Theunis Piersma

Theunis Piersma
NIOZ Royal Netherlands Institute for Sea Research | NIOZ · Department of Marine Ecology (MEE)

About

805
Publications
177,211
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30,834
Citations
Additional affiliations
January 2012 - present
University of Groningen
Position
  • Chair in Global Flyway Ecology

Publications

Publications (805)
Article
Full-text available
Migratory shorebirds are notable consumers of benthic invertebrates on intertidal sediments. The distribution and abundance of shorebirds will strongly depend on their prey and on landscape and sediment features such as mud and surface water content, topography, and the presence of ecosystem engineers. An understanding of shorebird distribution and...
Article
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Satellite and GPS tracking technology continues to reveal new migration patterns of birds which enables comparative studies of migration strategies and distributional information useful in conservation. Bar‐tailed godwits in the East Asian–Australasian Flyway Limosa lapponica baueri and L. l. menzbieri are known for their long non‐stop flights, how...
Article
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1. Insufficient reproduction as a consequence of predation on eggs and chicks is a major determinant of population decline in ground-nesting birds, including waders. For many populations, there is an urgent need to maintain breeding populations at key sites, and conservation practitioners need to find viable management solutions to reduce predation...
Article
1. Identifying where and when population “bottlenecks” occur is critical to the conservation of migratory species, many of which are declining precipitously worldwide. Especially challenging is the evaluation of changes to staging sites. These sites are indispensable links in the migratory cycle but are typically used only briefly. 2. We devised a...
Preprint
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Intertidal mudflat systems are shaped by geological processes and an interplay of hydrodynamics, sediment availability and ecological processes. All around the world these systems are affected by relative sea level rise (RSLR), changing climate and by human activities such as sediment nourishments, dredging, hydrological engineering and bottom traw...
Article
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The Pacific Basin, by virtue of its vastness and its complex aeroscape, provides unique opportunities to address questions about the behavioral and physiological capabilities and mechanisms through which birds can complete spectacular flights. No longer is the Pacific seen just as a formidable barrier between terrestrial habitats in the north and t...
Article
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Present‐day ecology and population structure are the legacies of past climate and habitat perturbations, and this is particularly true for species that are widely distributed at high latitudes. The red knot, Calidris canutus, is an arctic‐breeding, long‐distance migratory shorebird with six recognized subspecies defined by differences in morphology...
Article
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1. Misidentification of marked individuals is unavoidable in most studies of wild animal populations. Models commonly used for the estimation of survival from such capture‐recapture data ignore misidentification errors potentially resulting in biased parameter estimates. With a simulation study we show that ignoring misidentification in Cormack‐Jol...
Article
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Abstract Maintaining the biodiversity of agricultural ecosystems has become a global imperative. Across Europe, species that occupy agricultural grasslands, such as black‐tailed godwits (Limosa limosa limosa), have undergone steep population declines. In this context, there is a significant need to both determine the root causes of these declines a...
Article
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Migratory shorebirds are among the most threatened groups of birds. They rely on natural intertidal habitats outside the breeding season, but, to some extent have adjusted to using man‐made habitats. Here, we assessed the importance of coastal saltpans – a type of anthropogenic wetland – for feeding in migratory shorebirds during their northward mi...
Article
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1. Longitudinal tracking studies have revealed consistent differences in the migration patterns of individuals from the same populations. The sources or processes causing this individual variation are largely unresolved. As a result, it is mostly unknown how much, how fast, and when animals can adjust their migrations to changing environments. 2. W...
Article
Supplemental feeding to mitigate the effects of food shortages may in some cases provide critical help to species conservation. However, supplemental feeding may have both positive and negative effects on wildlife and the environment. A scientifically designed feeding project helps to achieve conservation targets and reduces adverse effects. Here,...
Article
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Understanding the connectivity among seascape habitats is an important emerging topic in marine ecology and coastal management. Mangroves are known to provide many ecosystem services such as coastal protection and carbon cycling, but their functional relationships with adjacent benthic intertidal communities are less clear. We examined how spatial...
Article
Long‐distance migratory species often include multiple breeding populations, with distinct migration routes, wintering areas and annual‐cycle timing. Detailed knowledge on population structure and migratory connectivity provides the basis for studies on the evolution of migration strategies and for species conservation. Currently, five subspecies o...
Article
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Upon settlement after a pelagic larval phase, brown shrimp Crangon crangon depend on intertidal flats. During low as well as high tide the young brown shrimp play roles as predators of meiofauna and as prey for fish and birds. Unlike the biology of the commercially important adults, knowledge on these juveniles remains sketchy. Here we provide an a...
Article
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Aim Molluscs are important grazers, filter and deposit feeders, scavengers and predators, which in turn are food for shorebirds, fish and people. Some species, targeted as human food, have been cultured along the Chinese coast for hundreds of years. To examine whether aquacultural practices have meanwhile affected biodiversity gradients, we measure...
Article
