Since 2021, I am a member of Team Piersma, focussing on the demography of the black-tailed godwit in the Netherlands. And what an absolute pleasure that is! Observing godwits while they reunite with their partners at the start of the breeding season, how they carefully construct their nest, the little marital fights they pick, how the newly hatched chicks clumsily discover the world… it is amazing to get an insight into their way of life.

During my PhD at the Conservation Ecology Group of the University of Groningen, we aim to gain a more comprehensive understanding of the demography of these waders. More specifically, we study the way the environment and current agricultural practices shape demographic processes in the Frisian population of black-tailed godwits. By creating an integrated population model, we can finally connect all life stages to more thoroughly understand the determinants of the godwit’s population decline. Moreover, I mainly focus on the process of recruitment: the journey a godwit needs to make from the egg phase until it enters the breeding population.

Newly hatched godwit chicks in Fryslân, The Netherlands. Photo by Marie