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!”

 

For the Love of Rivers

Posted by Daniel Nyqvist | Nyheter

fortheloveofriversIn the book “For the Love of Rivers – A Scientist’s JourneyKurt D. Fausch writes about his research, river ecology, people and conservation. The book describes beautiful rivers, interesting relationships (between organism and between people) and dedicated science. Focus is on life in and around streams. From char interactions and connections between the stream and the terrestrial environment in Japan; to brassy minnows and water use or cutthroat trout, habitat changes and invasive species in the Western United States. In the end, the book calls for the conservation and restoration of our streams and rivers. John Piccolo, researcher at Karlstad University, has reviewed the book in Fish and Fisheries:

“Most of us in the biological sciences know that freshwater is the source of life. We know that our own bodies are 70% water, and we are aware of the relative scarcity of freshwater worldwide. We know of the critical anthropogenic imperilment of freshwater and the life it sustains. Freshwater is life, and freshwater flows through landscapes as rivers and streams. Civilization began on the banks of rivers, and rivers continue to flow today through most of the world’s great cities. But what of the life that lives beneath the surface of our rivers and streams? How does it fare and why should we care?

Fausch takes us on an incredible journey of scientific discovery, told through the lens of personal tragedy and triumph. Fausch is a leading stream ecologist,whose painstaking attention to scientific rigour has led to important findings at scales from individual behaviour to riverscapes and land-water interactions. ‘For the Love of Rivers’ recounts some of the many steps along a career of scientific discovery, weaving this tale into the much greater issues of personal loss and the conservation of streams and the life they support…

…For the Love of Rivers gives both inspiration and perspective, and for that alone, it is worth reading…”

Read the full review here and borrow the book from a a well-stocked library.

Dams in rivers not only obstruct fish migration but can also have substantial ecological effects upstream and downstream of the dam. Conservation Magazine writes about a new study on how hydropeaking affects macroinvertebrate communities downstream of the regulating dams:

“A massive new study led by the U.S. Geological Survey lays much of the blame on hydropeaking, the practice of varying river flows below a dam depending on electricity demand. Because of hydropeaking, the amount of water released from a dam can vary by as much as ten-fold throughout the day, creating an artificial intertidal zone that propagates for hundreds of kilometers downstream.

The hour-by-hour variation in water levels is a major problem for aquatic insects, which are a key element of river food webs and important prey for fish, birds, bats, and other wildlife, researchers reported last week in the journal BioScience. But lowering river flows during times of peak egg-laying and low electricity demand could give those insects a boost.

Consulting a database of insect life-history traits, the researchers determined that more than three-quarters of aquatic insects lay their eggs in shallow water at the river’s edge or by cementing eggs to the undersides of partially submerged rocks. These species could be vulnerable to hydropeaking, they reasoned, because eggs laid during high river flows are likely to be exposed to the air once the hydropeaking tide passes.” 

Read the article from Conservation Magazine here: A hydropeak tweak could make dams less damaging. The orginal paper is titled “Flow management for hydropower extirpates aquatic insects, undermining river food webs” and available here.

Part of the study was conducted in the Colorado River by young citizen scientist organized by the Grand Canyon Youth. The groups data collection and broader activities feature in this short film by Freshwater Illustrated:

National Geographics presents the film and credits the filmmakers here: Deeper Grand Canyon, More Communal Colorado River Revealed in New Online Film.