I am a PhD student at the University of Groningen and Royal Netherlands Institute for Sea Research (NIOZ). I am based at the Coastal Systems group at NIOZ where I work under the supervision of Theunis Piersma. In my project I focus on the role of development in shaping of individuals in Red Knots Calidris canutus.

During my Biology studies at the UvA (Amsterdam) I got involved with the shorebird work when I joined an expedition to Mauritania during one of my master projects in 2012. Since then I’ve been enchanted by migratory birds and the extreme performances they display while migrating long distances and inhabit inhospitable areas.

In 2014 I started my PhD research at NIOZ. Building on a great amount of knowledge gained by my predecessors studying Red Knots, I’m working on the ontogeny of different physiological and behavioural traits including the development of migratory routes.

The first part of my project evolves around non-invasive experimental work with birds in captivity at the unique shorebird facility at NIOZ. Together with Kimberley Mathot (PI at the University of Alberta; the Mathot lab, and collaborator of TeamPiersma) we developed a series of experiments contrasting birds of different age cohorts and subspecies to test the prediction that traits get fixed with age.

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A Red Knot in the experimental intertidal unit of the Shorebird Facility at NIOZ. Photo: Jan Wijmenga

Simultaneously, to investigate when Red Knots establish their migration routine, we’re imprinting individuals on the incorrect wintering grounds. Eventually we’ll release them with state-of-the-art satellite tags to follow them on their subsequent migration.

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Red Knot “Paula” with a 2-gram satellite transmitter. Photo: Jan Wijmenga

Last year we did a methodological pilot experiment testing the new satellite tags that were developed for this end (Microwave Telemetry). You can follow Red Knot “Paula” on the NIOZ Waddenflyways site.

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Eva Kok releasing Paul and her flock mates. The travels of Paula can be followed here. Photo: Jan Wijmenga

Profile photo: Emma Penning