Emma Penning

I am a PhD student at the University of Groningen and I am based at the Coastal Systems group of the Royal Netherlands Institute for Sea Research (NIOZ). I have worked under the supervision of Theunis Piersma since the start of my masters. I work in the research project Conservation of the Dynamic Island of Griend. The project is funded by the Dutch NGO Natuurmonumenten and I work in close collaboration with colleagues at the University of Groningen. My study area is the island Griend and the mudflat around the island, located in the Western Dutch Wadden Sea (here).

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Sanderlings on Griend at high tide. Photo from the 'Griendboek' by Hanneke Dallmeijer & Jan Veen; griendboek.nl.

In spring and autumn hundreds of thousands of migrating shorebirds make use of Griend to rest but also to fatten up at the food-rich mudflat that surround it. Sanderlings are increasingly making use of Griend and are the main focus of my project. I study habitat use of Sanderlings in relation to food abundance and in relation to wintering area.

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Sanderlings on a tidal flat. Photo from the 'Griendboek' by Hanneke Dallmeijer & Jan Veen; griendboek.nl

In addition, I study the possible effects of the recent restoration works on Griend on the presence of Sanderlings. The restoration was required because of ongoing rapid erosion, and intends to restore processes that should make sure that the island can maintain itself in the future. The reconstruction was featured in The National Geographic. We keep a blog about the research that is done around Griend.


Cockle Cerastoderma edule on  the mudflats of Griend. Photo: Emma Penning

Profile photo: Sander Zondervan