2023 Sylt, Germany

Key Info

Conference Dates
29/09/23 — 03/10/23

Registration Dates
27/05/23 — 15/07/23

Abstract Submission Dates
27/05/23 — 31/07/23

Attendance Fees
Members €130.00
Non-Members €172.00

The 2023 annual conference will be held at the Wadden Sea island of Sylt, Germany.

The Wadden Sea is the largest system of intertidal mudflats on the globe. Because of the globally unique geological and ecological values the Wadden Sea is listed as World Heritage.


The conference will take place on the weekend 30th Sep / 1st Oct, arrival of all participants is anticipated on Friday 29th Sep.
Two workshops will take place on Mon 2nd Oct, departure is scheduled for Tue 3rd Oct.

Please be aware that 3rd Oct is German Unity Day, our national holiday. Shops etc. will be closed and trains and busses might run on special timetables.

Please check our IWSG conference grants tab for information on scholarships.







IWSG is an organisation which is committed to diversity and inclusivity. Everyone is welcome to become a member or to join us at our conferences, irrespective of their age, ethnicity, gender, sexuality, nationality and socio-economic status.

If you have any questions regarding our annual meetings, please contact us via and


The island of Sylt is the northernmost Wadden Sea island of Germany. On the western shore, Sylt has a 40-kilometre long sandy beach. The eastern shore borders directly to the intertidal mudflats of the Wadden Sea. Sylt is a well known tourist destination. Since 1927, Sylt has been connected to the mainland by the Hindenburgdamm causeway

Our venue is located in the village Rantum – ADS Schullandheim, Am Torbogen 7, 25980 Sylt. From the train station in Westerland take bus line 2 and exit at “Rantum Nord Sylt Quelle”. From there, it is only a short walk to the venue.

“Schullandheim” is a hostel for school classes for when they go for several-day school trips. Our venue will provide accommodation, food, lecture halls and a bar all under one roof.


Our venue was a former barracks building during the Second World War. In the 1930ies the nearby Rantumbecken, a former Wadden Sea bay, was embanked by the National Socialists to create a landing place for seaplanes. Immediately after the Second World War ended the buildings hosted up to 2.500 refugees and also provided a school, shops etc. and even a church. Subsequently, the buildings provided accommodation for children who were sent into a maritime climate to regain strength. Since 1952 ADS Grenzfriedensbund is offering Schullandheim experiences for pupils, i.e. several-day schooltrips without parents.

ADS Grenzfriedensbund e.V. is a non-profit organisation offering social, cultural and educational activities especially for children and families in northern Schleswig-Holstein, Germany. A special focus is set on cultivating the Danish-German friendship especially in the border region and is active in fostering regional and minority languages.


From the venue, it is a short walk to the mudflats towards the east and to the sandy beaches to the west.

Travelling to an international conference incurs considerable carbon emissions. Please be considerate and try to minimize your carbon foot print.

How to travel to Sylt?

Although Sylt is an island, it has a train connection to the mainland. It also has an airport and you can bring your car to the island.

Travel by train

There are hourly train services from Hamburg to Sylt. Travel time is approx. 3 hours.

Visit the website of the German railway for timetables and tickets. Check for group offers and regional day tickets (choose Schleswig-Holstein ticket which is also valid for public transport in Hamburg).

From May 2023 onwards the Deutschland-ticket is available. This ticket allows you to use local and regional public transport (excluding high speed trains and IC/EC trains!) including most (but not all!) trains to Sylt and the public bus system on the island. The ticket costs € 49 per calender month. Please read carefully the information provided in this link to decide whether this is an option for you.

Consider installing the BahnApp which can be used to purchase tickets and might come handy when trains are delayed.

Please mind that the name of the train station at Sylt is called “Westerland/Sylt”. Trains leave from “Hamburg Altona station”. And please be aware that ticktes can no longer be purchased from train attendants.


Travel by car

Ferry – there is a car ferry connection to Sylt from the Danish island Rømø

Train – there is a car shuttle service by train from Niebüll to Westerland/Sylt, run by two companies: “Der blaue Autozug” and “Syltshuttle”.

