A Dolly Varden trout (Salvelinus malma).

On Tuesday 16 October, Johan Watz from Karlstad University will give a seminar titled: “Report from a postdoctoral research stay in Sapporo and results from a field experiment: Condition-specific competition between two Japanese charr species”. The seminar will start at 13:15 in room 5F416 at Karlstad University. Everyone who wants to are welcome to attend the seminar.

Amy Newsom on lake Alstern.

In August and September 2018, Amy Newsom from Germany visited Karlstad University and did an internship with NRRV. Here she writes about her months at Karlstad University.

“Having spent a year at Karlstad University as an exchange student in 2017 in the framework of my bachelor program “Environmental and Sustainability Studies” at the Leuphana University in Lüneburg, Germany, I had already been able to gain a first impression of the university’s biology department, which sparked my interest in freshwater ecology. Consequently, I was thrilled to have the opportunity to join the Naturresurs rinnande vatten Team for a six-week internship in August and September of 2018.

During the weeks I spent at Karlstad University, I was able to work with different researchers, getting to know a variety of projects and greatly extending my previous knowledge on freshwater and riparian ecology, in particular river connectivity. My main aim in this internship was to gain more practical research experience, so I was glad to be able to spend a lot of time both in the lab and in the field. For example, my work included processing raw data on the ventilation rates of young trout to assess differences in metabolism efficiency, counting the eggs of spiders gathered in the field and preparing samples for stable isotope analysis to assess the impact of hydro dams on food web interactions of fish. This was a particularly interesting experience as stable isotope analysis was a new scientific procedure to me, and I was keen to learn more about it. I was also excited to join in some of the field work conducted during my time at NRRV, collecting fish, invertebrates and plankton samples from the lake Alstern and electrofishing in the rivers Mörrumsån and Emån to assess the overall community composition at different sites. I was furthermore able to gain valuable insights into the design of research experiments while accompanying the setting up of an experimental flume in Älvkarleby and the preparation of eel traps in the river Alsterälven. In the time I spent in the office, I was also able to gather more experience in data analysis and scientific writing, both helpful preparations for my upcoming bachelor thesis.

Amy Newsom dissecting a crayfish.

Returning to Karlstad also gave me the opportunity to improve my Swedish, reconnect with old friends and make new contacts, as well as further explore the forests, rivers and lakes in the area that I have come to love so much. My thanks go out to John Piccolo, on whose invitation I was able join NRRV as an intern, the International Offices both in Karlstad and at my home university for helping me with the administrative process, and the German foundation Meifort Stiftung, whose generous support made this internship possible for me. I am also incredibly grateful to all the researchers at the KAU biology department who warmly welcomed me into their team, took the time to introduce me to their work and helped me gain new knowledge and experience, in particular Olle Calles, Rachel Bowes, Larry Greenberg, Denis Lafage, Karl Filipsson, Andrew Harbicht, Lovisa Lind and Niclas Carlsson.”

Amy Newsom and Andrew Harbicht (NRRV-postdoc) electrofishing in river Mörrumsån.

A cutthroat trout (Oncorhynchus clarkii).

On Monday October 8, Guillermo Giannico, Associate Professor at Oregon State University, will give a seminar titled:Fish Passage and Habitat Restoration: a Priority Setting Approach from Coastal Oregon, U.S.A”. The seminar will start at 13:30 in room 5F322 at Karlstad University. Everyone is welcome to attend the seminar.

Seminars Tuesday 9 October 2018

Posted by Karl Filipsson | Events

A threespine stickleback (Gasterosteus aculeatus), a fascinating animal likely to be mentioned in both talks.

On Tuesday October 9, two seminars will be held at the biology department at Karlstad University.

Adaptive potential and evolutionary responses to climate change: Arctic char and threespine stickleback in GreenlandMichael Hansen, Professor, Aarhus University

Ecological genetics – What’s it about and how can we use it? – Karl Filipsson, NRRV PhD-student, Karlstad University

The seminars will be held in room 5F416 and start at 13:15. Everyone who wants to are welcome to attend the seminars.

Forskare i NRRV har under hösten påbörjat ett projekt inom ett för forskargruppen helt nytt ämnesområde. Det handlar om rörelsemönster hos den spanska skogssnigeln, även kallad mördarsnigel. Mördarsnigeln är en ovälkommen gäst i mångas trädgårdar, där den kan orsaka stor skada genom att äta rent i odlingar och blomsterrabatter. Det är en främmande art i Sverige, som mest troligt har kommit hit när ägg följt med plantor, jord, krukor och annan trädgårdsutrustning.

Frågor om sniglarnas spridningsmönster och koloniseringsförmåga när de väl har kommit till ett område skulle kunna besvaras med hjälp av studien. Till en början diskuterades sniglarna under en fikarast på universitetet, sedan följde att Johan Watz (projektledare) med flera på Karlstads universitet sökte och fick pengar av Kungliga Skogs- och Lantbruksakademien för att genomföra studien.

