Anissa Bengattat (middle), together with Rachel Prokopius (left), exchange student from Northern Kentucky University, and Elio Bottagisio (right), master student from France, doing fieldwork in the stream Rannån.

In April 2018, Anissa Bengattat from France visited Karlstad University and did an internship with NRRV. Here she writes about her weeks in Sweden.

Hej där!

I’m Anissa Bengattat, a French student in HND ‘Management and Protection of Nature’ in a town located in France, named Vic-en-Bigorre. As a practical training, I have been doing my three-weeks internship at Karlstad University with the Ecology and Conservation Biology program.           

During these weeks, I have learned vastly about different aspects of  freshwater ecology.  My main mission has been to collect, sort, identify and archive macro-invertebrates, collected in the field, in the freshwater stream Rannån. With the help of Richard Durtsche, guest-professor from the USA, and his student Rachel Prokopius, I managed to follow a project from the start to the end.

I have tested digital imaging of the identified invertebrates, and I have seen the calorimetry process, used in order to make links with the fishes‘ energetics consumption.

 I have also been in the stream aquarium laboratory to participate in some interesting experiments. First, I have learned about the whole fishes respirometry system, made up by R. Durtsche, where we studied oxygen consumption for brown trout. Then, I’ve learned about Karl Filipsson’s experiments about climate change effects on predation on brown trout. Their behaviour, linked to the temperature and the presence or not of burbot, and how to identify it scientifically by extracting trouts‘ RNA.

 Finally, I have attended master classes for these three last weeks, which consolidated my idea to do a bachelor after my HND, and then a master, if possible, abroad.

This internship wasn’t only about studies to me, it was also about meeting new people in another country with a different way of living, and a different way of teaching. It was about making concrete links in my mind between how much I still have to learn, and how to develop into an accomplished scientist.

Thanks to John Piccolo who set up my internship, thanks to the international office of Karlstad university which helped, and thanks to Elio Bottagisio, the French master student who told me about this program. And finally, thanks to all the people who taught me things during this internship,  Richard Durtsche, Rachel Prokopius, Olle Calles, and Karl Filipsson. I hope to come back.

In the beginning of March, John Piccolo from Karlstad University, and Haydn Washington (University of New South Wales), Helen Kopnina (Hague University of Applied Sciences) and Bron Taylor (University of Florida) published the paper Why conservation scientists should reembrace their ecocentric roots” in the scientific journal Conservation Biology. In the article impact statement the authors say that “ecocentrism, the recognition of intrinsic natural vaule, is and should continue to be a vital element of biodiversity conservation”.

You can access the paper here.

Conservation biology is concerned with maintaining the rich biodiversity of Planet Earth. Over the past 50 years scientists have come to recognize that humans are the driving force behind an unprecedented loss of biodiversity. Conservation scientists work for social and ecological justice for a sustainable future of human and non-human life on Earth. The ecosystem services that nature provides for humans is what sustains us – food, clean water, recreation and cultural values. Ecosystem services provide a powerful justification for nature protection, but many people believe that we need to also look more deeply to recognize nature’s intrinsic values. A new peer-review journal, The Ecological Citizen, is dedicated to publishing research on ecocentrism, “Striving for harmony with the rest of nature”.

http://www.ecologicalcitizen.net/

 

John Piccolo from Karlstad University has been contributing to a research network in publishing articles related to ecocentrism and conservation ethics. You can read more about this work here:

http://www.ecologicalcitizen.net/article.php?t=why-ecocentrism-key-pathway-sustainability

https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s10806-018-9711-1

https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1617138117300742

https://www.cambridge.org/core/journals/oryx/article/if-we-want-a-whole-earth-nature-needs-half-a-response-to-buscher-et-al/27ACE7EBAA074C875C4F16B1BD05F12B

 

The online “statement of commitment to ecocentrism” has been signed by a number of well-known ecologists and conservationists including Jane Goodall, David Suzuki, Ann and Paul Erhlich, Herman Daly, David Ehrenfeld, Michael Soulé, Holmes Rolston, Sarah Darwin, Reed Noss, and J. Baird Callicott.

You can read more about and sign the statement of commitment to ecocentrism here.

