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Adriaan "Adjan" de Jong

Adriaan De Jong
My research focuses 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 the main drivers of my research. 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. Unfortunately, this decline is still on-going and the causes poorly understood. Over the years, I’ve added some pieces of knowledge to the understanding of this decline, e.g. about habitat choice and behaviour. I’ve also gone a long way to funnel this knowledge into the real world of agriculture and into the UNEP/AEWA international action plan. Since 2018, I’m assigned national expert by Naturvårdsverket (the Swedish EPA).

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 (to flyway level). The results show that the Bean Goose population is highly structured, and that management and harvest decisions should take this within-species diversity into account. Even for this species, my findings have been included in the UNEP/AEWA international action plan.

Birds and infrastructure

Linear infrastructure (e.g. roads and railways) are generally considered harmful to birds. I used the construction of the Bothnia Line railway for a 14-year Before-During-After Control-Impact (BDACI) study of the potential effects on farmland breeding birds. The results showed that negative effects of railway construction and train traffic on avian biodiversity, abundances and distance to the railway were absent except in a few species and sites. Overall, the numbers of bird species increased in impact sites, and the numbers of breeding territories declined in similar ways on control and impact sites. Currently, I’m part of the TriEkol III research project.

East-West migration in boreal passerines

Several boreal bird species have a strong W-E component in their movements, e.g. Rustic Bunting Emberiza rustica breeding in Fennoscandia and Yellow-browed Warbler Phylloscopus inornatus arriving in Western Europe as presumed vagrants. The patterns and drivers of these movements are poorly understood, and so are the causes behind observed declines (RB) and increases (YBW) in numbers. In an international network ranging from Fennoscandia to Japan, I try to map these patterns and to unravel the true causes, e.g. through analyses of stable isotopes in feathers.

The Principle of the 3Rs

Originally developed for the use of animals in laboratory research, the Principle of the 3Rs now applies to all research in which animals are used, even wildlife research. The Principle of the 3Rs guides a continuous process to Replace, Reduce and Refine the use of animals in research. In a recent study, I demonstrated that the numbers of measurements on captured Bean Geese could be significantly reduced without loss of discriminating power, and thus, that the avoidance of these redundant measurements could benefit the well-being of the geese. From this, I developed a general strategy for the reduction of measurement steps, including a supporting R-script.

Birds and aviation safety Based on in-depth knowledge of the occurrences and movements of large avian herbivores, I work to improve air traffic safety through reduced collision risk with large birds. Management of geese, swans and cranes around Umeå Airport is the first test case. The project is run in cooperation with Swedavia Umeå.


Currently, I teach “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 schoolteacher 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.

  • 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)

    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 and Yellow-browed Warbler).

  • RFID technology in behavioural studies of passerines in Nordic environments.

  • Large avian herbivores and Air traffic safety.

    In most of these projects, I conduct 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. In 2006, I decided to spend the rest of my professional career in academic ornithology.

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 run my own projects and businesses.


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. (2019) Less if better. Avoiding redundant measurements in studies on wild birds in accordance to the Principles of the 3Rs. Frontiers Veterinary Science. In print.

de Jong, A., Torniainen, J., Bourski, O.V., Heim, W. & Edenius, L. (2019) Tracing the origin of vagrant Siberian songbirds with stable isotopes: the case of Yellow-browed Warbler (Abrornis inornatus) in Fennoscandia. Ornis Fennica 96. In print.

de Jong, A., Kleven, O., Østnes, J.E., Kroglund, R.T., Vahlström, I., Nilsson, J. & Spong, G. (2018) Birds of different feather flock together - genetic structure of Taiga Bean Goose in Central Scandinavia. Bird Conservation International. doi:10.1017/S0959270918000205

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.