Monthly Archives: November 2016

Meet… Anders!

15209219_10154570111962324_2021126254_nNice pike!

What did you do before enrolling at F/W?

I’m very glad you asked this question Carl, as it lets me elaborate on one of my favourite matters, in fact it is one very dear to me. The topic is of course me – and I can talk about myself for hours! So, after upper secondary school where I took the science programme I did a year of national service in Boden.

Not having decided on where I wanted to continue my studies after conscription I took a few years to consider my options, meanwhile waiting tables in Stockholm. To my surprise I quite enjoyed the restaurant business, but after some time it became apparent to me what I probably had always known – I was going to be a biologist. From that point the way to the bachelor programme in Biology at Stockholm university was short, and the road through it straight. In fact, I still wonder why I didn’t start it sooner, but I guess sometimes even the things in life closest to heart aren’t obvious.

We’re now approaching the time where I decided for the fish & wildlife management programme, but I once again felt I needed firmer anchorage in life before choosing an academic field to specialize in. Mostly to buy some time, but also to broaden my views, I took one semester of biology studies in Canada though an exchange programme and (although reluctant at first) I found it a great experience.

At the point where I was almost finished abroad I felt a strong urge for something my years at the university unfortunately had not provided me with, and that was insights in the working life of a biologist. As luck had it, I was able to find an internship at the County administrative board in Södermanland, working with the county fisheries adviser for ten weeks. With a bachelors degree, a semester at the other side of the Atlantic and having seen a possible career path up close I finally felt well prepared for graduate level studies – and here I am.

What’s your first memory involving an animal?

As a kid I had the great privilege of spending my summers in a country house on an island in the Baltic sea. I remember stalking grass snakes in the garden and netting sticklebacks from the docks as well as being bitten by the ants in the forest. But my first memory of animals is probably of the grasshoppers that I caught on the lawn and kept in glass jars. For some reason (to my defence I was five years old) I named them all Anna-Greta, and if my parents had not insisted on me releasing them I would probably have kept them way longer than what would be considered ethical for a naturalist.

In the end, what made you good to go for fish and wildlife?

There are, without a doubt, many ways to narrow down the search for the education that fits your interests best. My way may not be the smartest but, with the risk of appearing boastful, it could very well be the simplest. Having quite a bit of an interest in aquatic life in general and fish in particular, stemming back from further than I can remember, I knew what I was looking for. And as it happened there was only one masters programme, and still is to my knowing, in Sweden that has the word ”fish” in the title – from there the choice was easy!

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Fun hobby or fact you would like to share with us?

I wouldn’t call it a hobby as much as calling but I consider fishing the most rewarding of pasttimes. On rare occasions, the sheer bliss of sitting motionless in a boat, freezing and eating dry sandwiches while not seeing even the glimpse of a fin, can be closely matched by the thrill of spotting a bird of a species I’ve never seen bfore and managing to snap the perfect photo of it. On rare occasions, that is.

Dream job to land straight after graduation?

I find the idea of the dynamics between learning, field work, desk work and teaching involved in a PhD position highly compelling. There are many topics I can see myself researching but one matter I would  thoroughly enjoy investigating is the contrast between sportfishing and commercial fishing in terms of economic value, social value, and impact on fish populations.
Fish, birds or wildlife?

In phylogenetic terms, they’re all fish 😉

15182551_10154570110622324_362296966_oWonderful image of Eurasian dotterel by Anders Forsberg.

All pictures have been supplied by and published with the permission of Anders Forsberg.

Coming interview series, Meet the F/W!

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I’m proud to present that during the coming weeks I’ll be phasing in a new type of blog post, where you’ll get to meet those of us taking the fish and wildlife management programme!

You’ll get a picture of who we are, working through from our background to how it came that we first applied to the management of fish and wildlife programme and straight through to where we would like to end up! Hopefully you’ll get a better feel for if F/W is the right way for you.

Each week I’ll present a fresh profile of an unique interviewee from F/W, so stay tuned!

