Raft spider (Dolomedes sp.)

A PhD position in biology (community and food web ecology) is now open for application at Karlstad University. The project will focus on evaluating the ability of forested buffer strips to maintain cross boundaries fluxes between streams and riparian ecosystems.

The aim of the PhD project is to (i) analyse the link between riparian forest buffer width and functional diversity of riparian predator communities, (ii) define optimal buffer zones for conservation of riparian ecosystem functions, based on food web complexity and ecological niches (using stable isotopes) and (iii) use DNA-barcoding to study variation in prey preference with varying buffer width and test stable isotopes as a tool to assess riparian ecosystem functions in forestry affected landscapes.

The position is full time for four years but may be extended if department duties such as teaching (maximum 20 % of a full-time position) are included.

Last application date is 14 March 2019.

Read more and apply for the position here!

 

River Mörrumsån, Sweden

 

 

Europeisk ål, Anguilla anguilla. Foto: Jörgen Wiklund.

Under senhösten 2018 har forskare från NRRV undersökt två olika typer av låglutande galler (vinkel mot strömriktningen = 30°) och dess effekt på nedströmsvandrande ål (Anguilla anguilla). Studien har utförts i Vattenfalls nya strömränna ”Laxelleratorn” som genom sina mått (24 meter lång, 4 meter bred och 2 meter djup) är i paritet med en intagskanal till ett litet vattenkraftverk.

Bakgrunden tll studien är den stora minskningen av ålbeståndet som har skett sedan mitten av 1900-talet och som lett till att ålen numer är klassad som en akut hotad art (sedan 2005). En av orsakerna tros vara den höga mortaliteten för blankål vid nedströmspassage i anslutning till vattenkraftverk, där framförallt passage genom turbinerna ger låga överlevnadschanser.

 

Laxelleratorn i Älvkarleby.

För att hindra ålen att passera genom turbinerna eller andra passager med hög mortalitet kan, istället för ett konventionellt intagsgaller, ett låglutande galler (< 30° mot strömriktning) installeras. Dessa leder fisken mot en flyktöppning som leder till en säkrare passage, till exempel en fiskväg eller en fälla, och en återställning av vattendragets konnektivitet. Ett exempel där ett låglutande galler finns installerat är Hertingforsen i Ätran där goda resultat uppnåtts för flera arter (Calles m.fl.).

Totalt märktes 80 ålar (medellängd ± 1 standardavvikelse (SD) = 845 ± 74 mm) med PIT-tags och släpptes ut i strömrännan där de endera fick möta ett α-galler (avleder fisk från botten mot ytan) eller ett β-galler (avleder fisken från ena sidan till den andra). Dessutom testades för vardera galler två olika spaltvidder: 15 och 30 millimeter. De huvudsakliga parametrarna som undersöktes var avledningseffektivitet för respektive gallerkonfiguration och tiden den tog för ålen att passera.

Resultatet analyseras i nuläget men de preliminära resultaten tyder generellt på en god avledande förmåga. Rapporten planeras vara klar under våren 2019.

 

Se även:

Calles O, Christiansson J, Kläppe S, Alenäs I, Karlsson S, Nyqvist D, Hebrand M. (2015). Slutrapport Hertingprojektet – Förstudie och uppföljning av åtgärder för förbättrad fiskpassage 2007-2015. Naturresurs rinnande vatten, Karlstads universitet

 

Försöksuppställningen i laxelleratorn.

 

Viola elatior and the two habitats used in the study: early successional floodplain meadows and late successional alluvian woodlands. Photos: Benjamin Schulz.

Benjamin Schulz, Walter Durka, Jiří Danihelka and Lutz Eckstein recently published the research paper “Differential role of a persistent seed bank for genetic variation in early vs. late successional stages” in the scientific journal PLOS ONE. In the abstract, the authors write:

