2020 Expeditions

Applications are now closed for 2020 expeditions.

Teams for 2020 expeditions have been finalised. Applications for 2021 expeditions will open in Autumn 2020 but in the meantime, follow the expeditions’ progress on Facebook!

Cameroon, located at the heart of the Afrotropics, is a hotspot for biodiversity. The Exploration Society is launching a new expedition to Cameroon, thanks to a recently established collaboration between UoG and the Congo Basin Institute (CBI). The study site proposed for the Cameroon Expedition is the Bouamir Research Station (https://www.cbi.ucla.edu/field-stations/), ideally located deep in the Dja Reserve and surrounded by pristine rainforest.  The Dja Reserve offers endless opportunities for research on many animal taxa. One of the first challenges facing the new expedition team will be to investigate the main research needs in the area, and to identify how they can contribute to these.

The UoG Expedition to Cameroon will also have several opportunities for capacity building activities. First, the Expedition could invite Cameroonian zoology/biology students from local Universities to join the UoG team during their stay. Second, the Expedition team could employ guides from the Baca community, who live on the outskirts of the Reserve and have detailed knowledge of the forest. Finally, the Expedition could participate in local efforts by CBI to improve environmental education in schools.

The proposed duration for the Expedition is 4 weeks, probably during August 2020. The UoG team will fly to Yaoundé and then travel by car and foot to Bouamir Research Station. Bouamir is extremely remote and is reached by a 30km walk through the forest. Students considering applying to the Cameroon Expedition should take into account that the living conditions will be basic and there will be no internet for the duration of the stay. Ideally the team would consist of students with some field experience, with at least one French speaker amongst them.

This expedition has run for the past 7 years and provides an opportunity for marine-based research in the Red Sea, Egypt. This year research was conducted for 4 honours projects, 3 of which built upon studies from previous years. 2 were SCUBA-based, one involved camera drops from a boat, and one was a snorkel project.

The camera drop study, surveying the diversity of life in mesophotic coral reefs, focused on different reefs around El Quseir harbour. The snorkel project was a new study based on cleaner fish and how their cleaning behaviour changes throughout the day, with regards to biting the host instead of cleaning. The coral project built upon previous data and looked into coral species’ light preferences. The hawkfish project was a behavioural study investigating vigilance and territoriality.

Although this is a marine based expedition this year our team also consisted of a zoologist and a mathematician. As well as conducting exciting research, the Egypt Expedition has always been heavily involved in outreach. Whilst in Glasgow we had a stall at the Glasgow Science centre and we gave a talk to a local primary school. During the expedition, various events were organised with local NGOs. These included giving a talk at a local school, a mangrove clean-up plus an activity day at camp.

The expedition was hosted at Roots Camp. Not only is the camp linked to a top-quality dive centre, Pharaoh Dive Club, but it is merely across the road from the main study site, Abu Sauatir reef. Due to the intensity of the projects, all meals were included. Accommodation was in Eco Huts, sharing 4 to a room.

Data analysis was carried out in the air-conditioned lab on camp. When work was done, the team could unwind and relax by the pool side. On days-off, the team have visited the ancient city of Luxor but they would more often go on dive trips together, including a wreck dive, visiting turtles and exquisite coral reefs.

The Iceland Expedition is a well-established expedition, taking place for the 11th time in June 2019. A team of 6 students travelled to East Iceland and stayed in the Skálanes research station for 6 weeks. The place is very remote, as the area of the Skálanes reserve is located 17km from the nearest town Seyðisfjörður. Iceland is the only expedition located in the Arctic and has a very unique climate.

Skálanes is home to many animal and plant species. In the summer, many migratory birds such as the Arctic terns and puffins nest in the area to breed. Bird watchers will be amazed by the bird abundance and diversity that can be observed just from the house. In 2019, students had a chance to see a lot of birds including snow bunting, Arctic skua and harlequin ducks. The team also spotted a humpback whale, seals and reindeer. 

This summer students conducted research projects varying from monitoring seabird colonies and microplastic presence to investigating the effects of the invasive Alaskan lupin. The research opportunities are numerous and not limited to wildlife projects. The team of 2019 also helped to plant 15,000 birch and rowan trees in Skálanes contributing to the national reforestation scheme. 