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/ Carl

Inventoring and monitoring fish populations

img_0833 One of our captured (but soon released) Brown trout. Photo: Johanna Hägglund

Turns out winter has decided to turn around at the doorstep – today I was met at the door by cold gusts of freezing rain settling down on the slush that remains of the snowfall we’ve had. So I thought it’d be the perfect day to look back at the mini-course in electrofishing we had during the Census techniques course earlier during autumn!

Everything was set up as a part of the county administration boards continuous monitoring program, where they look at salmonids in Ume River as part of ongoing restoration and conservation work to see how alternative routes around the hydropower plant are functioning!

In this massive project, they use very many different techniques for counting fish, but for small tributaries it’s effective to electrofish – basically, you attract fish with an electrified rod. As they’re swimming out towards you, you catch them with a hand net and hand them over to an assistant who’s in charge of holding a bucket for the caught fish and keeping the cord to the generator under control so nobody slips.

After they’ve been caught, they’re put into buckets of fewer fish with fresh water so they don’t get stressed. They then receive anesthetics which is dissolved in the water in each bucket. Once they’re calm and relaxed, the researchers have their chance to quickly take the measurements they need: for this project we jotted down each fish’s species, sex; if the fish was a male: if it was producing gametes; and length.

img_0836 Taking a DNA sample by clipping a small piece of the anal fin – doesn’t cause too much trouble! Photo: Johanna Hägglund

We also took a quick DNA sample by clipping a small piece of the anal fin to take back for lab analysis, which can tell us a lot about how closely related the fish in a tributary are, what makes a certain fish migrate in a specific way or tell us how large an effect the breeding stock of released fish are having on the wild gene pool!

img_0837In this picture I’m measuring the length of a trout – you’ve got to be quick! Photo: Johanna Hägglund

And some 30 seconds to a minute after starting, the fish is put in a recovery bucket until we are ready to release them back into their stream once we’re sure we’ve counted most of the fish in this area.

 

Dissertation: Indirect effects of predation in human-modified landscapes

15102000_1458248510870598_1724471135_oThe result of 4 (or more!) years of hard work.

This Friday we attended the doctoral dissertation of Ellinor Sahlén, who’s been studying how animals behave in a landscape altered by humans and what happens when large carnivores return.

Up until now, most studies on the return of large predators have been conducted in North America – or even more precisely, a lot of work has been based around the return of wolves (like 28 million others, you might have seen How Wolves Change Rivers) to Yellowstone national park. But what happens when large predators such as wolves or bears might return to a landscape shaped and changed by mankind? Will their return still yield the same massive changes to the landscape as we’ve seen in North America?

Among other things, Sahlén found that even though some Fallow Deer have never smelt scent from a bear before in their lives, they try to seek out more open areas when they feel there is a risk of being predated so that they can escape quickly. Herbivores also browse differently in these areas, which affects how the herbivores preferred plants grow.

However, in a landscape dominated by human interaction, one might not expect as drastic a change as seen in the pristine Yellowstone national park – in very fragmented habitat or  production forest landscapes which are clear-cut every 80 years, the trophic cascades can be relatively minor.

As Sahlin stresses, successful reintroduction of large carnivores is a delicate matter which requires close cooperation with the locals, who should be made aware of how their lives might change by the presence of a large carnivore, as sudden or unexpected negative effects can set the arena for decade-long conflicts between conservationists and local inhabitants.

Ski season open

15087005_1458204590874990_1218456200_nView from Bräntberget in Umeå, down over Ängarna (the fields)! 

With the snow piling up after what felt like a week of constant snowing – I felt it was finally time to get those skiis out of the attic and put them in their place of honor (?) right inside the door, ready to jump out at a moments notice. As always, you can buy a card to the ski lift, or if you’re unwilling to wait until they start – you’ll just have to walk up the hill, like me!

dscn2296 Snow was getting pretty heavy for this spruce…

dscn2315 In this weather, snow goggles do feel nice as they keep the snow out of your eyes – but I’ll refrain from that faux pas for as long as possible! 

15095479_1456293907732725_1690397760633675377_n A very pleased fish and wildlife management student (me) during the first skiing trip of the season! 

Glögg & Campfire out at lake Nydala

14976295_1458216740873775_376277374_o The confident strides of students from the fish and wildlife programme 16/17!

