|The puffin (Fratercula arctica) is the most common bird in Iceland, i.e., the bird with the largest population. It is found only on sea cliffs and islands. Photograph: Erling Ólafsson.|
|Found throughout Iceland, the common yellow dung fly (Scathophaga stercoraria) is, as its name suggests, one of the most common insects in the country. Photograph: Erling Ólafsson.|
Zoology is the study of animal life. It encompasses all members of the animal kingdom - from simple sponges to highly evolved vertebrates - with a single exception: humans (Homo sapiens), who generally fall under a separate field of study, anthropology.
The Icelandic Institute of Natural History carries out research work in the field of zoology, with a focus on birds and land and sea invertebrates (the Bioice project). Little research on mammals and fish takes place at the IINH; other Icelandic institutes see to the study of these animals. The IINH does, however, collect and preserve specimens of mammals and fish in its collection, and IINH databases contain a wealth of information on them.
Research projects vary in nature. Emphasis is placed on obtaining basic information on Iceland's fauna, i.e., what species are found here, where in the country they live and in what kind of habitats. The IINH also carries out more specific research on life histories and ecologies of individual species, animal communities and their interplay with vegetation and various environmental factors. Some research also takes place in the field of systematics, which represents the basis for the collection of basic information on organisms.
Kristinn Haukur Skarphéðinsson is Head of Zoology.