Institute for Biodiversity and Ecosystem Dynamics

Photographer: 2013_Isabel Smallegange-Jan van Arkel

dr. I.M. (Isabel) Smallegange

Associate Professor
  • Faculty of Science
    Institute for Biodiversity and Ecosystem Dynamics
  • Visiting address
    Science Park A
    Science Park 904  Room number: C3.217
  • Postal address:
    Postbus  94240
    1090 GE  Amsterdam
    T: 0205255483

Dr Isabel Smallegange

Associate Professor of Population Biology

►Check out our lab news

►Here you can find my blog on the work-life balance, gender balance and diversity in academia

►Here you can find my blog on my research



My group and I research how ecological and evolutionary processes interact to determine the fluctuations of populations. Within this context we focus on identifying the population consequences of variation in the expression of polymorphisms (genetic colour polymorphism in Eleonora's falcon [Laura Gangoso]) en polyphenisms (alternative male reproductive strategies [Tom van den Beuken, Flor Rhebergen] and dispersal polyphenism in bulb mites [Jacques Deere, Kat Stewart]) induced by e.g. environmental change or harvesting. To develop and test our hypotheses we use laboratory experiments on mites, statistical analysis of data and the construction and analysis of mathematical models. We recently applied our methods to field data on threatened populations of reef manta rays to analyse the population consequences of overfishing, and are also applying the models to the bioturbator Orchestia gammarellus in collaboration with Matty Berg (VU). On these webpages you can find out who we are and what we work on.


  • ‘Toekomstperspectief voor de Aarde’ (convener and lecturer); 6 EC BSc course
  • Grand Challenges of Human-Ecosphere Interactions (theme convener and lecturer); 6 EC MSc course
  • Behaviour & Evolution (convener; main lecturer); 12 EC BSc course
  • ‘Regulering van Vorm en Functie van Dieren’ (lecturer); 12 EC BSc course

Prospective students:

The alumni page provides an overview of previous student projects. Please contact me if you are interested in doing a research project on behavioural ecology, population biology, demography, either using experimental methods or theoretical tools (or both). 


If you are a quantitatively driven mind with interests in eco-evolutionary dynamics, life history, demography, or related topics, please contact me to discuss potential graduate and postdoc opportunities in my group.

In particular, if you have got a project in mind that you would like to develop in my group, please contact me with a brief project proposal, CV and list of funding themes that you are considering for this project (e.g. Marie Curie, NWO-VENI).

The DynaMite research group consists of a diverse group of biologists that are interested in range of topics that include behavioural ecology, eco-evolutionary dynamics, life history theory, energy budget theory, and demography. Below you will find all group members.

Isabel Smallegange (group leader)

My research aims at developing a mechanistic framework to link ecology and evolution on the basis of the processes that drive the dynamics of heritable life history traits. I focus on understanding the maintenance and evolution of male dimorphism and the role of harvesting and environmental change in experimental and field populations. FUNDING: MacGillavry Fellowship (2013 - 2018), MEERVOUD (2014 - 2018) and VIDI (2015 - 2020) (NWO).


Jacques Deere (Post Doc)

Jacques investigates, using the bulb mite ( Rhizoglyphus robini) as a study species, the influence of dispersal propensity on population size and structure, life histories and how these change with stochastic environments.

See also:

Kathryn (Kat) Stewart (Post Doc)

Kat investigates how alternative mating tactics arise and are maintained within species, employing experimental approaches that incorporate environmental and demographic parameters with population genetics. Her research interests pivot around the origins and maintenance of biodiversity from the level of local adaptation and limiting gene flow in single landscapes, through the genetics of entire species' ranges, to understanding the causes of diversification of entire clades. FUNDING: VIDI Fellowship (awarded to I.M. Smallegange).

Laura Gangoso (Post Doc)

Laura has a Marie Curie Fellowship, is based in the group of Willem Bouten and also collaborates with Isabel. In her Post Doc she studies the ecological and evolutionary consequences of predator-prey phenological match-mismatch driven by climate change using Eleonora's falcon as a study system. Interestingly, Eleonora's falcon has a genetically determined colour polymorphism that covaries with behavioural traits and, together with Isabel, she will explore the eco-evolutionary dynamics of variation in this colour polymorphism using integral projection models.