What better to do during the start of a new course than to take a day off together and go hang out at the lake to celebrate finishing the exam and handing in deadlines? Here’s a snapshot I got on my mobile phone before the cold got to it (tip: Mobile phones don’t like cold weather – keep yours warm!)

dscn2008 Kärleksviken – one of the many small fireplaces set up along the lake 🙂 

After walking out to the lake, we set up a small fire in one of the fireplaces spread out around the lake and got into our snacks – hot dogs, marshmallows, but most importantly, glögg and gifflar! Gifflar are tasty pastries closely related to the cinnamon bun which you’ll find at your local swedish supermarket- and come in a variety of flavors: If you haven’t tasted one – well, you know what to do!

Winter came early this year, it’s hard to believe that it was only weeks ago the lake looked like this after the first few nights of frost!

dscn1963Snapback to the first frost a few weeks ago

First snow!

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Brrrr! 

As promised, here comes some more pictures of the first snow that I’ve managed to take during the day we’ve taken off to read ahead on some material

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This great tit seems to look on with great interest!

dscn1951Although its neighbor was not quite as enthused!

I’d also like to take the moment to remind all students to do your backs a favor and sit straight, follow this squirrels example and you’ll be receiving  compliments for your great posture in no time at all!

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After years with bad posture from reading too much, lack of a proper exercise routine and chronic pains, Squirrel decided to make a change… 

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See how light, confident and joyous squirrel now looks! Squirrel now enjoys greater success in finding nuts and mates, and experiences greater workplace success even in other fields than the one squirrel first was taught! 

Winter is coming!

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Clear night skies above the frosty Umeå last weekend! 

Somehow, there’s always that moment of fascination that surrounds the first snow – you’re  betting your friends when it’ll come, and somehow,  no matter what’s going on, the world stops for a moment to look at it when it starts falling. I for one, know that it just never stops bringing a smile to my face 🙂

It seems like autumn has just zoomed by, and left behind a world waiting for the first snow to fall – which it did today! More pictures will come…

However, it seems like we’ll be waiting a bit longer for next season – ’cause winter IS coming! And this year, I promise myself to keep at the skiis!

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Bonus pic.: Mallard in evening light.

Individual project complete!

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Isn’t it just beautiful?

I guess there’s just something about writing a piece of your own – whether it’s the time it takes, the passion you find, or just something completely else?

As I’ve mentioned earlier, my project was all about the Willow Grouse (Eng.), or Willow Ptarmigan (Am.). But to put a twist on it, I decided to niche into exposing density gradients in edge habitat to understand how well they use the surrounding environment! This can become important to understand if climatic changes causes the environment to change, or their habitat to become smaller.

There are a few ways animals can react to climate change if their habitat is lessened, here follows a non-exhaustive list:

1) They can move, and find their habitat in another place.

2) They can adapt to their new environment by the selection of suitable traits.

3) They can go extinct.

But what will the willow ptarmigan do? Will it hybridize with the rock ptarmigan and pick up suitable traits? Will it utilize an increase in habitat such as after the pleistocene? Only the future can tell – but I’d rather make sure I’m not surprised!

Exam done!

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Did I make it?

After some grueling, high-paced 5 hours, the exam for the fish and wildlife census techniques was finally over! Although open-book and with any aid you can imagine spare answers from previous years and communication with others, this type of exam might spread a false illusion of security – but will really give you a run for your money and test not only how well versed you may be, but also how smoothly you can tackle different types of questions! So it undoubtedly rewards those who have put time and energy into their problem-solving skills, and those with excellent computer skills. It really comes down to playing to your strengths!

Had time to learn to use specialist software for this technique? – You save time!

Know how to read output without a guide? – You save time!

Master at Excel? – Why need specialist software when you can do it all in one programme?

Good at time management? – You’ll get the most points out of the exam if there’s not enough time to answer all the questions, take your pick!

 

But there’s one skill that’ll play stronger than any other – developing the grit to keep at it:

Good at rewarding yourself and your friends? Great, you’ll be ready come next round!

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I guess it’s time to get used to the real world, again!