Royal Netherlands Institute for Sea Research
Royal Netherlands
Institute for Sea Research
Phone number
+31 (0)222 369 452
  • Animal migration
  • Climate change
  • Demography
  • Physiological, behavioural and population ecology
Sanderling ringing. Photo: Jan v/d Kam.

Dr. Jeroen Reneerkens


Research interests

My research interest is focussed on climate change effects on coastal systems,  evolution and ecology of avian migration, demography and population limitation and trophic interactions in High Arctic ecosystems.

International project

Since 2007, I coordinate a large international project on mark-resighting data on Sanderlings Calidris alba, a long-distance migratory bird breeding in the High Arctic. The project is an international collaboration between professionals and volunteers with whom I have marked > 8,400 Sanderlings with individually unique combinations of  colour-rings along the East Atlantic Flyway in the breeding grounds in Greenland, at migration stop-over sites in Iceland and The Netherlands and at three African (Namibia, Ghana and Mauritania) and four European (Portugal, France, England, Scotland) wintering sites.  A large network of >2,400 (volunteer) observers has, currently, reported > 98,000 unique observations of Sanderlings from Africa and Europe.


This large, well-maintained, dataset can and has been used for accurate estimates of annual and seasonal survival for different areas, stopover duration, turn-over of individuals as well as (local) population sizes, dispersal and timing of migration. Furthermore, observers also report counts of adult and juvenile Sanderlings following a standard protocol. The database also includes a wealth of information from three study sites in Greenland of adult apparent survival, daily nest survival and daily chick survival since 2007 (1 site) and 2010 (the other two sites) and biometrics of growing chicks and adults, including wing moult, body mass. Most individuals in the database have been molecularly sexed.


Since 2016, I use an interactive internet portal for colour-ring observations ( which I helped to design. Once-twice per year I report the latest discoveries and publications, interesting sightings, requests for additional observations etc to all observers through a newsletter.






Reneerkens J, Versluijs T, Piersma T, Alves J, Boorman M, Hallgrimsson GT, Ntiamoa-Baidu Y, Nuoh A, Gilg O, Lang J, Potts P, Lok T.  (2020) Low fitness at low latitudes: wintering in the tropics increases migratory delays and mortality rates in an arctic-breeding shorebird. Journal of Animal Ecology 89: 691-703 doi: 10.1111/1365-2656.13118

Schmidt NM, Reneerkens J, Hesselberg Christensen J, Olesen M, Roslin T (2019) An ecosystem-wide reproductive failure with more snow in the Arctic. PLOS Biology 17: e3000392 doi:10.1371/journal.pbio.3000392

Bulla M, Reneerkens J, Weiser EL, ... (60 authors)... Lanctot RB, Kempenaers B. (2019) Technical Comment on “Global pattern of nest predation is disrupted by climate change in shorebirds”. Science 364: eaaw8529 doi: 10.1126/science.aaw8529

Brlík V, Koleček J, .... Reneerkens J, ...Procházka P (65 authors). Weak effects of geolocators on small birds: a meta-analysis controlled for phylogeny and publication bias. Journal of Animal Ecology 89: 207-220 doi: 10.1111/1365-2656.12962

Moreau J, Perroud L, Bollache L, Yannic G, Teixeira M, Schmidt NM, Reneerkens J, Gilg O (2018) Discriminating uniparental and biparental breeding strategies by monitoring nest temperature. Ibis 160:13-22 doi: 10.1111/ibi.12507

Jouta J, Dietz MW, Reneerkens J, Rakhimberdiev E, Hallgrimsson GT, Piersma T, Pen I. (2017) Ecological forensics: Using single point stable isotope values to infer seasonal schedules of animals after two diet switches. Methods in Ecology and Evolution 8: 492-500 doi: 10.1111/2041-210X.12695

Schmidt NM, Hardwick B, Gilg O, Høye TT, Henning PK, Meltofte H, Michelsen A, Mosbacher JB, Raundrup K, Reneerkens J, Stewart L, Roslin T (2017) Interaction webs in Arctic ecosystems – determinants of Arctic change. AMBIO 46 (Suppl. 1): S12-S25 doi: 10.1007/s13280-016-0862-x