Tom van den Beuken (PhD student)

Many species exhibit two discrete male morphs: fighters and sneakers. Fighters are large and possess weapons that they use to kill rival males. Sneakers are small without weapons but can sneak matings. Tom's PhD research focuses on finding out why such discrete morphs can coexist in single populations and what drivers underlie the expression of such dimorphisms. FUNDING: MacGillavry Fellowship (awarded to I.M. Smallegange).



Flor Rhebergen (PhD student)

A PhD project by Flor Rhebergen investigating how harvesting and environmental variability affect the joint dynamics of life history traits and population biomass dynamics of 'fast' Rhizoglyphus robini and 'slow' Naiadacarus arboricola populations in the lab and in the field. FUNDING: VIDI Fellowship (awarded to I.M. Smallegange).

Each year with have several Bachelor and Master students working in the lab. Please check out the alumni pages for an overview of previous projects and publications that came out of these projects.

May 2018: Discovery of new male type of bulb mite!

Our latest paper: discovery of new male type in the bulb mite! By Kat Stewart et al. See also my blog with a personal history note on the paper and the press release.

May 2018: Individuals differ: does it matter? Special issue on individual heterogeneity in Oikos

Individuals, be they plants or animals, are rarely equal. Does it matter that individuals differ? More specifically, what are the consequences for the dynamics of populations of such differences between individuals, also referred to as individual heterogeneity? And how does individual heterogeneity affect the evolution of traits? Oikos has just published a special issue with a collection of papers that tackle such questions. I have written a blog on my contribution entitled "Population consequences of individual heterogeneity in life histories: overcompensation in response to harvesting of alternative reproductive tactics" to the special issue (Oikos 127: 738-749). Also check out the Oikos blog.

24 April 2018 Results works council elections - huge win for DAA!

In the week of 16-20 April, works council elections were held for the faculties of Economics & Business, Humanities, Science and Social and Behavioural Sciences. On Tuesday, 24 April, the Central Voting Office announced the results of these elections. Of all 54 available places across the different faculties, 17 went to DAA! At the faculty of Science, 9 out of 15 seats were won by DAA (fair enough: one by throwing a dice!). Let's look forward to a very constructive works council term. 

23 november 2017 presenteert De Amsterdamse Academie (DAA) zich om 16.00 uur in Voxpop op het BG-terrein.

De medezeggenschapsvereniging De Amsterdamse Academie wil actief deelnemen aan ondernemingsraden van de UvA op een kritische en constructieve wijze. Zij wil hiermee een alternatief bieden voor de verkiezingslijsten die ontstaan zijn naar aanleiding van de Maagdenhuisbezetting van 2015 en de traditionele vakbondslijsten. In 2018 zullen nieuwe verkiezingen plaatsvinden. De Amsterdamse Academie wil in alle faculteiten aan deze verkiezingen deelnemen. Zie ook het bericht in Folia.

In het (zelfbenoemde) oprichtingsbestuur van DAA zitten (vlnr) Han van der Maas (lid), Cees Kleverlaan (secretaris), Isabel Smallegange (penningmeester), Gerwin van der Pol (voorzitter), en Annemie Ploeger (lid).











6-10 November 2017

Transmitting Science organised another great course on understanding and constructing integral projection models.

October 2017: new paper out!

Jacques' paper on how dispersal expression affects natal population growth and structure has now been accepted by Ecological Modelling. Congratulations!


June 2017: new paper out!

The student projects of Rianne Fernandes and Jasper Croll are now published in Oikos. Great work!


June 2017: DynaMite goes on tour! NVTB meeting 2017, 1-2 June.

Come join us at the mite-modelling-mini-session at the annual meeting of the Dutch society of theoretical biology. Both Jacques Deere and Isabel Smallegange will talk about integral projection models parameterised for mites. The keynote speaker, Willem Bouten, will also touch upon this topic!

