2022 > 03

In fall 2021 a temporary technical workshop was established at Grimsö Wildlife Research Station to develop technology for decreasing the number of traffic accidents involving wildlife. Research and development projects are conducted with project leaders from Grimsö in collaboration with several national and international stakeholders, including, the Swedish Transport Administration, Interreg Sweden-Norway, the Norwegian Institute of Bioeconomy Research (NIMBO), and the Norwegian railway infrastructure BaneNOR. This work is part of a broad range of activities concerning wildlife and traffic, a complex topic with growing importance in recent decades. More information about the project and innovative solutions to reduce wildlife collisions in traffic can be found at Om projektet – Vilt och Trafik.   

Four MASS units, plus energy source, rigged and ready to be put out for tests. Photo: Gunnar Jansson

To find effective measures to prevent wildlife – traffic accidents these projects evaluate the best design for various types of wildlife passages (bridges, tunnels, etc). The current sub-project “Viltvarning vid järnväg” focuses on developing techniques to scare animals away from railroad areas using sounds. This is being explored as an alternative to exclusion fences and wildlife passages, as it has the potential to be a more flexible and less expensive solution, and allows for animals to move more freely through the environment. The new design being tested is called a MASS unit (Movement Activated Scaring System) and uses IR sensors to detect movements, which in turn activate loudspeakers that send out various sounds (horns, voices, etc) at high volume (>70 dB). The units are powered by car batteries and solar panels. This year the equipment is tested along railroads and cameras monitor how animals respond to the sounds.  
The collaborative work among authorities, consultants, and researchers in this project producing the MASS units and the scientific evaluation of their effectiveness is a good example of how SITES stations can be utilized.

A red fox fox (Vulpes vulpes) detected by a MASS at one of the test sites, before and after hearing the sound.

We are excited to welcome Emily Pickering Pedersen, to the Swedish Polar Research Secretariat at Abisko Scientific Research Station.

Emily is a plant and ecosystem ecologist with a strong focus on arctic ecosystems. Her research addresses how arctic plants respond to climate-induced environmental change, specifically focusing on plant-nutrient dynamics, carbon and nitrogen cycling, plant-microbe interactions, and vegetation change in response to permafrost thaw and a warmer climate. Her work has comprised a variety of field-based methods including field manipulation experiments and isotopic labeling, with field sites in western Greenland (Qeqertarsuaq) and northern Sweden (Abisko). She has a background in ecology and environmental science with a B.Sc. from McGill University (CA) and M.Sc. and PhD from the University of Copenhagen (DK).

At Abisko Scientific Research Station, Emily will be taking on the position of administrator and laboratory coordinator. She is looking forward to welcoming and assisting researchers at the station, developing the laboratory and common garden facilities at the research station, and working with outreach and communication. We are excited to have her as part of the SITES team and can't wait to see the interesting research that she facilitates in Abisko!

The staff of Tarfala Research Station are busy preparing for the forthcoming spring season, with station-based operations from March 28 to May 1

The short spring season at TRS is of extreme contrast to the extended summer season. Instead of hiking the 24 km from Nikkaluokta one must use a snow scooter, instead of worrying about mosquitos one must be aware of avalanches and one must be even more prepared for the unpredictable infamous Tarfala weather. Yet spring is an essential time in the Tarfala calendar, representing the beginning of the station’s glacier mass balance programme.
Staff at Tarfala station are aiming to continue the mass balance data series of the four Swedish reference glaciers this year. These are Mårmaglaciären, Riukojietna, Rabots Glaciär and Storglaciären, with the latter representing the longest mass balance record of its type in the world. During the spring season the station staff plan to record the winter mass balance at each, by measuring the amount and distribution of snow fall across all four glaciers, as well as drilling a series of ablation stakes that will form the basis for the coming summer mass balance measures later in the year.
At Tarfala station, the staff are in a key location to contribute to the development of understanding of how glaciers are responding to climate change, especially in an amplified Arctic environment. The strong negative trend in mass balance recorded at the glaciers surrounding the station and other Arctic glaciers greatly impact other research programmes at Tarfala, therefore producing accurate and extensive datasets from the upcoming spring season is of vital importance.

