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.”

Seke Chainda

Global Swede is an initiative by the Swedish government to promote long-term relations with international students in Sweden, with the aim to create cross-border networks and future collaborations.

Seke Chainda, Master student in Biology at Karlstad University, was awarded as Global Swede 2019 together with 25 other international students studying in Sweden. The students have distinguished themselves in their areas of study and in terms of both innovation and entrepreneurship. They have therefore been deemed good representatives for both Sweden and their home countries. Seke Chainda is from Senanga, a town in western Zambia. On 21 May, Seke visited the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (Utrikesdepartementet) in Stockholm to participate in the Global Swede ceremony. Seke received his diploma from Ann Linde, the Swedish Minister for Foreign Trade.





Thomas Blom (Pro-Vice-Chancellor at Karlstad University), Seke Chainda and Stina Eriksson (Vice Head of the Biology Department at Karlstad University) at the Global Swede Ceremony

Seke is enrolled in the Master programme in Ecology and Conservation Biology at Karlstad University. In his master’s thesis, he examined the function of the adipose fin for the swimming performance and drift-feeding capability of juvenile salmonids, which usually is removed from juvenile fish reared at hatcheries for stocking purposes.


Seke Chainda, Erik Petersson (Professor at the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences) and Elio Bottagisio (master student) doing lab work at Karlstad University

Seke Chainda together with other master students conducting field work

Seke Chainda tagging a fish

Dam Removal Europe in León

Posted by Daniel Nyqvist | International

Last week a Dam Removal Europe workshop was organized in León, Spain. Dan Removal Europe partners gathered managers, conservation organizations, and researchers to discuss experiences and future work on dam removal. From Karlstad University Olle Calles presented on dam removal projects in Örebro county, Mörrumsån, Nianån and Gnarpsån. Lissie de Groot, an Erasmus trainee at Karlstad University and World Fish Migration Foundation, presented her ongoing work on developing a GIS-tool for dam removals in Europe. Other presentation spanned from dam removal in the local Duero basin to large removal projects in the Penobscot River, USA, with interesting presentations also from England, Finland, France and other parts of Spain. PDF:s from most presentations can be downloaded here.


A small dam was actually being removed during the workshop’s field trip.

The Duero Basin Authority has produced a short film about fish migration, dam passage, and river restoration i Spain. It is available online (with subtitles) here.

Förra veckan representerade Olle Calles NRRV och Karlstads universitet under en studieresa till Exploits River i Newfoundland, Kanada. Studiebesöket skedde tillsammans med andra svenska forskare, förvaltare och företrädare för industrin. Syftet med besöket var att lära sig mer om framgångsrika fiskpassageåtgärder i älven. Olle har tidigare berättat om resan här på Den svenska delegationens besök fick också genomslag i media.En del av reportagen finns tillgängliga online.

Lyssna på ett radioinslaget “Sweden group hoping Newfoundland expertise can help preserve their salmon stocks” på CBCNews här:

CBCNews har även en textversion av nyheten: Exploits River salmon management impresses Swedish researchers.

Nyhetskanalen VOCM berättade också om Exploits River och den svenska delegationens besök. Läs och lyssna på deras reportage här: Swedish Delegation Touring Exploits River Salmon Efforts.

Earlier in the autumn I visited the fish passage project ”Segura Riverlink” in the Segura River, Spain. While in Murcia I also visited researchers at Universidad de Murcia who are involved in studying effects of the newly constructed fishways on the local fishes. I joined Francisco Oliva Paterna, Ana Sanchez Perez and Juan Franco Galera to sample fish in areas affected by the migration obstacles and the new fishways, both in the Segura River and in a tributary. They are sampling fish in affected river stretches before and after the construction of the fishways to study potential changes in species composition and fish distribution. During my visit we sampled fish using electrofishing and minnow traps. The Andalusian barbel (Luciobarbus sclateri) is the star of the Segura Riverlink project and was caught in high numbers. Exotic species are abundant in the Segura River. By electrofishing, we sampled plenty of Iberian gudgeon (Gobio lozanoi) and Iberian nase (Pseudochondrostoma polylepis), both species native to Spain but most likely introduced by humans to the Segura River basin. Other exotic species caught were pumpkinseed (Lepomis gibbosus), northern pike (Esox lucio), common bleak (Alburnus alburnus) and common carp (Cyprinus carpio). The minnow traps were used in the smaller tributary. Here we caught principally Iberian gudgeon and Andalusian barbel but also a couple of Mediterranean turtles (Mauremys leprosa). It was an interesting and pleasant visit. I wish the group good luck in their future work and hope to return.


An Andalusian barbel tagged with an external mechanical tag with a unique ID-number. Future recaptures of this individual fish will result in information of its movement and growth.


Iberian nase (Pseudochondrostoma polylepis).


Iberian gudgeon (Gobio lozanoi)


Mediterranean turtle (Mauremys leprosa).


A minnow trap in the tributary.

Last week a group of people from the Fish Passage 2015-team, World Fish Migration Foundation and WWF-Netherlands visited the River Ätran in Southern Sweden. Herting, the hydropower plant located most downstream in the system, has been subject to extensive efforts to improve fish passage. A dam structure has been removed and a large nature-like fishway constructed to facilitate both upstream and downstream passage (as well as supply salmon and other fish with additional spawning habitat) and a low sloping rack has been installed to guide downstream migrating fish to a by-pass entrance by the turbine intakes. Passing migratory fish include Atlantic salmon, brown trout, sea lamprey and European eel. Olle Calles, researcher at NRRV and Karlstad University, has been involved throughout the processes and presented pre- and post-remediation data on fish-passage and told the story about salmon population in the river. The group also visited a monitoring trap and spawning areas in the River Högvadsån, a tributary to the River Ätran and was given the opportunity to track radio tagged eel in an ongoing study on eel downstream migration and dam passage. We appreciate the visit and the interesting discussions taking place throughout their stay.


