A Jewel in Slovakia’s Crown

If you are planning an expedition to the wilder parts of Europe, the rugged Highlands or Boreal Forests may be foremost in your mind, but hidden gems await exploration right on the doorstep in Central Europe. We recently took 20 students to Muranska Planina National Park in Slovakia on an introductory undergraduate field course in ecology.

Think less Red Deer or Moose and more Wolves, Bears, Wild Boar and Lynx (of course the invertebrate fauna is also in another league).

Based in the small village of Muran and surrounded by protected meadows and predominantly Beech woodland, we covered basics in field quantification, observation and experimental design. Students also took over 2 days to conduct their own mini research projects covering topics ranging from impacts of fishing ponds on upland river quality; effects of flower shape on pollinator visitation and learning; and even invertebrate community successional dynamics in dung. The course was made all the more pleasant by wall-to-wall sunshine, but the cheap food and accommodation, as well as the Euro helped.

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