I am a direct colleague of Theunis at Royal NIOZ Netherlands Institute for Sea Research, where I work as a senior scientist using shorebirds as my ‘model organisms’.
My current interest centers around the role that migrant shorebirds play as connecting agents between ecosystems on a global scale. Ecosystems are currently changing rapidly, but at various rates and in different directions. Shorebirds travel annually through different ecosystems, and thus deal with the problem that adapting to changes in one system has consequences for the ‘adaptability’ to the changes in another system. A most obvious example is the rapid warming of the high Arctic affecting red knot body size in a negative way (possibly due to a ‘trophic mismatch’ during the chick phase). Having arrived at their tropical wintering grounds in West Africa, the currently smaller knots pay a price, as their shorter bills cannot access deeply burrowed bivalves anymore. My current plans are to unveil the mechanisms of ‘shorebird body shrinkage’ in the Arctic and to track shrunken individuals lifelong and worldwide using miniature satellite transmitters.