“Persistent seed banks are predicted to have an important impact on population genetic processes by increasing effective population size and storing past genetic diversity. Accordingly, persistent seed banks may buffer genetic effects of disturbance, fragmentation and/or selection. However, empirical studies surveying the relationship between aboveground and seed bank genetics under changing environments are scarce. Here, we compared genetic variation of aboveground and seed bank cohorts in 15 populations of the partially cleistogamous Viola elatior in two contrasting early and late successional habitats characterized by strong differences in light-availability and declining population size. Using AFLP markers, we found significantly higher aboveground than seed bank genetic diversity in early successional meadow but not in late successional woodland habitats. Moreover, individually, three of eight woodland populations even showed higher seed bank than aboveground diversity. Genetic differentiation among populations was very strong (фST = 0.8), but overall no significant differentiation could be detected between above ground and seed bank cohorts. Small scale spatial genetic structure was generally pronounced but was much stronger in meadow (Sp-statistic: aboveground: 0.60, seed bank: 0.32) than in woodland habitats (aboveground: 0.11; seed bank: 0.03). Our findings indicate that relative seed bank diversity (i.e. compared to aboveground diversity) increases with ongoing succession and despite decreasing population size. As corroborated by markedly lower small-scale genetic structure in late successional habitats, we suggest that the observed changes in relative seed bank diversity are driven by an increase of outcrossing rates. Persistent seed banks in Viola elatior hence will counteract effects of drift and selection, and assure a higher chance for the species’ long term persistence, particularly maintaining genetic variation in declining populations of late successional habitats and thus enhancing success rates of population recovery after disturbance events.”

Read the paper here!

 

Two PhD positions (1: vegetation ecology, 2: ecosystem function/host-parasite interactions) are now open for applicants at Karlstad University. Both positions are full time for five years within the River Ecology and Management (NRRV) research group and include 80 % research and 20 % department duties (mainly teaching).

The applications for both positions close on 31 January 2019.

 

PhD position in vegetation ecology

River Klarälven, Värmland

The project will study which factors control diaspore dispersal and plant community composition along boreal streams, which in turn may have cascading effects on functional plant diversity and ecosystem functioning. The specific research questions to be addressed will be decided in consultation with the candidate. Areas of particular interest are (1) the effects of local and landscape-scale factors for plant species composition and diversity and cascading effects on ecosystem functioning and (2) studies of factors promoting or constraining plant dispersal along streams.

Read more and apply for the position here!

 

Ecosystem function/host-parasite interactions

The position will focus on either the role of mussels for ecosystem function or host-parasite interactions. Areas of interest are (1) the role of mussels for stream ecosystem function and (2) host-parasite interactions between mussels and their host fish. The specific research questions to be addressed will be decided in consultation with the candidate.

Read more and apply for the position here!

As part of the Gullspång salmon and -trout monitoring program, a group of people from the management group, Gammelkroppa Lax and Jyväskylä University/Fortum perform redd surveys in the river every year in early December. The salmon and trout in the Gullspång River spawn fairly late in the season, first trout in October-early November and then salmon in November until around the beginning of December.

This year I was invited to assist in the redd surveys, which I of course said yes to! Any chance to learn more about the Gullspång salmon and -trout is valuable for the model I’m making. Plus, it’s nice to get out of the office, even when the temperature is close to zero. And it’s also very inspiring to meet other people who are studying the Gullspång salmonids.

 

Lilla Åråsforsen. With sunrise at around 8:30 and sundown at 15:30, we had to be efficient to cover the three areas (about 6.4 hectares) in the precious daylight hours the four days.

 

So, we started by the Årås bay (Åråsviken) on Tuesday, and slowly worked our way upstream. With layers upon layers (upon layers…etc.) under our waders, and thick, wadded rubber gloves we walked gracefully around in the three spawning areas – Lilla & Stora Åråsforsen and Gullspångsforsen- to look for anything that could be a fish-made structure in the gravel beds. Sometimes we had redds that looked like textbook examples of redds, other times they didn’t look like anything. To confirm or disprove that it was an active redd, we did some careful digging in the pit itself to see if it contained at least two live eggs. The females often do some test diggings before the “real deal”.

We marked confirmed redds with conspicuously colored stones so that they can be found again in the spring; their location was also mapped with a GPS. Initially, we started with Finnish marking stones, but to our slight surprise they ran out (see why further down). We therefore had to settle with slightly lighter Swedish stones the last few days. Sadly, Norway was not represented with any stones (but we’ll see next year).

We also took measurements of the dimensions of the redds, as well as the depth and velocities along the gradient between start of pit and end of tail. I quickly took the role of propeller lady, taking the flow velocity measurements with NRRV’s OTT meters. It was interesting to see how much higher the velocity generally was in the tail compared to in the pit.

