Martijn van der Sluijs

Ing. Martijn van der Sluijs



Droevendaalsesteeg 10
6708 PB Wageningen

+31 (0) 317 47 34 00

The Netherlands


Hi, I am Martijn van der Sluijs. I have always been an outdoor enthusiast. With my work I can combine my hobby and interest in ecology. I work in the field and lab to collect and analyze data for researchers.
I really can't think of a better job!


My interests have always been in the field of biology and ecology. Together with my passion for climbing and hiking it was only natural to make my job out of it.
I started my education at HAS hogeschool in 's-Hertogenbosch in Apllied Biology. During my education I had two internships. The first one was right here at the NIOO where I did research on rare soil bacteria under the super vision of Gera Hol. The second was in Florida at the University of Florida on nest predation of the invasive Burmese Python under supervision of Peter Frederick.
Throughout my education I tried to focus on wetland ecology and the ecology of soil systems, with great succes! Before I graduated I got a job offer from Martijn Bezemer to work at his group on soil legacies at the department of terrestrial ecology at the NIOO. I loved the work, but after one year there was vacancy at the department of animal Ecology, on which I replied and still work to this day.
I have worked for 5 years at Schiermonnikoog where I monitored the breedingsuccess of oystercatchers. Last season I made a vlog about it:
Currently, I am working at the Hoge Veluwe where I monitor the breeding succes of nestbox breeders.
After the breeding season I work at the molecular lab to work on the bloodsamples that are gathered throughout the whole department. But next to that I also help out on winter catches and other fieldwork during the winter.

Episode 1 of my Oystercatcher vlog

Episode 2 of my Oystercatcher vlog

Episode 3 of my Oystercatcher vlog

Episode 4 of my Oystercatcher vlog

Episode 5 of my Oystercatcher vlog

Episode 6 of my Oystercatcher vlog


Peer-reviewed publicaties

  • Nature Climate Change

    Sea-level rise causes shorebird population collapse before habitats drown

    Martijn van de Pol, Liam Bailey, Magali Frauendorf, Andrew Allen, Martijn van der Sluijs, Nadia Hijner, Lyanne Brouwer, Hans de Kroon, Eelke Jongejans, B.J. Ens
    Sea-level rise will lead to widespread habitat loss if warming exceeds 2 °C, threatening coastal wildlife globally. Reductions in coastal habitat quality are also expected but their impact and timing are unclear. Here we combine four decades of field data with models of sea-level rise, coastal geomorphology, adaptive behaviour and population dynamics to show that habitat quality is already declining for shorebirds due to increased nest flooding. Consequently, shorebird population collapses are projected well before their habitat drowns in this UNESCO World Heritage Area. The existing focus on habitat loss thus severely underestimates biodiversity impacts of sea-level rise. Shorebirds will also suffer much sooner than previously thought, despite adapting by moving to higher grounds and even if global warming is kept below 2 °C. Such unavoidable and imminent biodiversity impacts imply that mitigation is now urgently needed to boost the resilience of marshes or provide flood-safe habitat elsewhere.
  • Ecology

    The demographic causes of population change vary across four decades in a long-lived shorebird

    Andrew Allen, Eelke Jongejans, Martijn van de Pol, B.J. Ens, Magali Frauendorf, Martijn van der Sluijs, Hans de Kroon
    Understanding which factors cause populations to decline begins with identifying which parts of the life cycle, and which vital rates, have changed over time. However, in a world where humans are altering the environment both rapidly and in different ways, the demographic causes of decline likely vary over time. Identifying temporal variation in demographic causes of decline is crucial to assure that conservation actions target current and not past threats. However, this has rarely been studied as it requires long time series. Here we investigate how the demography of a long-lived shorebird (the Eurasian Oystercatcher Haematopus ostralegus) has changed in the past four decades, resulting in a shift from stable dynamics to strong declines (−9% per year), and recently back to a modest decline. Since individuals of this species are likely to respond differently to environmental change, we captured individual heterogeneity through three state variables: age, breeding status, and lay date (using integral projection models). Timing of egg-laying explained significant levels of variation in reproduction, with a parabolic relationship of maximal productivity near the average lay date. Reproduction explained most variation in population growth rates, largely due to poor nest success and hatchling survival. However, the demographic causes of decline have also been in flux over the last three decades: hatchling survival was low in the 2000s but improved in the 2010s, while adult survival declined in the 2000s and remains low today. Overall, the joint action of several key demographic variables explain the decline of the oystercatcher, and improvements in a single vital rate cannot halt the decline. Conservations actions will thus need to address threats occurring at different stages of the oystercatcher's life cycle. The dynamic nature of the threat landscape is further supported by the finding that the average individual no longer has the highest performance in the population, and emphasizes how individual heterogeneity in vital rates can play an important role in modulating population growth rates. Our results indicate that understanding population decline in the current era requires disentangling demographic mechanisms, individual variability, and their changes over time.
  • Oecologia

