VitDAL postdoc Dr Iris Mair has just returned from visiting St Kilda where she was working with colleagues from the University of Edinburgh and other academic centres on the long running St Kilda Soay Sheep project. The wild, unmanaged Soay sheep have been closely studied for over 30 years and have provided remarkable insights into evolutionary ecology and genetics for many years. The VitDAL have teamed up with the St Kilda team in recent years and are now using this remarkable population to study the relationship between vitamin D and health outcomes in this wild, unmanaged large animal population. This study system has numerous exciting features relevant to our quest to understand more about vitamin D biology, not least that the sheep are confined to a small space with limited ability to alter their exposure to UV radiation and are not supplemented with vitamin D3 containing rations. In addition, the St Kilda sheep population allow us to dissect the relationship between orally obtained vitamin D2 and cutaneously produced vitamin D3 and health outcomes.
The first of our collaborative papers exploring the relationship between vitamin D status and health outcomes in the St Kilda flock can be found at this link
The St Kilda landscape is both dramatic and beautiful as shown by the wonderful images taken by Iris during her visit