Royal Netherlands Institute for Sea Research
Royal Netherlands
Institute for Sea Research
Phone number
+31 (0)222 369 578
Tenure track Scientist
Rijksuniversiteit Groningen
Theunis Piersma

Dr. Allert Bijleveld

Tenure track Scientist


  • Animal Behaviour, Ecology and Evolution
  • Movement Ecology, Animal Personality, Spatial Ecology, Social Behaviour
  • Habitat Use, Optimal Foraging, Trophic Interactions, Social Information Use
  • Animal Tracking, Experimental Design
  • Wadden Sea


I am specialised in 


Research interests

I am a behavioural ecologist focussed on studying consistent individual differences (animal personality), social behaviour, and trophic interactions in coastal ecosystems. Particularly, I am interested in studying how different phenotypes interact with the environment to shape movement, spatial distributions and fitness. In my studies, I combine experiments, modelling, field observations, and the latest tracking technologies. I have mainly studied marine macrozoobenthos and birds, but I will expand my research to include fish.

If you are interested in a project or a collaboration with me, please feel free to send me an e-mail or contact me on Twitter @AllertBijleveld.



2017 - present: Tenure-track scientist at NIOZ

2016 - 2017: Visiting academic at the University of Oxford

2015 - 2017: Post-doctoral researcher at NIOZ

2007-2009: Project-researcher at NIOZ

2003-2007: Teaching assistent at the University of Amsterdam



Please find my list of publications at the bottom of this webpage or on GoogleScholar. You can download all my publications on ResearchGate.


Professional education

2009-2015: PhD - Untying the knot: Mechanistically understanding the interactions between social foragers and their prey. NIOZ / University of Groningen (cum laude)

2007: MSc Ecology & Evolution, University of Amsterdam with a specialization in Animal Ecology (cum laude)

2006: BSc General Biology, University of Amsterdam


Awards and Prizes

2015: Wadden Academy Prize for best PhD thesis in the academic years 2013/14 and 2014/15 (5 k€)


Research video's

Do Red Knots use each other to find their hidden food?
The video below shows an experiment that we designed to answer this question. In the Experimental Shorebird Facility we constructed two patches and burried food in only one. We then released two Red Knots on each patch. We also released a focal bird in a central cage that was located in between the two patches. This bird was then allowed to watch the two groups of foraging birds on both sides. After 2 minutes the central cage was opened and the focal bird was allowed to exit to either side. The results show that in 75% of the trials Red Knots chose that side of the experimental arena where the food was buried. This show that Red Knots can use social information to be more efficient in finding their hidden food. You can find the scientific publication here.

Red knot foraging experiment
Here is a movie that shows the experimental setup for a foraging experiment on Red Knots (Calidris canutus islandica). The experiment was designed to study patch departure decisions for red knots foraging in a patchy food environment. Foragers should not stay in a patch too long and waste time searching for that last prey item while other food patches have more to offer. On the other hand, foragers should not depart a patch too soon and leave many prey items behind. Depending on the density and distribution of food, one can calculate the optimal departure decision that foragers should use that maximises intake rate. We want to find out how and if red knots make optimal foraging decisions.

The movie below shows two golden plovers that we tracked with our novel 'time-of-arrival' methodology. This movie is part of our publication in LIMOSA.

Linked news

Tuesday 16 July 2019
Veni-financiering voor onderzoek aan sociale netwerken bij wadvogels
[scroll down for English version] De Nederlandse Organisatie voor Wetenschappelijk Onderzoek (NWO) heeft aan ‘veelbelovende NIOZ-onderzoeker dr. Allert Bijleveld’ van de afdeling Kustsystemen een Veni-financiering van 250.000 euro toegekend. Hiermee…
Monday 01 July 2019
Waddenfonds steunt Swimway Waddenzee
Het project "Waddentools – Swimway Waddenzee" kan dankzij een bijdrage vanuit het Waddenfonds van start gaan. Dat werd vrijdag 28 juni door het Waddenfonds bekend gemaakt. Doel van het project is om erachter te komen met welke beheermaatregelen de…
Friday 28 September 2018
Drieteenstrandlopers vliegen grote afstanden tijdens hun tussenstop in de Waddenzee
Drieteenstrandlopers van slechts 50 gram vliegen bij iedere getijdewisseling grote afstanden in de Waddenzee. Dat blijkt uit de eerste resultaten van het monitoringsexperiment bij Griend. Allert Bijleveld, gedragsecoloog bij het NIOZ is verrast door…
Wednesday 18 July 2018
Groot experiment op de Waddenzee bij Griend: Wat beweegt trekvogels?
De Waddenzee is een belangrijke plek voor veel vogels. Op de drooggevallen wadplaten eten ze bodemdieren zoals schelpen, wormen en garnalen, maar hoe en waar de vogels hun voedsel vinden, weten onderzoekers nog niet precies. De rijkheid aan voedsel…

Linked blogs

Thursday 15 August 2019
WATLAS | Where do Red Knots go in the Wadden Sea?
Blog 1: Now it is August and along with the other migratory shorebirds Red knots arrived in the Wadden Sea after breeding in the Arctic. The Wadden Sea is an important area for Red knots to mold their feathers and feed on bivalves, like mussels and…