    Species-specific plant soil feedbacks affect herbivore-induced gene expression and defense chemistry in Plantago lanceolata.

    Plants actively interact with antagonists and beneficial organisms occurring in the above- and belowground domains of terrestrial ecosystems. In the past decade, studies have focused on the role of plant–soil feedbacks (PSF) in a broad range of ecological processes. However, PSF and its legacy effects on plant defense traits, such as induction of defense-related genes and production of defensive secondary metabolites, have not received much attention. Here, we study soil legacy effects created by twelve common grassland plant species on the induction of four defense-related genes, involved in jasmonic acid signaling, related to chewing herbivore defense (LOX2, PPO7), and in salicylic acid signaling, related to pathogen defense (PR1 and PR2) in Plantago lanceolata in response to aboveground herbivory by Mamestra brassicae. We also assessed soil legacy and herbivory effects on the production of terpenoid defense compounds (the iridoid glycosides aucubin and catalpol) in P. lanceolata. Our results show that both soil legacy and herbivory influence phenotypes of P. lanceolata in terms of induction of Pl PPO7 and Pl LOX2, whereas the expression of Pl PR1 and Pl PR2-1 is not affected by soil legacies, nor by herbivory. We also find species-specific soil legacy effects on the production of aucubin. Moreover, P. lanceolata accumulates more catalpol when they are grown in soils conditioned by grass species. Our study highlights that PSF can influence aboveground plant–insect interactions through the impacts on plant defense traits and suggests that aboveground plant defense responses can be determined, at least partly, by plant-specific legacy effects induced by belowground organisms.
  • Journal of Ecology

    Plant community composition but not plant traits determine the outcome of soil legacy effects on plants and insects

    1.Plants leave species-specific legacies in the soil they grow in that can represent changes in abiotic or biotic soil properties. It has been shown that such legacies can affect future plants that grow in the same soil (plant-soil feedback, PSF). Such processes have been studied in detail, but mostly on individual plants. Here we study PSF effects at the community level and use a trait-based approach both in the conditioning phase and in the feedback phase to study how twelve individual soil legacies influence six plant communities that differ in root size.

    2.We tested if (I) grassland perennial species with large root systems would leave a stronger legacy than those with small root systems, (II) grass species would leave a more positive soil legacy than forbs and (III) communities with large root systems would be more responsive than small-rooted communities. We also tested (IV) whether a leaf chewing herbivore and a phloem feeder were affected by soil legacy effects in a community framework.

    3.Our study shows that the six different plant communities that we used respond differently to soil legacies of twelve different plant species and their functional groups. Species with large root systems did not leave stronger legacies than species with small root systems, nor were communities with large root systems more responsive than communities with root systems.

    4.Moreover, we show that when communities are affected by soil legacies, these effects carry over to the chewing herbivore Mamestra brassicae (Lepidoptera: Noctuidae) through induced behavioral changes resulting in better performance of a chewing herbivore on forb-conditioned soils than on grass-conditioned soils, whereas performance of the phloem feeder Rhopalosiphum padi (Hemiptera: Aphididae) remained unaffected.

    5.Synthesis: The results of this study shed light on the variability of soil effects found in previous work on feedbacks in communities. Our study suggests that the composition of plant communities determines to a large part the response to soil legacies. Furthermore, the responses to soil legacies of herbivores feeding on the plant communities that we observed, suggests that in natural ecosystems, the vegetation history may also have an influence on contemporary herbivore assemblages. This opens up exciting new areas in plant-insect research and can have important implications for insect pest management.

Projecten & samenwerkingen