This expedition is an opportunity to experience living away from civilisation, learn about the local fauna and flora and to contribute to research helpful for the management of the reserve. You can gain life experience and skills in scientific fieldwork, organisation, fundraising and communication while meeting people from around the world.

The 2020 Guyana Expedition will be the fourth from ExSoc. Each year 7 students have split the six-week expedition between 2 field sites purpose built for our teams. The expedition is carried out in the Kanuku Mountains Protected Area (KMPA) in the south of the country.

As one of the most biodiverse and pristine areas of rainforest in the world, the expedition is tasked with working alongside the Protected Areas Commission of Guyana (PAC) to document the regions’ fauna for conservation. Guyana is the most remote and isolated expedition location.

Projects carried out there have included camera trapping, amphibian abundance and diversity studies and bat capture for projects such as parasite prevalence, capture method efficacy and species diversity. The KMPA had the 2nd highest diversity of bats of any protected area in the world, but data from the 2019 expedition has moved the KMPA up to 1st place. Previous amphibian projects have ruled out the presence of the devastating chytrid amongst its protected area. Bird species lists have been recorded for the field sites and there is opportunity here for a bird project. Camera trapping has documented jaguar, armadillo, puma, ocelot, giant anteater and tapir species among many others.

This expedition gives you the opportunity to see an incredible number of species, from howler and spider monkeys to caiman, snakes and lizards to the most beautiful neotropical birds – toucans and macaws, and the Harpy eagle. Outreach opportunities within local villages offer the chance to teach local children about the importance of conservation; seeing their enthusiasm is amazing! Team Guyana face a tough and intense expedition that’s extremely rewarding. The skills you gain and the direct impact you have on the protection of vulnerable species is invaluable and working alongside the PAC offers firsthand experience of conservation fieldwork in action!

In the summer of 2019, the first ever team of students from the University of Glasgow Exploration Society landed in Malaysia. The team worked very closely with the Universiti Sains Malaysia (USM) and were based at the University’s research station CEMACS (Centre for Marine and Coastal Studies). CEMACS is located at Teluk Aling on the northwest coast of Penang in the Penang National Park.

The main objective of the expedition was to establish and strengthen the relationship between the University of Glasgow and USM. However, the team also carried out a small research project with USM which compared the type and abundance of microplastics on two different beaches: the first on the island of Pulau Payar, a small marine park, and the second being black sand beach on the island of Langkawi. The team also investigated the biodiversity of the two sites and assisted in preparing specimens. Over the course of the expedition the team learnt a great deal both through lectures and practical sessions lead by senior academics from USM.

The team also met with people from the local community working closely with USM. Whilst sampling on the island of Langkawi the team visited Frangipani Resort which is aiming to be the greenest hotel in the world. The team were given a tour of the resort and spoke with the owner. One of the highlights of the expedition was the visit to an oyster farm and homestay on the Merbok River in Kedah. We learnt from the owner how he switched from fishing to oyster farming, which is much more sustainable and profitable, with the help of USM. The owner also established a tuition centre where local children go to learn English.

After a very successful first expedition to Malaysia we are excited for the future opportunities for both the University of Glasgow and USM.

Remote Scotland Expedtion aims to travel to remote areas in Scotland, studying the native wildlife. They are the longest running expeditions of the society, starting in 1936 on the Isle of Canna. Over the years the expedtion teams have studied a wide range of Ecological and Earth Science based projects. The expedtion is open to any and all students that have a passion and eagerness to study Scotland’s navtive flora and fauna. In 2017, the Remote Scotland team went to Islay.  The team was made of five Zoologists, one Earth Scientists and two students studying Envrionmental sustainability- everyone is welcome!

In 2018 the team were the first expedtion to  travel to the beautful Isle of Harris.They created the basis of research that our team expanded and contiued with hopes that the wildlife can be further studied. Our 2019 team of zoologists and earth sceintists had some amazing expereinces and encountered the islands wide variety of animal life inlcudng Great Yellow Bumblebees, Golden eagles, otters and porpoises.