Leave car at mainland – there are several possibilities to park your car at the mainland, close to the train stations of Niebüll and Klanxbüll. See above for train options to Sylt from there.


Travel by plane

directly – Sylt has an airport with flight connections to major German airports. Destination is called Westerland/Sylt.

via Hamburg airport – this is a convenient way to travel to Sylt from overseas. From the airport take subway S1 and exit at “Hamburg Altona railway station” from where you can get the train to Westerland/Sylt (see above). Please mind that, when travelling directly, all train tickets from Hamburg to Sylt are valid in the subway as well. You can check for timetables and tickets from “Hamburg-Flughafen” to Westerland/Sylt.

via Billund airport in Denmark – though not connected to Sylt via public transport, you still might want to check this option especially in combination with renting a car and taking the ferry from Rømø (see also above)


Travel by boat

Beside the car ferry, there is a passenger ferry connection from Nordstrand to Sylt Hörnum harbour. To get to Nordstrand, exit the train in Husum and take the bus to “Nordstrand-Fähranleger”. Please mind that there is only a morning departure to Sylt, and an afternoon departure to Nordstrand. You can also park your car at the ferry terminal (“Strucklahnungshörn”).


How to travel on Sylt?

Travelling on the island can easily be done by public bus transport (for timetable and fares, German only). Buses depart frequently from outside the train station in Westerland/Sylt. Take line 2 towards Hörnum and exit at “Rantum Nord Sylt Quelle” to reach our venue. Check for group fares.

Tickets for the bus can be purchased directly in the bus or via the Sylt Go App. Please be aware that (regional) train tickets (Schleswig-Holstein ticket, see above) are not valid in busses on the island.




We will provide both accommodation and catering as a full package.

Accommodation will be offered in a limited number of single and double rooms and a larger number of 3- and 4-person bedrooms all with either private or shared bathrooms.

For a sneak preview you are welcome to visit the website of the venue (German only).

Friday 29 September 2023

from afternoon: arrival

Saturday 30 September 2023

morning: AGM and talks

afternoon: excursion and social evening

Sunday 01 October 2023

morning: talks

afternoon: talks

Monday 02 October 2023


Tuesday 03 October 2023

morning: departure

Excursions are scheduled for Saturday afternoon around high tide.

As Sylt is a birding destination, we will find the places of our excursions not far away within reach by public transport. We will time the excursion to be able to observe birds coming into their high-tide roost and going out onto the mudflats again. We will encounter many different shorebird species as well as gulls, terns, ducks, geese and many others.

Bring your telescope and binoculars and do not forget to bring wind- and rain-proof clothes as well as a woolly hat and gloves! You may also want to bring sturdy shoes, rubber boots are not necessary. Walking distances will not be too far and paths will be paved or gravel or we will walk along a sandy beach.

All excursions will take approximately 3 – 4 hours and will finish in List/Sylt at the Naturgewalten exhibition centre where we will have dinner. Transport back and forth will be organised by us.


Destination 1: Königshafen List Königshafen bay

The famous Königshafen mudflats have been the study sites of many published studies on foraging ecology of migratory waders and/or ecological macrozoobenthos studies. The bay of Königshafen lies in the north of Sylt.


Destination 2: Rantumbecken Rantum basin

The Rantumbecken is a bird sanctuary with more than 60 species to be counted. It is within walking distance from our venue. The Rantumbecken is a former tidal Wadden Sea bay that has been embanked to provide a non-tidal landing place for waterplanes in the Nazi era. In the 1960ies, the area has become a protected nature preserve.


Destination 3: Hörnumer Nehrung Hörnum spit

The Hörnumer Nehrung (or Hörnumer spit) lies in the very south of Sylt. The peninsula creates a protected and safe spot for the birds during high tide. Walking along this sandy spit can be a bit strenuous.


Monday 02 October 2023

We have two workshops scheduled for this day. Both workshops will run in succession, so you do not have to decide which one you want to attend. However, please indicate during the registration process whether you’d like to attend to help us planning.

