Undergrad Research Assistants
The survey options described below have been packaged into 2 and a 4 week expedition. Please read the packaged expedition descriptions and then move to the constituent part descriptions.
Want to get involved or know more? Submit an Expression of Interest!
Expedition 1 – Transylvanian biodiversity surveys in the Carpathians
Start date expedition 1: 14 June
Expedition length: 4 weeks (4 weeks terrestrial only)
With this expedition you spend a week in each of 4 different villages and their surrounding mountains and forests in the foothills of the Carpathians. In the first week you will be completing the Transylvania ecology course RT001 but also going out with the ecology survey teams. Then you will be spending the remaining 3 weeks rotating between all the biodiversity surveys or specialising in one or more of them (RT002). This expedition gives you the best chance of seeing bears in the wild.
Expedition 2 & 3
Please note these expeditions are now closed. We do however have similar expeditions available on slightly different dates below.
Expedition 4 & 5 – Bears, species rich grasslands and treks in the Carpathian foothills
Start date expedition 4: 14 June
Start date expedition 5: 28 June
Expedition length: 2 weeks (2 weeks terrestrial only)
This 2 week expedition involves spending a week in 2 different villages and their surrounding mountains and forests in the foothills of the Carpathians. In the first week you will be completing the Transylvania ecology course RT001, but also going out with the ecology surveys teams. The remaining week will be spent rotating between all the biodiversity surveys RT002.
RT001 Transylvanian Ecology course
The Transylvanian Ecology course which is run alongside the biodiversity survey teams in one of the study villages, is designed to give volunteers an understanding of the cultural and ecological history of the region, of the overall research and survey objectives, and of the specific surveys and taxonomic groups that the teams will be focusing on. Lectures and discussion groups will be interspersed with practical survey sessions.
RT002 Transylvania Biodiversity Survey
This team completes surveys in a different village each week. Volunteers are split into groups and form a key part of the teams collecting data from the extensive woodlands, meadows and grasslands around a series of Saxon settlements across the Tarnava Mare and includes surveys on the following taxa.
- Large mammals: Students will position camera traps in key locations in the forests and on the valley survey routes in order to capture sightings of large mammals such as bears, wild boar, beech/stone marten and deer. The team will also visit likely vantage points at dawn or dusk to see large mammals, and will record any prints or scat encountered. You will also have the opportunity to join a local expert for an evening at a view point to see bears and other large mammals in the wild.
- Small mammals and herpetofauna: This team will set small mammal traps late at night which will be checked and emptied each morning. They will also complete standard searches around the edge of river and wetland areas for amphibians, and will walk the longer survey routes around the valleys either side of the village, recording mammal and herpetofauna sightings and signs.
- Birds: The bird team will complete point count surveys at 500m intervals. In the evening call-back surveys are also completed for corn crake and owls. There will also be the opportunity to participate in the bird ringing scheme using mist netting.
- Plants: The plant team will be focusing on target species which are good indicators of the different grassland types. Quadrats will be completed in low, medium and high nature value grasslands along the different survey routes where the abundance of different key species will be noted. This area contains some of the most diverse grasslands in Europe and this project will be a chance to work in a rarely seen and spectacular habitat.
- Butterflies and moths: The butterfly team will be covering the same survey sites as the plant team, recording the butterflies encountered and using sweep nets to catch and identify the rarer species. Light trapping will also be completed for moths in the evenings.
- Farms: The traditional farming methods used in this region play a crucial role in the maintenance of high biodiversity. Part of the monitoring effort therefore includes visiting a number of farms in each village and recording the numbers of livestock, dates of grassland cutting, type of arable crops etc. The team will also be gathering data on bear attacks on the livestock and will have a unique opportunity to experience methods of farming which were lost many years ago in most of the world.
- Bats: The bat team use a combination of static recorders and hand held detectors to determine the bat species present in each village. The hand held detectors will be used on two transects near the village and will utilize call analysis from static detectors to analyse the species. There will also be an opportunity to visit potential roost sites and carry out mist netting.