 

A spawning male sockeye salmon (Oncorhynchus nerka)

During the 50th anniversary meeting of the Fisheries Society of the British Isles at the University of Exeter in July 2017, the participants held a workshop to develop a publication titled “Valuing and understanding fish populations in the Anthropocene: key questions to address”, for the special issue of the Journal of Fish Biology.

John Piccolo from Karlstad University contributed to this paper, focusing on a current research theme on conservation ethics. The paper is now published. Access the paper here, or contact any of the authors. John has also promised a coming NRRV post highlighting some recent work in this area.

In the abstract of the paper, the authors write:

“Research on the values of fish populations and fisheries has primarily focused on bio-economic aspects; a more nuanced and multidimensional perspective is mostly neglected. Although a range of social aspects is increasingly being considered in fisheries research, there is still no clear understanding as to how to include these additional values within management policies nor is there a cogent appreciation of the major knowledge gaps that should be tackled by future research.
This paper results from a workshop held during the 50th anniversary symposium of the Fisheries Society of the British Isles at the University of Exeter, UK, in July 2017. Here, we aim to highlight the current knowledge gaps on the values of fish populations and fisheries thus directing future research. To this end, we present eight questions that are deeply relevant to understanding the values of fish populations and fisheries. These can be applied to all habitats and fisheries, including freshwater, estuarine and marine.”

The book, “Brown Trout: Biology, Ecology and Management”, edit by Javier Lobón-Cerviá and Nuria Sanz was recently published. The book is described as “a comprehensive guide to the most current research, history, genetics and ecology of the brown trout including challenging environmental problems”. John Piccolo and Johan Watz, both researchers at Karlstad University, have written the chapter Foraging Behaviour of Brown Trout: A Model Species For Linking Individual Ecology to Population Dynamics? They summarize their chapter as follows:

“Within the discipline of stream fish ecology, population-, community-, and even ecosystem-level patterns and processes have assumed an increasingly larger role in recent decades. It might be argued, however, that research on the behaviour of individual organisms ought still to play a major role in ecology; it is upon the individual, after all, that natural selection acts. Thus, one might reasonably expect that observing an individual fish’s behaviour should lead to robust conclusions about the fitness costs and benefits that animals must trade-off in order to achieve reproductive success. And ultimately, it is those individuals that achieve the greatest direct fitness that ought to, on average, drive the population-level processes that have attracted so much of stream fish ecologists’ attention in recent years. In linking behavioral- to population-level ecology, we are in luck when it comes to the brown trout – there is no stream fish species whose population ecology is better quantified, nor are there many species that have received more attention from behavioural ecologists. Thus we might consider the brown trout as a model species for developing the ecological understanding of how natural selection (e.g. individual, fitness-based decisions) acts to regulate stream fish populations. To forward this concept, a further development of a quantitative approach to foraging behaviour is warranted. In this chapter we review and synthesize the literature on brown trout foraging experiments with an eye towards identifying the knowledge gaps that remain to be filled in order for ecologists to quantify the fitness costs and benefits of foraging behaviour.”

The book is available (but expensive) here. For access to the specific book chapter, email John Piccolo or Johan Watz.

Rachel Bowes and Denis Lefage collect samples for stable isotope analysis. Stable isotope analysis in stream ecology will be one topic of the course.

On 10-13 October, the PhD-course “Aquatic ecology and land-water interactions” will be given at Karlstad University. Invited lecturers and Karlstad University researchers will give talks on a range of freshwater ecology topics, including:

  • Fish behavior
  • Fish migration
  • Stable isotopes
  • Winter ecology
  • Conservation management
  • Stream-riparian interactions
  • Longitudinal connectivity and fish passage
  • Freshwater mussel-fish interactions
  • Geographical information systems in fisheries science.

Participants will also be given the opportunity to present their ongoing research, and to visit the aquaria facilities at the university. Lecturers include, Kurt Fausch, Stephanie Januchowski-Hartley (over distance), Jörgen Johnsson, Johan Höjesjö, Nicolas LarrangaRachel Bowes, Larry Greenberg, John Piccolo, and Olle Calles. Presenting students will be rewarded with 1.5 ETCS. The course is free to attend but requires registration. Participants from IRSAE-institutions may be partially reimbursed for travel and accommodation. For questions and registration, email John Piccolo at john.piccolo@kau.se.

