Mattias Hansson, Lovisa Lind, Andreas Vernby, Larry Greenberg and Johan Watz from Karlstad University have a new paper out! It describes how Hester-Dendy samplers perform under different flow regimes. This was tested in a laboratory experiment by studying the colonization of the Hester-Dendy samplers in relation to a predetermined benthic macroinvertebrate composition in a fluctuating (and increasing) flow regime and in a constant flow regime.

An aquarium setup for the fluctuating and increasing flow regime with a Hester-Dandy sampler on the bottom. Photo by Mattias Hansson.

The results showed that flow conditions didn’t affect the number of colonizing individuals, but the sampled species diversity was negatively affected by the fluctuating flow regime. This indicates that sampling benthic macroinvertebrates from rivers and streams with sub-daily flow changes, for example downstream of hydropeaking power plants, may be subject to a negative sampling bias.

You can read the full paper here:

Professor Lutz Eckstein is co-author in a new paper in the journal Applied Vegetation Science led by Yves Klinger (Justus-Liebig-University Giessen, Germany). The authors assessed the role of mowing machinery and endozoochory by migratory sheep as dispersal vectors in semi-natural grasslands by comparing the species compositions and traits of species found in the vectors to the regional above-ground vegetation and soil seed bank. Plant material from mowers (n = 12 from one date) and dung samples from migratory sheep (n = 39 from 13 dates) were collected and the dispersed plant species were determined using the emergence method. We compared the species compositions to the regional above-ground vegetation and seed bank using non-metric multidimensional scaling (NMDS) and indicator species analysis. Furthermore, we compared functional traits of the dispersed species to traits of non-dispersed species of the regional species pools by calculating log-response ratios and performing metaregressions.

Sheep in the Rhön Mountains. Photo by Yves Klinger.

We found that mower samples were more similar to the above-ground vegetation whereas dung samples were more similar to the seed bank. Mowers and sheep endozoochory favored the dispersal of species with different traits and phenologies. Species with small seed sizes were prevalent in both vectors. Mowers were less selective concerning most traits, but favored high-growing grasses such as Alopecurus pratensis and Trisetum flavescens. Sheep dung samples contained less grasses and more palatable species, such as Urtica dioica.

Log-response ratios dispersal vectors vs species pools of sheep vs above-ground. LDMC = Leaf Dry Mass Content, EIV N = Ellenberg Indicator Value for Nutrients. Zero indicates the mean value of the non-dispersed species from the respective species pool, bars show mean log-response ratios ± confidence intervals. Figure is part of Figure 3 in the paper.

Sheep endozoochory and mowing machinery are complementary dispersal vectors favoring species with differing functional traits. Sheep endozoochory enables dispersal of species that have unfavorable traits (e.g. low releasing heights) or phenologies for dispersal by mowing machinery. To ensure the dispersal of a high number of plant species in semi-natural grasslands, the interplay of different vectors should be considered.

Read more about the paper here:

Professor Lutz Eckstein is involved in a new article led by Eva Svensson (Dept. of Political, Historical, Religious and Cultural Studies, KaU) and co-authored by Jan Haas (Geomatics, KaU) in the journal Landscapes (Taylor & Francis). They tested the potential of a low-budget method for integrating information on human impact and natural responses in the vegetation of boreal forested Scandinavia. The information from two national databases in Sweden – the National Inventory of Landscapes in Sweden (NILS) covering surveyed vegetation, and the Register of Ancient Monuments (Fornsök) – were combined and visualized using Geographical Information Systems (see Figure).

Rännberget, Northern Värmland, close to the study area described in the paper. Photo taken by Lutz Eckstein.

No relationships between human impact and vegetation were found at any of the five investigated sites. The authors discuss potential reasons for this, among others mismatches in time and scale between databases but also sectorized survey methods not paying attention to biocultural heritage, landscape perspectives or long-term processes. The paper concludes that further development of survey methods and registers targeting contexts and processes are called for. “This is a good example of `negative´ results, i.e. a study that does not demonstrate any significant patterns being published in an international scientific journal”, says Lutz Eckstein. Read more about the paper here:

A group of international researchers, among which Martin Österling, have a new paper out! The authors, led by Ronaldo Sousa from the University of Minho in Portugal, investigated the role of anthropogenic habitats as refuges for freshwater mussels. The dataset of 709 sites comprised 228 mussel species, of which 34 are threatened, in a broad variety of anthropogenic habitat types. The authors assessed the conservation importance of these anthropogenic habitats, which included both refuges and ecological traps, and provide guidance for the conservation of freshwater mussels. Read the full paper here:

Irrigation canal in Morocco (river Bouhlou) colonized by Margaritifera marocana, one of the rarest species on the planet. Photo by Ronaldo Sousa.