Nu har ca 50 mördarsniglar i en trädgård i Karlstad märkts med små chip (så kallade pit-tags, samma typ av märkning som används i forskningen om fisk), så att sniglarna kan pejlas och deras rörelsemönster och levnadsvanor studeras.

Tidningen Värmlands folkblad (VF) skrev om projektet måndag 1 oktober, som på flera platser i Karlstad tog plats på löpsedlarna.

Även SVT uppmärksammade studien 3 oktober, och reportaget når du genom att trycka här.

In June 2018, The Ecology and Evolutionary Ethology of Fishes Conference was held in Montreal, Quebec, Canada. Eva Bergman and Larry Greenberg from Karlstad University attended the conference, and participated in a symposium on the ecology of landlocked Atlantic salmon. You can read the abstracts from their talks here:

Conservation of landlocked salmon and trout in a regulated river – a holistic approach

Bergman, Eva; Calles, Olle; Greenberg, Larry; Hagelin, Anna; Norrgård, Johnny; Nyqvist, Daniel; Piccolo, John J

Populations of migratory salmon and trout have worldwide shown a decline due to human activities. Over the years numerous measures have been undertaken to maintain these populations, and conservation of migratory salmonids requires understanding of their ecology at multiple scales, combined with assessing anthropogenic impacts. The regulated River Klarälven and Lake Vänern host endemic populations of landlocked Atlantic salmon (Salmo salar) and brown trout (Salmo trutta). The historically high abundances of the salmonids in the River Klarälven in the early 1800s have decreased dramatically, reaching all-time lows after the completion of nine Swedish hydroelectric power stations in the 1960s. After an extensive stocking program and transportation of spawners past eight hydroelectric plants, catches from commercial, maintenance and sport fishing have again increased. Recently, increases in the proportion of wild salmon returning to the river have generated interest in establishment of wild salmon inhabiting the entire river, including upstream of the Norwegian border where they historically occurred. How well are we equipped to meet these new goals, taking into account our limited knowledge of the species’ different life stages, coordination between different actors involved in the conservation processes, and our skills to communicate and understand everybody’s role in this conservation process?

Post-spawning survival and downstream passage of landlocked Atlantic salmon in the regulated river Klarälven

Greenberg, Larry; Bergman, Eva; Calles, Olle; Hagelin, Anna; Nyqvist, Daniel

Repeat salmonid spawners may make large contributions to total recruitment and long term population stability. Despite their potential importance, little is known about this life stage for landlocked populations. Here, we studied post-spawning behaviour and survival of landlocked Atlantic salmon in relation to downstream dam passage in the River Klarälven, Sweden from 2011-14. Eight hydropower stations separate the feeding grounds in Lake Vänern from the spawning grounds in the river, and no measures to facilitate downstream migration are present. Nearly half of the salmon survived spawning and initiated downstream migration. Females and small fish had higher post-spawning survival than males and large fish. During years with high spill, 84% of the fish passed the first dam, mostly via upward-opening spill gates after a median delay of 25 min. During a year of low spill, 41% of the fish passed the dam, mostly through the turbines, where mortality was high. In addition, most fish approached the turbine intake near the surface. For all years combined, only 2% of the tagged fish successfully passed all eight hydropower stations to reach Lake Vänern. This result underscores the need for remedial measures to increase survival of downstream migrating kelts.

Access the conference program here.

Group photo from the landlocked Atlantic salmon symposium at the Ecology and Evolutionary Ethology of Fishes (EEEF) Conference 2018

Dirk Hattermann (Justus Liebig University Giessen), Markus Bernhardt-Römermann (Friedrich Schiller University Jena), Annette Otte (Justus Liebig University Giessen) and Lutz Eckstein (Karlstad University) recently published the paper “New insights into island vegetation composition and species diversity – Consistent and conditional responses across contrasting insular habitats at the plot-scale” in the scientific journal PLOS ONE.

In the abstract the authors write:

“Most island-ecology studies focus on the properties of entire island communities, thus neglecting species-environment relationships operating at the habitat-level. Habitat-specific variation in the strength and sign of these relationships will conceal patterns observed on the island scale and may preclude a mechanistic interpretation of patterns and processes. Habitat-specific species-environment relationships may also depend on the descriptor of ecological communities. This paper presents a comprehensive plot-based analysis of local vegetation composition and species diversity (species richness and species evenness) of (i) rocky shore, (ii) semi-natural grassland and (iii) coniferous forest habitats in three Baltic archipelagos in Sweden. To identify differences and consistencies between habitats and descriptors, we assessed the relative contributions of the variable-sets “region”, “topography”, “soil morphology”, “soil fertility”, “soil water”, “light availability”, “distance” and “island configuration” on local vegetation composition, species richness and species evenness. We quantified the impact of “management history” on the descriptors of local grassland communities by a newly introduced grazing history index (GHI). Unlike species diversity, changes in vegetation composition were related to most of the variable-sets. The relative contributions of the variable-sets were mostly habitat-specific and strongly contingent on the descriptor involved. Within each habitat, richness and evenness were only partly affected by the same variable-sets, and if so, their relative contribution varied between diversity proxies. Across all habitats, soil variable-sets showed highly consistent effects on vegetation composition and species diversity and contributed most to the variance explained. GHI was a powerful predictor, explaining high proportions of variation in all three descriptors of grassland species communities. The proportion of unexplained variance was habitat-specific, possibly reflecting a community maturity gradient. Our results reveal that species richness alone is an incomplete representation of local species diversity. Finally, we stress the need of including habitat-based approaches when analyzing complex species-environment relationships on islands.”