On 28-29 August, 2017, a workshop on “Research and Teaching for Sustainability and Stewardship will be organized at Karlstad University. The workshop’s goals are to “introduce sustainability and stewardship topics to faculty and students at Kau and to develop research and teaching collaborations for future projects.”  The first day will be spent on presentations about international perspectives of sustainability and stewardship. On the second day Karlstad University’s Education for Sustainable Development and Service Research Center research groups will present some of their related research. See detailed schedule below:

Monday 28 August

13.15: Ricardo Rozzi, University of North Texas, USA & Universidad de Magallanes, Chile: Earth Stewardship and biocultural ethics”

13.45: Shan Gao, Soochow University, China: “Environmental Ethics: A perspective from China”

14.15: Maria Teresa LaValle, UNTREF/SADAF, Argentina: “A perspective from Argentina”

14.45: John Piccolo, KAU: “A moral compass for planetary boundaries”

15.15: Coffee break

15.45 – 17.00 Discussions 

Tuesday 29 August

10.00: Niklas Gericke, KAU: “The effect of education for sustainable development in the Swedish school system”

10.30: Teresa Berglund/Daniel Olsson, KAU: “Case studies in Education for Sustainable Development”

11:00: Bo Enquist & Samuel Petros Sebhatu, KAU: “Stewardship and Hyper norms for Systemic Governance in Global Society”

11.30: Discussions

12.00: Lunch

13.15-15.00: Discussions

All talks will be given in Room 5F322, at Karlstad University. Everyone is welcome to attend the workshop. Register to john.piccolo@kau.se if you wish to attend.

The new journal The Ecological Citizen aims to advance ecological knowledge, champion earth-centered action and promote ecocentrism in political debate. NRRV member John Piccolo recommends the journal as somewhere you’ll find much interesting reading about human relationships with nature. John is also a co-author of a recently published signable statement in support of ecocentric value that he urges our readers to read and consider signing. Access the statement here: Statement of Commitment to Ecocentrism. 

Also, related to the ecocentric debate, there is an ongoing survey of attitudes to conservation. Learn more and take the survey at www.futureconservation.org.

John Piccolo, researcher at Karlstad University, recently published an article in Journal for Conservation of Nature about value in natureThe paper is titledIntrinsic values in nature: Objective good or simply half of an unhelpful dichotomy?“. In the abstract John Piccolo writes: “Two generations of conservationists and philosophers have built a strong case for intrinsic values in nature; they are the basis of the normative postulates of conservation biology. I argue that the recognition of intrinsic natural value is a fundamental and non-negotiable aspect of an eco-evolutionary worldview. Recently, relational values, “preferences, principles, and virtues associated with relationships”, have been proposed as a third category of values in nature, which may help to resolve the debate between instrumental and intrinsic valuation. By depicting intrinsic values as part of an unhelpful dichotomy between anthropocentric and ecocentric values, the current assessment of relational values fails to adequately account for the modern philosophical view of intrinsic natural value. The recognition of intrinsic natural value is not merely an academic exercise, but rather a vital aspect of conservation of the biosphere; recognition of value entails the obligation to do what is right, i.e., protect the good. Any attempt to reframe the discussion about values and environmental protection through more formal recognition of relational values will need to more clearly address how relational and intrinsic values coexist and how they can jointly form the basis for nature conservation.” 

Read the full paper here.

John Piccolo, researcher at Karlstad University has written a short story for the Freshwater Working Group of the Society of Conservation Biology about his work in Klarälven. Read the story at the group’s facebook page or here below:

This is a story about some of the toughest field work I’ve carried out in over 20 years of research on salmon populations in either North America or Sweden, and describes the first documentation of a wild Atlantic salmon smolt run on the River Klarälven in central Sweden.

