Dr. Ruth A. Howison


I am a post-doctoral researcher at the Conservation Ecology Group of the University of Groningen, The Netherlands. My key interests lie in understanding the dynamic spatial ecology of habitat and habitat choice of the migratory continental Black-tailed Godwit (Limosa limosa) along the East Atlantic Flyway. My background is in spatial and vegetation ecology.

Global remote sensing data products are increasingly becoming available at higher spatial and temporal resolution. In the agricultural grasslands of north-west Europe, 80% of the breeding population of the iconic Black-tailed Godwit can be found during spring and early summer. We used the newly released radar based remote sensing products (Sentinel C-SAR) to analyse real time impacts of anthropogenic land use on declining biodiversity.

Linking our radar based proxy for land use intensity to field based data on plant community and the spatial distribution of early establishing Black-tailed Godwits, we found that land use intensity was a strong predictor for habitat quality and thereby gaining insight into the consequences of habitat choice on prospective breeding potential for Black-tailed Godwits.

Anthropogenic alteration of natural wetlands is having a major impact worldwide with consequences (both negative and positive) for migratory species such as Black-tailed Godwits. On their migratory route Black-tailed Godwits integrally connect geographically separated wetlands as they pass through France to spend the overwintering period in Spain and Portugal. Many make the Saharan crossing to overwintering sites in West Africa, namely; the Senegal River valley and delta, the coastal region of Senegal, The Gambia, Guinea-Bissau, Guinea, Sierra Leone and central Mali.


Ruth Howison in shallow lakes in the Djouj area, Senegal. Photo: Jos Hooijmeijer

Equipped with our novel and developing spatial tools, linked to satellite bird tracking and ground data to we are able to interpret the spatio-temporal dynamics within wetlands, the magnitude of anthropogenic changes and extent of potential habitat available to shorebirds throughout the East Atlantic Flyway.

For an overview of my publications and more details about my research, see my ResearchGate profile.

Profile photo: Han Olff.