Herting hydropower plant, the naturelike fishway to the right and the intake channel to the left. In the end of the intake channel, there is a low sloping rack to guide the fish to the by-pass entrance. In the naturelike fishway the upstream migrating fish are guided to a narrow area to facilitate monitoring. (Foto from a film by Fiskevårdsteknik)


The group at the monitoring trap in the tributary Högvadsån. Present in the photo is also a visiting journalist from Swedish National Radio (SR). Mr. Möller is managing the trap.


A salmon caught and displayed at the monitoring trap.


Tracking radio-tagged eel in the River Ätran.

Last week I visited Murcia and a fish migration project in the Segura River. The Segura River is one of Europe’s most regulated rivers with a multitude of dams and water abstractions (for agriculture in hot but dry conditions) as well as interbasin transfer of water. It also receives a heavy nutrient load and many exotic species have invaded its waters. During later years, water quality has improved and, as part of the LIFE project Segura Riverlink, improving longitudinal connectivity for local fish species is now on the agenda. Several fishways have been or will be constructed, both vertical slot fishways and naturelike fishways, and at least one migration obstacle has been permanently removed. The target species for the efforts is the Andalusian barbel (Luciobarbus sclateri), a fish that typically migrates within the river system. Read more about the project in this LIFE-folder.


Andalusian barbel (Luciobarbus sclateri)


A newly constructed naturelike fishway in the Segura River.


A vertical slot fishway in the Segura River.


Fishway, migration obstacle, river and dry surroundings.

The 27th International Congress for Conservation Biology was organized in Montpellier, France in August 2015. John Piccolo was present at the conference together with over 2000 attendees that presented research on conservation efforts worldwide – the largest meeting ever for the Society of Conservation Biology (SCB). Important topics included, among others, citizen science, social-ecological science, roadless area protection, and river connectivity. Plenary speakers included Peter Kareiva, Clive Spash, Anne Larigauderie, Ana Rodrigues, and Carl Jones. John Piccolo joined the SCB Freshwater working group and also presented a poster on the Land Ethic in conservation biology.


Olle Calles, hemkommen till Karlstad sedan länge, slutför nu sin rapportering från sitt besök i Brasilien: “Rio Madeira ligger långt upp i Amazonflodens avrinningsområde, men någon bäck är det inte! Flödet kan nå över 60 000 m3/s och dammarnas avkodningsförmåga är mer än 80 000 m3/s. Som jämförelse kan nämnas att Göta älv har ett maxflöde på strax över 1000 m3/s, Donau 15 000 m3/s och Columbiafloden 35 000 m3/s. Två kraftverk, Jirau och Santo Antônio, är under uppförande och kommer vid färdigställandet ha en effekt på 3,6 TW respektive 3,8 TW. Ett normalår står vattenkraften för >80 % av energiförbrukningen i Brasilien och produktionen ökar ständigt i takt med ökad utbyggnad.

Båda kraftverken omgärdas av omfattande program för att kompensera  effekterna på miljön och lokalbefolkningen, så även om det är kontroversiellt att bygga vattenkraftverk i Amazonas djungler tror jag de flesta länder har mycket att lära av den brasilianska modellen. Man jobbar med fiskpassage vid båda kraftverken, vilket minst sagt är en utmaning med tanke på att Rio Madeira är enormt stor och man i dagsläget har identifierat mer än 1000 (!) fiskarter.

Vid Santo Antônio har man anlagt en enorm naturlik fiskväg, vars andra ingång är under färdigställande. Man hade tidigare placerat gabioner i fiskvägen, men dessbättre har man insett begränsningarna med ”ståltrådsstenkistor” och testar nu att ersätta dem med rundade stenblock.  Man provfiskar fiskvägen varannan vecka med hjälp av kastnät och har även genomfört telemetristudier och hydrauliska experiment för att optimera fiskpassagefunktionen. Rio Madeira har sitt namn efter att stora mängder träd transporteras med floden, vilket innebär att man med ytlänsar och stora yttappade luckor försöker styra träden bort från turbinintagen. Vi tipsade om att ytslänsen och ytspillet skulle kunna fylla en funktion för nedströmsvandrande fisk, vilket man inte reflekterat över tidigare.


San Antonio-kraftverk. Överst till vänster: fiskvägsingångar och fiskvägen med gabioner Överst till höger: fångst vid provfiske i fiskvägen Nederst: Våra värdar vid Santo Antônio.

Jirau kraftverk är det längst uppströms belägna kraftverket i Rio Madeira och man måste därför fånga och artbestämma alla fiskar för att inte släppa vidare sådana arter som historiskt inte kunnat passera de vattenfall osm låg mellan de två kraftverken.  Man har därför anlagt två ”falska fiskvägar” som leder fisken in i fångstsystem, med möjlighet till ”trap and transport”.  Den ena av dem är dessutom flyttbar (dock inte är gjort i en handvändning) och man kan således ändra dess placering vid behov. Det finns en del arbete kvar för att optimera placering och design av fiskvägarna vid Jirau, men det är sannerligen ingen enkel uppgift.


Jirau-kraftverk. Rad 1 – Den fasta fiskvägen med fälla och anläggning för att fånga och transportera fisk (T&T). Rad 2 – Den flyttbara fiskvägen samt spilluckor Rad 3 – Våra värdar vid Jirau samt pågående byggnation

Det ska bli mycket spännande att följa det fortsatta arbetet vid såväl Santo Antônio som Jirau kraftverk. Vi tackar för en fantastisk gästfrihet och hoppas på att få återgälda den!”