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.

An investigation into the factors affecting fledging success in a colony of Arctic terns (Sterna paradisaea) in the Skalánes Nature and Heritage Centre, East Iceland

By Agate Baumane


  • To monitor the growth and success of Arctic tern fledglings.
  • To observe feeding patterns and diet of Arctic tern chicks.
  • To compare feeding rate and diet and productivity data with previous years.
  • To determine the extent to which feeding activity, human disturbance, weather conditions affect Arctic tern fledgling success.

An investigation into plastic pollution and its effect on fledging success in a colony of Arctic terns (Sterna paradisaea) in the Skálanes Nature and Heritage Centre, East Iceland

By Eliška Kosová


  • To determine the number, size (macro/micro), source (primary/secondary), type (nurdles, fragments, fibers) and colour of plastics in the Arctic tern colony in Skálanes
  • To determine whether the Arctic terns, including the chicks, ingest plastics and microplastics by analysing faeces and regurgitated pellets
  • To observe the prey type that the terns use to feed the chicks to determine the main source of plastics
  • To monitor the fledging success of Arctic terns in Skálanes colony by counting the eggs, weighing the chicks weekly and counting the number of fledglings
  • To find out whether there is a correlation between the occurrence of plastics and the fledging success

An investigation into the occurrence of plastic pollution along the coastline of the Skalánes Nature and Heritage Reserve and Seyðisfjörður, East Iceland

By Erin Fowler


  • To quantify the occurrence of plastic pollution along the coastline of Skalánes towards Seyðisfjörður.
  • To identify the sources of plastic pollution within this area.
  • To quantify the amount of plastic pollution within the sea surface.
  • To determine if there is a difference between the amount of plastic pollution found in the beaches by Skalánes and Seyðisfjörður.

An investigation into the relationship between the invasive Alaskan lupin (Lupinus nootkatensis) and invertebrate species assemblages in Skalánes, East Iceland

By Andrew Matthews


  • To map the extent of L. nootkatensis spread along the coast of Skalánes, East Iceland
  • To record the abundance and number of species found within native and non-native L. nootkatensis vegetation
  • To assess whether a correlation exists between lupin cover and species richness
  • To assess whether a correlation exists between lupin cover and invertebrate abundance
  • To build on previous baseline data of invertebrate assemblages and lupin cover

Group Project
Monitoring Seabird Populations (repeated annually)

Cliff counts of Kittiwakes and Fulmars

Monitoring whale numbers and species


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