RESTAT staff during a picnic in Lapinsalo island in the lake Konnevesi.
RESTAT staff during a picnic in Lapinsalo island in the lake Konnevesi (photo: Niko Nappu).

Last week staff from the university research stations in Finland (RESTAT) met for the traditional “Station Days”, this time brilliantly hosted by Konnevesi Research Station (University of Jyväskylä). These days provide an opportunity for the staff to get to know each other in a relaxed atmosphere, and to discuss common issues and joint strategies for the future.

The weather favored the station days, food was excellent and everyone got the chance to show his / her skills in the traditional game from eastern Finland and Karelia “Kyykkä” (Finnish skittles). I can’t recall whether the official Kyykkä-champion was ever announced; the ever changing teams and our peculiar ranking system made it fun though.

Team Tvärminne competing for the RESTAT championship in Kyykkä.
Team Tvärminne competing for the RESTAT championship in Kyykkä (photo: Niko Nappu).

The next station days will be hosted by Hyytiälä forestry field station. They don’t have so nice lake side cruise possibilities than Konnevesi station, but there is no doubt in my mind that they will do their very best in organizing the next meeting!

Turku borne cruise ship "M/S Autere" now sailing in the lake Konnevesi.
Turku borne cruise ship “M/S Autere” now sailing in the lake Konnevesi (photo: Niko Nappu).

“Little data, big data, no data” –workshop

"Little data, big data, no data" –workshop (photo: Andrea Botero).
Workshopping with data management plans (photo: Andrea Botero).

INAR RI Ecosystems organised together with MULTICS-project from University of Oulu a data management workshop in Hyytiälä 26th-27th of April. The workshop, titled “Little data, big data, no data  ­̶  Local data management in the era of Research Infrastructures” The workshop introduced local data management issues in the ecological and related scientific fields as well as its place within the emerging larger data landscape. About 30 participants from Finnish and Estonian Universities and Research institutes gathered in Hyytiälä to discuss, learn and share experiences on data management from station to national scale.

The researcher of the Multics project have studied data management of various units including ours during many years, and they provided excellent facilitation for the workshop. International speakers Karen Baker (Multics), Johannes Peterseil (Umweltbundesamt GmbH) and Sue Rennie, (Centre for Ecology & Hydrology, UK) brought perspectives of what data management is and how does is look like, of how data management is coordinated in monitoring network in UK and of influence of European level infrastructure development. In addition, we heard small presentations by participants giving examples of the current state and future plans and needs of data management at sites, research groups and projects. The problems that a data manager, or the person who finds her/himself as the one responsible of it (a data manager is not always clearly nominated) can encounter have a wide range. For example, it is not clear what to do with samples or data that no one knows anymore what it is (retired researchers and their collections). Also, research station know their routine measurements, but how to make the researchers tell what other measurement they are doing.

Data will be the key issue for tomorrow´s researchers. We need to make sure that the valuable, publicly funded data on the research sites are made available and the credits of its utilization goes to the right place. The data management starts from the sites but is reflected far. We, all the researchers and data management need to understand that data without a proper metadata has no value. The minimum requirement related to data management considers the metadata. We need to know what is studied and where, what kind of data is available. It is important to keep discussing on the data management issues to spread the information and help everyone to understand that it is not a must to be avoid but a significant and crucial part of research.

The workshop was successful. It was great to see the willingness to participate actively in discussions and the positive approach that participants have towards improving and developing the data management plans and strategies. The workshop can be seen as a good starting point for continuing the work together, and concrete steps forward were already planned. They include: 1) DEIMS inputs from new sites (and updating the old ones), 2) data management plans on the next RESTAT meeting agenda, and 3) building INAR RI Ecosystems metadata catalogue. We will also start a new email list, so that interested people can continue to receive and give peer support in the data management topics. Let us know, if you would like to join the list.

Text: Terhi Rasilo

Photo: Andrea Botero

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

Summer is coming

Summer is coming and  we are on our way to sample some Crustaceans (Photo: Niko Nappu 2017).
Summer is coming and we are on our way to sample some Crustaceans (photo: Niko Nappu 2017).

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.

Wish me good luck and a large sample of crabs (Photo: Niko Nappu 2017).
Wish me good luck and a large sample of crabs (photo: Niko Nappu 2017).
Northern lapwing (Vanellus vanellus) nests can be tracked with a thermal camera and a drone (photo: Niko Nappu 2017).
Northern lapwing (Vanellus vanellus) nests can be tracked with a thermal camera and a drone (photo: Niko Nappu 2017).

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!