Royal Netherlands Institute for Sea Research

SIBES 2020-2021

SIBES (Synoptic Intertidal BEnthic Survey) is a systematic long-term ecological time series programme for organisms that live in or on intertidal mudflats, the so-called benthos. Every year the abundances and distribution of benthic organisms is mapped across the entire Dutch Wadden Sea. The systematic monitoring data are an essential component of many studies like WATLAS explaining how animals (birds, fish) distribute, and how their survival prospects depend on habitat use. SIBES is the largest annual sampling campaign in the world, setting the standard for the way benthic organisms are sampled on mudflats worldwide. 

SIBES uses a gridded sampling design that encompasses the entire Dutch Wadden Sea, with a combination of sample points taken at 500m intervals, and additional random sample points

Export product

Intertidal macrofauna across the Dutch Wadden Sea that started in 2008.  Today, 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 flats, it has become a worldwide 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.

At the end of 2018 NIOZ published a booklet 'Ten years SIBES'. In this booklet you will find a series of interviews with the people who are directly and indirectly involved in the Synoptic Intertidal Benthic Survey of the Wadden Sea  From the initiators to the people in the field to the stakeholders from science, society and the government. They outline the importance of this project for their daily work. 


SIBES is funded by NIOZ, NAM (Nederlandse Aardolie Maatschappij), and RWS (Rijkswaterstaat).

Meet the team

Bijleveld, Allert
Senior Scientist