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Browsing by study line "Ekologia ja evoluutiobiologia"

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  • Backman, Torgny Richard Jr (2022)
    The intensification of agriculture is one of the main drivers of biodiversity loss worldwide. One of the intensification shifts has occurred from cattle grazing on biodiversity-rich semi-natural grasslands to ceased grazing or grazing on cultivated species-poor grasslands. While the effect of different grazing pressure on biodiversity in semi-natural grasslands has been studied extensively, little is known of how current grazing regimes on cultivated grasslands affect biodiversity and ecosystem services in different farming systems. Here, we investigated how arthropod abundance and potential ecosystem services are related to varying grazing pressure on cultivated grasslands at conventional and organic farms with meat or dairy production. We sampled aerial arthropods with sticky tape traps in four land-use types within the farms. Relative arthropod abundance was derived from the tapes using an imagery analysis, and the numbers of pollinators and predators from 4 taxonomic groups were counted. The results showed no difference in the relative arthropod abundance in relation to grazing pressure, but there was weak evidence for higher predator abundance at low and high grazing pressure. The relative arthropod abundance showed a positive trend in organic farms. However, pollinator abundance was higher in conventional farms, and predator abundance did not differ between farming systems. Land-use type was related to the occurrence of predators and pollinators: both groups had the lowest abundance in farmyards compared to cultivated pastures, silage fields, and cereal crop fields. Predator numbers were also higher in silage fields than in the other land-use types. However, there was no significant interaction between land-use types and farming systems in their effect on the arthropod groups. The results suggest that grazing pressure on cultivated grasslands has a minor or negligible impact on arthropod abundance in the two commonest farming systems. However, the effect of farming systems on relative arthropod abundance might be obscured by low sample sizes, high abundance of only a few species, and other variables not included here, such as the use of manure or pesticides. In addition, pollinators included only two taxonomic groups, potentially leading to results not applicable to all pollinators. Consequently, more large-scale studies with higher sample sizes and the inclusion of arthropod diversity and data on the key on-farm practices and landscape structure are needed to disentangle the relationship between biodiversity and grazing on cultivated grasslands in Finland.
  • Aro, Niilo (2022)
    With the growth and concentration of urban areas, methods for minimizing the impacts of fragmentation and habitat loss on biodiversity are needed. Spatial Conservation Prioritization (SCP) methods, which holistically assess the connectivity of urban areas, provide an effective tool for prioritizing conservation efforts, but producing these analyses require large amounts of high-quality data on e.g., the spatial distribution of biodiversity features in the area. An index-based approach is a simpler way to evaluate the ecological quality of single corridors, and could be a cheaper alternative to SCP methods, especially in cases where prior environmental data is limited or there is a frequent need for new analyses. In this study, I created an index-based method to evaluate the ecological quality and functionality of wildlife corridors. The three-step approach included a literature review on factors affecting the functionality of wildlife corridors as well as the building and testing of the index. The main objective in creating the index was to provide a tool that is easy to use and interpret, and that could be used in decision-making to minimize human impact on nature. The index is based on scientific literature and provides information on the ecological functionality of wildlife corridors in facilitating the dispersal of organisms. From the literature review I identified certain key elements of functionality for wildlife corridors. These elements included sufficient width of the corridor to form an undisturbed core habitat, the absence of barriers and disturbance within the corridor and the connectivity of the corridor habitat itself. When tested on fictitious example corridors, the index was able to differentiate wildlife corridors according to their ecological quality. To further test the index, it was applied on a real-world wildlife corridor located in Uusimaa as a case study. The index was found to be effective on evaluating the ecological functionality of wildlife corridors, but further development needs were also discovered. The most important next steps are to fine-tune the parameter values given to factors hindering dispersal (resistance values) based on an extended literature review, and systematic testing on real-world corridors to spot irregularities and possible mistakes. At its current state the index can be used to identify features that impede or promote the ecological functionality of the corridor, even without extensive prior inventories on the areas’ biodiversity features.
