In early fall 2019, Finja Löher from Germany did an internship with the River Ecology and Management Research Group at Karlstad University. Here she writes about her visit:

“In 2018, I studied at Karlstads Universitet for two terms as part of my bachelor program “Environmental and Sustainability Studies” (Leuphana University in Lüneburg, Germany). These studies included two of the courses from the master program “Ecology and Conservation Biology” offered here at the biology department. Ever since I left Sweden, I’ve been hoping to return to Karlstad. On the one hand, I simply fell in love with the country with all its lakes and forests and fikas. On the other hand, I also gained a very appealing impression of the research being carried out in this department. Although I mostly focus on environmental chemistry in my studies in Germany, I nevertheless have a strong interest in ecological research, not least because of the courses I took here at KAU. Therefore, I was more than happy to return to Karlstad for three weeks for a practical training this fall.

During my stay here, I was lucky to have the opportunity to work together with several of the researchers here and to be involved in their work. This enabled me to get to know a variety of ongoing research projects and to better understand how much work and thought it takes to develop any such project. Among others, I assisted RNA analyses working with photo spectroscopy and in vitro PCR (polymerase chain reactions) in order to assess how the bacterium C. agnes influences the occurrence of the transmembrane protein PD-L1 in macrophages. I also had the chance to wander around in the woods collecting birch tree leaves and catching some wolf spiders in order to assist PhD projects aiming at assessing the influence of clams on biodegradation of organic material and at decoding the remaining prey DNA in spider gut contents, respectively. Additionally, I was happy to take part in two amazing excursions focusing on regional socio-ecological systems and their resilience. After spending a beautiful birthday on Hammarö and digging into some of the local history, the second excursion took us up the Klarälven River where we had a look at the former steel industry in Munkfors as well as at the hydropower plant and the sportfishing association in Forshaga. I furthermore gained some new insights by listening to several student presentations assessing the characteristics and the resilience of specific socio-ecological systems as well as by attending a seminar offered on the LIFE CONNECTS project which aims to restore several rivers and streams in Southern Sweden. Towards the end of my practical training, I was involved in the student courses some more by leading a discussion seminar.

Furthermore, I set up a small research project together with fellow interns. We aimed at assessing the quantity and diversity of the macroinvertebrate drift in a small forested stream situated in close proximity to the university. In order to work towards this goal, we installed a net in the stream that would trap all the invertebrates drifting with the flow during a specific time frame. We spent quite some time going through these samples and identifying the invertebrates down to the lowest reliable taxon. Being rather inexperienced with drift theory and invertebrate taxonomy previous to this internship, I was able to dig into these topics and extend my knowledge.

Last but not least, this practical training was a great chance for me to enjoy some of Swedish nature and culture, to have some great discussions and way too many cups of coffee, to meet old friends and to make new ones, to attend a climate strike in the country where it all began, and to work on my Swedish language skills a bit. Many thanks go out to John Piccolo for being a great contact person and for all the support before and during my stay here. Also, I want to thank everyone at the department for the warm welcome and for introducing me to their work. Keep it up!”

 

Jeff (right) and a former colleague inspecting Santeria sacrifices in Miami, Florida, USA. Santeria worshipers use a variety of plants, herbs, and animals to perform religious sacrifices. Some hypothesize that the very invasive African land snail (Achatina fulica) was brought into the United States to use in these rituals. Photo by Kelsey Branch

Jeff Marker recently started his PhD at Karlstad University. Here he writes about his previous work and what he intends to do as a PhD student at Karlstad University:

“Hej and hello, my name is Jeff Marker and I am a PhD student here at Karlstad University in the NRRV Research Group. Originally hailing from the Great Plains region of the United States, I am now settled here in Sweden working on riparian ecology, food webs, spider predation, and forestry policy. I began my academic career focused on tropical plant science questions, specifically the best ways to grow and maintain a year round seed corn nursery in Hawaii. After a short stretch in the agribusiness industry, I turned my attention to invasive pests and plant disease monitoring with the United States Department of Agriculture.  As a Plant Protection and Quarantine Officer I was tasked with enforcing USDA quarantine laws related to invasive species, agricultural smuggling, and agricultural trade compliance. It was here that I rediscovered my love of insects, especially the beetles. Over the years I amassed a large working and personal collection of beetles from the Cerambycidae and Buprestidae families from the Midwest and Great Plains regions of the U.S. Eventually I left the beetles behind, put on a suit and tie, and ended up in Washington D.C. as an agricultural policy analyst where I focused on international quarantine regulations and the agricultural quarantine inspection process.

