Archipelago’s Terrestrial Conservation Team is carrying out extensive field research on Ikaria Island on the highly biodiversity flora and fauna of the island. Monitoring aims to link past data of the research carried out on the island in previous years, and currently a series of monitoring surveys are ongoing since beginning of the summer.
The main focus of the surveys focus on preliminary assessment of reptiles, night birds and mammals, but also identifying all other species encountered (such as diurnal birds and insects). Additionally, the team is investigating the habitats in the west part of the island to assess erosion and overgrazing phenomena.
The overall aim of the project is to determine the biological diversity of different habitat types on Ikaria Island, continuing the work carried out during previous seasons, and to compare the findings with data acquired from previous surveys of the island.
One of the aims of the Terrestrial Team was to investigate the presence of otters (Lutra lutra) living on Ikaria. The team is setting up camera traps and scans the riverbeds looking for tracks (such as footprints and scats). Potential otter habitats in the area of Raches are investigated. The general dryness of the riverbeds during the summer months makes finding otters more difficult as now it is more difficult to spot tracks, however such surveys will become more efficient as the rains will eventually start and the volume of the river will increase. Camera traps are therefore placed along larger areas of the riverbeds. As previous studies indicate the presence of otters in the region of Halaris, Harakas and Mysonas Gorges, studies are also focusing on that area as well.
Archipelagos Institute leads various population assessments projects of the Aegean islands fauna. The Terrestrial Conservation Team is in charge of recording individuals using the line transect method in different habitats.
Several reptile surveys were performed on Ikaria following transects in different habitats.Due to the strikingly high abundance of certain reptile species, in order to closely analyze the presence of the individuals, reptile traps were made after identifying ideal places to find them, based on sun exposure and substrate preferences.
The first series of surveys aimed to assess the presence of Scops owls (Otus scops) on Ikaria and for this purpose audio recordings were conducted during night surveys. The surveys are conducted by listening to the birds’ response after playing recordings of owls calling out.
The Archipelagos Terrestrial Conservation Team was able to confirm the presence of various reptiles, mammals and insects inhabiting the island.
Many breeding bird species were observed, such as the Night Heron (Nycticorax nycticorax), Tawny Pipit (Anthus campestris) and Eleonora’s falcon (Falco eleonorae). The presence of breeding Tawny owl (Strix aluco) and Little owls (Athene noctua) was recorded as well. Moreover, two species of bat were recognized with the bat detector, while juvenile Nightjars (Caprimulgus europaeus) were also spotted on the study area.
In the coming months, Archipelagos will continue placing camera traps, collecting new data and working on analysing Ikaria Island’s biodiversity.
Silvia Mozzi, Politecnico di Milano, Italy