Skriv ditt examensarbete hos oss!

Senast ändrad: 20 maj 2022
Person pejlar fisk. Foto.

Vill du jobba i skog, arktiska miljöer, Afrikas savanner eller Borneos regnskog? Vill du arbeta med historiska data eller sammanställa geografiska data? Eller jobbar du kanske hellre i labb med genetiska analyser eller art­bestämning?

Vi har ett brett utbud av examensarbeten i ämnena skogs­vetenskap, biologi och miljövetenskap!

Examensarbete kan göras inom masterprogrammet Conservation and Management of Fish and Wildlife eller som fristående kurs. Du kan välja att göra på 30 hp eller 60 hp. Examensarbeten erbjuds året runt och det finns en stor ­flexibilitet i hur arbetet kan läggas upp.

Ämnesmässigt kopplar våra arbeten och expertis till något av de ämnesområden som vi jobbar med på institutionen:

  • restaureringsekologi
  • zooekologi
  • akvatisk ekologi
  • molekylär ekologi

Nedan hittar du information om lediga examensarbeten och länkar till hur arbetet går till väga. Klicka på de olika förslagen nedan för att läsa mera och se namn på kontaktpersoner.

Du kan alltid kontakta Therese Löfroth, undervisningsansvarig hos oss, så hjälper hon dig vidare med din idé och sätter dig i kontakt med rätt person.

Välkommen att höra av dig!

Lediga examensarbeten:

Effects of anthropogenic noise on fish, a novel approach using telemetry on wild fish

Effects of anthropogenic noise on fish, a novel approach using telemetry on wild fish

Background

The ocean is filled with different sounds originating from both abiotic and biotic sources. Abiotic sounds sources are mainly from surface motion with breaking waves, rain, thunder storms and wind, while biotic sounds arise from marine mammals, fish and invertebrates. All these sounds are natural parts of the marine acoustic environment and are referred to as ambient noise. Organisms living in the ocean use this acoustic landscape to navigate, find suitable habitats and food, and avoid predators. Many species of fish use acoustic signals to mediate social interactions. Acoustic cues and signals are especially important in water because sound is unique as a sensory modality propagating with little attenuation over long distances, at all depths, and irrespective of the water current direction. The full functions of these sounds are yet not fully understood but fish use acoustic signals to mediate social interactions, such as mate finding and mate choice, territory defence and predator warning. Acoustic signals may also possibly be used for species recognition, given the clear inter-specific differences in breeding sounds.

An additional and growing component in the marine soundscape is anthropogenic noise derived from human activities, such as shipping and recreational boats, as well as sources such as pile driving and seismic airgun. Regardless of the source, anthropogenic noise creates temporary and unpredictable fluctuations in the acoustic environment, leaving almost no marine area unaffected. Depending on the source and its characteristics, anthropogenic sound can have varying impact on the environment in which the sound is emitted. Many anthropogenic sound sources overlap with the frequencies fish produce and are able to detect, resulting in lost cues or signal detection. Lost cues can lead to missed mating opportunities having a direct effect on fitness.  This overlap also force species using auditory signals to compensate for the increased background noise, including changes in the signal frequency, signal modality and temporal adjustments to signal production. Anthropogenic noise can also disrupt other auditory cues which marine organisms rely on to survive. Fish larva settlement for example is induced by reef sounds and this cue can be masked by anthropogenic noise.

Laboratory studies have shown that exposure to anthropogenic noise may cause hearing damage, physiological stress responses (elevated levels of stress hormones and increased heart-beat), disruption of foraging and anti-predator behavior and even death in fish. Despite this, we still lack basic knowledge of how fish are being affected by anthropogenic noise in the wild, e.g in lakes, rivers and oceans. This is partly due to the considerable technical challenges that has previously been involved in studying the behavior of free-ranging fish over large areas in natural environments. But also due to the inability to control for the multiple confounding biotic and abiotic factors present in field-studies, which makes it difficult to isolate the effects of anthropogenic noise, as well as produce valid experimental replication. This is unfortunate, as laboratory experiments have proven limited as a way to derive true ecological insight into the effect of anthropogenic noise on fish in the wild, due to the difficulty of replicating realistic soundscapes and exposure levels, as well as allowing the fish to express natural behavior. This makes extrapolation of laboratory results to the field problematic.  

Project outline

This project aim to investigate short- and long-term impacts of anthropogenic noise pollution on behavior and physiology of wild, free-roaming fish. Specifically, the project will quantify impact on three important dimensions in the life of fish; 1) space-use and habitat selection, 2) bioenergetics and stress and 3) within and between species interactions.

To do this, the project will apply an innovative combination of state-of-the-art remote sensing technologies able to track and monitor free ranging fish in high resolution over large areas, in combination with newly developed unique experimental facilities capable of conducting controlled and replicated fish behavioural studies at field scale.

 

Work plan and timeline

  • Litterature study
  • Field season
  • Analyses of collected data
  • Thesis compilation

 

Requirements

We need a highly motivated and highly responsible student willing to learn new things. The work will involve particularly hard field work when collecting the fish from local lakes, tagging fish and keeping tagged fish in the lakes. The student will be working with help of supervisors most of the time.

 

Extent: 60 credits

 

Contact

Eva-Lotta Blom, postdoctoral fellow at Department of Wildlife, Fish, and Environmental Studies eva.lotta.blom@slu.se

Assoc. Prof. Gustav Hellström, Department of Wildlife, Fish, and Environmental Studies gustav.hellstrom@slu.se

 

 

Aquatic ecotoxicology – Impacts of pollution on biodiversity

Aquatic ecotoxicology – Impacts of pollution on biodiversity

Erin in the water, holding a net.

