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Adriaan "Adjan" de Jong

Adriaan De Jong
My research is focused on migratory birds of boreal landscapes. Focal species are Bean Goose (Anser fabalis), Eurasian Curlew (Numenius arquata) and Rustic Bunting (Emberiza rustica). Focal habitats are the sub-dominant elements of the boreal landscape: farmland, wetlands and man-made non-forested spaces (e.g. clear-cuts and settlements). In addition to counts and inventories, I work with genetic tools (including eDNA), stable isotopes and various markers (mainly GPS/GSM loggers). Most of my work occurs in an international context.


Curiosity and an urge to explore new territory are my main drivers in research, and in mastering new technology and software. In addition, I want the results of my work to be useful for biodiversity conservation and sustainable use of natural resources.

Eurasian Curlew Numenius arquata
My research on the Eurasian Curlew started in 1984 from an early notion of widespread decline. Over the years, I’ve added some pieces of knowledge to the understanding of this decline. I’ve also gone a long way to funnel this knowledge into the world of hands-on agriculture and to the UNEP/AEWA international action plan.

Bean Goose Anser fabalis
My research on Bean Geese started with the observation that goose counts alone cannot provide the evidence needed for sustainable management (including harvest) and conservation. Gradually, I managed to apply new tools (e.g. GPS/GSM loggers and genetics) and to widen the scope of this study (throughout entire flyways). Preliminary results show that the Bean Goose population is highly structured, and that management and harvest decision should take this within-species diversity into account. Even for this species, my findings have been and will be used in the UNEP/AEWA international action plan. My research has also contributed to a new awareness about the occurrence of subspecies (e.g. Tundra Bean Geese) and local populations among ornithologist in Sweden and abroad.

Birds and infrastructure
Linear infrastructure (e.g. roads and railways) is generally considered harmful to birds and compensation programs have been doomed inadequate. I used the construction of the Bothnia Line railway for a rare Before-During-After Control-Impact study the potential effects on farmland and wetland birds. Preliminary results show that the impact on farmland birds varies between species, but is generally small. For wetlands bird species, compensatory wetlands can function well if these are managed with birdlife in focus, and if the loss of non-targeted birds of the altered habitats are neglected.

Long-distance migratory boreal passerines.
The causes of decline in breeding populations of migratory birds are often hard to pinpoint, potentially leading to blame-games and inefficient conservation measures. The strongly declining Rustic Bunting Emberiza rustica may suffer from current forestry practices and/or from factors in their winter quarters in East Asia or on stopping sites en route. Together with Professor Lars Edenius and international partners, I described the range-wide population trend and am now in the process of unravelling the migration connectivity using stable isotopes and genetic markers. Next will be a quantification of habitat changes and human impact. Similar to the Bean goose case, shear observational data are not enough for wise policy making and action planning.

Most location loggers (e.g. GPS-based units) are still too heavy for small passerines. RFID technology uses very light PIT tags attached to the birds and fixed antenna stations for registration of visits. With multiple antenna stations (at feeders or nest-boxes) and a population of tagged individuals, the data output can be used for studies of e.g. temporal behaviour, parental care and social interactions. New inexpensive reader cards have enabled the use of RFID technology in a growing number of bird studies. Most of these studies have been of fairly short duration (days to weeks) and in amiable habitats. Aided by experience from RFID technology in fish research at our department, I’ve struggled to adept RFID technology to long-term studies in harsh Nordic environments. So far, the results have been depressing in terms of output of usable data, but my experiences have been used for the development of the next generation of reader cards. I’ve also contributed to an R-script/Web-based analysis and visualization tool (“feedr”/animalnexus) for location data from stationary loggers.


Currently, I only teach in the topics “Marking techniques in ornithology”, “Citizen Science” and “Animal welfare in wildlife research” at the Master’s level course Fish and Wildlife Census Techniques (MX0122).

Previously, I’ve taught university students since 1981, e.g. in ornithology, biostatistics, computer science and forest regeneration. I’ve also been course convener.

I was a youth and adult school teacher 1992-2006 (main topics: natural sciences and entrepreneurship in school), and have trained teachers (colleagues and others) in ornithology, computer science, environmental sciences and entrepreneurship.

I’ve completed the full training program for academic teaching and supervision, and I regularly attend EPU courses and seminars.

Within the Swedish off-school educational scheme (“Folkbildningen”), I’ve lead dozens of courses in a variety of topics, and for NGOs, I’ve lead hundreds of excursions and given many oral presentations.


After reaching my PhD in 2012, I continued my projects:

  • Monitoring spring-staging swans, geese and cranes in coastal landscapes of northern Sweden.
  • Neckband-based study of Taiga Bean Goose migration.
  • BDACI study of the possible effects of a new railway on farmland breeding birds.
  • Monitoring of breeding population of the Eurasian Curlew in Hössjö (c. 700 ha).
  • Hatching success in the Eurasian Curlew in northern Sweden.

I also developed the following research projects:

  • GPS/GSM transmitter-based study of Taiga Bean Geese movement and habitat choice.
  • Genetic population structure of the Western Flyway unit of the Taiga Bean goose.
  • Follow-up study of compensatory measures for the Bothnia Line railway project on breeding birds.
  • Stable isotope based studies of migratory boreal species (e.g. Rustic Bunting).
  • RFID technology in behavioural studies of passerines in Nordic environments.

