Froukje Rienks

Ir. Froukje Rienks

Head of PR & Science Communication


Droevendaalsesteeg 10
6708 PB Wageningen

+31 (0) 317 47 34 00

The Netherlands



Ecology is part of everyone's life, often unnoticed. That's why it is so important to share our knowledge, advice and research results as widely as possible. Also in original ways to connect with unexpected audiences.


Ir. Froukje Rienks is the head of PR & Science Communications, working at NIOO since September 1998.

She takes care of a wide range of science communication activities - from the NIOO press releases, contacts between the NIOO scientists and the media, organisation of open days, festival stands, special (school and other) tours to citizen science projects. And she oversees the website, the social media and other information gateways.

Questions about the Netherlands Institute of Ecology (NIOO-KNAW), or ecology in general? Ask Froukje!

Press and other urgent questions: +31-(0)6-10487481

Livestream presentation
Freddy ten Hooven / NIOO-KNAW
Translating the science of ecology, from press release to livestream presentation.

In 1997 she graduated as a biologist at Wageningen University. Her specialisation is population biology/ecology. Also, Froukje took a course in the Popularisation of Science, for science journalist and science communication officer, at the University of Nijmegen. Directly afterwards, she worked for the Dutch monthly on science and technology Natuur & Techniek.

Free-lance science journalist was the next stop. During this period she worked for various media like Teleac/NOT (TV), Bionieuws (biology newspaper), and Natuur & Techniek again.

In 2008 she spent her sabbatical leave in the US (Princeton University) and Germany (Max Planck Institute for Ornithology).



  • 1998–Present
    Head of PR & Science Communications, NIOO-KNAW
  • 2008
    Science communication adviser (seconded), Max Planck Institute for Ornithology, Germany
  • 2008
    Science communication adviser (sabbatical), Department of Ecology & Evolutionary Biology, Princeton University, USA
  • 1997–2001
    Freelance science journalist


  • 1990–1997
    BSc Biology & MSc Ecology, Wageningen University & Research, the Netherlands
  • 1997
    Science communication course, Radboud University, Nijmegen, the Netherlands


National Postcode Lottery, the Netherlands for 'Onder het Maaiveld' project
Budget: €2,825,000
IUCN NL, De Vlinderstichting, WUR and others

Editorial board memberships

  • 2023–Present
    Vakblad Natuur, Bos en Landschap
  • 2005–2008


Peer-reviewed publicaties

  • European Journal of Soil Science

    Participatory soil citizen science: An unexploited resource for European soil research

    Eloise Mason, Chantal Gascuel‐Odoux, Ulrike Aldrian, Hao Sun, Julia Miloczki, Sophia Götzinger, Victoria J Burton, Froukje Rienks, Sara Di Lonardo, Taru Sandén
    Soils are key components of our ecosystems and provide 95%–99% of our food. This importance is reflected by an increase in participatory citizen science projects on soils. Citizen science is a participatory research method that actively involves and engages the public in scientific enquiry to generate new knowledge or understanding. Here, we review past and current citizen science projects on agricultural soils across Europe. We conducted a web-based survey and described 24 reviewed European citizen science projects in the light of the 10 principles of citizen science and identified success factors for citizen science. Over 66% of the projects generated soil biodiversity data; 54% and 42% of the projects generated data on vegetation cover and soil organic carbon, respectively. Our findings show that soil citizen science projects aligned with the 10 principles of citizen science offer an unexploited resource for European soil health research. We conclude that promoting co-creation, fostering knowledge-sharing networks and enabling long-term communication and commitment with citizens are success factors for further development of citizen science on soils.
  • Trends in Ecology and Evolution

    Biological Earth observation with animal sensors

    Walter Jetz, Grigori Tertitski, Roland W. Kays, Uschi Mueller, Martin Wikelski, Susanne Åkesson, Yuriy A. Anisimov, Aleksey Antonov, Walter Arnold, Franz Bairlein, Oriol Baltà, Diane Baum, Mario Beck, Olga Belonovich, Mikhail Belyaev, Matthias Berger, Peter Berthold, Steffen Bittner, Stephen Blake, Barbara Block, Daniel Bloche, Katrin Boehning-Gaese, Gil Bohrer, Julia Bojarinova, Gerhard Bommas, Oleg Bourski, Albert Bragin, Alexandr Bragin, Rachel Bristol, Vojtěch Brlík, Victor N Bulyuk, Francesca Cagnacci, Ben Carlson, Taylor K. Chapple, Kalkidan F. Chefira, Yachang Cheng, Nikita Chernetsov, Grzegorz Cierlik, Simon S. Christiansen, Oriol Clarabuch, William Cochran, Jamie Margaret Cornelius, Iain Couzin, Margret C. Crofoot, Andrea Kölzsch, Morrison Pot, Froukje Rienks, Kamiel Spoelstra, Henk P. van der Jeugd, Marcel E. Visser

