Transylvania Thesis – 28th June to 28th July – 6 weeks (6 weeks terrestrial only)


This price represents a 20% deposit of the $4,500 expedition fee. Please see the dates and prices page on for a list of what is and isn’t included, and the terms and conditions page for payment and cancellation schedules.

Dissertation Options *


Product Description

TR165 Plant indicator species of grasslands in Transylvania

Transylvania has some of the most species rich hay meadows and pastures in Europe with traditional management, low fertilizer input and low stocking rates. Fundatia ADEPT, Opwall’s partner in Romania, has with the help of some experienced botanists, identified a guide of 30 plant species indicative of high conservation dry grasslands. What is not known is whether some of the indicators are more commonly associated with the highest value meadows or pastures and so act as ‘super indicators’. This can be judged by comparing the occurrence of each species against quality of habitat i.e. the total number of indicator species at a site. An association analysis of indicator species is also needed to identify which species tend to occur together (and so can be considered to be replicates of each other) and which are more unique. This study will be conducted at at least 12 sites already identified around 8 villages across the Natura 2000 site in Transylvania. Grassland surveys using these 30 indicator species were conducted at a series of sites around 8 villages within the Tarnava Mare region in 2014, 2015, 2016 and six of those villages in 2013, so there are existing datasets to compare against the survey data in 2017.

TR166 Butterfly communities as indicators of habitat changes in Tarnava Mare

Pollard counts of butterfly communities in different habitats (species rich grasslands, species poor grassland, abandoned land, scrub areas and farmland) have been completed at a series of sites around eight villages across Tarnava Mare in 2014, 2015 & 2016 and at six of those same villages in 2013. These surveys are revealing interesting patterns in butterfly habitat associations and changes in the communities over time. The same sites surveyed since 2013 will be resurveyed in 2017 and these data can be used to identify habitat associations and changes between years within the butterfly communities. One useful output from these studies might be the identification of butterfly species which could be used as indicators of high nature conservation grassland.

TR167 Changes in bird communities in Tarnava Mare and habitat associations

Point counts for 10 minutes of all birds seen or heard were completed twice at each of nearly 300 sites across the Tarnava Mare region in 2014, 2015 & 2016 and at nearly 200 of those same sites in 2013. The 300 sites are being resurveyed in 2017 and these datasets, together with those from previous years, would enable a number of different questions to be addressed. For example, what changes in the bird communities over the study period have been noted? What are the preferred habitats of the main species and how has the proportion of these habitats changed over the study period? If farming practices change how could this affect the bird communities? Are there species which could be used as indicators of habitat quality? This project is data rich and should enable some complex analyses to be performed.

TR168 Bat species distribution and abundance in relation to land composition within the Tarnava Mare

Since 2014 the species of bat present in 8 villages across the Tarnava Mare region have been assessed. A combination of static recorders and hand held detectors have been used along two transects in each village, allowing a good picture of bat species presence to be gained. A number of possible influencing factors such as light sources, roost availability and landscape composition could also be explored. This project will involve repeating the bat surveys and then analysing the data in conjunction with GIS-based land cover maps that are being updated each year. This could reveal whether there are particular land cover combinations which support the greatest abundance and diversity of bats. Similarly, this technique could be used in combination with other influencing factors.

TR169 Farming changes in the Tarnava Mare region and how these are likely to impact biodiversity

Since 2013 there have been detailed surveys of farming practice in a series of farms across the Tarnava Mare region. These data show differences in the types of livestock held in different villages across Tarnava Mare and the farm surveys being completed in 2017 could look at whether those differences have persisted. The project could estimate the livestock breeds (cattle, sheep, goats, pigs, poultry) owned by a series of farms across the Tarnava Mare region and attempt to identify why such differences may be occurring such as traditional usage, availability of land or economic benefits. Another project could look at grassland management and the influence of the EU payments for traditional management practices whilst another project could examine changes in crops and the likely impact on biodiversity.

TR170 Distribution of abandoned land in the Tarnava Mare Reserve

Land abandonment is one type of agricultural change in Tarnava Mare driven by membership of the EU and associated policy and socio-economic changes. This project seeks to better understand the process of abandonment and the factors behind such land use change. Fieldwork will involve mapping the location and the extent of abandoned farmland for each village. GIS-based spatial analyses can then be used to investigate distribution patterns: the degree to which abandoned land is clustered or randomly dispersed across the landscape, and whether there are characteristic field shapes and sizes. Further analysis will investigate the influence of various factors on the likelihood of abandonment, such as topography (steepness of slope and altitude), distance to the village, and soil characteristics.

