The Beech Marten (Martes foina) is an adaptable generalist species which occurs in a wide range of habitats, including open grasslands, forested habitats and in close proximity to villages. Beech Martens are the most common carnivore in Krka National Park and possess an omnivorous diet which includes seeds, insects and small rodents. Students taking this option could look into the densities of Beech Marten within Krka, as well as their feeding ecology and niche occupation, potentially in comparison with some of the other large mammals with an overlapping niche such as Red Fox (Vulpes vulpes). Projects could also specifically focus on the impact of habitat type on Beech Marten densities, as well as proximity to landscape features such as waterways, ponds and agricultural lands. Data will be collected through camera trapping and scat surveys. The project could also include a detailed examination of the collected scat in order to identify and quantify consumed seeds, insects and rodents. Additionally, niche modelling on a landscape scale could provide information on the overall distribution of the Beech Marten within Krka National Park.
The Krka Valley runs from the Dinaric mountains bordering Bosnia to the Adriatic and is only 77km in length. However, since the river runs through limestone there are some spectacular gorges and this is one of the most scenic river valleys in Europe. It is also important from a biodiversity viewpoint containing nine Croatian and three Krka endemic fish species and spectacular cave systems containing a number of potentially new species to science. Opwall together with Biota (a Croatian biodiversity research organisation) has built a research centre in the central part of the Krka valley with easy access to the whole park. The centre is based in a restored house and grounds within 100m of the park boundary and has access to all the habitats throughout the park and surrounding countryside. The National Park Authority have requested we perform baseline surveys to increase the known inventory for the Park, as well as collect long-term monitoring data to answer a series of their management questions.
Tourist visits to Krka National Park are heavily concentrated towards the lower stretches of the river and and very few people visit the central and northern parts of the valley. The Biota/Opwall research centre is in the central part of the valley within a rural community that has suffered from significant depopulation and land abandonment in recent years. The centre is designed to give benefits to the local community from the visits (e.g. provision of employment etc). Whilst the main research effort each year from this centre comes through the opwall programme, the centre will remain open year round in an attempt to attract some of the many visitors to the Croatian coast further inland, increasing revenue for the Park and local communities.
Silba Island is in the northern Dalmatian archipelago and is a car and hotel free island. The island markets itself as a haven of tranquillity and much of the island is still covered by Mediterranean black oak and maquis. The objective for our partners on this island is to develop the first marine research centre for northern Dalmatia and they have a series of research projects on seagrass, sea urchins, protected species and fisheries, as well as marine plastics.
Croatia is hot during this time of the year! In both Krka and Silba the daytime temperature rarely drops below 30 degrees and can reach 40 degrees.
Fitness level required
Moderate. Whilst there are not many steep hikes in the forest, the hikes are still quite long and the temperature can make them tiring.
At Krka you will either be staying in dormitories or in shaded tents with shared western style bathrooms and toilets. There is also some limited phone signal in Krka (but not reliable for a data connection).