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Piersma, Prof. Theunis

Theunis Piersma
Theunis Piersma


Migratory birds, godwits, animal ecology

Curriculum Vitae

Theunis Piersma is professor of Animal Ecology. Together with his international research team, he studies how the distribution and numbers of waders correlate to climate, food, predators, pathogens and their historical-genetic background. Research is being conducted within the Netherlands as well as in comparable ecosystems in Africa, Australia, North and South America and Asia.

Piersma also works as a Wadden biologist for the Royal Netherlands Institute for Sea Research (NIOZ) on the island of Texel. Piersma is one of the greatest advocates of conservation of the Wadden Sea. ‘No other country treats its nature reserves as badly as the Netherlands does’, according to Piersma. ‘Over the past twenty years, the ecological system of our last wilderness has been steadily destroyed.’ For the past two years he has concentrated, inter alia, on population studies among black-tailed godwits. He is, for example, involved in a study that tracks godwits in their breeding grounds in Friesland and during their migration to and from southern Europe and Africa via a transmitter in their abdominal cavity.

In 2004 Piersma was awarded the Prince Bernhard Cultural Foundation Prize for Nature Conservation, and in 2009 he was appointed a member of the Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences. In 2011 he received a NWO grant for research on bird tracking tools. In 2012, Piersma opened the Dutch jubilee conference of the World Wildlife Fund with a performance of 'Music of Migration' - a story of the black-tailed godwit in work, image and music, together with multi-instrumentalist Sytze Pruiksma. In 2014 Piersma was awarded a Spinoza Prize, also referred to as the 'Dutch Nobel Prize'. In 2017 he received a top British ornithology award.



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Last modified:14 August 2019 4.02 p.m.
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