Bulla M, Valcu M, … Reneerkens J … Kempenaers B (76 authors) (2016). Unexpected diversity in socially synchronized rhythms of shorebirds. Nature 540: 109–113 doi: 10.1038/nature20563

Reneerkens J, Schmidt NM, Gilg O, Hansen J, Hansen LH, Moreau J, Piersma T (2016). Effects of food abundance and early clutch predation on reproductive timing in a high Arctic shorebird exposed to advancements in arthropod abundance. Ecology and Evolution 6: 7375–7386 doi: 10.1002/ece3.2361

Lourenço PM, Alves JA, Reneerkens J, Loonstra AHJ, Potts PM, Granadeiro JP, Catry T. Influence of age and sex on winter site fidelity of sanderlings (Calidris alba). PeerJ doi: 10.7717/peerj.2517 doi: 10.7717/peerj.2517

Loonstra J, Piersma T, Reneerkens J. (2016). Staging duration and passage population size of Sanderling in the western Dutch Wadden Sea. Ardea 104: 49-61 doi: 10.5253/arde.v104i1.a4

Weiser EL, Lanctot RB, …, Reneerkens J… Sandercock  BK (51 authors) (2016). Effects of geolocators on hatching success, return rates, breeding movements and change in body mass in 16 species of Arctic-breeding shorebirds. Movement Ecology 4: 12 doi: 10.1186/s40462-016-0077-6

Conklin JR, Reneerkens J, Verkuil YI, Tomkovich P, Palsbøll PJ, Piersma T. (2016). Low genetic differentiation between Greenlandic and Siberian Sanderling populations implies a different phylogeographic history than found in Red Knots. Journal of Ornithology 157: 325-332 doi: 10.1007/s10336-015-1284-4

Wirta H, Vesterinen E, Hambäck P, Weingartner E, Rasmussen C, Reneerkens J, Schmidt NM, Gilg O, Roslin T. (2015). Exposing the structure of an Arctic food web. Ecology & Evolution 5:3842-3856 doi: 10.1002/ece3.1647

Grond K, Ntiamoa-Baidu Y, Piersma T, Reneerkens J. (2015). Prey type and foraging ecology of Sanderlings Calidris alba in different climate zones: are tropical areas more favourable than temperate sites? PeerJ 3: e1125 doi: 10.7717/peerj.1125

Walker BG, Meddle SL, Romero LM, Landys MM, Reneerkens J, Wingfield JC. (2015). Breeding on the extreme edge: Modulation of the adrenocortical response to acute stress in two High Arctic passerines. Journal of Experimental Zoology Part A 323: 266-275 doi: 10.1002/jez.1923

Ntiamoa-Baidu Y, Nuoh A, Reneerkens J, Piersma T (2014) Population increases in non-breeding Sanderlings in Ghana indicate site preference. Ardea 102: 131-137 doi: 10.5253/arde.v102i2.a3

Reneerkens J, van Veelen P, van der Velde M, Luttikhuizen P, Piersma T (2014) Within-population variation in mating system and parental care patterns in Sanderling Calidris alba in northeast Greenland. Auk: Ornithological Advances 131: 235-247 doi: 10.1642/AUK-13-247.1

Gilg O, Moe B, Hanssen SA, Schmidt NM, Sittler B, Hansen J, Reneerkens J, Sabard B, Chastel O, Moreau J, Phillips RA, Oudman T, Biersma EM, Fenstad AA, Lang J, Bollache L (2013) Trans-equatorial migration routes, staging sites and wintering areas of a High Arctic avian predator: the Long-tailed Skua (Stercorarius longicaudus). PLoS ONE 8(5): e64614 doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0064614

Lemke H, Bowler J, Reneerkens J (2012) Establishing the right period to estimate juvenile proportions of wintering sanderlings via telescope scans in western Scotland. Wader Study Group Bulletin 119: 129-132

Hansen J, Schmidt NM, Reneerkens J (2011) Egg hatchability in high Arctic breeding wader species Charadriiformes is not affected by determining incubation stage using the egg flotation technique. Bird Study 58: 522-525 doi: 10.1080/00063657.2011.601411