Two of the projects focused on the bumblebee species of Harris. Looking at how the quality and species diversity of the rare Machair habitat affects bee speices and the other looked at the foraging preference of bee species on flowering Machair plants and how it changes of the season. The wader project studied the differences of egg shell pigmentation and thickness across the island. The otter project looked to determine whether otters are  ingesting microplastics. We visited the local primary to raise awarness about plastic pollution and protecting the Machair habitat. The children had great time collecting invertebrates and learning about otter poo. When we weren’t collecting data or beach cleaning, our team relaxed on stunning beahces, walked the hills striaght from Tolkien, photographed wildlife, chilled in the café and tasted the local gin.

Summer 2019 marked the beginning of the newest expedition for the Exploration Society to Thailand. The Thailand Expedition’s first year saw a lot of hard work going into setting up a base, local partnerships and research projects for future years to come. The team of 8 travelled to Phuket Island situated in the south of Thailand, surrounded by the beautiful turquoise waters of the Andaman Sea, to carry out their research projects.

There were three projects carried out this summer. The coral project looked into the health of the coral reefs through biodiversity indices, community composition and percentage cover. There was also a social aspect to this project which explored tourist perceptions of reef health. Secondly, the fish project similarly looked at biodiversity, abundance and health in relation to divers perceptions and their experience levels. The data collection for these projects was collected while diving at the local islands of Racha Yai and Racha Noi, a popular tourist spot for divers. The team had the pleasure of diving 3 – 4 days a week on board dive vessels that took them to the beautiful islands for the day. The third project explored the perceptions of key informant groups such as divers, fishermen and market sellers, on shark population changes over time and the reasons for change. This involved conducting many interviews over the 6-week period with members from each of these groups. The team also travelled to Ranong near the Burmese border to conduct interviews in fishing villages notorious for shark fishing. This was an amazing experience as some of the team got to see the beautiful Thai countryside and national parks on their road trip.

The team worked hard at setting up connections with local schools to conduct community outreach and educational days based on coral reef conservation. Next year we hope to be working in co-ordination with the Phuket Marine Biological Centre to aid their understanding of how divers effect the underwater environment.

Aside from all of the hard work, the team enjoyed amazing days off swimming at waterfalls, diving at the famous Phi Phi Islands, surfing, going to waterparks and visiting the Phuket Night Market. It’s safe to say that this expedition has a lot to offer.

The 2019 expedition focused on marine based research. However, the island itself is rich in biodiversity and going forward for the next expedition we would be keen to invite people to pursue land-based projects to apply and pitch their ideas as well.

If you have any further questions, please don’t hesitate to get in touch with the team at ExpeditionThailandGU@gmail.com.

The Trinidad expedition is one of the most established on the roster, having been running since the 1980s. In fact the group of 12 students made it 30 years since the first expedition went out, and was even accompanied and advised by one of the professors from the original crew, Professor Roger Downie.

This year we were based in the Arima valley of the Northern Range of Trinidad, returning to the William Beebe research station nestled in the lush rainforest covering the mountains. This location puts you right at the centre of the wild ecology of the island, as the surroundings are home to a hugely diverse and thriving flora and fauna which you can hear at night and witness during the daylight hours. However, populated urban areas are within easy access for shopping, tasty street food and human geography research opportunities.

This year we ran 6 research projects: 2 on leatherback sea-turtles, 2 on frogs an 2 based in human geography. The fieldwork for the turtle projects was conducted on nearby beaches at night during laying hours. Both frog projects involved mating behaviour and physiology, with fieldwork conducted in the stunning rainforest. The geography projects were investigating the impact of both climate change and student presence on conflict within local populations. Fieldwork involved organising interviews with local key informants, ranging from ministers within the Trinidad government to local housing agents, and putting questionnaires to local residents.

The team also visited some local schools to spread awareness of the work being done by the expedition and hopefully kick-start a passion and interest in the natural environment, both local and global. We also got involved in several beach cleans on the island through local NGOs.

The Trinidad Expedition offers a wide scope of research areas to delve into, due to the rich history, ecology and geology of the island. Home to beautiful scenery and the loveliest people you could hope to meet, get yourself there.

If you have any questions hit us up at trinidadexp@gmail.com