2018 Lammi grant

The 2018 Lammi grant is now open for applications right through until March 31st. The grants are available to MSc and PhD students who will be doing research at LBS this year. More information from LBAYS page.

LBAYS logo by Eero Pöyhtäri.
LBAYS logo by Eero Pöyhtäri.

Merry Christmas from LBS

Be ready to identify the mammals we recently found hanging out at the lakeside shelter. One of which is well out of its normal range, but has been known to be spotted in more southern climes around this time of year.

Best viewed with sound on… LBS wishes everyone a merry Christmas season!

Communicating and caring about the Finnish Research stations

From Tvärminne to Kilpisjärvi photo: Niko Nappu 2017).

From 2018 a two-year project, funded by the Nessling Foundation, will create audio-visual content to communicate long-term research carried at Finnish research stations. The responsible of the project is JM Cano, data journalist and science communicator at Outgroup. The goals of the project are providing information about critical environmental issues and create awareness about the irreplaceable role of the research stations.

The project will deal with issues of paramount environmental and economic concern in Finland: the degradation of the Baltic Sea and inland waters, reindeer overgrazing in Lapland, and the loss of forest and peatland habitats with their associated species. All these topics are linked to human-induced climate change and land use, and of special relevance in the context of the current Bio-economy boom policy in Finland.

The information will be disseminated through social medial channels and will consist of videos, infographics and podcasts. This collaborative project aims at activating Finnish society towards the protection of nature and make more approachable the figure of the researchers. To do so, in addition to feature scientific information, the project will show the inside of the research process and portrait the researchers with their motivations and expectations.

We are all people travelling through space on the same planet, we all share needs, concerns and constrains. Evidence about the irreparable loss of ecosystems and biological diversity is out there and the persons uncovering and monitoring it are worth getting to know. Let’s not look aside, let’s mingle, get to know our environment and have a constructive dialogue. Knowing is caring.

Open house at Tvärminne Zoological Station in 2107.

Text & video: JM Cano

Coastal observatory – take a plunge to our under water world

Ålandsbanken, a finnish bank, has funded and supported different projects aiming for a healthier Baltic Sea for some years. This year 126 applications were submitted to the competition called The Baltic Sea Project. Twelve projects were chosen by the judges to proceed to the next stage, public voting. The winner of the voting is guaranteed the funding but usually several of the finalists will get funded.

Tvärminne Zoological Station took part to the competition together with DROPP with an innovative project from which you can read more below. Take a closer look at this and other competing projects and cast your vote today!

BIOPEDA-seminar at LBS

maasto-opetus.fi -portaalin logo

The university teachers of several finnish universities will gather together in the Lammi Biological Station next week (13-15.12.). The BIOPEDA II -workshop & seminar continues the work which started last March in Konnevesi Biological Station. The agenda is to develope the co-operation of the different universities and field stations in the context of teaching biology and related subjects on the field.

The co-operation is seen as a possibility to enhance the quality of teaching, serving the common goals of the academia. Teaching on the field is partly reinforced with the scaffolding use of digital resources. One step in order to reach the goals has been the launch of the internet-portal maasto-opetus.fi. This site will be developed further during the workshop in Lammi. The principal targets of this portal are to offer information to both students and teachers, act as a tool to interact and offer tools for better teaching. For example, the portal will offer ready made instructions how to set up different experiments on courses; the teacher can use these instructions as such, or make minor adjustments according to local conditions.

The schedule and invitation letter (in finnish) is attached. More information from tiina.kolari AT uef.fi.

Welcome to LBS.

[EDIT 19.12.]

The two day workshop at LBS was successful in creating a lot of content to the web site. The mission of the project was also elucidated.


Our mission is to increase the cooperation between teachers and sharing of teaching resources within the Finnish university research network. This will aid both to reduce costs and improve the diversity and quality of courses offered to students, thus increasing the expertise and know-how available in Finland. The university fieldwork website has been created as part of the Kone Foundation funded BIOPEDA project.


The internet portal is still being developed; the material will be edited and uploaded there in the near future. Everyone interested writing new field course works are encouraged. Blank forms for submitting new works will be available soon, until then do not hesitate to contact the project through info AT maasto-opetus.fi. When the portal is ready different language versions will also be launched.

