Arctic bird migration highways

Arctic bird migration highways

Animal Ecology

Contact Pers:

Droevendaalsesteeg 10
6708 PB Wageningen

Are you interested in bird migration? Do you wonder why birds take the routes they do? Would you like to use bird migration-tracks in combination with environmental data such as wind patterns to find out why? This might be the right project for you!

We (Nomikos & Mo) are part of a large research consortium called ‘ArcticMigrants’. Our team investigates the fate and future of migratory birds that breed in the Arctic. We work in the emerging field of climate change ecology, and we make use of state-of-the-art methods such as the latest generation Earth System Models and bird tracking devices.

We have collected GPS tracking data on three different breeding populations of Barnacle Geese: Greenland, Svalbard and Barents Sea. Now that the data is in, it is time to start making sense of it all! We are especially interested in using global and local wind patterns to investigate the wind support (tailwind/headwind) these different goose populations experience now and in the future. We expect that differences in wind support will also explain differences in the migratory behavior of these populations, and that these populations will face different risks from changing wind conditions.

We are looking for a creative MSc student who is excited to ask questions and answer them with the available data to join our team. We will supply the prospective student with the tracking data (see figure) and the wind data (ERA5 daily data for present wind conditions and CMIP6 model data for future projections).

The student can also make use of our existing Python/R scripts in order to visualise this data on maps, and calculate metrics such as wind support and crosswinds. After this, it is up to the student to decide which facet they want to study in more depth, and we will help design a research plan.

The starting date is flexible. However, we are working on similar projects at the moment and it would therefore be beneficial to us and the student to start sooner rather than later. The location is also flexible. We have space to host you at the KNMI in De Bilt for 2-3 days a week, but this isn’t a requirement. We will be your day-to-day supervisors. We require that you stay in contact with us via weekly virtual meetings and we want to meet in person at least once every two weeks in De Bilt, but preferably slightly more frequent.

Your primary academic/thesis supervisor will be somebody from your own university, and Prof. R. Bintanja from the KNMI will act as co-supervisor. If you are interested or have any questions, please contact us: Nomikos ( Mo (