Luttikhuizen PC, Bol A, Witte H, van Bleijswijk J, Haddrath O, Baker AJ, Piersma T, Reneerkens J (2011) Novel and cross-species microsatellite markers for parentage analysis in Sanderling Calidris alba. Journal of Ornithology 152: 807-810 doi: 10.1007/s10336-011-0681-6

Reneerkens J, Grond K, Schekkerman H, Tulp I, Piersma T (2011) Do uniparental sanderlings Calidris alba increase egg heat input to compensate for low nest attentiveness? PLoS ONE 6(2): e16834 doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0016834

Reneerkens J, Benhoussa A, Boland H, Collier M, Grond K, Günther K, Hallgrimsson GT, Hansen J, Meissner W, de Meulenaer B, Ntiamoa-Baidu Y, Piersma T, Poot M, van Roomen M, Summers RW, Tomkovich PS, Underhill LG (2009) Sanderlings using African–Eurasian flyways: a review of current knowledge. Wader Study Group Bulletin 116: 2–20

Reneerkens J, Versteegh MA, Schneider AM, Piersma T, Burtt EH (2008) Seasonally changing preen-wax composition: Red Knots' (Calidris canutus) flexible defense against feather-degrading bacteria? Auk 125: 285-290 doi: 10.1525/auk.2008.06217

Rijpstra WIC, Reneerkens J, Piersma T, Sinninghe Damsté JS (2007) Structural identification of the beta-hydroxy fatty acid-based diester preen gland waxes of shorebirds. Journal of Natural Products 70: 1804-1807 doi: 10.1021/np070254z

Reneerkens J, Almeida JB, Lank DB, Jukema J, Lanctot RB, Morrison RIG, Rijpstra WIC, Schamel D, Schekkerman H, Sinninghe Damsté JS, Tomkovich PS, Tracy DM, Tulp I, Piersma T (2007) Parental role division predicts avian preen wax cycles. Ibis 149: 721-729 doi: 10.1111/j.1474-919X.2007.00693.x

Reneerkens J, Piersma T, Sinninghe Damsté JS (2007) Expression of annual cycles in preen wax composition in red knots: Constraints on the changing phenotype. Journal of Experimental Zoology 307A: 127-139 doi: 10.1002/jez.a.347

Reneerkens J, Piersma T, Sinninghe Damsté JS (2006) Discerning adaptive value of seasonal variation in preen waxes: comparative and experimental approaches. Acta Zoologica Sinica 52 (Suppl): 272-275

Versteegh M, Reneerkens J, Piersma T (2006) Seasonal shifts in uropygial gland secretions in Red Knots: a flexible defense against feather-degrading bacteria? Journal of Ornithology 147: 36

Reneerkens J, Piersma T, Sinninghe Damsté JS (2005) Switch to diester preen waxes may reduce avian nest predation by mammalian predators using olfactory cues. Journal of Experimental Biology 208: 4199-4202 doi: 10.1242/jeb.01872

Reneerkens J, Korsten P (2004) Plumage reflectance is not affected by preen wax composition in red knots Calidris canutus. Journal of Avian Biology 35: 405-409 doi: 10.1111/j.0908-8857.2004.03317.x

Piersma T, Lindström A, Drent RH, Tulp I, Jukema J, Morrison RIG, Reneerkens J, Schekkerman H, Visser GH (2003) High daily energy expenditure of incubating shorebirds on High Arctic tundra: a circumpolar study. Functional Ecology 356-362 doi: 10.1046/j.1365-2435.2003.00741.x

Krijgsveld KL, Reneerkens J, McNett GD, Ricklefs RE (2003) Time budgets and body temperatures of American golden plover chicks in relation to ambient temperature. Condor 105: 268-278 doi: 10.1093/condor/105.2.268

Reneerkens J, Piersma T, Sinninghe Damsté JS (2002) Sandpipers (Scolopacidae) switch from monoester to diester preen waxes during courtship and incubation, but why? Proceedings of the Royal Society of London series B-Biological Sciences 269: 2135-2139 doi: 10.1098/rspb.2002.2132