Setting traps to collect fish in the field.

 

Background

Aquatic organisms are exposed to ever increasing amounts of man-made chemicals. A main way that fish and other aquatic animals are exposed to chemical pollution is via wastewater treatment plant effluents that discharge pollutants like pesticides, pharmaceuticals and microplastics.

What effects does exposure to chemical mixtures have on aquatic animal communities and biodiversity in the wild?

We will conduct large-scale environmental sampling near chemical sources across Sweden to see how aquatic are affected by chemical exposure. We will sample organisms (e.g. trapping, netting) and sample the water and habitat at our study sites.

 

Project 1: Aquatic invertebrate biodiversity

Using traps and kick-nets, we will collect, identify, and count aquatic invertebrates near and far from chemical exposure sites. We will also measure water quality and take water samples to measure if excess nutrients (phosphorus, nitrogen) may be supporting these populations.

Project 2: Fish biodiversity
Using a combination of trapping and netting, we will collect, identify, count, and measure fish mass/length for fish sampled near and far from chemical exposure sites. We will also collect water samples and tissue samples from a subset of the fish to measure the pollutant-load for fish at these sites.

 

Requirements: I am seeking motivated and highly responsible students willing to learn new things. The work will involve field work trips to sample for fish/aquatic invertebrates. You will gain experience in data entry and data analysis, and in processing the samples that we collect in the lab. I am eager to work with students from diverse backgrounds but having your degree in some form of natural science will give you a good background knowledge for this type of research (e.g., environmental science, biology, chemistry, ecology etc.).

Project 1 and Project 2, described above, will happen at the same time, meaning there is an excellent opportunity to work as a team with other masters students. Also, I am part of the Aquatic Ecology Research Group at the Department of Wildlife, Fish and Environmental Studies. We are a dynamic group of researchers studying fish and aquatic environments. We always have new and interesting projects on the go that masters’ students can learn about and help with when they are completing their masters research project in our group.

Contact me with any concerns/questions you have!

 

Extent: Preferably 60 credits (1 year), but 30 credits can also be possible. Contact me and we can discuss options.

Contact

Erin McCallum
Researcher Department of Wildlife, Fish, and Environmental Studies
erin.mccallum@slu.se

Aquatic ecotoxicology – Does pollution impact habitat choice?

Två personer mäter en fisk.

Collecting and meaursing fish in the field.

Aquatic ecotoxicology – Does pollution impact habitat choice?

Background

Aquatic organisms are exposed to more and more man-made chemicals in their habitats every day. A main way that fish and other aquatic animals are exposed to chemical pollution is via wastewater treatment plant effluents that discharge pollutants like pesticides, pharmaceuticals and microplastics. Even still, fish live in polluted environments like this around the world.

What effects does exposure to chemical mixtures have on fish habitat choice in the lab and field?

We will conduct studies to test how exposure to chemical mixtures impacts fish movement and habitat choice. We will work in both the laboratory and the field conducting behavioural research. In the lab, we will run habitat choice tests in aquaria. In the field, we will use acoustic telemetry to track fish movement near chemical sources in the wild.

 

Requirements: I am seeking motivated and highly responsible student willing to learn new things. The work will involve some field work to collect fish and conduct the field study. You will also gain experience in recording and measuring fish behaviour using cameras, as well as data entry and data analysis. I am eager to work with students from diverse backgrounds but having your degree in some form of natural science will give you a good background knowledge for this type of research (e.g., environmental science, biology, chemistry, ecology etc.).

I am part of the Aquatic Ecology Research Group at the Department of Wildlife, Fish and Environmental Studies. We are a dynamic group of researchers studying fish and aquatic environments. We always have new and interesting projects on the go that masters’ students can learn about and help with when they are completing their masters research project in our group.

Contact me with any concerns/questions you have!

 

Extent: Preferably 60 credits (1 year), but 30 credits can also be possible. Contact me and we can discuss options.

Contact

Erin McCallum
Researcher Department of Wildlife, Fish, and Environmental Studies
erin.mccallum@slu.se

Systematic review project in aquatic ecotoxicology

Background

Chemical pollution is a rising threat to aquatic animals and their habitats. A main way that fish and other aquatic animals are exposed to chemical pollution is via wastewater treatment plant effluents that discharge pollutants like pesticides, pharmaceuticals and microplastics. In recent years, advanced water treatment technologies (e.g., ozone or UV sterilization) have been used to remove chemical pollution before the water is returned to our rivers, lakes, and streams. Now new research is being done to measure how these technological improvements improve aquatic habitats and benefit animals, biodiversity, and whole ecosystem function. This new research field must be synthesized to identify gaps in our knowledge and places where new research should be done.

We will conduct a systematic review of published literature to determine what evidence exists for the benefits of improved treatment technologies for aquatic animals, their habitats, and whole ecosystem function.

This project would be a good fit if you are interested in working with new information and data, and if you are interested in having an office/lab-based masters’ project.

 

Requirements: I am seeking motivated and highly responsible student willing to learn new things. The work will involve searching literature databases (e.g., Web of Science, Google Scholar), extracting information from papers, analyzing it, and making graphs to answer this large research question. It would be ideal if the student is familiar with the statistical program R (but this can also be discussed/taught). I am eager to work with students from diverse backgrounds but having your degree in some form of natural science will give you a good background knowledge for this type of research (e.g., environmental science, biology, chemistry, ecology, engineering etc.).

I am part of the Aquatic Ecology Research Group at the Department of Wildlife, Fish and Environmental Studies. We are a dynamic group of researchers studying fish and aquatic environments. We always have lots of new and interesting projects on the go that masters’ students can learn about and help with when they are completing their masters research with me.