TR171 Mammal abundance and landscape composition

In 2016 the relative abundances of larger mammals, including bear, roe deer, wild boar, fox and marten, were assessed by recording signs of presence (scat and tracks) along survey routes at each of 7 villages across the Tarnava Mare region. The data suggest that the broad scale landscape composition – the mosaic of different land cover types – may influence population densities and hence the frequency with which these larger mammal signs are encountered. This project would involve repeating the larger mammal surveys and then analysing the data in conjunction with GIS-based land cover maps that are being updated each year. This could reveal whether there are particular land cover combinations which support the greatest abundance and diversity of larger mammals, and consequently suggest the potential impacts of land cover changes on future larger mammal abundance.

TR172 Small mammal species distribution and abundance in relation to land composition within the Tarnava Mare

The Tarnava Mare Natura 2000 area offers a unique opportunity to study the ecology of small mammals in a traditional, yet vulnerable farming system. These systems provide a mosaic of habitats for several small mammal species. The habitats include species-rich grassland, cultivated fields and woodlands. The threat of encroaching scrub has become a major concern for the conservation of the species-rich grassland and is likely to affect small mammal distribution. Several species of rodents and some shrew species utilise the species rich grassland but data are needed on utilisation of these habitat mosaics by small mammal communities or how small mammals are responding to shrub encroachment and changes in farming practices. Capture mark recapture techniques can be used to assess population size in different habitats, breeding dynamics and habitat preference. The conservation of small mammal habitats is not only important for the small mammals themselves but is important for the range of predators that rely on them for prey. Species like the lesser spotted eagle are of major conservation concern and voles are known to be an important part of their diets. Assessing mammal distribution and densities throughout the Tarnava Mare is important to help monitor the efficacy of the Natura 2000 management schemes in conserving this fragile ecosystem.

Additional Information


Transylvania (Romania)


6 Weeks

Marine Weeks

No Marine

Expedition Type


Terrestrial Weeks

6 Terrestrial Weeks

Terms and Conditions


The following conditions form the basis of your contract:


A deposit of 10% per person must be paid when booking and accepting these terms and conditions. In order to help spread the payments we require a further 10% payment 150 days prior to your expedition start date, and 20% payment due by March 31st in the same year as your expedition. If you are booking within 8 weeks of your intended departure date then we require full payment. Should we be unable to process your booking for any reason then your deposit will be returned to you.We must have the full balance payment at least 8 weeks (56 days) prior to departure.

There is an early-payment discount available if you pay either 50% or more of the total sum owed, or 100% of the total sum owed, prior to the 150 day payment date. The discounts available are as follows:-

  • For 2 week expeditions, $25 discount for greater than 50% payment or $50 discount for 100% payment
  • For 4 week expeditions, $40 discount for greater than 50% payment or $80 discount for 100% payment
  • For 6 week expeditions, $60 discount for greater than 50% payment or $120 discount for 100% payment
  • For 8 week expeditions, $75 discount for greater than 50% payment or $150 discount for 100% payment

All correspondence will be sent to you at either of the addresses you enter at time of booking. In the event of the alteration or cancellation of a confirmed booking by you, conditions in section 3 will apply. Please note that the person completing the booking form undertakes full payment of all the expedition components booked, therefore should have the full consent of the person named on the form. Payment of your deposit confirms you comply with these booking conditions.


While we reserve the right to amend prices upwards or downwards at any time, it is our policy to offer expeditions at a clear and firm price. However, the factors which may force us to surcharge you are government action, changes to the cost of currency or fuel – unless full payment is made six months or more prior to your departure date.


