Marleen Schwarze from the Leuphana University in Lüneburg, Germany, studied for a year at Karlstad University as an exchange student. Afterwards she did an internship with NRRV. Here she writes about her experiences this summer:

“Since my bachelor program Environmental and Sustainability Studies includes one year abroad, I spent the fall 2019 and spring semester 2020 at Karlstad University. During that time I got a first impression of the biology department. The interesting courses I had here awakened my interest in fresh water ecology. Also, Karlstad became a new home for me, so I was happy to be able to extend my stay and complete the study experience in Sweden with a practical internship for three months.

My main motivation was to get an insight into scientific procedures and to gain research experience. Therefore, I was glad to spend a lot of time both in the lab and in the field and also, that it was even possible to do this internship, despite the pandemic.

I worked in two research projects, which expanded my knowledge on plant and invertebrate taxonomic identification, riparian zones and research methods. One project examines the impacts of hydropeaking caused by hydropower plants on riparian zones and the benthic fauna. The fieldwork included sampling of plants, invertebrates, chlorophyll measurements, as well as abiotic such as water quality (N, P and DOC) and geological measurements. The other project looks at plant dispersal in regulated and restored rivers. We conducted vegetation surveys along a river that is regulated for hydropower purposes (Umeälven) and a river that has been restored from its channelized form (Vindelälven), and their tributaries. Further, we took soil samples to analyse soil nutrient contents (C, N and P).

Someone said that fieldwork is the best strategy for keeping social distance. After almost eleven weeks of being every day outside, I can say that it is totally true. This summer I got to know more plant species than people and I dedicated more time to macroinvertebrates than to friends. We conducted the fieldwork at different rivers in Värmland, Örebro, Dalarna, Västra Götaland and Västmanland County, as well as in Västerbotten County. Hence, this internship was not only an intense learning experience which enriched my studies, but also an opportunity to see a lot of beautiful places during summer in Sweden.

I am grateful to Lovisa Lind who coordinated my internship and all the other researchers at the KAU biology department, in particular Jacqueline Hoppenreijs, Johan Watz, Lutz Eckstein and John Piccolo. Additionally, I am glad about the great teamwork with my fieldwork collegues and fellow students Andreas Vernby, Mattias Hansson and Andreas Marklund. Further, my thanks go to the International Offices, both in Karlstad and at my home university in Lüneburg, for helping me with the administrative process and support to get Erasmus+ funding which made this internship possible for me.”

Today (Tuesday 7 April) Raviv Gal, NRRV PhD-student, will give a seminar entitled Mussels and ecosystem functioning in streams. The Seminar is held online via the video conference system zoom.

You can follow the seminar by clicking here.

The seminar starts at 13:15, everyone who wants to is welcome to attend the seminar.

Freshwater pearl mussels (Margaritifera margaritifera) in the River Vasslabäcken.

Seminar Tuesday 14 May

Posted by Karl Filipsson | Seminar

Tomorrow Tuesday 14 May, Lina Polvi Sjöberg, Assistant Professor at Umeå University, will give a seminar at Karlstad University:

“What controls the physical habitat template and disturbance regime of streams? — understanding sediment transport and channel form of semi-alluvial streams in northern Sweden”

The seminar starts at 13:15 in room 5F416.

Everyone is welcome to attend the seminar.

Åsa Enefalk, Ari Huusko, Pauliina Louhi and Eva Bergman recently published the paper “Fine stream wood decreases growth of juvenile brown trout (Salmo trutta L.)” in the journal Environmental Biology of Fishes. In the abstract, the authors write:

A juvenile brown trout (Salmo trutta) hiding in fine stream wood.

“In this study, the growth rate, gut fullness, diet composition and spatial distribution of brown trout was compared between artificial channels with and without fine wood (FW). Access to FW resulted in significantly lower brown trout growth rates over the study period from late summer to early winter as water temperatures declined from 17 °C to 1 °C. Access to FW resulted in minor differences in occurrence of the most common taxa found in brown trout diets, except for chironomid larvae which were found in c. 60% of the brown trout guts from control treatments but in only 30% of the guts from FW treatments in early winter. Diet consisted primarily of case-bearing and free-living Trichoptera larvae, Asellus, chironomid and Ephemeroptera larvae. Brown trout gut fullness was not significantly affected by access to FW bundles. Brown trout aggregated among FW but were more evenly distributed in channels lacking it. Our results suggest that juvenile brown trout use FW as a shelter at a wide range of water temperatures, and that this behaviour may result in reduced growth rates during their first fall and the onset of their first winter. We also show that prey availability and the composition of brown trout diet changes from late summer to early winter and that FW has a small but significant effect on brown trout diet composition.”

