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New Insect Species Discovered on Surtsey

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New Insect Species Discovered on Surtsey

Surtsey

From Surtsey island. Photo: Páll Stefánsson.

An insect species never before seen in Iceland was found during the Icelandic Institute of Natural History’s annual research expedition to Surtsey, a volcanic island off Iceland’s south coast. The species is thought to belong to the family Chloropidae. Borgþór Magnússon, a biologist at the institute, told Vísir that the insect likely made its way to Iceland with southerly winds. “Surtsey is of course Iceland’s southernmost island and closest to mainland Europe, so there is a chance that anything which makes its way here with southerly winds first ends up there or in the Vestmannaeyjar islands”, Borgþór said.

A new species of willow, arctic willow (salix arctica), was also discovered on the expedition. The species has made its way from the Icelandic mainland to the island. Now every willow species found on the Icelandic mainland is also present on Surtsey.

Surtsey has been a UNESCO world heritage site since 2008. A research expedition to the island has been undertaken on an annual basis since 1964. The island was formed in 1963 as a result of an underwater volcanic eruption. In August, the largest research project to date will begin on Surtsey; two 200-300 km holes will be dug and materials collected from them studied. The purpose of the research project is to better understand the formation and development of volcanic islands.

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