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Birgit Kleinschmidt

PhD student

BioConsult SH GmbH & Co.KG

+49 (0) 48 41 66329 22 


As I am interested in the ecology of waterbirds in general my research focusses on migration patterns and movement ecology as well as nutrition ecology of waterbirds during wintering, migration and breeding season.

For my PhD  thesis I am carrying on a research project analyzing movement patterns of Red-throated Divers (Gacia stellata) by satellite tracking. Divers are very common in the German Bight - North Sea during wintering season, using wide ranged areas and beeing very mobile within these areas. As Divers are very sensitive with disturbances and anthopogenic structures like Offshore Windfarms they can be affected by them during wintering which can lead to conflicts. Additionally not much is really proven about the breeding distribution of Divers wintering on the North Sea as recoverings of ringed birds are rare. The breeding distribution of these birds is suggested to cover an area from Russia, Scandinavian Peninsula, Great Britain, Island up to Greenland.

To determine the affected breeding population as well as the preferred migration routes  and their movements within wintering season as well as to evaluate the impact of Offshore Windparks on this species we use transmitters which are programmed to last a year analyzing the movements of Divers within an annual cycle - from wintering to breeding and back. For habitat use analysis we are considering the factors which can influence the occurence of divers like environmental attributes e.g. water depth, water current, wind direction as well as their nutrition by genetic diet determination.

The PhD thesis is part of a project called DIVER which is a cooperation between Bioconsult SH (Husum) and the Justus Liebig University Giessen (Department Animal Ecology and Systematics, Research Group Behavioural Ecology and Ecophysiology).

As I am interested in the ecology of waterbirds principally I hope that the datasets can be used to improve conservation plans by understanding movement ecology of seabirds like Divers.