Contact me with any concerns/questions you have!

 

Extent: Preferably 60 credits (1 year), but 30 credits can also be possible. Contact me and we can discuss options.

Contact

Erin McCallum
Researcher Department of Wildlife, Fish, and Environmental Studies
erin.mccallum@slu.se

 

Colonisation of pendulous lichens in managed stands

Lav fastsatt på plastnät.

 

Colonisation of pendulous lichens in managed stands

Background
Colonization processes of pendulous lichens after clear-felling are largely unknown. After clear-felling the pendulous lichen community in a forest stand is reduced to scattered remnants in retention areas. Some of the pendulous lichens are not well adapted to fast environmental changes, one such species, Alectoria sarmentosa is sensitive to clear-cutting and considered an indicator species of forest continuity.

Aim
The aim of this project is to investigate how the colonization process of pendulous lichens are affected by the vicinity of a source population.

 

Contact

Lukas Homström
lukas.holmstrom@slu.se

Forest floor bryophyte community response to thinning

 Moss in pots.

Forest floor bryophyte community response to thinning

Background:
Forest floor conditions are affected by forestry operations, some operations such as clear-felling are well studied and the effects on the forest floor bryophytes are well understood. However, thinning operations are not well studied and how the forest floor microclimate is affected and the forest floor bryophyte community reacts to thinning is largely unknown.

Aim:
Investigate how three common forest floor bryophytes respond to commercial thinning in pine dominated stands.

Contact

Lukas Homström
lukas.holmstrom@slu.se

Investigating the effect of water temperature on toxicokinetics of pharmaceuticals in aquatic organisms

Investigating the effect of water temperature on toxicokinetics of pharmaceuticals in aquatic organisms

två personer fiskar med not i en sjöPhoto: Alexander Vos 

Background

Pharmaceuticals represent an important group of contaminants present in the environment. Many of these compounds are an indispensable part of human lives, and their consumption has rapidly increased over the last few decades both for treatment of human diseases and for use in livestock husbandry. Also, the total number of different pharmaceuticals regularly used in human and veterinary medicine is increasing, as more than 4 000 pharmaceutically active compounds (PhACs) are currently being produced and marketed. Various classes of PhACs (e.g. antibiotics, antidepressants, anti-inflammatory drugs) then enter aquatic environments via sewage treatment plants (STPs) because these are often unable to remove such chemicals from municipal sewage water. Levels ranging from sub-ng L-1 to thousands of ng L-1 are reported for a wide range of pharmaceuticals in aquatic environments across the globe, indicating that PhACs are commonly occurring contaminants nowadays. Although such concentrations are not acutely toxic, they may still affect aquatic organisms in different ways, e.g. altering fish metabolism, inducing endocrine disruption, affecting early life development, or altering natural fish behavior. Specifically, psychoactive pharmaceuticals are a concerning threat to aquatic animals because they are designed to affect human behavior as part of the intended treatment (antidepressants, anxiolytics, antipsychotics) or as a side-effect of certain treatments (analgesics) and may affect aquatic wildlife similarly. To date, most research on adverse effects of PhACs in aquatic organisms focused on study of single compounds, even though animals are exposed to complex mixtures in the wild. Moreover, the influence of essential environmental factors (e.g. temperature, oxygen, pH) on the effects of PhACs in aquatic wildlife is poorly understood.

Project outline

The project will examine pharmacokinetics of three environmentally relevant psychoactive compunds in two aquatic species (one fish and one macroinvertebrate). Experiments will be done in laboratory conditions, where uptake from water, biotransformation (formation of metabolites in organisms), and depuration (elimination of pharmaceuticals and metabolites from organisms after removing the contamination from water) will be investigated. These processes will be studied at two different temperature regimes simulating the winter and summer seasons in the environment. As the temperature affect the metabolism of aquatic organisms in general, we expect it to affect the uptake and metabolic transformation of PhACs as well.

Work plan and timeline

  • Getting familiar with the problematic and writting a scientific background for the master thesis
  • Collecting the experimental organisms in the field
  • Laboratory exposure + depuration experiment
  • Chemical analyses of collected samples
  • Data analysis and reporting

Requirements: Motivated and highly responsible student willing to learn new things. The work will involve particularly hard field work when collecting the fish from local lakes (mostly beach seining), taking care of fish during acclimatization period and during the experiment, sampling blood and tissues of fish, and analysis of the data regarding the concentrations of PhACs measured in experimental organisms. The student will be working with help of supervisor most of the time.

Extent: 60 credits

Contact

Daniel Cerveny
Researcher Department of Wildlife, Fish, and Environmental Studies
daniel.cerveny@slu.se

Tomas Brodin
Professor Department of Wildlife, Fish, and Environmental Studies
tomas.brodin@slu.se

The effect of varying retention levels, deadwood enrichment and prescribed burning on fungal communities

The effect of varying retention levels, deadwood enrichment and prescribed burning on fungal communities

Modern forestry practices has led to a decline of available habitats as well as degradations and fragmentations of remaining habitats for many forest-dwelling species.

Fungi is a species-rich group with 80% of red-listed species being confined to forests. Wood-living fungi are also important decomposers of wood and serve as important microhabitats for many insect species. Fungi is therefore an excellent group to research, as they respond to changes in their habitat, and because they are so important for our forest ecosystems. The study will investigate different conservation and restoration measures in a Scots pine landscape.

The aim of the thesis is to assess fungal communities in stands treated with varying retention levels, deadwood enrichment and prescribed burning. It is possible to investigate the importance of substrate type and/or stand or treatment type to fungal communities, but other questions and hypotheses are welcomed.

