Dr Judy Shamoun-Baranes (1969) has been appointed Professor of Animal Movement Ecology at the University of Amsterdam’s Faculty of Science.
Animals move to acquire the necessary skills, information and resources to improve their chances for survival and reproduction. Their movements play an important role in population dynamics, animal community structures, the functioning of the ecosystem and biodiversity. Shamoun-Baranes focuses on measuring and analysing the movement patterns of animals living in the wild in order to gain insights into how animals respond to change.
The human impact on the environment is one of the biggest threats to biodiversity worldwide. Humans are penetrating ever deeper into animals’ habitats, also in the air. This is creating problems in sectors such as aviation and wind energy. The mass movements of airborne birds during migration present a threat to the safety of aviation, while wind farms present a danger to birds. An improved understanding of what drives bird migration will enable the development of predictive models so measures can be taken such as adjusting flight schedules in aviation or the temporary closure of wind farms in order to protect ‘airborne migrants’. Artificial light is another example of how human activities can change the activity patterns of animals.
Through her research, conducted at the interface of ecology, environmental sciences and eScience, Shamoun-Baranes aims to help solve complex questions relating to the interactions between humans and animals. Her current research mainly involves birds, with a strong emphasis on their flight behaviour. To this end, she often makes use of radar measurements and GPS tracking. A significant element of Shamoun-Baranes’ work focuses on e-ecology and on improving the research infrastructure for ecologists who study animal movements.
Shamoun-Baranes teaches in the Bachelor’s programmes Future Planet Studies and Biology and the Master’s programmes Biological Sciences and Future Planet Ecosystem Science. The emphasis here is on human/animal interactions, biodiversity, environment and ecology. Shamoun-Baranes is a strong advocate of interdisciplinary teaching. She was involved in the development of the interdisciplinary Bachelor’s programme Future Planet Studies and the Master’s track Future Planet Ecosystem Science.
Shamoun-Baranes studied Biology and Zoology at Tel Aviv University in Israel, where she also gained her doctorate in Zoology. Since 2003, she has been active at the Institute for Biodiversity and Ecosystem Dynamics (IBED) of the UvA as – consecutively – a postdoctoral researcher, an assistant professor and an associate professor. She coordinates the European Network for the Radar Surveillance of Animal Movement (ENRAM). In addition, Shamoun-Baranes is a member of the IBED management team and head of the Institute’s Theoretical and Computational Ecology department. Before moving to Amsterdam she held various posts including Director of the Laboratory for Feather Remains Identification of the Society for the Protection of Nature in Israel and Avian Information System Manager at the Israel Ornithological Center.
Shamoun-Baranes has authored many publications in peer-reviewed journals, including articles in Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society, Journal of Animal Ecology, Ecography, Journal of Avian Biology and Proceedings of the Royal Society B. In 2013, she and her colleagues won the Annual Year Prize for ‘Vogel het uit!’, a science communication project focusing on bird behaviour.