 

Horseshoe-formed tail of a large redd in Lilla Åråsforsen rapids marked with a white-painted and numbered stone. The marking stones were bought from a local stone dealer in Finland and brought to Gullspång.

 

I’ve saved the best for the end: the reason why we kept running out of marking stones was that we counted a record number of redds this year! We found redds also where they usually are not found, in total around 190 of them! It’s a careful victory, because we don’t yet know how many of them are salmon respective trout redds. But it was a nice early Christmas present, and I’m glad I joined!

/Kristine Lund Björnås

 

Learn more:

Management report on the monitoring results on Gullspång salmon and –trout in 2017:

http://extra.lansstyrelsen.se/vanern/Sv/publikationer/2018-2020/Sidor/Gullsp%C3%A5ngs%C3%A4lven_2017.aspx

 

Salmon females design their redds in a sophisticated way to increase velocities and dissolved oxygen to the egg pockets as shown with a 3D fluid dynamic model:

Tonina, D. & Buffington, J.M. (2009). Doi:10.1139/F09-146

River Rottnan in winter

Johan Watz, Olle Calles, Niclas Carlsson, Teemu Collin, Ari Huusko, Jörgen Johnsson, Anders Nilsson, Johnny Norrgård and Daniel Nyqvist recently published the paper “Wood addition in the hatchery and river environments affects post-release performance of overwintering brown trout” in the journal Freshwater Biology.

In the abstract, the authors write:

“1. Habitat structural complexity affects the behaviour and physiology of individuals, and responses to the  environment can be immediate or influence performance later in life through delayed effects.

2. Here, we investigated how structural enrichment, both pre-release in the hatchery rearing environment and post-release in the wild, influenced winter growth and site fidelity of brown trout stocked into side channels of a regulated river.

3. Experiencing structural enrichment in the rearing environment during 3 months in autumn had no pre-release effect on growth, but a delayed positive effect after release during the subsequent winter. Moreover, trout recaptured in wood-treated sections of the side channels had grown more than trout recaptured in control sections. Wood enrichment in the side channels also increased overwinter site fidelity.

Johan Watz at the field site.

4. These results show that adding structure during a relatively short period may alter growth trajectories, and adding wood to side channels is a cost-effective method to enhance winter habitat carrying capacity for  juvenile salmonids in regulated rivers.”

Access the paper here.

Teemu Collin tracking trout at the field site.

 

Dead wood in a side channel of the river.

 

River Rottnan.

Haydn Washington, Guillaume Chapron, Helen Kopnina, Patrick Curry, Joe Gray and John Piccolo recently published the paper “Foregrounding ecojustice in conservation” in the journal Biological Conservation.

In the abstract of the paper, the authors write:
“Justice for nature remains a confused term. In recent decades justice has predominantly been limited to humanity, with a strong focus on social justice, and its spin-off – environmental justice for people. We first examine the formal rationale for ecocentrism and ecological ethics, as this underpins attitudes towards justice for nature, and show how justice for nature has been affected by concerns about dualisms and by strong anthropocentric bias. We next consider the traditional meaning of social justice, alongside the recent move by some scholars to push justice for nature into social justice, effectively weakening any move to place ecojustice centre-stage. This, we argue, is both unethical and doomed to failure as a strategy to protect life on Earth. The dominant meaning of ‘environmental justice’ – in essence, justice for humans in regard to environmental issues – is also explored. We next discuss what ecological justice (ecojustice) is, and how academia has ignored it for many decades. The charge of ecojustice being ‘antihuman’ is refuted. We argue that distributive justice can also apply to nature, including an ethic of bio-proportionality, and also consider how to reconcile social justice and ecojustice, arguing that ecojustice must now be foregrounded to ensure effective conservation. After suggesting a ‘Framework for implementing ecojustice’ for conservation practitioners, we conclude by urging academia to foreground ecojustice.”

You can access the full paper here.

On Tuesday October 30, Peter Hambäck, Professor at Stockholm University, will give a seminar at Karlstad University titled “Spatial subsidies for shore-line spiders: evidence from molecular gut content analysis and stable isotopes”. The seminar will start at 13:15 in room 5F416, everyone who wants to are welcome to attend the seminar.