The portal will also provide a channel to share info and / or memories from field courses held. The blog will be updated with regular intervals, but if you want to share something please do so! The blog posts will be published also in our Facebook page.

Stay tuned also for the publication written after the first seminar in Konnevesi, it will be published soon in the Journal ofUniversity Pedagogy.

Biopeda workshop attendants at Lammi biological Station
Biopeda workshop attendants at Lammi biological Station.

Luminous Saana

Saana with lights on, this is how it will look like.

Luminous Finland Saana 4.- 5.12.2017 is a light art event that will be held in honour of the 100th anniversary of Finland’s independence in Kilpisjärvi. Kilpisjärvi’s landmark – the fell Saana – will receive a unique cover of light over its slopes to celebrate the Finnish jubilee year. The unique light art work “Luminous Saana” is part of the Luminous Finland 100 project, which is being implemented and produced by Valoparta Oy and light artist Kari Kola. The lighting up of Saana will begin on 4.12. in the polar light and the lights will go out at midnight on 5.12. The fell will be lit up in celebratory fashion for more than 30 hours.

During the light art event of Saana the Kilpisjärvi Biological Station will organize several events. The mouse museum at Kiekula is open on both days and you are very welcome to the cafeteria at the research station.

More information and the schedule of the event can be found here. We will add here some photos and info after the event.

[EDIT 08.12.]

Summer job in Hyytiälä Forestry Field Station

Hyytiälä introvideo, short version from RESTAT UHEL on Vimeo.

When you are studying Forest Sciences at the University of Helsinki, Hyytiälä Forestry Field Station will become very familiar place for you. Each forestry student spends the first summer there on field courses which last nine weeks from June to August. After the summer, you can (or at least you should be able to) identify different Sphagnum species, measure different variables from trees, use chainsaw etc.

I spent the summer of 2015 in Hyytiälä on field courses. The following year I was lucky and got a summer job as a research assistant on SMEAR II station in Hyytiälä. The three-month-period included many different work tasks like measuring soil moisture, helping to build a new radar and creating new ICOS measuring plots. All in all, the summer was didactic, interesting… and mosquito rich. It was never lonely in the woods when there were hundreds of mosquitoes around. Unfortunately, the mosquitoes didn´t understand that I wanted to work alone…

Finnish Meteorological Institute radar
The radar which was built last summer. The radar is used by the Department of physics (Atmospheric sciences) for their research. Picture: Sini Salko.

In early June, this year, I found myself once again from Juupajoki ready to start my second summer as a research assistant in Hyytiälä. It was much easier to start working because I already knew the places and people. I even got the same room as last summer (which I consider the best one) and great roommates. There were two other summer workers besides me and in my opinion, we were a great team (hopefully they think the same…).

But, even though people and manners were almost the same as before, the work tasks were quite different from last summer. This time I had many works which recurred regularly. Some of them were done once a month, some every other week. It was great to have this kind of a timetable and almost every morning I knew what to do on that day. Of course, many of those tasks didn`t last an entire day and I had quite often many different things to do during the same day.

But what did I do then? Don´t worry, I won´t tell everything I did because that list is too long for one blog text. Instead I will describe some of the routine tasks that I did. One of them was collection of rainwater. There are seven water collectors near the SMEAR station and two little bottles on one tower. The water collectors are like gutters where water runs into a canister. Every other week I changed canisters and bottles and weighed the full ones. Then I took some samples and measured pH and electrical conductivity. The other samples were put into a freezer and will be send to Helsinki for analysis. And what was the highest rainfall during the summer? Well, 16 litres in one canister within two weeks.

The rainwater collection system. The rain runs into a canister via a gutter. Picture: Sini Salko.
The rainwater collection system. The rain runs into a canister via a gutter. Picture: Sini Salko.

Another routine task was litter collection which was done once a month. There are 20 collectors (which means big tubes with cloth bags) around the SMEAR station. Every month I changed the bags and collected all the litter which was inside. The litter was put into small paper bags (total 20 bags) and stayed in the oven for 24 hours. After that the bags were weighed and then started the hardest part: the litter was separated into needles, leaves, cones, bark and other stuff. These samples will be milled in the future and analysed.