Andrew Harbicht, Martin Österling, and Olle Calles from Karlstad University and Anders Nilsson of Lund University have a new paper out. By radio tagging Atlantic salmon smolt and following them along their downstream migration to the Baltic, they quantified the effect of both a dam and a reservoir on migratory rates while accounting for environmental covariates. The good news for salmon, if reservoirs are kept thin (river-like), and mitigative measures are taken at a dam (i.e., spilling water during the smolt migration), the effects of anthropogenic barriers can be dramatically reduced. Read more about the paper here:

Tired of slugs eating fruit and veggies in your garden? Big holes in your strawberries? Johan Watz and Daniel Nyqvist (Politecnico di Torino, Italy) have a new paper out on the performance of copper and waterglass (sodium silicate) barriers against movements of Spanish slugs (Arion vulgaris).

Copper foil barriers delayed, but did not prevent slug passage. Waterglass, on the other hand, prevented passage completely and reduced crop damage in a semi-field validation. You can read the full paper here:

Lutz Eckstein, professor at Karlstad University, is involved in two recently published papers, studying the effects of invasive Garden Lupine (Lupinus polyphyllus) on vegetation and seed bank of mountain meadow plant communities.

The first paper together with Wiebke Hansen (first author), Julia Wollny, Annette Otte and Kristin Ludewig, published in the journal Biological Invasions (, found that the invasion of Garden Lupine homogenizes vegetation composition. The similarity among plots increased with increasing lupine cover in three different vegetation types. L. polyphyllus affected species diversity in terms of richness and effective species number but in rather complex ways, i.e. plots with low to intermediate lupine cover had higher species diversity than control plots. Probably, the invasion though Garden Lupine is linked to significant species turnover. A very clear effect was found for community-weighted means of species trait. In all three vegetation types studied, the canopy height of the community increased with increasing lupine cover, whereas especially in the low-productive Nardus grasslands, leaf dry matter content decreased and specific leaf area increased. Thus, the Garden Lupine shifted the suite of community traits towards more competitive trait values. This may lead to overall more productive plant communities from which rare, low-growing herbs and grasses will disappear.

Germination experiment from the seed bank study in the paper published in Restoration Ecology. Photo: Kristin Ludewig

The second paper with Kristin Ludewig (first author), Wiebke Hansen, Yves Klinger, and Annette Otte, published in the journal Restoration Ecology (, analyzed the effects of increasing cover of Garden Lupineon the seed bank of mountain meadows, and the potential of the seed bank of these stands for active restoration of mountain meadows in terms of species composition and number. The authors conducted a seed bank analysis on 84 plots with increasing cover of L. polyphyllus in three mountain-meadow types of the Rhön Biosphere Reserve, Germany. Seedlings from 119 species germinated from the seed bank samples, including 17 Red List species but only a few seedlings of L. polyphyllus. While the influence of L. polyphyllus on the current vegetation was visible, no effects on the seed bank were apparent. L. polyphyllus had no influence on total seed density, seed density of typical mountain-meadow species, or species numbers in the seed bank. Only the seeds of the Red List species were significantly related to the cover of L. polyphyllus. The authors conclude that the seed bank offers potential for active restoration of species-rich mountain meadows, but species absent from the seed bank have to be added by other measures.

Kristin Ludewig, Wiebke Hansen and Yves Klinger will presents these and other results from a large restoration project in the UNESCO Rhön Biosphere Reserve at the RivEM week.

Our former PhD student Anna Hagelin and several other researchers, amongst them Larry Greenberg, Olle Calles and Eva Bergman, recently published a new paper in the Canadian Journal of Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences.

They examined fishway passage of landlocked Atlantic salmon in River Klarälven, Sweden and brown trout in River Gudbrandslågen, Norway, and the influence of prior experience on passage success in 2012 and 2013. Fishway trap efficiency varied from 18 to 88% and was influenced by river discharge. Most salmon (81%) entered the fishway trap on days without spill, and salmon moved from the turbine area to the spill zone when there was spill, with small individuals showing a stronger reaction than large fish. Analysis of fish with and without prior trap experience showed that a higher percentage of the “naïve” fish (70% of salmon and 43% of the trout) entered the fishway traps than the “experienced” ones (25% of the salmon and 15 % of the trout). Delays for fish that entered the trap ranged from 3-70 days for salmon and 2-47 days for trout.

