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Archipelagos Institute

Terrestrial Research and Conservation

Pythagorio, Greece show on map

Samos is home to a rich biodiversity of flora and fauna and it's the only island in the Mediterranean where golden jackals can be found!

Archipelagos began its activities in marine research and conservation, although gradually the field of action expanded to cover the terrestrial island habitats, which are of great environmental importance. Both marine and terrestrial ecosystems are integral parts of a unified system and effective protection can only be achieved if we treat them as a whole.

The islands of the eastern Aegean are home to a rich biodiversity of flora and fauna. Thick pine forests, dense oak woods and green riparian valleys linked to rare island freshwater ecosystems can be found here alongside garrigue and maquis types of vegetation. Samos is the only island in the Mediterranean where golden jackals can be found and one of the only places in Greece where common chameleons still survive. The island of Ikaria supports an ancient holm oak forest, which is more than 500 years old. The surrounding islands and islets are important transit stations, feeding grounds and breeding spots for a large number of protected birds, both resident and migratory. Flamingos, Eleonora’s falcons and Audouin’s gulls can be found there. Archipelagos is dedicated to monitoring and protecting all these species and conducting research into their ecology and threats.

Archipelagos’ terrestrial research on Samos island focuses on

  • Rare wetland habitats: The famous Alyki salt lake, Mesokampos salt marsh and Potokaki pools in the eastern part of the island.
  • Internationally important and protected bird species: Greater flamingo, ruddy shelduck, Eleonora’s falcon , Audouin’s gull, Scopoli’s shearwater etc.
  • Mammals: Golden jackals, wild boars, beech martens, weasels, hares and small rodents.
  • Reptiles and amphibians: Common chameleons, Caspian whip snakes, Balkan terrapins, tree frogs and numerous other species.
  • Insects: Dragonflies, butterflies, moths and beetles, as well as other brackish and freshwater species.
  • Plants: Ancient trees, orchids, marshland flora and endemic plant species.

Chameleon Populations

  • Surveys determining the population size and distribution, involving mark-recapture techniques and morphometrical analysis.
  • Surveys assessing seasonal variation of habitats and vegetation type preference.

Jackal Populations

  • Night-time acoustic surveys monitoring territorial groups with the use of vocalization techniques to estimate the number of packs on the island.
  • Behavioral surveys using baited camera traps.
  • Necropsies of dead individuals.


  • Collecting information on a daily basis via standardised point count methods and transect surveys in order to observe accurate temporal comparisons.
  • Caring for injured birds before releasing them back into the wild.
  • Other studies depending on personal interests (e.g. raptor, migration) and qualifications (e.g. ringing license) of the research team.

Additonal Projects

  • Collaborative work with the Norwegian University of Life Sciences for remote censusing of Eleonora’s falcon nests on the Anidro islet north of Patmos.
  • Research on the winter migration of unusually large cormorant and heron populations in the Oinousses island complex.

Ancient Trees

  • Locating and identifying ancient trees across Samos, Ikaria and other islands of the eastern Aegean.
  • Determining the age of the specimen by measuring trunks and taking bark samples.
  • Creating a GIS map pinpointing the locations of ancient trees and enforcing their legal protection.
  • Working towards the designation of ancient trees as Monuments of Nature.
  • Preparing awareness raising campaigns related to their conservation.

Bat Research

  • Surveying transects and analyzing sound files recorded.
  • Visiting caves to identify species present on the island.
  • Mist netting with the aim of making accurate species identifications.
  • Assessing the impact of wind farms on local bat populations.


Insect research takes place on Samos as well as other, smaller islands and islets of the Northern Dodecanese. Since minimal or no research at all has been conducted so far regarding insect biodiversity in this region, Archipelagos’ current preliminary surveys, mainly with the use of pit-fall traps, assess species distribution during spring, summer and autumn months. Some targeted projects also take place, including the research into Carabidae beetles, as well as the inter- and intraspecies differentiation of local insects.

What you should expect from your stay

The work of Archipelagos Institute of Marine Conservation, is built upon a strong and enthusiastic volunteer team. We are therefore seeking applicants that are motivated and have a strong desire to protect and conserve the natural environment. You must be conscientious and highly motivated, able to work both individually and as part of a dynamic, multi-cultural team of people from around the world. 

Typical day

Usual working hours are Monday - Friday from 09:00 AM - 6:00 PM including the following tasks.

  • Field work
  • Data collection 
  • Data analysis
  • Office work

Free-time activities

Samos is one of the biggest islands of Greece and it's the favorite touristic destination in the north east aegean.
It features a rich history as well as beautiful nature, an intact infrastructure and friendly people who will make your stay a memorable one, be it for one week or many years. During the weekend the volunteers are organizing trips around the island or the near by islands boat trip, hiking, riding and so many other activities.

Water Sports

Program Requirements

In order to join the program you need to be at least 18 years old on the program start date. There might be exemptions if you can provide the permission of your legal guardian(s). Of course, there is an exception for children that are accompanied by their parents.
Language Skills
You need to speak English (basic level)
Nationality Restrictions
No restrictions. Helping hands from all over the world are welcome.
Time Commitment
Your helping hand will be required on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday from 09:00 - 18:00

Suitable for


Included Services

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We refund your fees if Archipelagos Institute cancels your trip
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Our services are free of charge!
All program fees are charged directly by Archipelagos Institute.
Services by Archipelagos Institute
  • Accommodation 
  • Meals 
  • Equipment and working expenses 
  • Transport for working purposes

We have shared rooms for 3 to 4 people with bathroom and balcony only 100 meters away from the sea.

Dorm Room Hotel
Food & Beverages

You will be getting three meals per day.

Internet Access
Good access at the project site
What's NOT included?
Visa, flights, travel insurance or vaccinations are NOT included in the program fees. An airport pickup isn't included within the program fees either.
Flight Tickets
The nearest airport is Samos Airport (SMI) in Samos. We assist you to find cheap flights to Greece.
Travel Insurance
Going abroad is an adventure and it is always best to be prepared. Sudden illness or injury, cancellation or theft - a travel insurance for Greece provides security and is a plus to have.
If you are intending to volunteer in Greece you should seek medical advice before starting your social journey. Check your required vaccinations for Greece.
Costs (Prices in USD)
12 weeks (min. stay)
13 weeks
14 weeks
15 weeks
19 weeks
27 weeks
50 weeks (max. stay)
Average fees

You can volunteer at the project site in Pythagorio/Greece between 12 weeks and 50 weeks. Please note that the above shown program fees are estimated and subject to exchange rate fluctuations. Archipelagos Institute will let you know about the final price during your application process.
Crowdfunding Service
Generally, volunteering abroad involves certain costs. In case you need financial support, we will assist you to fundraise your volunteer program in Greece.
Deposit (15%)
The deposit is simply to reserve your volunteer placement. Payments are handled by PayPal, our trusted global payment provider. If you don't have a PayPal account, you can also pay using a credit card.
Final Payment (85%)
Your final payment will be agreed with Archipelagos Institute during the application process. Common solutions are either via bank transfer or a cash payment at the project site.

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