SITES_bård 160701-4

2019 > 05

Fotograf: Ulf Grandin. Fotograf: Ulf Grandin.

The EU parliamentarian election is just completed. During the election debate science has been highlighted as one of the cornerstones of the European collaboration. Field-based research within systems ecology is an area that can strongly benefit from a common European funding to build and coordinate collection of data from field sites around Europe. This type of data is critical to understand current changes in ecosystems and consequences of these, as well as getting data to follow up on how we live up to the global goals. During this year a consortium within eLTER (Long-Term Ecosystem Research in Europe) has submitted two applications within the Horizon 2020-program for infrastructure. Decisions on funding’s will be announced in November.

“In the same way as SITES provides the opportunity for coordinated data collection in Sweden, we hope to secure the funding at the European level”, says Ulf Grandin at SLU, coordinator for LTER Sweden and connected to SITES.

SITES and the Swedish LTER network will, if funding’s are granted, join forces to make Swedish stations and sampling sites adapted and connected to eLTER.

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Drones (or UAV as they are also called) are an operation part of the spectral data collection programme of SITES spectral. The drones are equipped with cameras that capture images of the ecosystems in different wavelength bands (green, red, red-edge, and near infrared).

The images are then used to study the status of the vegetation during different parts of the growing season. The drones are programmed to automatically follow a route and photograph the land surface from 60-80 m height. In order for everything to work smoothly it is necessary for the pilots to be well prepared and trained, and that thorough planning has been carried out. For this reason, we organized a workshop during the beginning of May where Virginia Garcia and Lars Eklundh of SITES Spectral together with participants from Röbäcksdalen, Skogaryd, Svartberget and Tarfala worked through all the routines connected to the flying. We discussed a number of factors that affect the data quality, like placement of ground control points, weather conditions, time-of-day, metadata collection, etc. Problems with the drones occur now and again, and we collected important experiences and technical solutions.

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Marcus Lee is a PhD student in Aquatic Ecology at Lund University. Since the beginning of April, he is conducting research at the SITES associated station Bolmen on how the energetic state of individual zooplankton effects their migratory behaviour in response to threats. 

Bolmen is part of SITES AquaNet, a standardized infrastructure for national and international researches to run mesocosm experiments in lakes at Asa, Erken, Skogaryd, Svartberget and Bolmen field stations.

Future predictions of climate change indicate a higher propensity for lakes to become eutrophic, meaning the lake becomes rich in nutrients and so supporting a dense algae population, the decomposition of which kills animal life by depriving it of oxygen. Marcus hypothesises that with this increasing phytoplankton, animals will have abundant food and over a season this will lead to a stronger diel vertical migration behaviour. With his research at Bolmen he will demonstrate this by rearing zooplankton, Daphnia magna, under natural and increased phytoplankton conditions in a mesocosm design for two months.

Photo: Marcus at the platform situated in lake Bolmen. photographer: Franca Stábile

The mesocosm make it possible to generate different climates. Various lake states, such as a clear lake or a lake with a lot of algae, can thereby be simulated in order to analyse the zooplankton diel vertical migration behaviour in different prerequisites.

The results of this research can be expected to prove that diel vertical migration is far from a constant, as it strongly depends upon the energetic state of individuals in a semi-natural environment.

Over the course of the experiment Marcus will sample the populations at differing depths repeatedly, to determine the spatial structure of the mesocosms. He will also collect random individuals to assay the diel vertical migration behaviour. This will be achieved by utilising a 3D computer-tracking platform at Lund University.
Marcus foresees that the results of the research will make it possible to understand how the behaviour of individuals effect whole ecosystems and which can have a great impact on how to keep the water clean.

The project is scheduled for two months, ending in the beginning of July.

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Photo 1: European spruce bark beetle infested trees from 2018. Photographer: Martin Ahlström. Photo 1: European spruce bark beetle infested trees from 2018. Photographer: Martin Ahlström.

The dry and hot summer of 2018 caused draught in many areas in southern Sweden and as a consequence the population of the European spruce bark beetle (Ips typographus) increased. The combination of warm and dry weather during a long period resulted in two successful regenerations of bark beetles. The situation i Götaland and especially in eastern Götaland is critical and the development of 2019 is closely monitored. In Asa, around 40 outbreak sites are identified. The early spring suits the bark beetles and this year’s swarming has already started. Control measures such as, pheromone traps, pheromones on standing trees to focus bark beetle infestation and closely monitoring of infested areas from 2018, are used. The most important active measure is to harvest newly infested trees. The weather conditions however, determine the magnitude of the outbreak. To hope for the best, is to hope for a cold and rainy summer.

Photo 2: Male of Spruce Bark beetle entering the bark. Photographer: Göran Birgersson. Photo 2: Male of Spruce Bark beetle entering the bark. Photographer: Göran Birgersson.

Professor Göran Birgersson and PhD student Maria Sousa both from Chemical Ecology, SLU Alnarp are monitoring the European spruce bark beetle outbreak in Asa. Their main focus is one of the most important bark beetle predators, long legged flies from the genera, Medetera. Larvae of the Medetera locate and attack the bark beetle larvae under the bark.

Photo 3: Female of Medetera. Photographer: Göran Birgersson. Photo 3: Female of Medetera. Photographer: Göran Birgersson.

One of the areas that Göran and Maria studies is also part of a pilot drone monitoring study. Previous studies have shown promising results concerning detection of early bark beetle infestations in near the infrared band. Since the most important active measure is to harvest infested trees before the beetles leave the tree, drone monitoring has a potential of reducing the manual cost of detecting damaged trees. Also, if the multispectral images can show an earlier detection than manual efforts, it can save valuable time and increase efficiency.

Photo 4: Larvae of Medetera, note the black ”jaws” with which they attack the bark beetle larvae. Photographer:  Göran Birgersson. Photo 4: Larvae of Medetera, note the black ”jaws” with which they attack the bark beetle larvae. Photographer: Göran Birgersson.
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