May 2017

David Reznick from UC Riverside and the leading PI on the Trinidadian guppy project came to visit IBED, and also the DynaMite lab.

Jan 2017: Laura Gangoso has been awarded a Marie Curie Fellowship!

Laura will be based in the group of Willem Bouten at IBED/UvA and will start her Fellowship later this year. She will be working on the ecological and evolutionary consequences of predator-prey phenological match-mismatch driven by climate change using Eleonora's falcon as a study system. For part of her project she will work with us to construct an integral projection model for this species, which has a genetically based colour polymorphism. Exciting!

Jan 2017: a warm welcome to Kathryn Stewart!

Kat just travelled halfway across the globe from Shanghai to Amsterdam to start a 2-year post doc on the genetics of eco-evolutionary dynamics. She has a strong background in genetics, and we welcome her expertise! 

Eco-evolutionary symposium at ESEB 2017 (20-25 Aug)

Jacques Deere, along with four other including Martijn Egas from IBED, are organising a symposium on eco-evolutionary dynamics at the ESEB Congress in Groningen. Keynote speakers are: Jen Schweitzer, Jonathan Pruitt, Isabel Smallegange and Andrew Hendry. Come join us at ESEB!

Publications from student projects

One of the things I am most proud of about my research group is the fact that Master students at very early stages of their careers have completed projects that have gone on to be published in the international, peer-reviewed journals. Papers that resulted from their work are given below.

Rianne Fernandes en Jasper Croll

Smallegange IM, Fernandes RE, Croll JC. 2018. Population consequences of individual heterogeneity in life histories: overcompensation in response to harvesting of alternative reproductive tactics. Oikos 127: 738-749 doi: 10.1111/oik.04130

Marjolein Toorians

Smallegange IM, Caswell H, Toorians, MEM, de Roos, AM. 2017Mechanistic understanding of population dynamics using dynamic energy budget theory incorporated into integral projection models. Methods in Ecology and Evolution 8: 146-154

Isabelle van der Ouderaa

Smallegange IM,  van der Ouderaa IBC, Tibiriça Y.  2016. The effect of yearling, juvenile and adult survival on reef manta ray (Manta alfredi) demography. PeerJ 4:e2370





Debbie Leigh

Leigh DM, Smallegange IM.2014. Effects of variation in nutrition on male morph development in the bulb mite Rhizoglyphus robini. Experimental and Applied Acarology 64: 159-170.

Erika Dawson

Dawson, E.H., Chittka, L. 2012. Conspecific and Heterospecific Information Use in Bumblebees. PLoS ONE 7(2): e31444. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0031444

Naomi Thorne

Smallegange IM, Charalambous M, Thorne N. 2012. Fitness trade-offs and the maintenance of alternative male morphs in the bulb mite (Rhizoglyphus robini). Journal of Evolutionary Biology 25:972-980.

Ben Godsall

Godsall B, Smallegange IM. 2011. Assessment games in the mangrove tree-dwelling crab, Selatium brockii (De Man, 1887). Crustaceana 84:1697-1718.

Toos van Noordwijk

Smallegange IM, van Noordwijk CGE, van der Meer J, van der Veer HW. 2009. Spatial distribution of shore crab Carcinus maenas in an intertidal environment in relation to their morphology, prey availability and competition. Marine Ecology Progress Series 392:143-155.

Bert Hidding

Smallegange IM, Hidding B, Eppenga JMA, van der Meer J. 2008. Optimal foraging and risk of claw damage: how flexible are shore crabs in their prey size selectivity? Journal of Experimental Marine Biology and Ecology 367:157-163.

Ralf Kurvers

Smallegange IM, van der Meer J, Kurvers RHJM. 2006. Disentangling interference competition from exploitative competition in a crab-bivalve system using a novel experimental approach. Oikos 113:157-167.




