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Dr B.A. Nolet (1961) has been named professor by special appointment of Waterfowl Movement Ecology at the University of Amsterdam’s Faculty of Science. The chair was established by the Netherlands Institute for Ecology (NIOO) of the Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences (KNAW). Nolet will combine his chair with his position as group leader of the Foraging and Movement Ecology Group at the NIOO-KNAW.

Prof Bart Nolet, Waterfowl Movement Ecology
Photo: Dirk Gillissen

In his research, Bart Nolet focuses on water birds such as swans, geese and wigeons, which breed in arctic regions and migrate to and through the Netherlands in large numbers during the winter. He studies their foraging and migratory behaviour and tries to understand and predict patterns at the population level (such as animal distribution and abundance) from processes acting at an individual level. The so-called optimality framework – when and where must birds move to optimally exploit food resources and explore their environment? ­– is a key notion in this regard. Nolet therefore measures what the birds’ movement generates and costs in terms of energy on a scale of less than a metre to more than a thousand kilometres.    

Key questions addressed in Nolets’ research include: how will birds respond to large-scale changes in land use and climate? And what role do they play in the spread of avian flu? He combines fieldwork, experimental research and model building. Because of technological developments, the movements of birds in the wild can be tracked more precisely. Nolet will collaborate with the Computational Geo-Ecology research group of the UvA’s Institute for Biodiversity and Ecosystem Dynamics (IBED). This research group is headed by Professor Willem Bouten.  

After completing his studies in Biology (cum laude) at the University of Groningen in 1988, Nolet worked at the Institute for Forestry and Nature Research on a project to evaluate the reintroduction of the beaver. This resulted in the dissertation ‘Return of the Beaver to the Netherlands’ for which he received his doctorate from the University of Groningen in 1994. Nolet has worked at the NIOO-KNAW since 1995 and has headed the Foraging and Movement Ecology Group since 2012. In 2000 he was an associated graduate faculty at the University of Guelph in Canada.

Nolet has published more than 90 articles in peer reviewed journals such as Science, Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society and Ecology Letters. He also plays an active part in the publication process by (until now) refereeing for more than 65 different scientific journals.