Postdoc Movement Ecology: “Studying the causes of shorebird movement and habitat selection” | NIOZ

The department of Coastal Systems (COS) is looking for a highly motivated Postdoc. We offer a postdoctoral position of maximally 3 years on movement and spatial ecology of shorebirds under the supervision of Dr. Allert Bijleveld. This project is part of ongoing research on understanding how individual differences, sociality and the distribution of resources affect movement and spatial distributions of shorebirds in the Dutch Wadden Sea.

VACANCY ID:         2019 – 78
CLOSING DATE:    December 5, 2019

Apply there:



The Department of COS studies integral coastal ecosystems and their populations of fish, birds and other marine animals in the North and Wadden Seas as well as on a global scale. The department focusses on key physical, chemical and biological processes that determine the productivity and the ecological functioning of coastal areas. The coastal system is studied as a unity by considering the interrelations between the key compartments of the ecosystem (water, sediment, microalgae, macrozoobenthos, parasites, fish and birds).


The Wadden Sea is a UNESCO world heritage site and important for many migratory shorebirds, such as Red knots that arrive in the Wadden Sea after breeding in the Arctic to moult their feathers and feed on shellfish. To track shorebirds in the Dutch Wadden Sea, we have deployed the novel high-resolution tracking system WATLAS. Since 2017, we have tracked approximately 450 individual Red Knots with a position fix every 1 to 6 seconds for a duration of 2-8 months each year. In the coming years, we additionally aim to track 300 individuals each year.

The general aim within this postdoc project is to understand the movement and spatial distribution of shorebirds in their dynamic intertidal habitat. Each summer, with the SIBES project, we additionally sample the distribution of prey in the entire Dutch Wadden Sea. This allows analysing how movement and spatial distributions of Red Knots depend on variation in the distribution of prey.

Besides analysing existing data and writing manuscripts, the successful candidate will help keep the WATLAS tracking system operational and do field work. This will include sailing with the RV Navicula to deploy receiver stations on the mudflats of the Wadden Sea, and catching and tagging birds on the uninhabited island Griend.


Applicants must have a PhD degree, or aim to submit their PhD thesis for assessment by spring 2020. A background in animal behaviour and/or ecology, experience with handling large data sets, and the analysis of animal movement data are required. Because the successful candidate will have large amounts of tracking data available, strong statistical, analytical and computational skills are critical. Practical experience with field work is advantageous. The successful candidate is also expected to have good collaborative skills and proven abilities to publish and present at a high international level.

Preferably, the candidate starts before spring 2020. Interested applicants should submit a CV, names and contact information for 3 references, and a cover letter by December 5, 2019. The cover letter should include (1) a summary of the applicant’s research and (2) their experience with the analyses of movement and spatial data, and (3) 1-3 research questions and approaches that the applicant would like to pursue with the WATLAS tracking data.



We offer a postdoctoral position of maximally 3 years, a pension scheme, a yearly 8% vacation allowance, 42 days of holiday leave (for a full-time appointment) 8,3 % year-end bonus and flexible employment conditions. Advanced training opportunities are available. Conditions are based on the Collective Labour Agreement of Research Centers.
Cost of relocation and help with housing is provided by Royal NIOZ.

Additional information on job details: Dr. A.I. (Allert) Bijleveld, scientist.

For additional information on the procedure, please contact Sigrid Moerbeek (senior HR advisor)

Please note that by December 10th we aim to invite suitable candidates for an interview on December 16th, 2019




Featured image: Large flock of Sanderlings. Griend, central Dutch Wadden sea. August 2014.