You can access the paper here.

Lovisa Lind recently started her position as Associate Professor in landscape ecology at Karlstad University and the NRRV research group. Here she presents her scientific background and research interests:

“Hello, I’m Lovisa Lind and I am very excited to join such a great research group. For the past years, I have been working enthusiastically as an ecologist with a specific focus on riparian, aquatic and winter ecology, and hydrology. My research strategy is to take a basic research approach to answer ecological and management questions with a focus on riparian zones. More specifically, I study interactions between terrestrial and aquatic processes, and how species diversity, distribution of organisms and ecosystem services respond to such interactions. I apply these research findings to current land use problems to develop best management practices to protect and optimize ecosystem services in the landscape.

My PhD work combined fundamental and applied questions. My thesis describes mechanisms structuring riparian vegetation along streams and rivers in relation to river ice formation, as well as the spatial variability of ecosystem services provided by riparian zones in boreal Sweden. As scientists predict climate change to influence ice formation, snow cover and winter temperatures in cold regions there is great need to study its influence on the river ecosystems. Hence, my research has provided novel evidence that different types of ice formation in streams and rivers influence the species diversity in the riparian zone, and that future changes in climate might decrease the river ice season and therefore affect the riparian flora. In addition, I have collaborated with a Norwegian hydrologist to complement my ecological understanding with hydrological processes during winter. This collaboration resulted in a simple model over river ice formation, which can be beneficial for managers in cold-water regions. Working on a large spatial scale also has provided me with a very thorough river system knowledge and I was therefore involved in several restoration projects. The Vindel River LIFE project, which was an EU funded restoration project involved many different stakeholders and opened up for new findings and new questions regarding river restoration. I have also worked on identifying the channel topography that is optimal for restoration efforts to sustain the biodiversity that is typical for boreal streams.

In 2015, I joined the Jefferson Project at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI) for a one-year postdoctoral position. The Jefferson project is a collaboration between RPI, IBM and the FUND for Lake George and combines data analytics with experimentation to understand how human activity affects Lake George. The goal of the Jefferson Project was to revolutionize the way we research, monitor, conserve, and interact with aquatic ecosystems. By combining cutting-edge sensing technology (e.g., underwater sensors, weather stations) with state-of-the-art computing and visualization power, we aimed to fast-forward our understanding of lake ecosystems and to make Lake George a global model for ecosystem understanding and protection. My role in this large project was to investigate the effects of road salt usage and eutrophication on aquatic ecosystems.

After the postdoctoral position at RPI, I joined Hjalmar Laudon´s lab at SLU, Umeå for another postdoctoral position. There I focused on how to optimize buffer zones in agricultural landscapes by conducting a meta-analysis. One of the goals of my project was to provide landowners and managers with guidelines on how to adjust buffer zones in their catchment in order to sustain resilient landscapes. In the meantime, I was in charge of two projects funded by HaV (The Swedish Agency for Marine and Water Management) regarding buffer zones in agricultural landscapes.

Thereafter, I once again joined the Landscape Ecology Group at Umeå University. The research involves various aspects of watershed science and management. Mainly, I study how the position in the landscape influences the biological variation in streams and riparian zones. I also explore the role of different process domains (lakes, rapids, slow-flowing reaches) in determining the species composition in restored sites further downstream. I also address how anthropogenic disturbance within a catchment or landscape influences the restoration success. Within a catchment or a landscape the anthropogenic influence on the rivers and streams varies with for example the number of and closeness to roads, and agricultural or forestry land-use. Therefore, I will determine the degree of anthropogenic disturbance by using GIS and field visits to restored river segments and thereafter connect it to the species richness and diversity of riparian and instream vegetation.

In my research, I have worked with ecology, hydrology, restoration ecology, food webs, river ice and biogeochemistry, and therefore gained a holistic understanding of watershed science and management. Even though I am enthusiastic about conducting fundamental and empirical research, I always want to link my findings to applied questions. Applying research findings to today’s nature management is an important part of being a scientist and I am keen to creating collaborations with managers and companies as well as being involved in teaching and communication of research findings.”

Find out more about Lovisa and her research on her website.

On Thursday 23 August Steve Railsback from Humboldt State University, California USA, will give a seminar at Karlstad University titled: “Can Big Complex Models be Useful? Lessons from 20 Years of Salmonid Modeling for River Management”.

The seminar will start at 10:00 in room 5F416, everyone is welcome to attend the seminar.

Steve will give a brief overview and history of individual-based trout and salmon models, and provide examples of how the modeling experience produced general knowledge about ecology and fish.

Read more about Steve’s work on individual-based modeling and ecology here.