Royal Netherlands Institute for Sea Research

Sampling the intertidal macrofauna with SIBES

SIBES (Synoptic Intertidal Benthic Survey) is a systematic long-term ecological time series programme for sampling intertidal macrofauna across the Dutch Wadden Sea. The long-term ecological time series are an essential component of the many studies explaining how animals (birds, fish) distribute, and how their survival prospects depend on habitat use.

General information

SIBES contains more than six thousand sampling points, some of which are also located on the German mudflats. The project has also set the bar for sampling in other tidal areas around the world. Not only has SIBES set the standard for the way benthic organisms are sampled on mudflats, it has become a NIOZ export product. After ten years of experience, we can conclude that SIBES has become a success; not only in the Netherlands, but also internationally. The SIBES concept is now being applied in different countries. Not only in areas such as the Mauritanian ‘Wadden Sea’ Banc d’Arguin but also, for example, in the Bijagós Archipelago in Guinea-Bissau, on Eighty Mile Beach in northwest Australia, and in the Yellow Sea on the border between China and South Korea. In all of these places, ecologists have realised that they have to sample a large number of widely-spread points, year after year, for the best scientific results.

The investments needed for such a logistic challenge, both in funds and workforce, may seem high but the benefits are even higher. The scientific returns are further increased because we have linked as many places as possible where the SIBES method is now applied in a worldwide network. In this so-called Global Flyway Network, dozens of migratory bird researchers work in cooperation. Nowadays we not only look at the Wadden Sea the way a knot does, we also try to look at the complete migration routes through the eyes of a migratory bird. And that literally starts at the bottom. Source: 10 years SIBES.

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Wadden & Delta Centre