  • workshop 1: Assessing the capabilities of intertidal wintering and staging sites to mitigate climate change repercussions on arctic breeding waders
  • workshop 2: The use of tracking devices to study movements and behaviour

You can attend both workshops and still travel back from the island on Monday (i.e. booking a package until Monday only).


workshop 1: Assessing the capabilities of intertidal wintering and staging sites to mitigate climate change repercussions on arctic breeding waders

Arctic breeding waders have come under pressure as temperatures in the Arctic are increasing at a much faster rate than in temperate, subtropical and tropical regions. As a consequence,  snowmelt is advancing and so is the insect food peak needed by the chicks to grow. One way Arctic breeding waders can master this growing temporal mismatch is by advancing breeding, and hence arrival on the breeding grounds. To be able to do so, foraging conditions at the previous staging sites play a crucial role. This is especially true, since observations in a major staging site along the East Atlantic Flyway, the Wadden Sea, suggest that the timing of arrival of birds at this site has not (yet) advanced. Consequently, time to accumulate sufficient energy for the journey to the Arctic breeding grounds has (potentially) decreased. At the same time, major population declines in e.g. Bar-tailed Godwits and Red Knots have been recorded in the East Atlantic Flyway.

This workshop aims to address the question on how staging sites like the Wadden Sea can contribute to mitigate climate change repercussions for Arctic breeding waders.

However, intertidal soft sediment habitats like the Wadden Sea, have undergone changes as well which might have led or will lead to changes in food availability for migratory waders. Sea-level rise might reduce the availability of foraging habitat in the future even more. Yet, the currently most imminent threat for coastal wetlands and hence migratory waders comes from human activities such as habitat loss and degradation affecting the capability to gain sufficient energy stores for successful migration and reproduction.

The workshop intends to give an overview on the state of tidal flats as feeding habitat on major flyways (e.g. East-Atlantic Flyway, East-Asian-Australasian Flyway, Atlantic-American Flyway), including wintering and stop-over sites. Problems arising from changes at these sites and consequences for migratory birds will be discussed. It will bring together current knowledge on tidal flat ecology in relation to populations of migratory waders. Are there similarities in threats and problems worldwide? Where are knowledge gaps and how can they be solved? How can research and site protection together lead to a wise management of coastal wetlands?

For more information contact Gregor Scheiffahrt or Jutta Leyrer


workshop 2: The use of tracking devices to study movements and behaviour

This workshop aims to discuss a variety of practical issues (attachment methods, understanding variation in tag survival, data types and quality), as well as key questions and future developments in individual tracking.

For more information contact Bart Kempenaers

Low-income country IWSG conference grant

Each year the IWSG supports up to five low-income country delegates’ participation at the Annual Conference with €400. We have compiled a short form that will be the basis for prioritizing the applications.
Please note that we can only support people whose work is related to waders (species belonging to suborders Scolopaci, Thinocori, Chionidi and Charadrii). Also, to qualify for the scholarship, you must give an oral or poster presentation at the conference. The deadline for the application is the 31st of July and we will let the applicants know of the results as soon as possible. Click the link below to apply for the grant:
IWSG conference grant application

For questions, please contact the conference team via


Special scholarship IWSG conference 2023

This year we are able to offer a limited number of spots to attend the 2023 Annual Conference at a reduced price of €150. This price covers full board in a shared 4-bed room from Fri 29th Sep to Tue 03rd Oct 2023 including the conference fee. You still need to cover your own travel costs and the IWSG membership fee if you are not yet a member.

This scholarship is open to all those who have no access to institutional or other support. Please mind that these scholarships are currently still subject to final approval by the funding body.

Please note that we can only support people whose work is related to waders (species belonging to suborders Scolopaci, Thinocori, Chionidi and Charadrii). Also, to qualify for the scholarship, you must give an oral or poster presentation at the conference. Please register your presentation via our abstract submission page.

The deadline for the application is the 15th of July and we will let the applicants know of the results as soon as possible. In case of a very high demand, we reserve the right to close registration earlier, which we will announce on this page. Please apply well in time.

Click the link here to apply for the grant: IWSG2023 special scholarship application

For questions related to this scholarship, please contact us via

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