In May, our second year Biology and Zoology students spent a week out in Croatia to complete a field course in Ecology, delivered in partnership with the University of Zagreb. Throughout the trip, students learnt how to integrate theory with empirical observations and data collection while soaking up the Croatian culture and testing out its unique cuisine.
From sampling phytoplankton and zooplankton in Lake Visovac, to assessing the behaviour of birds at Lake Vrana and studying vegetation succession, there were endless opportunities for students to gain hands-on research skills.
Working with world-leading academics, students interacted with a number of native species in terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems. However, one species which went unspotted was the freshwater crayfish. Despite leaving out several traps in a variety of locations there was no sighting of this keystone species. Over the past hundred years freshwater crayfish populations and their abundance has been rapidly decreasing, but this was the first year that there were no sightings. This helped emphasise the important role of longitudinal research and data collection in conservation management strategies.
A highlight of the trip for many was visiting Krka National Park. Students took a river cruise around the rapids and waterfalls before exploring the landscape of the Park lavished with boardwalks and trails which allow you to really make the most of the breathtaking sights. Another highlight was the chance for students to work closely with their peers to deliver group presentations. On the final evening, students enjoyed a BBQ back at the field base where they shared their reflections and rounded off a successful trip.
The opportunity to travel abroad is available on many of our programmes within the School of Biological and Behavioural Sciences (SBBS). Visiting conservation hotspots and being taught by experts out in the field is a unique experience and something many of our students remember well after graduation.
Watch our TikTok Video to hear our student reflections.