I am a marine benthic ecologist, with a special interest in the organizing principles (competition, predation, and mutualism) that structure marine benthic communities. Currently I am based at the Coastal Systems group of the Royal Netherlands Institute for Sea Research (NIOZ) as a guest researcher.

In 2000, I did a master project in Theunis Piersma’s group at NIOZ under supervision of his former PhD-student Jan van Gils, with the aim to predict the area-use of individually radio-marked Red Knots (Calidris canutus) in the western Wadden Sea from the spatial distribution of their benthic food.

Together with Theunis and Jan, we successfully applied for a NWO-WOTRO integrated programme PhD-grant in 2006. During my PhD with Theunis, I studied the functioning of the tropical intertidal seagrass ecosystem of Banc d’Arguin, Mauritania. Having finished my PhD-thesis in 2013, I continued working with Theunis as a post-doctoral researcher in the Conservation Ecology Group at the University of Groningen, to study the foraging behaviour of GPS-tagged Eurasian Spoonbills (Platalea leucorodia) in the Dutch Wadden Sea. In 2015, I was awarded a 2-year post-doctoral fellowship of the Mediterranean Centre for Environment and Biodiversity (LabEx-CeMEB) to join the research group of Rutger de Wit at the research unit MARine Bioidiversity, Exploitation and Conservation (MARBEC) in Montpellier, France. Here, I worked on how mutualistic networks may enhance resilience in seagrass to global change.

In my work I always try to integrate field observations, experiments, theory and mathematical modelling.

My publications can be accessed through:



Research Gate

Matthijs text
Matthijs observing Spoonbills on Schiermonnikoog. Photo: Rob Buiter

Profile photo: Alizée Masson