I am a PhD candidate of the University of Groningen (RUG), currently based at the NIOZ Royal Netherlands Institute for Sea Research. My project studies how migratory shorebirds are impacted by, and how will they adapt to, the rapidly diminishing habitats at their fuelling stops in China. I am funded by the Ubbo Emmius Fund of the RUG (link to the RUG Alumni Hong Kong Newsletter). We work closely with Fudan University and Beijing Normal University in China, all under the umbrella of Global Flyway Network.

Fieldwork

Satellite tracking of individuals

I conducted three years of fieldwork putting satellite transmitters (PTTs, manufactured by Microwave Telemetry) in Northwest Australia. Using the latest developments in miniature satellite transmitters, we track three shorebirds species: the Bar-tailed Godwit, Great Knot and Red Knot. They migrate from Australia to their Siberian breeding areas via the Chinese and Korean coast. From the tracks we can identify important staging sites, and know the migration routes and timing of individuals.

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Releasing tagged great knots in Roebuck Bay

Large-scale habitat surveys and benthic sampling at the Chinese coast

Together with PhD student Hebo Peng, in each spring, we visit as many staging sites as possible to sample the food, observe foraging behavior of birds and survey the area. We document threats at each site. Read more about our fieldwork at our blog on this website called “Coastal China Field Updates”.

Harness development

Since 2013, I am involved in developing and testing harnesses to tag shorebirds with body structure like the red knot. The results of the earliest work were summarized in a publication in the Journal of Ornithology (DOI: 10.1007/s10336-015-1276-4). Feel free to contact me for latest developments!

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Captive Red Knot carrying a dummy tag in the NIOZ shorebird aviary. This is part of an experiment on how a body harness could affect their fattening and moulting

My background

I was born and grew up in Hong Kong, a city at the south coast of China just at the edge of the tropics. I did my Bachelor degree in Environmental Life Science at the University of Hong Kong. My interest in avian ecology has motivated me to further my studies abroad, and I was very fortunate to receive the Erasmus Mundus Scholarship to join the Evolutionary Biology Master Programme at the University of Groningen in The Netherlands. My Masters research project with Theunis Piersma has brought me back to my ‘flyway’ where migratory birds are in steep decline because of human activities. After a few years of searching for funding (during which I collected preliminary data and learned the art of grant writing), in 2015 I can finally start a PhD to study how migratory shorebirds are impacted by the rapidly diminishing habitats at their fuelling stops in China.