Other student projects

  • Gavin Jansen: Predicting changes in population dynamics using stochastic demographic models (2018)
  • Tom Hopman: An analysis of life-history patterns in the fast-slow continuum using dynamic energy budget theory (2018)
  • Lars Schoen: The maintenance of polyphenism: sexual selection or energy budget limitations? A case study in acarid mites (2018)
  • Johannes Meka: Temperature-dependent differences in individual behaviour and swimming performance in Atlantic mollies (Poecilia mexicana) reared in near-identical conditions (2018)
  • Tim van Gorkum: Round and Round We Go: The role of eco-evolutionary feedbacks in population dynamics: 
    from alternative phenotype expression to demography and back (2018)
  • Naomi Eeltink: SPredicting life history patterns across the fast-slow continuum: A cross-level test using the Dynamic Energy Budget-Integral Projection Model (DEB-IPM) (2017)
  • Logan Stockwell: Conspecific killing and kin recognition in the bulb mite, Rhizoglyphus robini (2017)
  • Hidde de Graaf: Male morph development of Rhizoglyphus robini under intrasexual competitive pressure (2017)
  • Felicia Rook: Ways to reduce foraging stress in captive, non-human great apes (2017)
  • Daniela Cueva: Non trophic interactions between ecosystem engineers (2017)
  • Chris Duinmeijer: Sperm competition between male morphs of a male-dimorphic bulb mite (Rhizoglyphus robini) (2017)
  • Charlotte Gredall: Investigating male and female fecundity as a consequence of juvenile somatic state in the developmentally plastic bulb mite, Rhizoglyphus robini (2017)
  • Daphne Vink: The role of eco-evolutionary feedbacks in population dynamics: from alternative phenotype expression to demography and back (2017)
  • Linde de Herder: Causes and consequences of calling site selection in male túngara frogs (Engystomops pustulosus) (2016)
  • Ilona van den Berg: The effects of distinct dispersal life-histories in population models (2016)
  • Tomos Potter: The impact of dispersal on population-level eco-evolutionary dynamics (2015)
  • TIm van der Meer: Breeding diet and prey selection of African crowned eagles (Stephanoaetus coronatus) in urban areas of KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa (2015)
  • Rianne Fernandes: Selection against fighter leads to a counterintuitive response, in dimorphic mite species the bulb mite (2015)
  • Jasper Croll: How cannibalism influences the existence of alternative reproductive phenotypes (2015)
  • Lars Kramer: The interplay between individual life history and population dynamics (2015)
  • Hedwig Ens: "The effects of environmental noise on the population dynamics of harvested populations" (2012)
  • Robbie L'Anson Price: "Pharaoh's Ants and foraging signals" (2012)
  • Mike Wilson: "Alternative reproductive phenotype expression in the bulb mite Rhizoglyphus robini (Claparède): the influence of genetic variation" (2011)
  • Rebecca O'Brien: "Size does matter: Contest dynamics in fiddler crabs, Uca perplexa" (2011) 
  • Idde Lijnse: "The effect of intraspecific competition on prey selection in great tits (Parus major) and shore crabs (Carcinus maenas)" (2003)


  • Smallegange, I. M., & Ens, H. M. (in press). Trait-based predictions and responses from laboratory mite populations to harvesting in stochastic environments. Journal of Animal Ecology. DOI: 10.1111/1365-2656.12802 
  • Stewart, K., van den Beuken, T. P. G., Rhebergen, F. T., Deere, J. A., & Smallegange, I. M. (in press). Evidence for a third male type in a male-dimorphic model species. Ecology. DOI: 10.1002/ecy.2239 
  • van den Beuken, T. P. G., & Smallegange, I. M. (in press). Life history consequences of nutritional history in a male dimorphic mite: evidence for a nuptial gift? Evolutionary Ecology. DOI: 10.1007/s10682-018-9940-9 
  • Hamel, S., Yoccoz, N. G., Gaillard, J-M., Bassar, R. D., Bouwhuis, S., Caswell, H., ... Vindenes, Y. (in press). General conclusion to the special issue Moving forward on individual heterogeneity. Oikos. DOI: doi: 10.1111/oik.05223 