Acts of flight have always baffled humans. Recent tracking studies of birds only add to the awe and mystery. A new study shows that migrating great snipes fly high — over two kilometres high — during the day and lower at night. Why?
Article
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The Bohai Black-tailed Godwit (Limosa limosa bohaii) is a newly discovered subspecies in the East Asian-Australasian Flyway. Based on satellite tracking of 21 individuals that were tagged in northern Bohai Bay, China, from 2016 to 2018, we here describe the annual cycle of this subspecies. All the birds had Thailand as their southernmost ‘winter’ d...
Preprint
Full-text available
Present-day ecology and population structure are the legacies of past climate and habitat perturbations, and this is particularly true for species that are widely distributed at high latitudes. The red knot, Calidris canutus , is an arctic-breeding, long-distance migratory shorebird with six recognized subspecies defined by differences in morpholog...
Article
Full-text available
In a 1998 paper entitled “Guts don’t fly: small digestive organs in obese bar-tailed godwits,” Piersma and Gill (1998) showed that the digestive organs were tiny and the fat loads huge in individuals suspected of embarking on a non-stop flight from Alaska to New Zealand. It was suggested that prior to migratory departure, these godwits would shrink...
Article
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The ecological reasons for variation in avian migration with some populations migrating across thousands of kilometres between breeding and non‐breeding areas with one or few refuelling stops, in contrast with others that stop more often, remain to be pinned down. Red Knots Calidris canutus are a textbook example of a shorebird species that makes l...
Article
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Artificial wetlands such as coastal saltpans have replaced a number of coastal natural habitats worldwide and may have accommodated specific waterbird populations in the East Asian–Australasian Flyway (EAAF). The role of saltpans in the EAAF as foraging grounds for shorebirds is widely recognized, although their role as breeding grounds for waterbi...
Article
Mangrove forests are productive habitats and major potential exporters of organic matter and nutrients to adjacent habitats. Here we examine the extent to which mangrove carbon is transferred to adjacent intertidal food webs in the second largest mangrove-covered area in Africa, in Guinea-Bissau. Applying stable isotope analysis and mixing models,...
Article
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The benthic communities of soft-sediment intertidal ecosystems trophically underpin the migration of birds and fish. Within the East Atlantic Flyway, along the coast of West-Africa, the intertidal mudflats of Banc d’Arguin, Mauritania, host over 2 million migratory waterbirds. Despite the protected status of the Banc d’Arguin, geographical remotene...
Article
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Occurring across Eurasia, the Black-tailed Godwit Limosa limosa has three recognized subspecies, from east to west melanuroides, limosa, and islandica, respectively. With the smallest body size, melanuroides has been considered the only subspecies in the East Asian-Australasian Flyway. Yet, observations along the Chinese coast indicated the presenc...
Article
Mass regulation is birds is well documented. For example, birds can increase body mass in response to lower availability and/or predictability of food and decrease body mass in response to increased predation danger. Birds also demonstrate an ability to maintain body mass across a range of food qualities. Although the adaptive significance of mass...
Article
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In this paper, we extend our understanding of the migration of Black-tailed Godwits (Limosa limosa limosa) by describing: (1) the orientation and geographic locations of individual migratory routes and (2) the spatial distribution of godwits across seasons and years. We accomplish this using satellite-tracking data from 36 adult godwits breeding in...
Article
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The fast economic development of the People’s Republic of China has created an increasing demand for usable land, resulting in large-scale land reclamations along the coastal zone. One of these regions is Tongzhou Bay (Jiangsu coast), a region characterized by large intertidal mudflats and deep tidal channels with potential for the development of a...
Article
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Ontogenetic niche shifts have helped to understand population dynamics. Here we show that ontogenetic niche shifts also offer an explanation, complementary to traditional concepts, as to why certain species show seasonal migration. We describe how demographic processes (survival, reproduction and migration) and associated ecological requirements of...
Article
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Despite the wealth of studies on seasonal movements of birds between southern nonbreeding locations and High Arctic breeding locations, the key mechanisms of navigation during these migrations remain elusive. A flight along the shortest possible route between pairs of points on a sphere (‘orthodrome’) requires a bird to be able to assess its curren...
Article
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Migratory shorebirds show highly organized seasonal cycles in physiological and morphological traits (body mass and composition, plumage, hormone levels, etc.), which in captivity is accompanied by restless behaviour at times when free‐living birds would start migration. We introduce the idea that seasonally changing preference for habitat could mo...
Article
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China’s continuous and rapid economic growth has led to the reclamation of large sections of the intertidal mud coast in combination with port construction, such as that of the proposed Tongzhou Bay port on the Jiangsu coast. These reclamations threaten the local ecosystem services. An ecotope distribution map was created and a hydrodynamic numeric...
Article
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Capsule: Black-tailed Godwits Limosa limosa show sexual size dimorphism and size differences between the subspecies. The shape varies slightly between the subspecies, but not between the sexes. Aims: To investigate whether and how the three subspecies of Black-tailed Godwits, and the sexes of these subspecies, differ in size and shape. Methods: We...
Article
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The Dutch breeding population of House Martin has declined with more than 75% since the 1960s, although recently numbers have slightly recovered. For more insight in the underlying causes, a national House Martin nest study to quantify breeding performance was organized in 2018. 88 dedicated volunteers made weekly observations of 1272 individual ne...
