Sebastian Rock 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:

Well hi there! I’m Sebastian Rock, a new PhD student at NRRV research group at Karlstad University. Originally from the US Virgin Islands, I’ve lived across the US and later, all around Italy as well, as such, I’m hoping to bring a little extra warmth to this cold part of Sweden. Working as a part of the Life Connects project under the supervision of Martin Österling, Olle Calles, Johan Watz and Anders Nilsson (from Lund University), I’ll be working on conservation and reintroduction of highly threatened parasitic freshwater river mussels. I’ll predominantly be focused on the Freshwater Pear Mussel (Margaritifera margfaritifera) and the Thick Shelled Riven Mussel (Unio crassus) in the Skåne region in south Sweden. Where possible I hope to do scientific outreach and education to help raise both the general public interest in the less well-known aquatic fauna as well as the importance of ecologic conservation.

Sebastian with a massive 30+ kg of Laetiporus spp. (aka: Chicken Fungus, Sulfur Shelf) in Maastricht.

I started my academic life like many others as a bachelor student, myself at Maastricht University’s Maastricht Science Program in the Netherlands. Only founded in 2010, it was designed as an open end Liberal Arts and Science program, where students there are encouraged to develop their own interdisciplinary curriculum to better adapt to the modern vastly interconnected research environment. As the son of two Biologists, and as someone intensely interested in anything to do with animals, the apple didn’t fall far from the tree as I focused almost all my attention towards the biological sciences ranging from ecology to psychopharmacology. As part of the program, once a semester, students take part in a month long research project, designed with the intention of not only exposing students to a wide range of academic fields and topics, but also to provide substantial research experience to build future degrees with. Here, I got along with the zoology professor Dr John Sloggett and together organized a series of research projects on the behavioral toxicology of an invasive planarians flatworm species from North America, Girardia tigrina; these projects ultimately evolved in to my BSc thesis.

Petridish full of flatworms with BSc student Nicholas Versé in the background.

From Maastricht, I moved on to a Research Masters degree at Leiden University, also in the Netherlands, where I worked with Drs. Christian Tudorache and Marcel Schaaf at the Institute of Biology Leiden where I was able to apply my interdisciplinary background to the study of stress coping in larval zebrafish. Using Multidimensional reduction techniques, I worked on modeling coping style, the inter-individual differences in behavior (or the animal equivalent of personality) with a more straightforward and concrete measure of gestation time. Over the course of my Masters I continued to design smaller research projects for BSc students as well as working with a local international school to give short seminars and demonstrations of simple scientific projects with wide reaching implications to give them a better idea of, and hopefully inspire them to peruse an education in science.

As a researcher at KAU – NRRV I hope to apply my interdisciplinary education to the study of the effects the parasitic mussels have on their host fishes. In the case of the Pearl Mussel, salmonids, and in that of the Thick Shelled Mussel, predominantly minnows and bullheads. As much of my work will be relating to the reintroduction of these, mostly stationary, endangered parasites, they will need to be reintroduced through their more mobile host fish. As knowledge on the behavioral effects of the parasite on the fish is very limited, I hope to expand it be looking at competition behavior between infested and non-infested fish, as well as other changes in behavior, which may reduce overall fitness. After all, if we kill off all the hosts, that won’t help the parasite any more than doing nothing at all. I hope to include genomic, immunologic and abiotic factors in the conservation efforts with a little help from some multidimensional modeling to stitch it all together.

Away from the office, you can find me either outside, fishing and hunting for mushrooms, or inside building an eclectic collection of reptiles and amphibians in unique enclosures as I experiment with culinary sciences to the sound of a bizarre musical library. Feel free to stop by my office to talk about research, or any of those last three things. If you care to follow any of my sometimes semi-science related stuff you find me on Instagram @srock456.

Cheers and see you around!

Karlstad University invites applications for three full-time PhD positions in ecology!

 

Two of the positions focus on applied aquatic conservation biology and aim to examine:

Position 1) Ecological effects of remedial measures in regulated rivers, e.g. implementation of fish passage solutions and dam removal, on diadromous fish species in southern Sweden.

Position 2) Reintroduction ecology of the freshwater pearl mussel and the thick-shelled river mussel and their host fishes in southern Sweden.

Read more and apply for the positions here, last application date is 31 January 2020.