Reneerkens J, Piersma T, Ramenofsky M (2002) An experimental test of the relationship between temporal variability of feeding opportunities and baseline levels of corticosterone in a shorebird. Journal of Experimental Zoology 293: 81-88 doi: 10.1002/jez.10113

Reneerkens J, Morrison RIG, Ramenofsky M, Piersma T, Wingfield JC (2002) Baseline and stress-induced levels of corticosterone during different life cycle substages in a shorebird on the High Arctic breeding grounds. Physiological and Biochemical Zoology 75: 200-208 doi: 10.1086/340853

Piersma T, Reneerkens J, Ramenofsky M (2000) Baseline corticosterone peaks in shorebirds with maximal energy stores for migration: A general preparatory mechanism for rapid behavioral and metabolic transitions? General and Comparative Endocrinology 120: 118-126 doi: 10.1006/gcen.2000.7543


Professional education



Awards and Prizes



Other writing


Reneerkens J. (2020) Climate change effects on Wadden Sea birds along the East-Atlantic flyway. Report for Wadden Academy and Programme towards a Rich Wadden Sea, in press

Reneerkens J. BioNieuws, 20 June 2019. Geen bewijs voor meer eipredatie in Hoge Noorden (‘No evidence for more egg predation in the Arctic’)

Reneerkens J. 2018. Drieteenstrandloper. In: Vogelatlas van Nederland. Broedvogels, wintervogels en 40 jaar verandering. Sovon Dutch Centre for Field Ornithology pp. 276-277.

Reneerkens J., 2018. Excessive spring snowfall results in a non-breeding year for shorebirds in NE Greenland

Reneerkens J., 2018. An update on the progress of the exceptionally snow-rich breeding season in northeast Greenland

Klaassen RG & Reneerkens J (2014). An overview of bird tracking studies in the Netherlands. Limosa 87:58-73.

Reneerkens J. (2011). Supersnelle drieteen. Langeafstandstrekker en snelheidsduivel. Mens & Vogel 1:2-13.

Wijmenga JJ, Jukema J, Reneerkens J, Gombobaatar S, Gantulga B & Tserennadmid S (2011). The importance of North-Eastern Mongolia for migrating Pacific Golden Plovers. Report for Foundation Working Group International Waterbird & Wetland Research (WIWO). WIWO-report 87, 57 pp.

Reneerkens J, Piersma T, Spaans B. (2005). De Waddenzee als kruispunt van vogeltrekwegen. Literatuurstudie naar de kansen en bedreigingen van wadvogels in internationaal perspectief. (‘The Wadden Sea as a hub for migratory birds. Literature study of the chances and threats of Wadden Sea birds in an international perspective’) NIOZ-report 2005-4, 125 pp.

Reneerkens J. Kennislink ,2003. Kokkeloorlog. (‘Cockle wars’)

Reneerkens J. Kennislink, 2003. De functie van stuitklierwas bij vogels. (‘The function of preen wax in birds’)

Reneerkens J. Kennislink, 2002. Seksuele selectie door partnerkeuze: waarom zijn veel vogels felgekleurd?  (‘Sexual selection by partner choice: why are many birds conspicuously coloured?’)


Linked news

Tuesday 29 October 2019
Migratory birds are worse off in West Africa
Migratory sandpipers breeding in Greenland who choose to spend the winter in West Africa instead of elsewhere along the East Atlantic coast have a lower chance of survival, are more likely to skip their first breeding season and arrive later at their…
Friday 14 June 2019
No evidence for increased egg predation in the Arctic
Climate and ecosystems are changing, but predation on shorebird nests has changed little across the globe over the past 60 years, finds an international team of 60 researchers. The study published in Science on 14 June 2019 challenges a recent claim…

Linked projects

Conservation of the dynamic Island of Griend
Henk van der Veer
Vereniging Natuurmonumenten
Project duration
1 May 2014 - 1 Jul 2020
Coping with phenological mismatch
Jan van Gils
Netherlands Organization for Scientific Research
Project duration
1 Jan 2019 - 31 Dec 2021
Arctic warming and migrant shorebirds
Jan van Gils
Netherlands Organization for Scientific Research - Veni/Vidi/Vici
Project duration
1 Oct 2019 - 1 Oct 2024