    Space-based tracking technology using low-cost miniature tags is now delivering data on fine-scale animal movement at near-global scale. Linked with remotely sensed environmental data, this offers a biological lens on habitat integrity and connectivity for conservation and human health; a global network of animal sentinels of environmental change.
  • PLoS One

    Monitoring biological water quality by volunteers complements professional assessments

    Edwin T.H.M. Peeters, Anton A.M. Gerritsen, Laura Seelen, Matthijs Begheyn, Froukje Rienks, Sven Teurlincx

    Progressively more community initiatives have been undertaken over last decades to monitor water quality. Biological data collected by volunteers has been used for biodiversity and water quality studies. Despite the many citizen science projects collecting and using macroinvertebrates, the number of scientific peer-reviewed publications that use this data, remains limited. In 2018, a citizen science project on biological water quality assessment was launched in the Netherlands. In this project, volunteers collect macroinvertebrates from a nearby waterbody, identify and count the number of specimens, and register the catch through a web portal to instantaneously receive a water quality score based on their data. Water quality monitoring in the Netherlands is traditionally the field of professionals working at water authorities. Here, we compare the data from the citizen science project with the data gathered by professionals. We evaluate information regarding type and distribution of sampled waterbodies and sampling period, and compare general patterns in both datasets with respect to collected animals and calculated water quality scores. The results show that volunteers and professionals seldomly sample the same waterbody, that there is some overlap in sampling period, and that volunteers more frequently sampled urban waters and smaller waterbodies. The citizen science project is thus yielding data about understudied waters and this spatial and temporal complementarity is useful. The character and thoroughness of the assessments by volunteers and professionals are likely to differentiate. Volunteers collected significantly lower numbers of animals per sample and fewer animals from soft sediments like worms and more mobile individuals from the open water column such as boatsmen and beetles. Due to the lack of simultaneous observations at various locations by volunteers and professionals, a direct comparison of water quality scores is impossible. However, the obtained patterns from both datasets show that the water quality scores between volunteers and professionals are dissimilar for the different water types. To bridge these differences, new tools and processes need to be further developed to increase the value of monitoring biological water quality by volunteers for professionals.
  • Journal of Biological Rhythms

    Lab mice in the field: unorthodox daily activity and effects of a dysfunctional circadian clock allele

    Serge Daan, Kamiel Spoelstra, U. Albrecht, I. Schmutz, M. Daan, B. Daan, Froukje Rienks, I. Poletaeva, G. Dell'Omo, A. Vyssotski, H.P. Lipp
    Daily patterns of animal behavior are potentially of vast functional importance. Fitness benefits have been identified in nature by the association between individual timing and survival or by the fate of individuals after experimental deletion of their circadian pacemaker. The recent advances in unraveling the molecular basis of circadian timing enable new approaches to natural selection on timing. The investigators report on the effect and fate of the mutant Per2Brdm1 allele in 4 replicate populations of house mice in a seminatural outside environment over 2 years. This allele is known to compromise circadian organization and entrainment and to cause multiple physiological disturbances. Mice (N = 250) bred from Per2Brdm1 heterozygotes were implanted subcutaneously with transponders and released in approximately Mendelian ratios in four 400 m2 pens. An electronic system stored the times of all visits to feeders of each individual. The study first demonstrates that mice are not explicitly nocturnal in this natural environment. Feeding activity was predominantly and sometimes exclusively diurnal and spread nearly equally over day and night under the protective snow cover in winter. The effect of Per2Brdm1 on activity timing is negligible compared to seasonal changes in all genotypes. Second, the Per2Brdm1 allele did not have persistent negative effects on fitness. In the first year, the allele gradually became less frequent by reducing survival. New cohorts captured had the same Per2Brdm1 frequency as the survivors from previous cohorts, consistent with an absence of an effect on reproduction. In the second year, the allele recovered to about its initial frequency (0.54). These changes in selective advantage were primarily due to female mice, as females lived longer and the sex ratio dropped to about 25% males in the population. While it is unknown which selective advantage led to the recovery, the results caution against inferences from laboratory experiments on fitness consequences in the natural environment. It also demonstrates that the activity of mice, while strictly nocturnal in the laboratory, may be partially or completely diurnal in the field. The new method allows assessment of natural selection on specific alleles on a day-today basis.

Projecten & samenwerkingen


  • Onder het maaiveld

    Project 2020–2023
    Onder het Maaiveld is een driejarig programma van IUCN NL, De Vlinderstichting, NIOO-KNAW, WUR en het Centrum voor Bodemecologie. Samen met andere organisaties werken wij aan een structurele verandering in de omgang met onze waardevolle bodem. Ons doel? Herstel van het bodemleven in Nederland, als basis voor een gezonde natuur en een gezonde maatschappij.


Involved in a lot of outreach and other relevant projects for society, Froukje supports many scientists in their communication. But she can also be the one being interviewed herself. For example:


Please find below a variety of outreach products and activities, with links to details in the Pure system.