Storglaciären beneath Kebnekaise. Photographer: Karuna Sah
Storglaciären beneath Kebnekaise. Photographer: Karuna Sah

A case study in Krycklan (Svartberget)

A restoration case study called “Beaver re-introduction” is the Swedish contribution to the new EU Green Deal project MERLIN*. The case study will have a before-after design, which means experimental construction as well as removal of 60 beaver dams in Sweden, of which 10 will be located in the Vindeln Catchment including Krycklan (Svartberget Research Station). It is a four-year project and aims to sample two years before the measures (dam construction/removal) and two years of sampling after the measures.

The beaver (Castor fiber), considered a keystone species, recreating new habitats impacting entire landscapes. Photographer: Jörgen Wiklund
The beaver (Castor fiber), considered a keystone species, recreating new habitats impacting entire landscapes. Photographer: Jörgen Wiklund
Wetland area created by beaver dams - changing landscape characteristics. Photographer: Fraucke Ecke Wetland area created by beaver dams - changing landscape characteristics. Photographer: Fraucke Ecke

The studied parameters will be similar in all case studies within the MERLIN project; the focus on beavers as a case study will only be conducted in Sweden. A variety of biota are planned to be sampled as the focus is on biodiversity aspects with elements of potential ecosystem services. Likely parameters to be studied are e.g. fish migration, mitigation of climate change effects (flood and drought resilience, formation of greenhouse gases), methylation of mercury and pathogens (especially Francisella tularensis causing tularemia [Swedish harpest] and Sindbis virus causing Sindbis fever [Swedish Ockelbosjukan] in humans) in beaver systems.

A beaver dam built of logs, branches and sediment. The beaver aims to impound flowing water to create a wetland for it to live in. Photographer: Fraucke Ecke A beaver dam built of logs, branches and sediment. The beaver aims to impound flowing water to create a wetland for it to live in. Photographer: Fraucke Ecke

The MERLIN project as a whole is a ‘research and innovation action’ funded under the European Commission’s H2020 programme that involves 44 partners from across Europe, including universities, research institutes, nature conservation organizations, and stakeholders from businesses, governments and municipalities. The involved partners from Sweden are the Swedish Forest Agency (SFA) and SLU, where SFA is responsible for the construction related work and SLU is the scientific partner of the beaver-reintroduction case study. 
Specific questions on the Swedish case study can be directed to Frauke Ecke - contact mail:

MERLIN is an abbreviation for Mainstreaming Ecological Restoration of freshwater-related ecosystems in a Landscape context: INnovation, upscaling and transformation. MERLIN learns from 17 restoration case studies as best-practice demonstrators in terms of innovative restoration measure types, governance and financing frameworks. With investing more than 10 million € in further hands-on upscaling measures.
Find more information on the project´s webpage:

Ongoing work by SITES spectral uses satellites to give researchers a broad spatial view of vegetation conditions at SITES stations. This work generates data layers describing vegetation productivity and phenology for 20 x 20 km areas. Layer data ready for inclusion in GIS databases will be distributed in analysis-ready format, in the Swedish reference system. The data show the seasonal development of green vegetation and can be useful for monitoring vegetation’s response to variations in weather, human influence, and other factors. Below is an example of an agricultural area at Lönnstorp station, showing annual variations in vegetation productivity between 2017 and 2020. Note the strong decrease in productivity in 2018 in response to the drought.

The data source is the Copernicus HR-VPP, which stems from research at Lund University. You can find more information about the data on the Copernicus website

By 2022, SITES Spectral will generate vegetation productivity and phenology from satellite observations for all SITES stations!

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