Dr. Anna van der Kaaden

Assistant Professor
Spatial Ecology and Global Change

"Interactions between organisms and their environment that seem almost insignificant can cause ecosystem-scale phenomenon such as unexpected responses to environmental change. I find this very logical, but also truly wonderful!"


Teaching: Ecosystem Change in the Anthropocene, University College Utrecht

Research: Drivers and feedbacks of cold-water coral reef formation in the deep-sea.

Science communication: Anna-mAKe


Organisms interact with their environment: They change their local abiotic landscape, with which they affect their local biotic community that affects the environment, etcetera... These local interactions that seem almost insignificant can cause phenomenon at the ecosystem-scale, such as spatial patterns that are ubiquitous in ecological and physical systems and unexpected responses to environmental change. I find this very logical, but also truly wonderful.


With great joy, I've been teaching these ecological phenomenon to students at the University College Utrecht (UCU) in the course Ecosystem Change in the Anthropocene and with great enthusiasm, I help researchers to communicate their findings with a general public through my own company mAKe.


During my own studies, I've worked on self-organisation of arid ecosystems and pattern formation and extinction dynamics as a result of interspecific interactions, and currently, during my PhD, I work on the formation of cold-water coral reefs. Cold-water coral reefs are found in the deep-sea and little is still known about the drivers of reef formation and how feedbacks between the organisms and their fluid environment shape these ecosystems. During my PhD research I showed that especially the internal tide is important for the initiation of cold-water coral mounds and the survival of cold-water corals. Furthermore, I showed that the interaction between corals and their fluid environment creates scale-dependent feedbacks that lead to spatial pattern formation.