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.

A study of the relationship between the egg survival of ground nesting birds and the spread of the invasive Alaskan Lupin
By Gina Bertolacci 2017


  1. To research the invasive Alaskan lupin and the extent to which it influences the distribution of ground nesting birds in the nature reserve, Skalanes.
  2. To study whether or not the nests located in areas of dense lupin are more likely to be predated on than those in areas with no lupin.

An Investigation into the Presence of Microplastics in Intertidal and Marsh Habitats
By Catherine Wright 2017


  1. To investigate the presence of microplastics in the sediment of intertidal and marsh environments.
  2. To determine if, and to what extent, microplastics are ingested by the aquatic invertebrates Littorina obtusata, Nucella lapillus, and Mytilus edulis in intertidal communities.
  3. To determine if microplastics are ingested by wading birds: oystercatcher in intertidal habitats; and snipe in marsh habitats.
  4. To investigate the role of body mass and number of microplastics ingested in aquatic invertebrates (Littorina obtusata, Nucella lapillus, and Mytilus edulis) in marine environments.

A survey of Gastrointestinal Helmith and Protozoan Burdens in Nesting Female Eiders
By Amber Mathie 2017


  1. To gain insight into the burdens of nesting females, and highlight particular parasites which are most prevalent.
  2. To determine whether any of these pathogens are associated with clinical disease. This will be achieved by correlating burden/species composition with appearance of health/condition, evidence of diarrhoea, nest abandonment and any mortalities in the nesting females.
  3. Assess the presence of protozoal parasites to identify a potential risk to the offspring of this year’s breeding period.

Group Project
Monitoring Seabird Populations (repeated annually)

Cliff counts of Kittiwakes and Fulmars

Monitoring whale numbers and species


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