There are 20 litter collection tubes around SMEAR II station. Picture: Sini Salko.
There are 20 litter collection tubes around SMEAR II station. Picture: Sini Salko.
The litter falls into a cloth bag which are changed once a month. The yellow leaves tell that autumn is coming. Picture: Sini Salko.
The litter falls into a cloth bag which are changed once a month. The yellow leaves tell that autumn is coming. Picture: Sini Salko.

Besides these two tasks I also did much more. For instance, I measured methane in the forest, carried timber planks on Siikaneva measuring site and cleaned some equipment on a float. These are just few examples. All in all, the summer included many different tasks and I learned once again a lot. Hyytiälä is also a great place to develop your social skills. There are people all over from Finland and the world during the summertime and I met many nice and interesting persons. Not only in Hyytiälä but also on every working place you need to be able to work with people of all kind.

Siikaneva from the air. Picture: Niko Nappu
Siikaneva from the air. Picture: Niko Nappu
The writer is taking some water samples from a dam. This was done only when the dams were leaking. Picture: Sini Salko.
The writer is taking some water samples from a dam. This was done only when the dams were leaking. Picture: Sini Salko.

Well, this was a little summary about my summer job. You may wonder what we summer workers did during the free time. There are many ways to spend your evenings in Hyytiälä. You can pick berries and mushrooms, go for a walk, swim, go for a row or just relax and watch tv or read some nice book. And these are just a few examples. Believe me, like the working days, the evenings went extremely fast too!

Here are some websites that may interest you and give more information:

http://www.helsinki.fi/hyytiala/virtuaalihyytiala/

http://www.atm.helsinki.fi/SMEAR/index.php/smear-ii

http://eng.icos-infrastructure.fi/

Text: Henri Jokinen

Photos: Sini Salko

Openness

Tvärminne Zoological Station arranges a doors open event September 16, at 11 am to 17 pm. Clearly, as the name suggests, the event is directed towards the greater public. For decades, the event has been arranged every 5 years, and this is true also in 2017. The timing and interval allow us to acknowledge every 5 year milestone of the station’s existence, and this year we celebrate the 115th anniversary.

Over the years, it has become clear that the station’s activities are highly interesting to our guests. In fact, each time, one of the most frequent comments is that we should welcome the public more often. As much as we would like to, we unfortunately have to point out that the doors open event ties the resources of personnel and scientists not only that day, but for weeks beforehand, when we make preparations.

Nevertheless, we of course welcome the demand! In fact, last time the demand was so great, that we had about 1 000 visitors! (Keeping in mind that Hanko has only ca 8 000 inhabitants, and the whole region roughly 50 000, this is quite remarkable – in the Helsinki region a similar demand would translate into tens of thousands of visitors!)

Tvärminne Zoological Station from air.
Tvärminne Zoological Station.

We can only guess why there is such a great interest in our activities. One thing would probably be that the topics we study are attractive. For instance, most people who live in a coastal town have some connection to the sea, and hence also are interested in the state of the coastal waters. Also, our research is frequently present in the media, and obviously people want to learn more. I guess our visitors also realize that there is great added value in learning hands on about our studies (from enthusiastic scientists), compared to more passive media content (who wouldn’t prefer to see a live flounder rather than just reading texts and looking at photographs?).

A further added value – which I am not sure the visitors would know beforehand – is the fact that by far not all of our study subjects are presented in media. Especially I would say this goes for basic (but high-level), curiosity driven science. Typically, such topics do not have a direct connection to, say human activity or applied environmental issues. Nevertheless, it is satisfying to see that also these topics are met with great curiosity also by our users, when presented by our motivated scientists. Specifically, I have noted that terrestrial and evolutionary topics get the exposure they deserve, although they are not typically head-line stuff in local media.

I may sound a bit defensive when I suggest that we cannot welcome great numbers of visitors more often. This of course does not take away our responsibility to interact with society in the meantime. And naturally we do! Media was already mentioned – we do not stand on our heads to be available, but it is not far away. Social media are a given. We also welcome large numbers of visitors in smaller groups annually.

Furuskär island just outside the station.
Furuskär island just outside the station.

