Institute for Biodiversity and Ecosystem Dynamics

Photographer: Koos van der Valk

Ms J.A. (Hanna) ten Brink MSc

PhD Candidate
  • Faculty of Science
  • Visiting address
    Science Park A
    Science Park 904  Amsterdam
    Room number: C4.165
  • Postal address:
    Postbus  94248
    1090 GE  Amsterdam
    T: 0205258398

Why do so many species undergo a metamorphosis during their life where individuals abruptly change their morphology, behavior and habitat? Not only butterflies and frogs have a metamorphosis, also many marine invertebrates, fish species (e.g. flatfish) and crustaceans (e.g. lobsters) drastically change their morphology during their life. Although metamorphosis is widespread in the animal kingdom, it is not well understood under which conditions this strategy has evolved.  While metamorphosing species can efficiently exploit multiple habitats during their life, metamorphosis is also very costly. Metamorphosing species are for example often dependent on multiple habitats for their growth and reproduction. When one of the habitats deteriorates the population might go extinct.  Some species have lost metamorphosis via the evolution of direct development or paedomorphosis.

I am interested under which ecological conditions metamorphosis can evolve and disappear.  Life-history strategies such as metamorphosis, direct development and paedomorphosis evolved millions of years ago. The ecological conditions under which those strategies have evolved have most likely changed since then. I make use of size-structured population models to better understand the ecological conditions that promoted the evolutionary gain and loss of metamorphosis. 


  • ten Brink, H., & de Roos, A. M. (2017). A Parent-Offspring Trade-Off Limits the Evolution of an Ontogenetic Niche Shift. American Naturalist, 190(1), 45-60. DOI: 10.1086/692066 

Talk / presentation

  • de Roos, André (speaker) & ten Brink, J.A. (speaker) (9-8-2016): Evolution of metamorphosis in species with an ontogenetic diet shift, Ecological Society of America, Annual meeting 2016, Fort Lauderdale, Florida, United States.
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