The University of Helsinki research stations (RESTAT UHEL) offer excellent logistics and support for research and teaching. With their long history the stations are able to provide long term environmental back-ground data sets from the Baltic Sea to the north of Finland. The stations have modern infrastructure to support a wide variety of research, from field studies to laboratory analyses. Accommodation and catering services make the stay at the stations easy and comfortable. RESTAT UHEL is one of the infrastructure platforms of the Helsinki Institute of Life Science (HiLIFE).
From the stations’ www-pages you can find the core information about the stations, pricing information and the latest news.
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.
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.
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.
Situated in the distant north-western corner of Finland, Kilpisjärvi Biological Station is the youngest of biological field stations of University of Helsinki. The field station was established in 1964 and is famous for its unique location, surroundings and research activities based on long-term monitoring schemes, especially on phenology and population dynamics of the key species in arctic ecosystems.
Since 1986 a field course on subarctic ecology has been a steady part of the stations summer program and one of the most traditional field courses for students of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology. (Well, the first course was held in 1980 but was put to halt for two years because of the stations renovation work). For sure the course structure has seen many changes and co-teachers during its +30 year history, but it is still more or less driven by the field station’s manager, Professor Antero Järvinen, and concentrates on the main characteristics of subarctic nature.
Recently the course has been held for up to 15 students, lasting 10 days during the end of June and the first half of July. The combination of excellent surroundings, introductory and advanced lectures, small-scale course studies and variety of field excursions has made this course one of the most anticipated field courses among the students. Every course is unique, since the students themselves are one of the key contents, as every student gives a presentation, chosen from a list of given topics, in a student seminar or during a field excursion.
The starting point for the course is the conditions that organisms face in these arctic latitudes; how the ecological features and limiting factors shift as the importance of biotic factors (e.g. predation, competition between species) decrease and the importance of abiotic factors (average temperature, extreme variations of weather conditions) increase, how organisms have adapted to cope with the extreme conditions and how to exploit the resources available. Furthermore, the theoretical background highlights the role of key species and, naturally, the long-term changes, both in the climatic conditions and species’ population dynamics.
“The field excursion and teaching species
identification in the field were the best part
of the course.”
But there’s no better way to put theory into practice than sending the students to the field. As a starter, the students collect data for small-scale course works in a small study area nearby the station. The topics have varied, from surveying bird nests to collecting spiders, but the focus is on field methodology, standardizing, sampling and observing the nature from scientific perspective. Step by step, the excursions tend to get broader, from full day hikes to the nearby fells (mountain) or visiting the Norwegian fjords with their own wildlife. The course also visits the bog areas situated 100 km south of Kilpisjärvi, especially the palsa bog areas, introducing the students to another important habitat type of arctic ecosystems.
“Teaching was really inspiring and teachers gave
attention to every student. Each teacher on the
course is a firm expert of one’s own field.”
Species identification is another important aspect on the course. The purpose is to mainly give general education, as different habitats are characterized by their species compositions. Of course, the background and purpose of species identification skills and mastering species communities were dealt with, since knowing the different bird calls or leaf structures can be essential when working with experimental or plain monitoring studies. But “picking up the cool stuff” and highlighting the specialties of this particular region is also important.
For sure every hue and detail cannot be observed during a single course, but it’s also about exciting and inspiring the students. What a way to familiarize a new generation of students for the function of field stations, biodiversity monitoring and scientific examination than offering hands-on experiences and chances to witness the atmosphere of this one-of-a-kind environment. Field courses like this are also important for recruiting new people for the field stations – and field station based teaching also serves its crucial part on university-level education.
“During the field excursions I realized how
unique the nature in this part of Finnish Lapland
really is. Many thanks to the organizers!”
Summer is coming and field activities are increasing at the research stations. In the north there is still a thick cover of snow, but in the south of Finland the students from different faculties and departments are all around, busy with their teachers. Research groups are installing their equipment and starting to execute their fine plans outdoors. The interns have plenty of things on their hands, helping in the research or doing their own research projects.
The University of Helsinki research stations offer excellent logistics and support for research and teaching. With their long history the stations are able to provide long term environmental background data sets from the Baltic Sea to the north of Finland. The stations have modern infrastructure to support a wide variety of research, from field studies to laboratory analyses. Accommodation and catering services make the stay at the stations easy and comfortable.
This blog is all about the happenings at the University of Helsinki research stations. The stations belong to the RESTAT-station network along with the other Universities’ field stations. Five of the stations form also a HiLIFE-network (Helsinki Institute of Life Sciences) for co-operation. You are welcome to follow the activities of Tvärminne Zoological Station, Lammi Biological Station, Hyytiälä Forestry Field Station, Kilpisjärvi Biological Station and Muddusjärvi Research Station in this blog.
A common www-page is also under construction for the stations. When it is ready you good people will be informed here. Have an interesting summer and do not forget to visit here now and then!