Article
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1. Evolutionary theories of seasonal migration generally assume that the costs of longer migrations are balanced by benefits at the non-breeding destinations. 2. We tested, and rejected, the null hypothesis of equal survival and timing of spring migration for High Arctic breeding sanderling Calidris alba using six and eight winter destinations betw...
Article
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In an attempt to encourage the discourse on sources of individual variation in seasonal migration patterns and the microevolution of bird migration, we here critically examine the published interpretations of a now classic displacement study with starlings Sturnus vulgaris. Based on the ring recoveries after experimental displacement towards the so...
Article
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Long‐term population studies can identify changes in population dynamics over time. However, to realize meaningful conclusions, these studies rely on accurate measurements of individual traits and population characteristics. Here, we evaluate the accuracy of the observational methods used to measure reproductive traits in individually marked black‐...
Article
In many bird species intraspecific variation in migration strategies is related to sex or size. The Eurasian Bittern Botaurus stellaris is a sexually size-dimorphic heron species with a vast breeding and wintering range spanning a range of climates. Ringing data show that Bitterns from northern populations migrate westwards or southwards over thous...
Article
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The Parc National du Banc d’Arguin in Mauritania hosts the largest concentrations of coastal waterbirds along the East Atlantic Flyway. In spite of this importance, a review of the changes in the numbers of waterbirds in the area is lacking since the first complete count in 1980. Here we analysed the seven complete waterbird counts made since then,...
Article
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In the past two decades, the development of new and smaller tracking devices created the possibility to describe the, very often surprising, migrations of an increasing number of bird species (e.g. Wikelski et al. 2007, Gill et al. 2009, Bridge et al. 2011). As a result, we now have a better understanding of when and
Article
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Egg sizes of birds vary considerably at the population level; the largest eggs are generally at least 50% larger than the smallest eggs within a population (Christians 2002). Such variation could result from consistent differences in egg size among individuals. These consistent differences among individuals, in turn, could be the result of consiste...
Article
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Long-distance migratory flights are predicted to be associated with higher mortality rates when individuals encounter adverse weather conditions. However, directly connecting environmental conditions experienced in-flight with the survival of migrants has proven difficult. We studied how the in-flight mortality of 53 satellite-tagged Black-tailed G...
Article
Studies of interactions among earthworms as prey for visually foraging predators required a field method that measures earthworm availability (i.e., the density of surfacing earthworms). We present such a method by counting surfacing earthworms at night by an observer lying prone on a cart propelled by an observer across measured distances at const...
Poster
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Every year, more than one million shorebirds migrate through the EAF to winter in the Bijagós archipelago, off the coast of Guinea-Bissau, West Africa, the 2nd most important wintering intertidal area in Africa. Bijagós intertidal areas are under wide-ranged semi-diurnal tidal cycles, which constrain the availability of foraging grounds for shorebi...
Article
Especially in birds, it is widely found that the size of individual prey items follows the size of the instruments of prey capture, handling and processing, i.e. bill size. In fact, this is the natural history basis of major discoveries on adaptative evolution in the face of changing food resources. In some birds, e.g. the molluscivore shorebirds i...
Article
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Eutrophication causes tremendous losses to seagrass around the globe. The effects of nutrient loading vary along environmental gradients, and wave forces especially are expected to affect meadow stability, nutrient status, and responses to nutrient supply. Here, we surveyed the pristine subtropical intertidal seagrass system of Banc d’Arguin, Mauri...
Article
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1.Satellite‐based technologies that track individual animal movements enable the mapping of their spatial and temporal patterns of occurrence. This is particularly useful in poorly studied or remote regions where there is a need for the rapid gathering of relevant ecological knowledge to inform management actions. One such region is East Asia, wher...
Article
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Background Throughout the world, intensive dairy farming has resulted in grasslands almost devoid of arthropods and birds. Meadow birds appear to be especially vulnerable during the chick-rearing period. So far, studies have focused mainly on describing population declines, but solutions to effectively stop these trends on the short-term are lackin...
Article
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The Yellow Sea coastline in East Asia, an important staging area for migratory shorebirds in the East Asian-Australasian Flyway (EAAF), is rapidly deteriorating. Conserving the declining shorebird populations that rely on the Yellow Sea requires habitat protection and management based on sound ecological knowledge, especially on the seasonal occurr...
Book
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The unsurprising, but rather drastic changes necessary to realise, the spatially explicit ‘recipes’ for ideal meadowbird landscapes in southwest Friesland, will hopefully assist the rediscovery of the many benefits of healthy soils, high water tables and high biodiversity in terms of human health and happiness, quality of food and the ecosystem ser...
Article
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Kubelka et al . (Reports, 9 November 2018, p. 680) claim that climate change has disrupted patterns of nest predation in shorebirds. They report that predation rates have increased since the 1950s, especially in the Arctic. We describe methodological problems with their analyses and argue that there is no solid statistical support for their claims.