Ecology and tropical biology projects

As undergraduate I worked in the lab of Paul Brakefield (PhD), together with Jeroen Pijpe (PhD) investigating longevity in Bicyclus anynana. At that time I was a course assistant for Lino Paula (PhD) as well, teaching bioethics courses and wrote several essays on that.

As a graduate (with honors, 2008) I started working as project assistant for the Leiden University Institute of Environmental Sciences in the Netherlands, as a course assistant for Hans the Iongh who then was the regional councillor for IUCN. Later I moved to the Philippines. Working for CVPED and the Mabuwaya foundation I studied crocodile ecology under Jan van der Ploeg an anthropologist and biologist Merlijn van Weerd, who together had started the first Crocodylus mindorensis (Philipine freshwater crocodile) conservation programme in North-Luzon the Philippines.

Coming back to the Netherlands I settled in Amsterdam but spend much time in Ghana working for the University of Amsterdam on a project mapping socio-economic changes and constructing action plans focussing on sustainable alternative livelihoods in the peri-urban areas of Kumasi in Ghana.

Again back in the Netherlands, I started working together with Ashley Pearcy (PhD) and Frank D. Ross on crocodilian skull morphology, collecting data from very dusty and ancient but interesting museum collections and zoos in Brussels, Paris, Amsterdam, Leiden and Frankfurt.

Then, in 2010 I moved to Kenya to work for Global Vision International. I now work together with the Kenya Wildlife Service on a variety of conservation and research issues such as the adaptivity in behavior of Angola Black and White Colobus, habitat segregation in Galagos, forest conservation, mangroves, migratory birds, sustainable alternative livelihoods, but also supervising research on marine mammal ecology, population structure, movement and disturbance pressure on populations.

Field-work experience includes: tagging, locating & gathering and analyzing telemetry data on large carnivores, bat trapping and tagging, behavioral studies on birds, crocodiles and primates, mark-recapture on cetaceans, semi-controlled environment experiments with butterflies, mark-recapture with butterflies, moth collection and trapping, the use of various camera-traps and data-logging devices, GIS-mapping, flora identification, pollen identification and water quality assessment.

Ongoing (personal) projects and fields of interests include:

  • Diversity of lepidoptera (nocturidae) in Kenya
  • Extend of estivation in lepidoptera (diurnal) for Coastal species
  • Diversity and distribution of waterbirds and migratory species for the South Kenyan Coast
  • Mangrove species on the South Kenyan coast; possible climate change impact on species diversity, abundance and distribution
  • Heterogeneity of activity budgets in groups of Black and White Colobus (Colobus angolensis palliatus)
  • Plasticity within feeding patterns of Angola Black and White Colobus
  • Impacts of long term field studies on Primate Behavior
  • Risk-taking and avoidance in Black and White Colobus

Publications & Presentations

I’m trying to keep this list as comprehensive as possible.

  • Wijtten et al. (in press) Activity budgets of the Angola black-and-white Colobus (Colobus angolensis palliatus) in East African coastal forest. African Primates.
  • Wijtten Z., Swayne A. Density estimates, effects of forest degradation and conservation implications for the Zanj elephant shrew (Rhynchocyon petersi) in the coastal forests of Shimoni. Seventh WIOMSA Scientific Symposium. Oct 2011.
  • Pearcy A., Wijtten Z.. (2011) A morphometric analysis of crocodilian skull shapes. The Herpetological Journal 21: 213–218.
  • Pearcy A., Wijtten Z..(2010) Suggestions for photographing crocodile skulls for scientific purpose. Herpetological Review 41(4):445-447
  • Application of skull morphology to conservation of sympatric crocodillians. 20th Working Meeting of the Crocodile Specialist Group (oral presentation) Sept 2010.
  • International Conference on Archaeozoology, Paris, France (Oral presentation), Geometric Morphometrics in Archaeozoology, August 23-28, 2010
  • Pearcy A., Wijtten Z. (in progress) Physical characteristics defining niche advantages in Philippine crocodiles
  • Van de Ven et al. Effectiveness of head-starting to bolster Philippine crocodile Crocodylus mindorensis populations in San Mariano municipality, Luzon, Philippines , Conservation Evidence (2009) 6, 111- 116.
  • Adu-Ampong, E. et al., 2008. Socio-economic transitions; Changing livelihoods in the peri-urban interface. TSPA project report no. 147.
  • Workshop. Peri-urban development and land use. SYW Seminar. Breda, The Netherlands Oct 2008.
  • Wijtten, Z.A., (2008) The reintroduction of crocodiles into a modified habitat. Leiden University. (MSc Thesis).
  • Colloquium. A head start for the Philippine Crocodile. Institute of Environmental Sciences, Leiden, The Netherlands. Oct 2008.

Webdesign and development

I have been working (2007-2010) as visual designer based out of Amsterdam, specializing in online design, interactive design and print design. While working for a Dutch company, I made visual identities for government institutions, government projects and small businesses. From the side-line, I provided ideas for interactive campaigns, and new social media applications.

I enjoy visualizing ideas using Photoshop, Illustrator or Indesign and am well able to deliver front-end code.

Ideas and examples

Get in touch

Need work done, like to collaborate or just interested? Reach me at:

skype: Wijtten