  • Deere, J. A., Coulson, T., Cubaynes, S., & Smallegange, I. M. (2017). Unsuccessful dispersal affects life history characteristics of natal populations: The role of dispersal related variation in vital rates. Ecological Modelling, 366, 37-47. DOI: 10.1016/j.ecolmodel.2017.10.010  [details] 
  • Smallegange, I. M., Fernandes, R. E., & Croll, J. C. (2017). Population consequences of individual heterogeneity in life histories: overcompensation in response to harvesting of alternative reproductive tactics. Oikos. DOI: 10.1111/oik.04130 
  • Smallegange, I. M., Caswell, H., Toorians, M. E. M., & de Roos, A. M. (2017). Mechanistic description of population dynamics using dynamic energy budget theory incorporated into integral projection models. Methods in Ecology and Evolution, 8(2), 146-154. DOI: 10.1111/2041-210X.12675  [details] 





  • Smallegange, I. M., & Coulson, T. (2013). Towards a general, population-level understanding of eco-evolutionary change. Trends in Ecology and Evolution, 28(2), 143-148. DOI: 10.1016/j.tree.2012.07.021  [details] 


  • Smallegange, I. M., Thorne, N., & Charalambous, M. (2012). Fitness trade-offs and the maintenance of alternative male morphs in the bulb mite (Rhizoglyphus robini). Journal of Evolutionary Biology, 25(5), 972-980. DOI: 10.1111/j.1420-9101.2012.02490.x  [details] 
  • Johansson, J., Smallegange, I. M., & Jonzén, N. (2012). An eco-evolutionary model for demographic and phenological responses in migratory birds. Biology Open, 1(3), 639-657. DOI: 10.3390/biology1030639  [details] 


  • Smallegange, I. M. (2011). Complex environmental effects on the expression of alternative reproductive phenotypes in the bulb mite. Evolutionary Ecology, 25(4), 857-873. DOI: 10.1007/s10682-010-9446-6  [details] 
  • Smallegange, I. M. (2011). Effects of paternal phenotype and environmental variability on age and size at maturity in a male dimorphic mite. Naturwissenschaften, 98(4), 339-346. DOI: 10.1007/s00114-011-0773-4  [details] 
  • Smallegange, I. M., & Coulson, T. (2011). The stochastic demography of two coexisting male morphs. Ecology, 92(3), 755-764. DOI: 10.1890/09-2069.1  [details] 
  • Smallegange, I. M., van der Meer, J., & Fiedler, W. (2011). Population dynamics of three songbird species in a nestbox population in Central Europe show effects of density, climate and competitive interactions. Ibis, 153(4), 806-817. DOI: 10.1111/j.1474-919X.2011.01146.x  [details] 
  • Godsall, B., & Smallegange, I. M. (2011). Assessment games and Competitive Behaviour of the mangrove tree-dwelling crab, Selatium brockii (De Man, 1887) (Decapoda, Grapsidae). Crustaceana, 84(14), 1697-1718. DOI: 10.1163/156854011X608474  [details] 


  • Smallegange, I. M., & van der Meer, J. (2010). Testing a stochastic version of the Beddington-DeAngelis functional response in foraging shore crabs. Marine Biology, 157, 1027-1040. DOI: 10.1007/s00227-009-1382-z 
  • Smallegange, I. M., Fiedler, W., Köppen, U., Geiter, O., & Barlein, F. (2010). Tits on the move: exploring the impact of environmental change on blue tit and great tit migration distance. Journal of Animal Ecology, 79, 350-357. DOI: 10.1111/j.1365-2656.2009.01643.x 
  • Smallegange, I. M., van der Meer, J., & Sabelis, M. W. (2010). ‘Take-away’ foraging spatially uncouples predator and prey-attack distributions. Journal of Animal Ecology, 79(4), 769-776. DOI: 10.1111/j.1365-2656.2010.01700.x  [details] 