Study area

Effaråsen is a Scots pine-dominated area situated in Dalarna, central Sweden. In 2012, a research project was initiated in Effaråsen and the forests were subjected to a number of treatments.

Fällda träd i skog och svamp
Photo: Line Djupström, Skogforsk (left picture) and Albin Larsson Ekström (Erastia salmonicolor, laxticka in Swedish)

In total, there are 24 stands within Effaråsen, with each treatment being replicated in three stands each. The treatment types are as follows:

  • Tree harvest with trees retained at 3%, 10%, 30% and 50% (12 stands in total).
  • No harvest with 100% conservation concern (3 stands in total).
  • No harvest, control (3 stands in total).
  • Prescribed burning with 50% harvest prior to burning (3 stands in total).
  • Prescribed burning with no harvest (3 stands in total).

Retained trees in retention- and conservation concern stands were divided into 4 equal parts of: 1) green tree retention, 2) creation of high stumps, 3) partial ring-barking, 4) felling of trees to create deadwood logs.

The student will perform species inventories of wood-living fungi on select substrates in Effaråsen during the fall of 2021. The substrates of interest are the ones created in 2012, namely: Created logs, created high stumps and partially ring-barked trees that have died and become snags.

The requirement of the student are as follows:

  • Good knowledge and experience of identifying wood-living fungi.
  • Basic knowledge on forest- and fungal ecology.
  • Knowledge of statistical analysis is a merit, but not required.
  • This thesis is best suited for 60 credits as it requires extensive fieldwork and thorough analysis

Extent: 60 credits

Supervisor: Therese Löfroth

Contact

Therese Löfroth
Researcher Department of Wildlife, Fish and Environmental Studies
therese.lofroth@slu.se, +46907868384, +46722289881

 

 

Parental provisioning strategies and sibling competition in the black guillemot (Cepphus grylle)

Parental provisioning strategies and sibling competition in the black guillemot (Cepphus grylle)



Två tobisgrisslor på en klippaPhoto: wildlife cam

Background: The Black Guillemot (Cepphus grylle) is a long-lived seabird with a circumpolar distribution. Recent research has indicated that large areas of the current breeding range in the Baltic Sea may be lost, and that reproductive effort varied substantially between two breeding seasons, in terms of breeding probabilities, clutch size and chick survival. Hence, under a changing climate, there is a need to understand important Black Guillemot behaviours and how these vary in relation to the parent’s body condition and the prevailing environmental conditions. Potential reproductive strategies to adverse foraging conditions include skipped breeding, reduced clutch sizes, brood reduction through parent-offspring interactions or decreased survival through sibling-sibling competition. Little is known about how Black Guillemot may adapt their reproductive strategy, given that they are a somewhat elusive species and that their behaviours are difficult to study as a result of them nesting on remote island locations, often at low densities and in burrows. In this study, we aim to get an understanding of how Black Guillemot will adapt their reproductive strategies to varying environmental conditions to aid nature conservationists in identifying appropriate conservation actions.

We are looking for a student for this fieldwork season to collect and analyse field measurements of the fitness of black guillemot parents and offspring in two Black Guillemot colonies located on islands in the Baltic Sea. The aim is to link the body condition of parents to reproductive investment and better understand resource-allocation strategies, for example between single or two egg clutches. Furthermore, camera traps will be placed outside nest boxes and paired with video cameras in nest boxes. Fieldwork is expected to last for 6 weeks from mid-June till the end of July and takes place on islands of the coast of Obbola. Analyses of the data after collection can be done at any location. You would be supervised by Anouschka Hof, who is currently located in the Netherlands, and Tomas Brodin (SLU-Umeå).

Also see https://project-black-guillemot.weebly.com/ for more information.

Keywords: seabirds, camera traps, behaviour, conservation

Requirements: We are looking for an enthusiastic candidate that preferably has some experience with handling birds.

Extent: 30 credits

Contact

Anouschka Hof
Department of Resource Ecology, Wageningen University & Research
anouschka.hof@wur.nl

Tomas Brodin
Researcher Department of Wildlife, Fish, and Environmental Studies
tomas.brodin@slu.se, +46907868161

Extended consequences of mutation and changes in leaf morphology on arthropod communities and ecosystem processes

Extended consequences of mutation and changes in leaf morphology on arthropod communities and ecosystem processes

Mutations have a strong contribution to genetic variation within plants, jet the broader consequences of plant mutation for ecosystems is not well known. We are seeking a motivated student for a MSc project aimed at exploring how mutation that influence leaf shape in birches also may influence arthropod communities and ecosystem processes.

Student will study arthropod communities in the canopies of mutant and wild-type birches planted in parks across the municipally of Umeå - the City of Birches. For a 60hp project the student will also collect senescent leaf litter from the same birches and conduct decomposition assays in streams.

Extent: 30 or 60 credits

Supervisor: Petter Axelsson

Contact

Petter Axelsson
Researcher Department of Wildlife, Fish and Environmental Studies
petter.axelsson@slu.se, +46907868361, +46793042878

Bladform på den mutanta Betula pendula "Crispa'"

Swedish Polecat Project

Swedish Polecat Project

En iller i närbildPhoto: Tim Hofmeester, SLU

We are looking for enthusiastic students that want to do their MSc thesis within the "Swedish Polecat" project. In this project, we test a newly developed combination of a camera and hair trap to capture polecats. The overall aim is to develop a methodology to get population abundance estimates for the polecat in Sweden.

Thesis work consists of:

  • Fieldwork in central Sweden
  • Classification of images with the possibility to add the development of automatic image recognition
  • Spatial modelling of polecat abundance or densities

As this thesis topic requires several new skills, it is only available as 60 credit thesis.

