The majority of our expedition members will undertake an individual project as well as helping carry out one main group project, which collectively will give an insight into the ecology and biology of an increasingly fragile region of Iceland. This will allow for the monitoring of any changes within the environment, with the hope of developing a deeper understanding of the area and the conservation efforts taking place. These projects allow the expedition members to develop hypotheses and methodologies, overseeing projects in the field. This not only develops field work skills in their own area of expertise, but the multi-faculty nature of this expedition will also allow the students to develop skills beyond their own specialist areas.
The projects have considered matters which are both relevant and reflective of Iceland and Skálanes in particular. The group project will largely focus on species transects in order to create data sets which will aid research in future years. The group and individual projects have been designed to complement each other, by increasing the knowledge of the biodiversity and ecosystem structure within the Skálanes reserve.
Brief summaries of project topics and aims can be seen below. More detailed information will be available soon.
Monitoring the population of Arctic foxes in East Iceland
By Louise McClung
- Record the number of individuals and their distribution in the dens.
- Take note of behaviour and family dynamics.
- Observe the type and variation in prey caught or brought to the den, and note whether prey differs between dens.
- Identify overall health of individuals by observing fur quality, body condition, and size.
- Collect faeces and hair samples for later analysis.
- Investigate the effect of weather conditions on puffin foraging rates and time, prey type and success.
- Monitor activity levels and attendance at the colony, and whether or not this is also affected by weather and time of day.
- Document and photograph the types and size of prey brought back to the colony.
- Conduct a count of individuals at the population to compare to previous population data gathered by previous ExSoc projects, and monitor any changes in population over the course of the study.
By Belle Valiulis and Lotta Ruha
- To determine what the Greylag Goose (Anser anser), Eider Duck (Somateria mollissima), and the common Red Shank (Tringa tetanus) feed on at Skálanes.
- To analyse the faecal samples of each of the bird species to determine how much microplastics each of the species has ingested.
- To examine the presence of microplastics in the areas where the birds feed and breed by taking sediment samples.
- To determine whether microplastics are present in the invertebrates that the species feed on.
- To compare the microplastic content of each species’ faeces and prey to determine which type of predation results in the highest microplastic ingestion.