Dr. Valerie Reijers

Universitair docent

I am a coastal ecologist interested in biophysical interactions that steer the formation and dynamics of coastal landscapes. I study coastal ecosystems bottom-up and integrate knowledge on the landscape-forming traits of individual species to explain landscape morphodynamics.


I am fascinated by the ingenious ways coastal plants have evolved to cope with or to modify their ever-changing environment. Being sessile in a moving landscapes means that they need to be able to withstand physical flow and sedimentation dynamics. Furthermore, as wave and tidal dynamics dominate depending on their position they need to be adapted to osmotic stress, reduced chemical compounds and low or high nutrient levels. However, many coastal plants are not only able to withstand these physical challenges they have even evolved to modify coastal landscapes to their own benefits. These ecosystem-engineering or landscape forming plants form the foundation of our coastal landscapes. Therefore it is vital to understand (i) how these plants naturally grow, (ii) how they affect their local environment, (iii) how they will respond to future changes and finally (iv) how we can restore them when they are lost.


In my work I combine theories from complex system (e.g. movement patterns, alternative stable states and self-organization) with empirical data on plant physiology, community composition, soil biogeochemistry and sediment dynamics. While my research focuses mostly on unravelling the fundamental working of biogeomorphic ecosystems, I simultaneously work on translating these findings to applications to enhance coastal conservation and ecosystem restoration. Additionally, I love translating (my) research results to the public and take great pleasure in public engagement.