The paper is not publicly accessible, but can be requested via ResearchGate.

Karl Filipsson, Eva Bergman, Larry Greenberg, Martin Österling, Johan Watz and Ann Erlandsson recently published the paper “Temperature and predator-mediated regulation of plasma cortisol and brain gene expression in juvenile brown trout (Salmo trutta)” in the journal Frontiers in Zoology.

In this study, we tested how temperature and the presence of a cold-water adapted predatory fish (burbot, Lota lota) affected primary stress responses (i.e. cortisol and mRNA levels of stress-related genes) in juvenile brown trout (Salmo trutta). We found that trout had elevated cortisol levels in the presence of burbot, and that stress-related gene expressions varied a lot with temperature. In addition, we found that the predator-induced effects on mRNA levels were temperature dependent for some of the genes. This, together with the directly temperature-mediated effects that we observed in our study, suggest that warming winters can have major impact on primary stress responses in overwintering salmonids, for instance in encounters with predators.

In the abstract of the paper, we wrote that:

“Temperature affects many aspects of performance in poikilotherms, including how prey respond when encountering predators. Studies of anti-predator responses in fish mainly have focused on behaviour, whereas physiological responses regulated through the hypothalamic-pituitary-interrenal axis have received little attention. We examined plasma cortisol and mRNA levels of stress-related genes in juvenile brown trout (Salmo trutta) at 3 and 8 °C in the presence and absence of a piscivorous fish (burbot, Lota lota).

One of the experimental aquaria used for the study.

A redundancy analysis revealed that both water temperature and the presence of the predator explained a significant amount of the observed variation in cortisol and mRNA levels (11.4 and 2.8%, respectively). Trout had higher cortisol levels in the presence than in the absence of the predator. Analyses of individual gene expressions revealed that trout had significantly higher mRNA levels for 11 of the 16 examined genes at 3 than at 8 °C, and for one gene (retinol-binding protein 1), mRNA levels were higher in the presence than in the absence of the predator. Moreover, we found interaction effects between temperature and predator presence for two genes that code for serotonin and glucocorticoid receptors.

We extracted mRNA from the forebrain (telencephalon) of the trout. The picture shows a trout brain after dissection, where the telencephalon is the two upper lobes.

Our results suggest that piscivorous fish elicit primary stress responses in juvenile salmonids and that some of these responses may be temperature dependent. In addition, this study emphasizes the strong temperature dependence of primary stress responses in poikilotherms, with possible implications for a warming climate.”

You can read the paper for free on the journal website, as the paper is published open access through funding provided by Karlstad University.

Lutz Eckstein, professor at Karlstad University, together with Yves Klinger, David HorlemannAnnette Otte and Kristin Ludewig recently published the paper Germination of the invasive legume Lupinus polyphyllus depends on cutting date and seed morphology in the journal NeoBiota. The paper is accessible open access on the journal website, or you can read a summary of the paper below:

In semi-natural grasslands, mowing leads to the dispersal of species that have viable seeds at the right time. For invasive plant species in grasslands, dispersal by mowing should be avoided, and information on the effect of cutting date on the germination of invasive species is needed. We investigated the germination of seeds of the invasive legume Lupinus polyphyllus Lindl. depending on the cutting date. We measured seed traits associated with successful germination that can be assessed by managers for an improved timing of control measures. Germination patterns were highly asynchronous and differed between seeds cut at different dates. Seeds cut early, being green and soft, tended to germinate in autumn. Seeds cut late, being dark and hard, were more prone to germinate the following spring, after winter stratification. This allows the species to utilize germination niches throughout the year, indicating a bet-hedging strategy.

Lupine seeds used in the study

Seed color and the percentage of hard seeds were good predictors of germination percentage. Managers should prevent the species from producing black and hard seeds, while cutting plants carrying green and soft seeds appears less problematic. Furthermore, germination patterns differed between experiments in climate chambers and in the common garden, mainly because germination of dormant seeds was lower in climate chambers. We propose that more germination experiments under ambient weather conditions should be done, as they can give valuable information on the germination dynamics of invasive species.