After meeting a wonderful Swedish woman and taking stock of my life, I was easily convinced to move to Gothenburg in 2016. Upon moving to Sweden, I restarted my graduate education and completed my MSc here at KAU through the Ecology and Conservation Biology Program. My thesis focused on the effects of urban areas on Swedish beetles that utilize dead or decaying wood for all or part of their life cycle. I believe that urban areas have a mixed, but often overlooked, effect on insect biodiversity. On one hand increased urbanization and a focus on specific types of habitat removal (i.e. dead or decaying wood) can be a direct threat to ecosystem health and/or function. However, urban areas often have significantly more plant and arthropod diversity when compared to the surrounding natural, managed, and rural landscapes. And while urban areas can be prone to invasive pest outbreaks and poor management decisions, with proper care and monitoring they also have potential to become biodiversity hotspots and some of the most resilient ecosystems in the face of a changing climate and changing attitudes about nature.

Jeff in Gothenburg admiring some giant hogweed/jätteloka (Heracleum mantegazzianum), a European and North American invasive species with the potential to cause a severe phototoxic effect on human skin. Photo by Johanna Jonstrand

As a researcher at KAU I will combine my love of arthropods and my background in public policy to analyze forestry management practices and their effects on riparian ecosystems. While here I hope to share my knowledge about insects and agriculture but more importantly, I am excited to learn about spiders and cutting edge genetic techniques including stable isotope analysis and DNA-barcoding. Under the supervision of Eva Bergman, Lutz Eckstein, Ann Erlandsson, Rachel Bowes, and Denis Lafage I will carry out a range of experiments to examine the link between riparian forest buffer width and its effect on predator community functional diversity, riparian ecosystem function, and food web complexity.  Currently I am conducting feeding experiments on wolf spiders (Lycosidae) to determine the time that specific prey DNA is detectable in their guts after predation events. This lab experiment will act as a primer for our future field studies in the Värmland and Örebro areas that will include intensive ecosystem sampling of terrestrial and aquatic communities. Our project will collaborate closely with forestry stakeholders, Swedish country administrative boards, Skogsstyrelsen, and other scientists involved in similar work. Ultimately we will work with these same groups to craft riparian buffer strip guidelines that intersect the needs of Swedish forestry with the health of Swedish riparian ecosystems to help build on sustainable forestry concepts.

Outside of the research arena I spend my time teaching my daughter to love and respect all the småkryp and playing and collecting board games. If you ever want to talk beetles or board games feel free to swing by my KAU office any time. You can follow my research and occasional musing on Instagram or Twitter both @sverige_saps.”

250+ wolf spider females in the lab at KAU. Inset: a Pardosa sp. (Lycosidae) paralyzing a collembola prey. Photos by Jeff Marker

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

 

 

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!

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.

Ål2013 inleddes just av Claes Bergkvist, ordförande Ålakademin, som pratar om “Vad har hänt sedan ålseminariet ÅL2010?”. Själv missar jag det hela till följd av sjuka barn och önskar ett speciellt lycka till, till de som får slita extra mycket till följd av det. Studenterna Sandra Nordquist och Tina Petersson som tillsammans med Simon Karlsson representerar NRRV på minimässan. Johan Tielman som kastar sig in och tar över min presentation.

Ser fram emot inlägg med foton från Sandra, Tina och Simon!

//OLLE

 

al2013_inv_ok

Sedan några veckor tillbaka är kompositgallren i Granö, Mörrumsån, på plats. För information om kompositgaller, se Compracks hemsida.

Vid ett besök på plats 18 november inspekterades de humusbruna gallren och den kran (foto vänster) som ska göra det möjligt att lyfta ålsumpen/buren från brunnen (foto mitten) till det fordon som används för att frakta ålen förbi alla kraftverk ner till havet. Ingångarna till fångstsystemet syns en bit ner på gallren (foto höger).

 

 

 

Gallret rensas genom att det sänks mot botten och vattnet spolar rent det, varvid det höjs igen. Lennart (till höger på fotot till vänster), meddelar att de första veckornas drift tyder på att få löv fastnar och att övrigt drivgods ansamlas vid ytan, vilket borde tala för att “självrensen” ska funka.