But can we get better? Sure we can. Quite recently, we have started to put more effort into online data – as pointed out the state of the sea is something that attracts a great interest. This goes hand in hand with both new technologies to collect data, and with an urge from society to make data open and accessible.

This does not come without challenge, however. Even if we can attract funds to buy new instruments, there are at least three additional bottlenecks. Firstly, the instrumentation requires know-how and manpower to be operated. Secondly, the data have to be validated and refined. (Nobody does anything with just a huge amount of numbers.) Thirdly, the output has to be presented in a comprehensive way, and preferably commented upon for interpretation.

Typically, public infrastructure funds have limited or no space for the human resources needed to tackle the above bottlenecks. Here, we have taken the approach that there are also private companies that share our interest in public outreach, albeit from a different standpoint. With regards to the sea, such operators would be shipping companies and harbors, and we have also been fortunate to initialize collaboration with two companies with the sea as the common nominator – namely Viking Line and Port of Hanko. In both companies, there is an understanding on not only the hardware-demand, but also on the bottlenecks that require human resources.

Openness have other sides than meeting demands from the outside. Lastly, therefore, I would like to point out that events such as the doors open also motivate us as researchers. It is nice to shift focus sometimes, and see that our undertakings also attract the interest from the world outside. Society, I think it is called.

Text: Marko Reinikainen, director of Tvärminne Zoological Station

The very important littoral zone from the air.

Mobile nature observations at HiLIFE-stations

In order to introduce mobile data gathering tools, a web browser based visualization service was set up for the stations a few months ago. The service is aimed for any visitor at any of the stations; people can use their mobile devices to record their own nature observations. The observations made are visualized on a map below (fig. 1) in real-time. The idea of this project, besides introducing the tools, is to provide meaningful doing for different groups visiting or staying at the research stations. So far observations have been made by staff, researchers, different courses and sudden visitors.

Fig. 1. The mobile nature observations visualized on a map. A green marker means a positive observation and a red marker means a negative observation.

We used Open Data Kit –tools for data gathering and Google’s services in visualizing the data. All the tools used work seamlessly hand in hand. All the necessary tools have been installed and are available at the stations. Mobile data gathering tools can be used for example both in research and teaching purposes.

Using mobile devices for data gathering has some advantages against traditional field forms. With digital mobile forms, all kinds of data can be gathered simultaneously with one device. Besides of numeric data it’s also possible to record co-ordinates, take photos, record sound etc. With ready-made digital forms and pre-formatted answers to choose from, errors in writing down the data can be minimized. One big advantage is also that the data is sent directly to the server (or a spreadsheet) from the field. The forms work also off-line, which is very important in field conditions, also in a technologically advanced country like Finland there are numerous areas with no mobile data connection available.

Contact Lammi Biological Station for more information on the tools available. The nature observation system is at your disposal if you visit any of the five HiLIFE-stations.

There are also co-operation between Lammi Biological Station and some teachers around Finland. The idea is to use the mobile observation tools in school projects and public science projects.

5097pics / 12fph / 2min 43s

The Muddusjärvi Research Station differs slightly from the other four HiLIFE-stations for not having a large infrastructure and year round activities. The station belongs to the Faculty of Agriculture and Forestry, University of Helsinki and is situated in northern Finland in the village Kaamanen, 25 km from the city of Inari. The station operates with ca. 13 hectares of field and ca. 700 ha of forest and administrates also a 1000 ha lake area. The original purpose was to conduct research to support Lappish agriculture and other subarctic research for the Faculty. Since 1996, the usage of the station has been more or less project based and concentrated to the summer time. There is one permanent employer accompanied by the necessary summer help.

The Inari lowlands are among the best farming areas in the northern Lapland. Fields are situated near the water systems and therefore better sheltered from the frost. The soil is mineral soil ranging from fine sand / moraine to fine silt. The fields are low with organic material and the forests are flat dry coniferous forests. Reindeer are a regular sight.

In a future blog post we will write more about the recent research projects which have been conducted from the Muddusjärvi Research Station. The station provides an excellent base for smaller research activities and the station owned areas makes it easy to set up different experiments.

The title of this blog post comes from this excellent time lapse video from a local Inari based photographer Rauno Koivunen. The video shows the leaving of the ice cover from the lake Muddus which happened quite late this year.