Martin Scheuch

Two very different biology Citizen Science projects lead to insights into students´ and teachers´ learning. But learning must not be restricted to learning at school, a social learning theory widens the scope, where learning can take place. Join us as Martin Scheuch from University College for Agrarian and Environmental Pedagogy, Austria gives a seminar entitled Citizen Science and Learning Biology – examples and insights from two Austrian projects. Time & Date: 13:15 CET, 31.03.2023. Venue: 5F322 or over zoom through

Forskargruppen Naturresurs rinnande vatten (NRRV) har fått två ny forskningsprojekt beviljade. Lutz Eckstein är projektledare i ett projekt om effekter av korttidsreglering i vattendrag under vintern på ekologisk status av strandzonen som finansieras genom Kompetenscentret Svenskt vattenkraftcentrum (SVC) med 3,8 Mkr. Projektet är ett samarbete mellan Karlstads universitet (Eva Bergman, Larry Greenberg, Johan Watz) och Umeå universitet (Roland Jansson, Birgitta Malm-Renöfält) och kommer att undersöka vattendrag i både norra och södra Sverige. John Piccolo är projektledare i det andra projektet som kommer att fokusera på att upprätthålla vattenkraftsproduktion och värdefulla fiskpopulationer genom att utveckla Individual-Based Models (IBM) för att bedöma hur fiskpopulationer kan återställas samtidigt som flödesförhållanden för vattenkraftproduktion upprätthålls. Projektet finansieras genom Energimyndighetens program hållbar svensk vattenkraft (HåVa) med 2,9 Mkr och är ett samarbete mellan Karlstads universitet (Mahboobeh Hajiesmaeili och Johan Watz), Vattenfall AB (David Aldvén och Patrik Andreasson) och Fortum AB (Marco Blixt och Markku Lahti) och kommer att undersöka två viktiga vattenkraftsproducerande vattendrag i Sverige: Gullspångsävlen och Luleälven.

The River Ecology and Management research group (RivEM) has been granted two new research projects. Lutz Eckstein is the project manager in a project, which is financed through the Competence Center Swedish Hydropower Center (SVC) with 3.8 million SEK, on the effects of short-term regulation of rivers during winter on the ecological status of the riparian zone. The project is a collaboration between Karlstad University (Eva Bergman, Larry Greenberg, Johan Watz) and Umeå University (Roland Jansson, Birgitta Malm-Renöfält) and will investigate rivers in both northern and southern Sweden. John Piccolo is the project manager in the second project that will focus on sustaining hydropower production and high-value fish populations by developing Individual-Based Models (IBM) to assess how fish populations can be restored while maintaining streamflows for hydropower production, which is financed through the hållbar svensk vattenkraft (HåVa) program of Energimyndigheten with 2.9 million SEK. The project is a collaboration between Karlstad University (Mahboobeh Hajiesmaeili and Johan Watz), Vattenfall AB (David Aldvén and Patrik Andreasson) and Fortum AB (Marco Blixt and Markku Lahti) and will investigate two key hydropower producing rivers in Sweden: Gullspångsävlen and Luleälven.

Kalle Filipsson, RivEm Ph.D. student, nailed his Ph.D. thesis entitled “Early life stages of brown trout: Anti-predator responses under warming winters” today (25th February 2022), both at the main entrance and the biology department at Karlstad University.

On Tuesday 1 March Kalle will give a pre-dissertation talk, where he will present a preliminary version of his Ph.D. presentation. The seminar starts at 13:15 and will be held both on the second floor at the biology department and on Zoom (

Kalle’s Ph.D. defense will be held on Friday 18 March. The defense will take place at 10:00 in room 1B309 (Sjöströmsalen) at Karlstad University. The defense is public and anyone is welcome to attend.

Neil Metcalfe (University of Glasgow, Scotland) will be the opponent and will participate on Zoom. Gunilla Rosenqvist (Uppsala University, Sweden), Per Larsson (Linnaeus University, Sweden) and Anders Finstad (Norwegian University of Science and Technology, Norway) are the grading committee.

Next week on Tuesday 29 September kl. 13.15 RivEM professor John Piccolo will hold a seminar entitled “Nature’s contribution to people and peoples’ moral obligations to nature”. He says: “In the seminar, I will discuss the concept of “ecocentrism”, the worldview that attributes “inherent” or “intrinsic” value to nonhuman (as well as human) life. The seminar is part of a project I have been working on for some time, with colleagues from several countries, to highlight the importance of ecocentrism for biodiversity conservation and sustainability, as in this recent article in the leading biodiversity journal Conservation Biology.” You’re very welcome to join John’s Zoom room ( on Tuesday 29 September, 13:15 Stockholm time!

In the seminar next week John will focus on the new concept of “Nature’s contributions to people” (NCP) that is currently being popularized by the International Panel of Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES). The concept of NCP is built upon a deeper understanding of the well-known Ecosystem Services paradigm. NCP attempts to capture many of the intangible values of nature that are difficult to measure, especially economically. Thus, NCP encompasses a broader range of worldviews than do previous, largely economic valuations of ecosystem services. Although the IPBES explicitly recognizes intrinsic nature value, they have done a poor job accounting for intrinsic value in their recent publications and reports. He will argue that the IPBES and biodiversity conservation in general requires a much deeper assessment of the philosophical concept of intrinsic natural value. Recognition of intrinsic value is, in fact, the foundation upon which both human rights and nature’s rights are built. Thus, intrinsic value is of primary importance in conservation of biodiversity and the broader concept of sustainability.

You can read more of their recent publications on ecocentrism at the following links:

You can even read a statement of commitment to ecocentrism, and join a list of notable signatories at the following link:

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!

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.”