Our Research

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 outwith their own specialist areas.

The projects have considered matters which are both relevant and reflective of Iceland and, in particular, Skálanes. 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.

Investigating the impact of soil characteristics on invasive Alaskan Lupin (Lupinus nootkatensis) in East Iceland

By Elizabeth Millar 2018


  1. To investigate the impact of soil chemistry on Lupin plant traits including; height, density and distribution.
  2. To consider the impact of slope on Lupin plant traits.
  3. To observe Lupin distribution using aerial photography

An Investigation into prey identification methods and diet in a colony of Arctic Terns (Sterna paradisaea) on the Skálanes Nature and Heritage Centre, East Iceland

By Taylor Hutchinson 2018


  1. Estimate the number of breeding pairs and map out the colony using GIS software.
  2. Observe and photograph terns entering the colony and identify what prey they are carrying.
  3. Collect and examine regurgitated pellets in order to identify prey to a species level.
  4. Evaluate three different prey identification methods to find out if there is a difference between the methods in reported prey numbers and types.
  5. Investigate if weather has any effect on the prey that the terns bring into the colony.
  6. Calculate the breeding success and overall productivity of the colony.

An investigation into microplastic occurrence and distribution along the coastline of the Skalanes Nature and Heritage Reserve, East Iceland

By Kate Halstead 2018


  1. Investigate whether there is a correlation between human wastewater and litter, and the existence of microplastics.
  2. Identify whether there is an increased presence of microplastics along this section of the coastline and describe how they are distributed.

Examining the feeding rates and success of a small Atlantic puffin colony (Fratercula arctica) off the coast of East Iceland.

By Sallie Turnbull 2018


  1. To analyse the composition and size of food load brought to burrows after hatching, calculating the energy intake of the chicks as time progresses (dependant on images taken).
  2. To test if weather conditions have an effect on the puffin’s provisioning rates and food load.
  3. To examine any kleptoparasitism of puffins during feeding and to record any effects.
  4. To analyse the overall success of the colony by recording foraging success of the breeding pairs, and any population changes over the course of the breeding season.

Group Project
Monitoring Seabird Populations (repeated annually)

Cliff counts of Kittiwakes and Fulmars

Monitoring whale numbers and species


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