Extent: 30 or 60 credits

Supervisor: Tim Hofmeester, Henrik Thurfjell 

Contact

Tim Hofmeester
Researcher Department of Wildlife, Fish and Environmental Studies
tim.hofmeester@slu.se, +46702478842

Henrik Thurfjell
Environmental Assessment Specialist at the Swedish Species Information Centre
henrik.thurfjell@slu.se, +4618-672617, +4673-0402221

Scandcam: Monitoring Scandinavian wildlife with camera traps

Scandcam: Monitoring Scandinavian wildlife with camera traps

Bilder från viltkamera

We are looking for enthusiastic students that want to do their MSc thesis within the ‘Scandcam’ project. In this project, we develop new camera trapping methods to study wildlife communities. The overall aim is to develop a system to monitor Swedish wildlife using camera traps.

Specific thesis topics could include:

  • Estimation of predator-prey interactions (red fox and mountain hare)
  • Estimation of correlation between land-use and wildlife occurrence
  • Pine marten population estimation using camera traps

There are possibilities to develop your own ideas.

There are possibilities for doing either a 30 credit (using existing data) or 60 credit (including own fieldwork) thesis.

Extent: 30 or 60 credits

Supervisor: Tim Hofmeester

Contact

Tim Hofmeester
Researcher Department of Wildlife, Fish and Environmental Studies
tim.hofmeester@slu.se, +46702478842

Change moose their activity and movement when the weather front changes? And what can this mean when our weather becomes less stable?

Change moose their activity and movement when the weather front changes? And what can this mean when our weather becomes less stable?

Climate forecasts predict considerable changes in air temperatures, annual
precipitation, and more frequent occurrence of extreme weather events
that affect ecological processes1-3. These changes will fundamentally alter
the environmental conditions for large herbivores like ungulates. Coldadapted
ungulates like moose have evolved to meet strong seasonal variations. Extreme weather events and lower climatic stability, however, may challenge this species by exposing them to increased frequencies of heat waves, freeze-thaw cycles, and wetter winters9-11, which affect them both directly (e.g., heat stress) and indirectly (e.g., altered forage access and quality). Advances in sensor technologies now allow quantifying animals’ habitat selection, behavioral states, and energy expenditures during different climatic conditions in their natural setting.

To study the possible ecological impact of lower climate stability on freeranging moose, we are therefore looking for a student who is interested in analyzing moose behavioral response (i.e., movement, activity, energy
expenditures) in relation to changing weather conditions. The student will
use the existing dataset on moose GPS-positions in northern and southern
Sweden and will link them to digital maps about landscape features, as well
as to data on ambient temperature, precipitation and wind.

Requirements: A motivated student that has good knowledge in R (e.g.,
spatial analyses, data handling), and statistics. The project will be a deskbased study. The project is expected to generate a peer viewed publication in an international journal.

Extent: 60 credits

Supervisor: Wiebke Neumann

Contact

Wiebke Neumann
Researcher Department of Wildlife, Fish and Environmental Studies
wiebke.neumann@slu.se, +46907868117, +46706349051

Does covid-19 generate a spatiotemporal refuge from human activity? What happens with moose spatial ecology when tourists do not come?

Does covid-19 generate a spatiotemporal refuge from human activity? What happens with moose spatial ecology when tourists do not come?

In multi-use landscapes, wildlife and humans share the same habitat,
generating human-animal interactions. The covid-19 pandemic led to
recommendations on social distancing and reduced largely the amount of
human travelling, generating a natural control-treatment experiment by
freezing human recreational activities in wildlife habitat.

A concrete examples is moose in Nikkaluokta in the far north of Sweden
(latitude 67), near the mountain Kebnekaise. During normal years, the area
experiences intensive touristic activities year around, in particular during
winter. To study the impact of peaks in anthropogenic activity on the space
use of free-ranging moose, we are therefore looking for a student who is
interested in comparing moose movement behavior and space use during
2020 until today when covid-19 recommendation reduced tourist numbers
largely with moose behavior during previous years. The student will use the
existing dataset on moose GPS-positions, comparing individual behavior
among years, and will link them to digital maps about landscape features
and weather in the area.

Requirements: A motivated student that has good knowledge in R (e.g.,
spatial analyses, data handling), and statistics. The project will be a deskbased study. The project is expected to generate a peer viewed publication in an international journal.

Extent: 60 or 30 credits

Supervisor: Wiebke Neumann

Contact

Wiebke Neumann
Researcher Department of Wildlife, Fish and Environmental Studies
wiebke.neumann@slu.se, +46907868117, +46706349051

Golden eagle and reindeer interactions: many secrets yet to unveil?

Golden eagle and reindeer interactions: many secrets yet to unveil?

Kungsörnar i sitt boPhoto: from camera trap, SLU

Background

Golden eagles sit at the top of the food chain in the boreal ecosystem and potentially rely equally on scavenging opportunities. Eagles are associated with predation on reindeer calves, however, there is little supporting knowledge on the fine scale movements of eagles in reindeer herding areas as well as individual level differences in foraging tactics between adults and young birds.

Aim

This 60-credit thesis project is aimed at developing a deeper understanding of golden eagle movements in reindeer herding areas.

Requirements: The student is expected to work with existing movement data on eagles and reindeer from Sweden. The student should have a working knowledge of R and GIS. A good ability to write in English is a plus.