NIOZ publications

  • 2018
    Bijleveld, A.I.; Compton, T.J.; Klunder, L.; Holthuijsen, S.; ten Horn, J.; Koolhaas, A.; Dekinga, A.; Van der Meer, J.; van der Veer, H.W. (2018). Presence-absence of marine macrozoobenthos does not generally predict abundance and biomass. NPG Scientific Reports 8(1): 12.
    Oudman, T.; Piersma, T.; Ahmedou Salem, M.V.; Feis, M.E.; Dekinga, A.; Holthuijsen, S.; ten Horn, J.; van Gils, J.A.; Bijleveld, A.I. (2018). Resource landscapes explain contrasting patterns of aggregation and site fidelity by red knots at two wintering sites. Movement Ecology 6(24).
  • 2017
    Bijleveld, A.; van der Heide, T.; Speelman, H.; Philippart, K.; Vellinga, P. (2017). Audit Bodemdalingscommissie Ameland 1986-2016. in het bijzonder de periode 2011-2016. Waddenacademie: Leeuwarden. 17 pp.
    Bulla, M.; Oudman, T.; Bijleveld, A.I.; Piersma, T.; Kyriacou, C.P. (2017). Marine biorhythms : bridging chronobiology and ecology. Phil. Trans. R. Soc. Lond. (B Biol. Sci.) 372(1734): 20160253.
  • 2016
    Bijleveld, A.I.; Folmer, E. (2016). Wat verklaart de grootschalige ecologische ontwikkelingen in de Waddenzee? : Implicaties voor monitoring, onderzoek en beleid, in: Visies op de Wadden : Zes essays ten behoeve van de Beleidsverkenning ToekomstigeRol en Ambitie van het Rijk voor het Waddengebied.
    Bijleveld, A.I.; MacCurdy, R.B.; Chan, Y.-C; Penning, E.; Gabrielson, R.M.; Cluderay, J.; Spaulding, E.L.; Dekinga, A.; Holthuijsen, S.; Ten Horn, J.; Brugge, M.; van Gils, J.A.; Winkler, D.W.; Piersma, T. (2016). Understanding spatial distributions: negative density-dependence in prey causes predators to trade-off prey quantity with quality. Proc. - Royal Soc., Biol. Sci. 283: 1828.
    Oudman, T.; Bijleveld, A.I.; Kavelaars, M.M.; Dekinga, A.; Cluderay, J.; Piersma, T.; van Gils, J.A. (2016). Diet preferences as the cause of individual differences rather than the consequence. J. Anim. Ecol. 85(5): 1378-1388.
  • 2015
    Bijleveld, A.I. (2015). Untying the knot: mechanistically understanding the interactions between social foragers and their prey. PhD Thesis. NIOZ: Texel. ISBN 978-90-367-7866-4. 259 pp.
    Bijleveld, A.I.; Twietmeyer, S.; Piechocki, J.; van Gils, J.A.; Piersma, T. (2015). Natural selection by pulsed predation: survival of the thickest. Ecology 96(7): 1943-1956.
    Bijleveld, A.I.; van Gils, J.A.; Jouta, J.; Piersma, T. (2015). Benefits of foraging in small groups: An experimental study on public information use in red knots Calidris canutus. Behav. Process. 117: 74-81.
  • 2014
    Bijleveld, A.I.; Massourakis, G.; van der Marel, A.; Dekinga, A.; Spaans, B.; van Gils, J.A.; Piersma, T. (2014). Personality drives physiological adjustments and is not related to survival. Proc. - Royal Soc., Biol. Sci. 281: 20133135.
    Piersma, T.; MacCurdy, R.B.; Gabrielson,, R.M.; Dekinga, A.; Cluderay, J.; Spaulding, E.L.; Oudman, T.; van Gils, J.; Winkler, D.; Bijleveld, A. (2014). Fijnmazige positiebepaling van individuen in groepen : de principes en drie toepassingen van TOA-tracking. Limosa (Amst.) 87: 156-176
  • 2012
    Bijleveld, A.I.; Folmer, E.O.; Piersma, T. (2012). Experimental evidence for cryptic interference among socially foraging shorebirds. Behav. Ecol. 23(4): 806-814.
    Bijleveld, A.I.; van Gils, J.A.; van der Meer, J.; Dekinga, A.; Kraan, C.; van der Veer, H.W.; Piersma, T. (2012). Designing a benthic monitoring programme with multiple conflicting objectives. Methods Ecol. Evol. 3(3): 526-536.

Linked projects

METAWAD: connecting habitat use and survival in migratory shorebirds
Theunis Piersma
Project duration
1 Jan 2011 - 30 Jun 2016
Conservation of the dynamic Island of Griend
Henk van der Veer
Vereniging Natuurmonumenten
Project duration
1 May 2014 - 1 Jul 2020
Monitoring MSC Zoe plastics
Henk van der Veer
Project duration
1 Apr 2019 - 31 Dec 2019
Learning to lead
Allert Bijleveld
Project duration
1 Dec 2016 - 30 Sep 2017