I’m a volunteer PhD candidate in the Conservation Ecology Group at the University of Groningen (RUG). I’m also a freelance ornithologist in China at present, based in Beijing. I’m interested in the role of shorebirds in the intertidal ecosystem and how birds respond to their constantly changing environment. I have been working on waterbirds, especially Red Knots, since 2003, witnessing how rapid habitat changes shaped the distribution and populations of shorebirds in a pretty dramatic way in the East Asian–Australasian Flyway.

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Hong-Yan Yang sampling the mudflats of Bohai Bay. Photo: Bing Chen

I received my Chinese PhD degree at Beijing Normal University (BNU) in 2012. My Chinese PhD thesis was about the population changes, habitat usage and food choice of Red Knots in the Yellow Sea Ecoregion. We found that Red Knots staged in northern Bohai Bay for a relative short time but fueled up very well, foraging on very small bivalves, and that the size reduction of bivalves was caused by local fishery. In spite of their flyway populations continuously declining, the staging populations of two Red Knots subspecies became highly concentrated in northern Bohai Bay because of the rapid habitat loss in the Yellow Sea.

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Hong-Yan Yang with photographer Jan van de Kam. Photo: Jun Yan

I was a post-doctoral researcher in the College of Nature Conservation at Beijing Forest University (BFU) during 2012-2016. I focused on habitat choice of Red Knots and the relationship between Red Knots and their main food, Potamocorbula laevis, in northern Bohai Bay. The small-sized Potamocorbula laevis occurred in surprisingly high densities in the mudflats but were not even-distributed. Red Knots preferred the higher density areas and fed as long as they could during low tide.

In 2013, I was rewarded a fund from the National Natural Science Foundation of China for my research on Red Knots in northern Bohai Bay. At present I’m working on this project, which related to my previous post-doctoral work.

Profile photo: Bing Chen

Link: https://www.linkedin.com/in/hong-yan-nicky-yang-b5516759