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About us Practical matters How to find us prof. dr. J. (Johan) van de Koppel, PhD

Research interests

Pristine natural ecosystems can show a remarkable variety of spatial patterns. Examples are the banded patterns of mussel beds, or the stunning maze works that can be found in coral reefs. I study how these patterns are formed, and what makes then special for ecosystem functioning. 

The study of Spatial Complexity

My primary interests are the processes that generate spatial complexity in ecosystems, in the form of spatial patterns, aggregations and fronts in marine intertidal ecosystems. I study the principles that underlie these processes, and how the pattern forming processes affect ecosystem functioning. The focus is on self-organized spatial complexity, e.g., patterns and other spatial structures that result from the interactions between organisms, or between organisms and their physical environment. 

Integrating math with experiments

Integration of experimental and mathematical approaches is an important characteristic of my work. I try to develop general concepts that should work in many ecosystems, but provide clear-cut examples of these concepts in my study systems (mussel beds, salt marshes, intertidal flats), and try to experimentally test both the assumptions and predictions of these models.

Bringing the beauty of natural landscapes to the public

Human exploits, in particular agricultural practices, have in the past hundreds of years homogenised large parts of the global langscapes, especially in Western Europe. As a consequence, only a few people are still aware of the the landscape they now live in looked like when it was still in its natural state. By linking self-organisation models to visualisation software, I try to make these past landscapes visible to the general public, and try to convey to them how the functions of these past landscapes could help today’s problems.

Using self-organization for virtual ecosystems

Scientific results are not always easily accessible for the general public, creating a communication gap between science and society. To bridge this gap, I use modern computer graphics to visualise my self-organisation models, and to depict how the ecosystems would actually look like. Please look at my personal website for more information:

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Building your own mountain: The effects, limits, and drawbacks of cold-water coral ecosystem engineering

Herbivory limits success of vegetation restoration globally

Phase-separation physics underlies new theory for the resilience of patchy ecosystems

Self-organized mud cracking amplifies the resilience of an iconic “Red Beach” salt marsh

Tiger reefs: Self-organized regular patterns in deep-sea cold-water coral reefs

To restore coastal marine areas, we need to work across multiple habitats simultaneously

Vegetation controls on channel network complexity in coastal wetlands

Biogeomorphic modeling to assess the resilience of tidal-marsh restoration to sea level rise and sediment supply

Long-distance facilitation of coastal ecosystem structure and resilience

Recovering wetland biogeomorphic feedbacks to restore the world's biotic carbon hotspots

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Wetenschappers aan kabinet: natuur is geen luxe-dingetje, stem vóór de natuurherstelwet

To restore ecosystems, think about thwarting hungry herbivores

Diepzee-onderzoek toont zelforganiserende tijgerpatronen aan in koudwaterkoraalriffen

Patchwork-patroon maak ecosystemen zo sterk als staal

Hoe de Hedwigepolder biodiversiteit terugbrengt aan de Zeeuwse kust

Opinie: Ga niet wéér twijfel zaaien: aan die stikstofdoelen valt echt niet te ontkomen

Earth’s most efficient natural storage system: Land-building marsh plants are champions of carbon capture

Salt marsh fairy circles go from rings to bullseyes to adapt to stress

Small steps, big leaps – How marram grass builds dunes

Mossels bevestigen theorie Albert Einstein

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