Klarälven is the longest river in Scandinavia, and is home to one of the world’s last remaining large-bodied landlocked Atlantic salmon (pictured) populations. The landlocked salmon migrate from Vänern, the largest lake in the EU, to spawn and rear in Klarälven (learn more about Klarälven here). After living for 2-4 years in the river, the salmon smolt migrate downstream to feed and grow in the lake. Although there has been anecdotal information about the smolt migration for many years, nobody had ever succeeded in trapping them to estimate production. Due to historical fishing pressure, and hydropower development, the Klarälven salmon are believed to be highly-threatened. However, salmon populations could also be recovering in Klarälven, because fishing pressures have reduced, and populations have gone from a low of less than 100 spawning adults to a record return of over 1000 in 2016. With this history in mind, we set out to better our understanding of salmon smolt populations in Klarälven and to guide more successful management and restoration.

piccolo_smolt

A River Klarälven smolt (photo: Teemu Collin).

As many aquatic scientists know, trapping fishes or even invertebrates in rivers can be difficult – they all tend to migrate during rising or falling flows when water levels in the river are high. Keeping a net in the water can be difficult or impossible under such conditions. Months of organic debris that has been deposited along the river banks is suddenly washed into the stream, and nets need to be cleaned often, sometimes hourly 24-hours round. An additional variable in the mix is that in large rivers, organic debris can be large (picture large tree branches or even entire trees!)! High water levels, rapid flows, and large debris are challenging obstacles, and if these obstacles bring our sampling gear down, it can be quite dangerous to get the gear up and running again. I did my first smolt trapping back in 1996 on the Salmon River in Idaho, USA. I remember watching a mature conifer tree some 30 meters long being sucked into an eddy like a drinking straw, and being ejected clear out of the river on its’ way downstream. The power of a flooding river is truly awe-inspiring.

piccolo_boat

The crew working on the trap (photo: Teemu Collin).

It took us four sampling seasons, filled with trial and error, to achieve partial sampling success for our project. The first year we tried floating smolt traps like those often used for Pacific salmon. Although these can be adequate when there are large numbers of smolt migrating, we did not catch sufficient numbers of smolt to make mark-recapture estimates. During years two and three, we imported stationary traps, a Finnish design, that are anchored to the river bottom with 3-4-meter-long thick iron poles. It takes two days of hard labor for a work crew to drive these into the substrate by hand, balancing on the deck while holding the boat in position in the strong river flow (see photos). Inspired by the work to setup these Finnish traps, the title for this story comes from the classic song about mine workers – the iron bars didn’t weigh 16 tons, but just setting up the net was A LOT of work. Once the net was installed, the hard work began. Cleaning and emptying the net every day, and waiting for the spring flood to bring the salmon smolt. Although I was involved in this work, it is really our field crew that deserves most of the credit – it was a 24-hour a day, 7-day a week job, cleaning every day and staying vigilant for possible emergencies. During years two and three we came close to success – we had begun to catch larger numbers of smolt just at the time when flows became unmanageable and the net had to be removed. These years involved a lot of trial and error in operating and maintaining the net, cleaning, sewing mesh, clearing debris. The worst of it was cutting the net out during high flows, just when it seemed the smolt were beginning to run.

Piccolo1

The Finnish trap (photo: Teemu Collin).

Each year we’d improved our technique and catch; the second year we caught over 300 smolt, and made our first rough estimates of production. However, we had yet to document a substantial wild smolt run. We managed to scrape together enough funding for one more try, and set to work for our final attempt. With two years’ experience, we installed the net in record time and had a good cleaning and maintenance routine. The field crew was on the job every day and smolt numbers began to climb as did the prognosis for the spring flood. They managed to continue to fish the net right into the beginning of the flood, and finally, on the last five days that they could fish before the flood, they hit the jackpot! SMOLTS! The field crew caught over 1000 smolt during their last five days – 425 the day before they had to remove the net. This one-week catch exceeded the total number of smolt we’d caught the previous two years combined. Our mark-recapture estimates suggest that over 15,000 wild salmon smolt migrated that year, documenting substantial production of wild landlocked Atlantic salmon, probably the largest remaining population in the world. Our hard work and persistence paid off – national and international awareness of the Klarälven salmon has continued to grow, and they are the focus of renewed efforts to maintain and restore wild salmon populations that have been impacted by centuries of anthropogenic impacts.”