Should you have to cancel your booking we ask that you advise the us promptly in writing or by email. The cancellation will take effect from the day the written confirmation is received. Cancellation will incur a $95 handling charge. Additional cancellation charges, which become effective more than 30 days after the date of booking*, are as follows:

Period Cancellation charge
More than 185 days before departure No further cancellation charges
185 days before expedition start date to 150 days before expedition start date Loss of 10% of total expedition costs
149 days before expedition start date to 70 days before expedition start date 20% of your total expedition costs
69 days before expedition start date to 42 days before expedition start date 40% of your total expedition costs
Less than 42 days before the expedition start date 100% of your total expedition costs

* this applies only to bookings taken before 1 March in the year of the expedition. Bookings taken after the 1 March in the year of expedition are subject to the cancellation charges as shown in the above table.

Note if you are doing a dissertation/thesis topic then you are able to cancel up to 15 April in the year of your expedition with no loss of deposit, if documentary evidence can be produced that your university will not permit you to undertake the dissertation or thesis topic chosen.


In the unlikely event of Operation Wallacea deeming travel to your particular destination unsafe for any reason, more than 3 months before departure, we will provide a suitable alternative. As a result we are unable to refund any monies, beyond the conditions outlined above. We undertake not to cancel any expedition closer than 3 months to the expedition start date unless in exceptional circumstances such as war, riots, civil strife, industrial action so severe that alternative transport and accommodation cannot be provided, terrorist activity, natural and nuclear disaster, fire, adverse weather conditions, technical problems with transport and similar unforeseeable circumstances where compensation payments cannot be made.


We undertake not to make any significant changes to your booking. However since this is a field research project, from time to time certain aspects will change between the planning stages and the project delivery. These can include (but are not limited to) details of the accommodation, survey methods and transportation between sites. We will inform you of any significant changes and will provide a suitable alternative to the original project. Such changes will not constitute being offered a refund when a suitable alternative is made available.


If you want to transfer your booking to the following year or to another named person who does not currently hold a booking with Operation Wallacea then you need to obtain prior approval from the Opwall office. In the event that you make your decision to transfer after 1 January in the year of the expedition, then you need to pay an additional 10% to secure the transfer. If the decision is made before the 1 January in the year of the expedition then no further payments beyond the 10% deposit are required. No transfers are allowed after 1 April in the year of the original booked expedition. Only one transfer to a future year or of the named person per application is allowed and once that transfer is made then all monies paid would be forfeited in the event that the completer of the form wanted to cancel.


If you decide to move on to another project or expedition, you can do this free of charge, capacity allowing, until 1 April of the year of your expedition. You will be asked to fill in a new booking form to confirm the change of project. If the project or expedition you want to move to is longer you will be invoiced for the difference in price. If it is shorter, your payment schedule will be adjusted to take the new total amount payable into account. If, following you confirming that you wish to change your booking, you should decide to cancel, cancellation charges will apply in line with your original booking rather than the new booking.


Please note that when you have read the booking conditions above and completed the booking form, and when a confirmation invoice has been issued by or on behalf of us or the relevant supplier, you enter into a binding contract which will be governed and interpreted in accordance with the law of England and Wales. As a member of the Association of the Bonded Travel Organisers Trust Limited (ABTOT), an Association approved by the BIS, Operation Wallacea Ltd has provided a Bond to meet the requirements of the Package Travel, Package Holidays and Package Tours Regulations 1992. In the event of the Company’s insolvency this Bond provides security for all non-flight inclusive packages provided by Operation Wallacea Ltd. In the above circumstances, the following will apply:

  • A refund of your package pre-payments if you have not yet travelled; or
  • Transport costs back to the start point of the expedition and a refund of the unused portion of the package price if you have already travelled


Operation Wallacea has insurance in place to provide medical and repatriation cover up to £1million for all participants on the expedition. This insurance does not cover other insurable costs such as cancellation and curtailment of your expedition due to your ill-health, flight and travel delays, loss of personal baggage or theft of possessions etc. It is a condition of your booking with Operation Wallacea that you take out travel insurance to cover these items.


  • Costs of flights and transport to and from the start and finish points of each expedition
  • Accommodation and food costs before or after the expedition start and end dates
  • Additional insurance cover beyond the £1 million expedition medical and evacuation insurance cover provided by Opwall
  • Costs of additional elective training (e.g. canopy access course, dive training beyond PADI Open Water)
  • Dive equipment rental
  • PIC cards and PADI training Manuals (or BSAC equivalents)
  • Local taxes
  • Park or Reserve entrance fees
  • Visa costs
  • Vaccination or prophylactic medicine costs