Extent: 60 credits

Contact

Navinder Singh
Researcher Department of Wildlife, Fish and Environmental Studies
navinder.singh@slu.se, +46 (0)90 786 8538, +46 (0)70 676 0103

 

Novel insights into moose behavior and ecology through video footage

Novel insights into moose behavior and ecology through video footage

älgar på snöPhoto: from SVT homepage

Background

Moose migrations are a fascinating phenomenon of boreal north that we have extensively studied in scientific research for decades, but also recently witnessed in the popular media through the SVT production “Den Stora Älgvandringen”. The intriguing aspects of the biology of moose revealed by the series provides an inspiring opportunity to increase our scientific knowledge on moose behaviour during migrations through the videos.

Aim

The main aim of this project is to systematically analyse video footage from the “Den Stora Älgvandringen” series to unravel new insights into moose migration behaviour. The project will be based at SLU and carried out in collaboration with the SVT crew and production team.

Requirements

Lots of patience and persistence, quantitative skills in data analyses and statistics, and excellent writing skills.

Extent: 60 credits

Contact

Navinder Singh
Researcher Department of Wildlife, Fish and Environmental Studies
navinder.singh@slu.se, +46 (0)90 786 8538, +46 (0)70 676 0103

 

Arctic char vs brown trout – what happens with their interaction in a changing climate?

Arctic char vs brown trout – what happens with their interaction in a changing climate?

Arctic char and brown trout are highly valued fish in the mountain area, and they often occur together in lakes. A number of environmental factors can affect these fish, but we see that summer temperatures have increased and that the winter season is becoming shorter, which likely changes the competitive relationship between char and brown trout in favor of trout.

The task is to investigate if changes in species dominance relationships between char and brown trout have occurred in mountain lakes during the last decades. You revisit lakes in the Hemavan-Tärnaby region that have been sampled in the 1960’s. You will perform sample fishing and compare your data to records from the previous sampling to evaluate if and how the populations have changed. You will also perform sampling of benthic invertebrates, zooplankton, water chemistry and light climate, to characterize the lakes. Analysis also include stomach content, isotopic composition of fish, and aging of fish with the help of otoliths.

Field work should be performed during summer 2021 (and/or possibly autumn). Shorter or longer projects (30 or 60 ects) are possible.

Extent: 30 or 60 credits

Supervisor: Karin Nilsson (main supervisor VFM, SLU)

The project is performed in collaboration with Pär Byström (EMG, UMU), Gunnar Öhlund (VFM, SLU), the county board of Västerbotten and Sami villages.

Contact

Karin Nilsson
Researcher Department of Wildlife, Fish and Environmental Studies
karin.a.nilsson@slu.se, ++46907868277, +46702636155

Nätfiske i fjällsjöPhoto: Anders Lundvall (left) and Karin Nilsson (right)

 

The sounds of a Madagascar rainforest

The sounds of a Madagascar rainforest

Have you ever wondered what it sounds like in a tropical rainforest?Djur på Madagasgar

Sound has long been recognized as an important component of animal communication, but recent studies have used animal-produced sound to look at other aspects of ecology. For example, using sound collected by unattended recorders, researchers can study activity patterns, occupancy, density, species diversity, and even certain behaviours. However, most of the studies using Passive Acoustic Monitoring (PAM) have occurred in northern, temperate areas, leaving much unknown about tropical soundscapes.

Madagascar is home to some of the most unique animal assemblages in the world. With much of these endemic species threatened with extinction, there is an urgent need to develop novel methods to monitor large areas efficiently. Through our partners at Hunter College, City University of New York, we have access to months of rare audio recordings from Ranomafana National Park, Madagascar.

The objectives of this project are to:

  • determine which species we can detect with acoustic monitors over a 24-hour period, and at what time of day we hear them
  • determine if it is possible to use computer programming to semi-automatically detect bird and lemur sounds from the background noise of the recordings.

This is an excellent opportunity to gain experience using innovative technology at the forefront of ecological monitoring.

Extent: 30 or 60 credits (60 credits preferred)

Supervison/Contacts: Sheila Holmes, Tim Hofmeester, Joris Cromsigt

Hunter College collaborators: Carly Batist, Andrea Baden

Contact

Sheila Holmes
Researcher Department of Wildlife, Fish and Environmental Studies
sheila.holmes@slu.se, +46722017849

Biodiversity on pastures and abandoned farm land – the potential of using horses in ecological restoration

Biodiversity on pastures and abandoned farm land – the potential of using horses in ecological restoration

A large part of the biodiversity of plants and pollinators in temperate and boreal zones are associated with open areas created by traditional human land use such as hay-making or cattle grazing. This biodiversity is now declining as a result of land abandonment and intensified farming. In the northern parts of Sweden extensive cattle grazing was commonly applied until the middle of the 20th century. In the last few decades, a decline in the numbers of farms and an increase in the number of horses for recreational use means that the number of horses now exceed the number of dairy cows in Sweden. The fact that many horses are kept under more extensive forms e.g. allowed to graze on abandoned farm land, means that there might also be great potential for horses to act as ecological restoration agents as for example shown by Garrido et al (2019). They showed that introduction of all year grazing by Gotland ponies led to increased biodiversity of both plants and pollinators. However, the question still remains if horses on summer pasture will have the same positive effect on biodiversity and how the grazing regime might be adapted to further increase biodiversity.

The aim with this project is to investigate if and/or under which circumstances horse grazing can create habitat for a multitude and magnitude of plants and pollinators. There will be opportunities to work with butterflies, bumblebees, moths or vegetation. The thesis will include field work with species monitoring in grazed and ungrazed areas in Västerbotten and adjacent counties. Depending on the extent of the work there are possibilities for both 30 and 60 credits thesis.