 

The third position is on ecological and individual-based modelling and aims to:

i) Develop high-resolution spatially explicit maps of physical habitats in rivers, (ii) assess river hydraulic conditions using 2- or 3-D hydraulic models, (iii) develop and apply individual based models of fish population in rivers to assess the effects of river regulation.

Read more and apply for the position here, last application date is 10 January 2020.

 

The doctoral program consists of 240 higher education credits (4 years), including the doctoral thesis. Doctoral students may also be assigned department duties (up to 20 % of full time), such as teaching, which will extend the PhD position accordingly.

 

River Klarälven, Sweden

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!”

 

Jacqueline Hoppenreijs recently joined the NRRV research group. Here she writes about her previous work and what she intends to do as a PhD student at Karlstad University:

Hej! I’m Jacqueline Hoppenreijs and I recently started my PhD in the NRRV group at Karlstad University. During my MSc, which I did at the Department of Environmental Science at Radboud University in Nijmegen (the Netherlands) and the Department of Ecology at SLU Uppsala, I worked on different species groups: plants, birds and insects and wrote two theses. The first one, with fellow student Bas van Lith, explored possibilities for bird population restoration on the Indonesian island of Java, using historical sources on bird population development and land use change over the course of a century. During the second one, I studied the importance of different man-made habitat types for pollinators in Sweden, over the course of a season.

 

Bas and I birdwatching in Rancaekek, by Fachmi Azhar Aji

 

Despite studying quite different time frames and taxa, biodiversity, ecosystem functioning and conservation have been recurring themes. Coming from the overpopulated Netherlands, I find myself very interested in the interface of human society and nature, and more specifically nature restoration, conservation efforts and their ethical aspects.

As a junior researcher at the Department of Animal Ecology & Physiology at Radboud University, I dove a bit deeper in the influence that human actions can have on the natural world. I worked in Rob Leuven’s group to identify the potential risks of invasive (alien) species in horticulture, biological control and food forestry.

As from April 2019, I’m working with Lutz Eckstein and Lovisa Lind. We’re focusing on both fundamental and applied aspects of plant ecology and I’m looking forward to unravel the mechanisms that drive plant dispersal and community composition in boreal riparian zones. Next to that, I’m excited to be part of an active education environment and the passionate group of researchers that forms the NRRV, and can’t wait to meet the rest of Karlstad’s community!

 

Vegetation sampling on Omey Island, by Joop Schaminée

European eel, Anguilla anguilla. Photo: Jörgen Wiklund

Karlstad University has an opening for a PhD position in aquatic conservation biology. The project will focus on “Resolving production bottlenecks for the European eel”. Conserving biodiversity is one of the major challenges in applied aquatic ecology. The European eel functions as a flagship species in marine and freshwater conservation, and its population collapse is of major concern for ecologists, fishers and managers.

The aim of the PhD project is to identify:

(i) relationships between yellow eel habitat use, growth, behavior and survival.

(ii) effects of habitat characteristics and the surrounding landscape on eel large-scale movements within freshwater systems.

(iii) functioning downstream passage solutions at hydropower plants for a wide range of silver eel phenotypes.

The position is full-time for four years. Doctoral students may also be assigned departmental duties, such as teaching, which will extend the period of employment accordingly.

Read more and apply for the position here.

Last day to apply is 5 June 2019.

Seminarium om modellering

Posted by Karl Filipsson | Seminar

På fredag 15 mars kommer Ola Nordblom från DHI (som arbetar med vattenmiljöer, med tonvikt på avancerad tillämpning av beräkningsmodeller) till Karlstads universitet. Klockan 11:00 kommer det att vara ett öppet diskussionsseminarium, där (1) Ola presenterar DHIs verksamhet och hur ekologisk forskning kan vara av intresse för deras framtida projekt, och (2) forskargruppen NRRV presenterar sina forskningsområden och framtida behov av samarbeten kring modellering.

Seminariet kommer hållas i rum 5F416.

Forskare, doktorander och studenter är välkomna!

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!

Job: Project assistant

Posted by Karl Filipsson | Jobs

River Klarälven, Värmland, Sweden

A position as project assistant (6 months with possible extension) in NRRV is open for application at Karlstad University. The position involves fieldwork, laboratory work and data analysis within the fields of fish ecology, stream ecology and river rehabilitation.

Read more and apply for the position here, last day of application is 7 May 2018.