Read the paper here, or contact any of the authors.

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!

Lovisa Lind recently started her position as Associate Professor in landscape ecology at Karlstad University and the NRRV research group. Here she presents her scientific background and research interests:

“Hello, I’m Lovisa Lind and I am very excited to join such a great research group. For the past years, I have been working enthusiastically as an ecologist with a specific focus on riparian, aquatic and winter ecology, and hydrology. My research strategy is to take a basic research approach to answer ecological and management questions with a focus on riparian zones. More specifically, I study interactions between terrestrial and aquatic processes, and how species diversity, distribution of organisms and ecosystem services respond to such interactions. I apply these research findings to current land use problems to develop best management practices to protect and optimize ecosystem services in the landscape.

My PhD work combined fundamental and applied questions. My thesis describes mechanisms structuring riparian vegetation along streams and rivers in relation to river ice formation, as well as the spatial variability of ecosystem services provided by riparian zones in boreal Sweden. As scientists predict climate change to influence ice formation, snow cover and winter temperatures in cold regions there is great need to study its influence on the river ecosystems. Hence, my research has provided novel evidence that different types of ice formation in streams and rivers influence the species diversity in the riparian zone, and that future changes in climate might decrease the river ice season and therefore affect the riparian flora. In addition, I have collaborated with a Norwegian hydrologist to complement my ecological understanding with hydrological processes during winter. This collaboration resulted in a simple model over river ice formation, which can be beneficial for managers in cold-water regions. Working on a large spatial scale also has provided me with a very thorough river system knowledge and I was therefore involved in several restoration projects. The Vindel River LIFE project, which was an EU funded restoration project involved many different stakeholders and opened up for new findings and new questions regarding river restoration. I have also worked on identifying the channel topography that is optimal for restoration efforts to sustain the biodiversity that is typical for boreal streams.

In 2015, I joined the Jefferson Project at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI) for a one-year postdoctoral position. The Jefferson project is a collaboration between RPI, IBM and the FUND for Lake George and combines data analytics with experimentation to understand how human activity affects Lake George. The goal of the Jefferson Project was to revolutionize the way we research, monitor, conserve, and interact with aquatic ecosystems. By combining cutting-edge sensing technology (e.g., underwater sensors, weather stations) with state-of-the-art computing and visualization power, we aimed to fast-forward our understanding of lake ecosystems and to make Lake George a global model for ecosystem understanding and protection. My role in this large project was to investigate the effects of road salt usage and eutrophication on aquatic ecosystems.

After the postdoctoral position at RPI, I joined Hjalmar Laudon´s lab at SLU, Umeå for another postdoctoral position. There I focused on how to optimize buffer zones in agricultural landscapes by conducting a meta-analysis. One of the goals of my project was to provide landowners and managers with guidelines on how to adjust buffer zones in their catchment in order to sustain resilient landscapes. In the meantime, I was in charge of two projects funded by HaV (The Swedish Agency for Marine and Water Management) regarding buffer zones in agricultural landscapes.

Thereafter, I once again joined the Landscape Ecology Group at Umeå University. The research involves various aspects of watershed science and management. Mainly, I study how the position in the landscape influences the biological variation in streams and riparian zones. I also explore the role of different process domains (lakes, rapids, slow-flowing reaches) in determining the species composition in restored sites further downstream. I also address how anthropogenic disturbance within a catchment or landscape influences the restoration success. Within a catchment or a landscape the anthropogenic influence on the rivers and streams varies with for example the number of and closeness to roads, and agricultural or forestry land-use. Therefore, I will determine the degree of anthropogenic disturbance by using GIS and field visits to restored river segments and thereafter connect it to the species richness and diversity of riparian and instream vegetation.

In my research, I have worked with ecology, hydrology, restoration ecology, food webs, river ice and biogeochemistry, and therefore gained a holistic understanding of watershed science and management. Even though I am enthusiastic about conducting fundamental and empirical research, I always want to link my findings to applied questions. Applying research findings to today’s nature management is an important part of being a scientist and I am keen to creating collaborations with managers and companies as well as being involved in teaching and communication of research findings.”

Find out more about Lovisa and her research on her website.

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.

A graduate student position (licentiate) in the field stream fish ecology and habitat use, is now open for applicants at Karlstad University. The position is a full time position for 2 years within the River Ecology and Management (NRRV) group at the Department of Environmental and Life Sciences. Read more about the position on