Extent: 30 or 60 credits

Supervisor: Therese Löfroth

Contact

Therese Löfroth
Researcher Department of Wildlife, Fish and Environmental Studies
therese.lofroth@slu.se, +46907868384, +46722289881

Hästar betar gräsRödlistad Violett guldvinge
Horses on summer pasture. Photo: Therese Löfroth. The red listed butterfly Lycaena helle (Violett guldvinge). Photo: Magnus Magnusson.

Decadal effects of wildfire and prescribed burning on the ant community structure

Decadal effects of wildfire and prescribed burning on the ant community structure

Skog och myra


Forest fires have largely determined the post-glacial forest dynamics in the boreal region and are regarded as one of the most important boreal forest disturbances. Fires provide suitable habitat and key food sources for many organism groups and alter assemblage composition and densities of species in the soil and on the forest floor. The succession after fire is also different from that after clear felling and prescribed burnings might also differ from wildfires although this is still not evaluated. Because prescribed burning is used as a restoration tool in Sweden the effects are important to evaluate and in this project the comparison with wildfires are extra interesting.

Previous studies have suggested that the dominating mound building wood ants (Formica rufa group) are negatively affected by fire and that other ant species will become more abundant. However, so far the effects of forest fire on ants have only included short term effects and only prescribed fires. In this project natural wild fires as well as prescribed burnings and unburned control sites are included. Ants were sampled in pit-fall traps during 2019.

The aim with this masters thesis is to quantify the long term (>10 years) effects of large scale wildfire and prescribed burnings on the community structure of ants in northern boreal landscapes. Ants constitute an important part of boreal forest biodiversity and because of their interactions with many other taxa they are often considered keystone species or ecological engineers because they contribute significantly to ecosystem function. They also respond strongly to changes in their environment and are consequently good ecological indicators.

The work will consist of lab work with species identification of already collected ants from wildfire and prescribed fire areas and unburned control sites from northern Sweden and Northern Finland. There is also a possibility to collect more data with and mound surveys in the field. The work will be suitable for a 60 credit thesis but 30 credits might also work.

Extent: 60 or 30 credits

Supervisor: Therese Löfroth

Contact

Therese Löfroth
Researcher Department of Wildlife, Fish and Environmental Studies
therese.lofroth@slu.se, +46907868384, +46722289881

Bats as hosts of zoonotic pathogens – potential conflicts between nature conservation and public health

Bats as hosts of zoonotic pathogens – potential conflicts between nature conservation and public health

Background

Bats (order Chiroptera) are the most species-rich and threatened mammalian group in Sweden with nine of 19 in Sweden reproducing species being red-listed. As insectivores, bats are important for limiting the abundance of pest species. Globally, bats are together with rodents the species hosting most zoonotic pathogens. Rabies is one of the most serious disease that bats can spread to humans and antibodies against rabies have also been found in bats in Sweden. Recently, studies in especially South America have revealed that bats also can spread orthohantavirus; a virus group that mainly has been associated with rodents. These viruses can cause hemorrhagic fevers in humans and in Sweden, nephropathia epidemica (NE; Swedish: sorkfeber) is common in northern Sweden. In southern Sweden, a case of NE was diagnosed in 2019; a case that (due to the distribution range of the virus) can’t be caused by rodents. A reasonable hypothesis is therefore that the human case in southern Sweden is caused by bats.

Primary research questions

  1. To which extent are bats in Sweden reservoirs of zoonotic pathogens (viruses and bacteria)?
  2. Do bats in Sweden host orthohantavirus? If yes, can the southern Swedish case of NE be caused by bats?
  3. If bats host zoonotic pathogens – is there a conflict between nature conservation and public health?

Work plan and methods

  1. Thorough literature study
  2. Development of study design
  3. Field study in mainly July including live trapping of bats (blood and saliva sampling), sampling of feces
  4. Laboratory analyses incl. DNA and RNA extractions
  5. Data analyses
  6. Thesis compilation

Extent: Preferably 60 credits (1 year)

Supervisor: Frauke Ecke

Contact

Frauke Ecke
Researcher Department of Wildlife, Fish and Environmental Studies
frauke.ecke@slu.se, +46907868642, +46702636155

A watershed approach to boreal forest green infrastructure implementation

A watershed approach to boreal forest green infrastructure implementation

Green infrastructure (GI) is a mainstream EU policy that can be defined as a strategic and operational planning of natural and semi-natural areas that specifically is designed to provide and mobilize ecological connectivity, conservation, ecosystem services and multi-functionality in ecosystems. For boreal landscapes, forests with continuity and other high conservation forest values have a critical role to secure such functions. Recently, detailed mapping of proxy continuity forests (pCF) have been completed for the boreal biome in Sweden. This data can be used to assess spatial network traits, in combination with, e.g., the national land-cover data and data on forests with high conservation values including protected areas and woodland key habitats, etc. This project will focus on mapping and analyzing the spatial distribution of actual and potential forest conservation areas on watershed scale from coastal lowlands to alpine highlands and from river valleys to watershed divides, for one or two main rivers in northern Sweden. Project outcomes will feed into the ongoing work by the County Administrative Boards and the Swedish Forest Agency on regional green infrastructure planning. The analyses will be based mainly on GIS-analyses and literature studies.

The project is suitable for a 30 or a 60 credit thesis. GIS-skills are required. It is possible to arrange more than one thesis on this topic.

