Royal Netherlands Institute for Sea Research

Movement ecology of migratory shorebirds in the Dutch Wadden Sea

This project is suited for MSc and BSc students 

The Wadden Sea is a UNESCO world heritage site and important for many migratory shorebirds, such as Red Knots. The aim of the overarching project is understanding how individual differences (personality), sociality and the distribution of resources affect movement and spatial distributions of free-living Red Knots. Example research questions are: How do Red Knots move with the tide? On which intertidal mudflats do they feed, and with whom? Do individuals differ in where they go?

We track Red Knots with the novel high-resolution tracking system WATLAS, assay their personality before they are tagged and released, sample resource availability (shellfish), and quantify their diet from droppings and isotope signals in their blood. There are student projects available on these topics or combinations thereof, and depending on your own research ideas and interests, we can think of additional projects.

Student tasks

These may include field work on the uninhabited island of Griend, catching shorebirds, conducting personality assays, sampling bivalves on mudflats, ring-reading, sailing with the NIOZ research vessels, analyses with R.

Daily supervisors

Selin Ersoy, and Allert Bijleveld ( 

Start date

Approximately July 2020; intake interview will be some time before the starting date

Tidal flats (© E. Penning, NIOZ).