loreta Cornacchia

Loreta Cornacchia studies the importance of self-organization in salt-marsh ecosystems for their dynamics and functioning, in close collaboration with Quan-Xing Liu for the East China Normal University.

Visiting scholars

Junlin Ren

Junlin Ren studies the effectiveness of marine protected areas on the iconic red beach marshes in China. His focus is on remote sensing of the non-linear dynamics of Suaeda salsa vegetation. Together with Daphne van der Wal.

Former lab members

Koen Siteur Koen Siteur 

Koen’s research focusses on the dynamics of seagrass beds and other systems governed by aggregative dynamics. He is funded by the EU project MERCES (Marine Ecosystem Restoration in European Seas) and by personal grant awarded to dr. Quan-Xing Liu (State Key Laboratory of Estuarine and Coastal Research; East China Normal University).

Yanintr small
Jiaguo Yan
Jiaguo Yan has joined the lab as a visiting PhD student from China, to work on top-down control and pattern formation on intertidal systems.

Jim van Belzen
Modeling salt marsh dynamics as a critical system; Together with Tjeerd Bouma.

Helene de Paoli

Key processes in the restoration of mussel beds in the Wadden Sea (2010-2014), as a part of the Waddensleutels project.

Aniek van den Berg

Restauration of mussel beds in the Waddensea, making use of laserscanners, underwater camera’s and kyte aerial photography to study the development of mussel beds. Technical assistent to the Mosselwad project.

Liu Quan-Xing

Implications of aggregation in bivalves for intertidal ecosystems (2009-2013)

Monique de Jager

Testing for spatial self-organisation in mussel beds (2008-2012)


Ellen Weerman

Spatial patterns in phototrophic biofilms. The role of physical and biological interactions (2005-2009). You can download her thesis here.Ellen Weerman is currently a Postdoc at the University of Groningen.

Bregje van Wesenbeeck
Thresholds and shifts: consequences of habitat modification in salt-marsh pioneer zones (2002-2006). You can download her thesis
here. Bregje now works at Deltares.

Nicholas Azza
The dynamics of shoreline wetlands and sediments of northern Lake Victoria (Unesco-IHE: 2000-2005). You can download his thesis here.Nicholas works at the Directorate of Water Development (DWD) in Entebbe, Uganda.