Extent: 60 or 30 credits

Supervisor: Johan Svensson, Bengt Gunnar Jonsson, VFM

Contact

Johan Svensson
Researcher Department of Wildlife, Fish and Environmental Studies
johan.svensson@slu.se, +46907868333, +46730216880

Areas of national land-use interest as input to sustainable landscape planning

Areas of national land-use interest as input to sustainable landscape planning

The environmental act (miljöbalken) recognizes a range of different national land-use interests (NI), including e.g. Natura 2000, nature conservation, reindeer husbandry, contiguous mountain landscapes, recreational life and wind energy production. Thus, the NI-framework reflects ecological, socio-cultural and economic priorities. Most NIs are geographically demarcated with a land-use claim that have substantial power in regional and municipal comprehensive planning. However, an evident overlap exists between different NI, also between actually or potentially conflicting interests. With a focus on wind energy production in municipalities as case studies, this project will focus on assessing spatial traits among a selected number of other NIs as a basis for identifying conflict risks but also integration and synergy prospects, as input to multi-objective landscape planning. In addition and depending on the student’s own interest, the analyses can include also, e.g., forestland for forest production or high conservation value forests. Four municipalities are pre-selected (Gällivaare, Åsele, Falkenberg, Uppvidinge) whereof at least two should be included. The final set of municipality case studies will be discussed and agreed as part of the thesis planning process. The analyses will be based mainly on GIS-analyses and literature studies.

The project is suitable for a 30 or a 60 credit thesis. GIS-skills are required. It is possible to arrange more than one thesis on this topic.

Extent: 60 or 30 credits

Supervisor: Johan Svensson, Wiebke Neumann

Contact

Johan Svensson
Researcher Department of Wildlife, Fish and Environmental Studies
johan.svensson@slu.se, +46907868333, +46730216880

Wiebke Neumann
Researcher Department of Wildlife, Fish and Environmental Studies
wiebke.neumann@slu.se, +46907868117, +46706349051

Personality as a driver of pathogen transmission in wild living rodents

Personality as a driver of pathogen transmission in wild living rodents

Background

Emerging infectious diseases are an increasing burden to public health. More than 60% of all emerging infectious diseases are zoonotic (spread by animals) and more than 70% of these originate in wildlife with rodents representing the most important order. Identification of drivers of pathogen transmission among rodents and from rodents to humans is crucial to understand disease outbreaks.

In this context, the personality – boldness, exploration, activity, etc. – of rodent hosts and reservoirs is getting increased attention and is currently one of the hot topics in disease ecology. For example, in horizontally spread infections, we can expect bold rodents to run higher risk of both catching and transmitting pathogens than shy rodents that might avoid contact to conspecifics.

As a model system, you will study the bank vole (Myodes glareolus)-Puumala hantavirus system.

Primary questions

  1. Are there personality features that distinguish infected from non-infected rodents?
  2. What are the personality features of rodents that show indoor-movement and that increase pathogen transmission from rodents to humans?

Work plan and methods

  1. Thorough literature study
  2. Development of study design
  3. Field study including live trapping of rodents, personality tests on rodents and pathogen sampling
  4. Laboratory analyses
  5. Data analyses
  6. Thesis compilation

Extent: Preferably 60 credits (1 year)

Supervisor: Frauke Ecke

Contact

Frauke Ecke
Researcher Department of Wildlife, Fish and Environmental Studies
frauke.ecke@slu.se, +46907868642, +46702636155

 

Unveiling landscape scale relationships between herbivore browsing and ecosystem structure: Ungulates and Beavers in Riparian ecosystems

Unveiling landscape scale relationships between herbivore browsing and ecosystem structure: Ungulates and Beavers in Riparian ecosystems

How is the recruitment of broad leaved trees affected by habitat use patterns of beavers and ungulates?

In this project, we aim to investigate this question by combining remotes sensing, GIS and field studies that measure browsing patterns along riparian zones in multiple catchments across a latitudinal gradient in Sweden. We aim to achieve a landscape scale perspective of the impact of herbivores on ecosystem structure and function with potential recommendations for landscape and wildlife management.

Skills needed: field work, spatial ecology, GIS, R statistics

Extent: 60 credits

Supervisors: Navinder Singh, Frauke Ecke

Contact

Navinder Singh
Researcher Department of Wildlife, Fish and Environmental Studies
navinder.singh@slu.se, +4690 786 8538, +4670 676 0103

Frauke Ecke
Researcher Department of Wildlife, Fish and Environmental Studies
frauke.ecke@slu.se, +46907868642, +46702636155

 

Importance of seed morphology for dispersal, predation and germination in dipterocarp trees in Borneo

Importance of seed morphology for dispersal, predation and germination in dipterocarp trees in Borneo

Seed morphology is ecologically important for many plants as it influence the ability of dispersal, germination and regeneration. For example, characteristics of dipterocarp seeds such as wing size and weight of seeds could comprise a trade-off between long dispersal of small seeds with long wings, and high germination potential of large sized seeds. Furthermore, dispersal may also influence density dependence effects on predation.
We know that wing length and seed size can vary among seeds from different
mother trees, which could influence seed dispersal. However, we do not know how strong this affect is and how variation in dispersal influence germination success and the risk of seed predation.

In this project you will travel to Borneo to collect seeds from different mother trees, quantify their variation in seed morphology and test how this variation influence dispersal ability. You will further assess how variation in seed morphology and dispersal influence the possibility for successful regeneration.

The project could be divided on two students collaborating on experiments but working on separate parts of the project. You would need to fund your project via a Minor Field Studies (MFS) or similar funding.

Extent: one 60 credits or two collaborative 30 credits projects

Supervisor: Petter Axelsson, Daniel Lussetti

Contact

Petter Axelsson
Researcher Department of Wildlife, Fish and Environmental Studies
petter.axelsson@slu.se, +46907868361, +46793042878

Daniel Lussetti
Postdoctor at the Department of Forest Ecology and Management
daniel.lussetti@slu.se, +46907868559

Illustration fröspridning

 

 

 

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