  • Smallegange, I. M., & Coulson, T. (2009). Unifying ecological and evolutionary dynamics through experimental stochastic demography. Israel Journal of Entomology, 55, 199-205.
  • Smallegange, I. M., & van der Meer, J. (2009). The distribution of unequal predators across food patches is not necessarily (semi)truncated. Behavioral Ecology, 20, 525-534. DOI: 10.1093/beheco/arp027 
  • Smallegange, I. M., Van Noordwijk, C. G. E., van der Meer, J., & van der Veer, H. J. (2009). Spatial distribution of shore crab Carcinus maenas in an intertidal environment in relation to their morphology, prey availability and competition. Marine Ecology - Progress Series, 392, 143-155. DOI: 10.3354/meps08263 
  • van der Meer, J., & Smallegange, I. M. (2009). A stochastic version of the Beddington-DeAngelis functional response: modelling interference for a finite number of predators. Journal of Animal Ecology, 78, 134-142. DOI: 10.1111/j.1365-2656.2008.01480.x 


  • Smallegange, I. M., & Tregenza, T. (2008). Local competition between foraging relatives: growth and survival of bruchid beetle larvae. Journal of Insect Behavior, 21, 375-386. DOI: 10.1007/s10905-008-9133-4 
  • Smallegange, I. M., Hidding, B., Eppenga, J. M. A., & van der Meer, J. (2008). Optimal foraging and risk of claw damage: how flexible are shore crabs in their prey size selectivity? Journal of Experimental Marine Biology and Ecology, 367, 157-163. DOI: 10.1016/j.jembe.2008.09.011 


  • Smallegange, I. M., & van der Meer, J. (2007). Interference from a game theoretical perspective: shore crabs suffer most from equal competitors. Behavioral Ecology, 18, 215-221. DOI: 10.1093/beheco/arl071 
  • Smallegange, I. M., Sabelis, M. W., & van der Meer, J. (2007). Assessment games in shore crab fights. Journal of Experimental Marine Biology and Ecology, 351, 255-266. DOI: 10.1016/j.jembe.2007.07.004  [details] 


  • Smallegange, I. M., van der Meer, J., & Kurvers, R. H. J. M. (2006). Disentangling interference competition from exploitative competition in a crab-bivalve system using a novel experimental approach. Oikos, 113, 157-167. DOI: 10.1111/j.0030-1299.2006.14172.x 


  • Smallegange, I. M., & van der Meer, J. (2003). Why do shore crabs not prefer the most profitable mussels? Journal of Animal Ecology, 72, 599-607. DOI: 10.1046/j.1365-2656.2003.00729.x 
  • Riebel, K., & Smallegange, I. M. (2003). Does zebra finch (Taeniopygia guttata) preference for the (familiar) father’s song generalize to the songs of unfamiliar brothers? Journal of comparative physiology, 117, 61-66. DOI: uva/nwi/ibed/ov 


  • Smallegange, I. M., & Brunsting, A. M. H. (2002). Food supply and demand, a simulation model of the functional response of grazing ruminants. Ecological Modelling, 149, 179-192. DOI: 10.1016/S0304-3800(01)00522-1 
  • Riebel, K., Smallegange, I. M., Terpstra, N. J., & Bolhuis, J. J. (2002). Sexual equality in zebra finch song preference: evidence for a dissociation between song recognition and production learning. Proceedings of the Royal Society B-Biological Sciences, 269, 729-733. DOI: 10.1098/rspb.2001.1930 


  • Agoramoorthy, G., Smallegange, I. M., Spruit, I., & Hsu, M. J. (2000). Swimming behaviour among bonnet macaques in Tamil Nadu. Folia primatologica, 71, 152-153. DOI: 10.1159/000021744 

Journal editor

  • Smallegange, Isabel (reviewer) (2013-2025): Oikos (Journal).
  • Smallegange, Isabel (reviewer) (2011-2014): Journal of Animal Ecology (Journal).


  • Smallegange, I. M. (2007). Interference competition and patch choice in foraging shore crabs [details] 
This list of publications is extracted from the UvA-Current Research Information System. Questions? Ask the library  or the Pure staff  of your faculty / institute. Log in to Pure  to edit your publications. Log in to Personal Page Publication Selection tool  to manage the visibility of your publications on this list.
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