In most of these projects, I’ve conducted the full suite of actions: from idea, planning and funding to fieldwork, analyses and publication.


I was born and raised in the Netherlands and have a strong background in a youth organization for nature study and environmental protection (similar to “Fältbiologerna” in Sweden). After five years at Wageningen University (formerly LH) and a Candidate A degree in Environmental Sciences, I moved to Sweden.

I came to Umeå in September 1978 for complementary courses in forest ecology and management, and then worked for the Department of Forestry at Umeå University 1979-1991. After the collapse of this department, I took a teacher’s degree in Biology and Natural Sciences and from 1992, I held various positions in youth and adult schools.

I’ve always been much more of an ornithologist sensu stricto than a bird-watcher and have been active in a wide variety of bird study projects since childhood. I’m also used to initiate and conduct my own projects and businesses. In 2006, I decided to spend the rest of my professional career in academic ornithology.

Newly marked Tundra Bean Goose on Varanger Peninsula, Norway. Soon heading for Sweden. Photo: Peter Sunesson.
GPS/GSM tagged Taiga Bean Goose. To migrate between northern Sweden and Denmark. Photo: Anita Norman.
Lucky survivor and new hope - newborn Eurasian Curlew chick.
Incubating Eurasian Curlew - ”bold” individual on the ”leave early” to “sit tight” scale.
Hatching eggs in Eurasian Curlew nest. Less than 40% of the nests hatch.


Currently, I supervise one Master and two Batchelor students. Previously, I’ve (co)supervised four Bachelor projects. Additionally, I’ve supervised four international apprentices.

Selected publications

de Jong, A. (2017) Övervakning 2016 och 2017 av vårrastande gäss, svanar och tranor i Norrbottens och Västerbottens kustland. [Monitoring spring-staging geese, swans and cranes in coastal regions of Norrbotten and Västerbotten County 2016-2017.] Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, Department of Wildlife, Fish, and Environmental Studies, Report 7/2017.

LaZerte, S.E., Reudink, M.W., Otter, K.A., Kusack, J., Bailey, J.M., Woolverton, A., Paetkau, M., de Jong, A. & Hill, D.J. (2017) feedr and A paired R package and user-friendly Web application for transforming and visualizing animal movement data from static stations. Ecology and Evolution 7 (19): 7884–7896.

de Jong, A. & Olsson, F. (2017) What do Bohemian Waxwings Bombycilla garrulus find on agricultural fields in winter? Ornis Svecica 27: 37–40.

Fox, A.D., Hobson, K.A., de Jong, A., Kardynal, K.J., Koehler, G. & Heinicke, T. (2016) Flyway population delineation in Taiga Bean Geese Anser fabalis fabalis revealed by multi-element feather stable isotope analysis. Ibis 159, 66–75.

Edenius, L., Choi, C-Y., Heim, W., Jaakkonen, T., de Jong, A., Ozaki, K and Roberge, J-M. (2016) The next common and widespread bunting to go? Global population decline in the Rustic Bunting Emberiza rustica. Bird Conservation International 27 (1): 35-44.

Sjöberg, K. & de Jong, A. (2014) Fågelstudier 2009 med anledning av Botniabanans dragning över Umeälvens mynningsområde. [Ornithological studies 2009 related to the construction of the Bothnia Line railway through the Ume River Delta.] Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, Department of Wildlife, Fish, and Environmental Studies, Report 30/2014.

de Jong, A., Magnhagen, C. & Thulin, C-G. (2013) Variable flight initiation distance in incubating Eurasian curlew. Behavioral ecology and Sociobiology 67: 1089-1096.

de Jong, A., Heinicke, T., Aarvak, T. & Øien, I.J. (2013) Movements of Tundra Bean Geese Anser fabalis rossicus neck-banded in northern Scandinavia. Ornis Norvegica 36: 28-31.

de Jong, A. (2012). Seasonal shift of foraging habitat among farmland breeding Eurasian Curlews Numenius arquata. Ornis Norvegica 35: 23-27.

Nilsson, L., de Jong, A., Heinicke, T. & Sjöberg, K. (2010) Satellite tracking of Bean Geese Anser fabalis fabalis and A.f. rossicus from spring staging areas in northern Sweden to breeding and moulting areas. Ornis Svecica 20 (3-4): 184-189.

de Jong, A. (2004) Häckning av småspov Numenius phaeopus på jordbruksmark inom Vindelns kommun in 2003. [Confirmed breeding of Whimbrel Numenius phaeopus on farmland in Vindeln municipality in 2013.] Ornis Svecica 14 (1): 52-56.

de Jong, A. (2002) Häckning av smalnäbbad simsnäppa Phalaropus lobatus på jordbruksmark. [Confirmed breeding of Red-necked Phalarope Phalaropus lobatus on agricultural land.] Ornis Svecica 12 (1): 89-90.

de Jong, A. (1996) Abnormt långsmala tofsvipeägg - tecken på intraspecifik boparasitism? [Abnormally elongated eggs in Northern Lapwing – indicative of intra-specific nest parasitism?] Ornis Svecica 6 (1): 75-76.


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