  • Levo, Martti (2023)
    Climate change is applying pressures to plant populations, which must adapt or move to retain fitness. A changing climate highlights the need for us to understand the potential that species possess to evolve in addition to any plastic responses. Approaches that allow the study of contemporary evolution, such as resurrection studies, have the capacity to provide insights into the responses of populations to these changes. In this resurrection experiment, seeds from seven populations of Hypericum perforatum collected from the UK and France, and their historic counterparts, were grown and subjected to four temperature treatments. Three traits were measured and compared between historic and contemporary populations: date of flowering, average seed weight and flower abundance. I found that temperature influenced date of flowering and flower abundance, leading to an overall earlier flowering time and an overall decrease in flower abundance with increase in temperature. The only significant difference between historic and contemporary populations was found in flower abundance - where, whilst flower abundance declined with increasing temperature, contemporary populations produced proportionally more flowers than historic populations per degree of temperature increase. These results suggest that plasticity allows this species to adjust its flowering phenology to retain fitness in warmer conditions but that evolution during the past decades may have selected for a decreased flower abundance at higher temperatures. These findings contribute to our overall understanding of how species have and will react under climate change, as we try to disentangle the roles that plasticity and evolution play in enabling populations to retain fitness under changing conditions.
  • Turunen, Ossi Artturi (2022)
    Life-history decisions, and trade-offs, are affected by resource acquisition, which can vary among individuals, and during the life cycle of an individual. In Atlantic salmon (Salmo salar) many life-history decisions, such as age-of-maturity, are strongly associated with two genomic regions, vgll3 and six6. Previously, these genomic regions have been associated with food acquisition in adult sea-run Atlantic salmon; however, this has not yet been studied in juvenile salmon. Furthermore, population density strongly affects the food availability of juvenile salmon through resource competition. Here, using controlled crosses reared in semi-natural stream conditions, I investigated the effect and relationship of life-history genetics and population density on juvenile Atlantic salmon food acquisition. Stomach contents from 148 juvenile Atlantic salmon were quantified for their prey item composition, total number of prey items and dry weight, and environmental and genetic basis of food acquisition were analysed using mixed effects models. Late maturing six6 genotype fish had higher stomach-content dry weights and fuller stomachs than early maturing individuals, in low densities. Furthermore, low density fish were of better condition and had higher growth rates than high density fish. There was no association between six6 and vgll3 genotypes and food acquisition in high densities. The results support the existing knowledge of the negative effect of increasing population density on juvenile Atlantic salmon growth and condition. Furthermore, the density dependent association of six6 and food acquisition suggest a trade-off between early maturation and maximised food acquisition.
  • Back, Meri (2023)
    Cities are novel and fragmented environments that offer a wide range of habitats and resources for urban dwellers, such as birds. Previous work shows that the size and vegetation structure of urban forest patches and parks play an important role in urban bird abundance and diversity. The aim of the thesis was to find out the role of major urban greenspaces and which local and landscape-scale drivers in the urban greenspace network are influencing bird species richness and composition in the city of Lahti. A breeding bird survey was conducted in Lahti, including 60 survey points and 15 urban greenspaces. A total of 41 bird species were observed, and the most common species were Fieldfare, Common Chaffinch, and Great Tit. On the local-scale, the size of trees was positively correlated with bird species richness, indicating that bigger and older trees support higher bird diversity in urban greenspaces. On the landscape-scale, I found that the size of the greenspace, its distance to the urban continuum border, and the amount of green neighbouring the greenspace were the significant drivers explaining bird species richness. The findings indicate that both local and landscape-scale drivers are significant for urban bird communities in Lahti. Furthermore, to better understand the resources that urban communities need, a comprehensive study of different urban dweller species is important – not just the few sensitive species – to achieve effective management. Urban greenspaces host most of the urban bird species in the city; thus, it is important to preserve these urban greeneries as well as protect the green areas around the city proactively to sustain them while the urban development continues sprawling.
  • Lindgren, Susan (2023)
    Artificial light at night (ALAN) is an emerging environmental problem, originating from e.g. street lightning and infrastructure. It has been found to alter the behavior of many organisms and thereby influence community composition and ecosystem functions. However, most studies on the impact of ALAN on wildlife and the environment have focused on terrestrial ecosystems, while aquatic ecosystems have received less attention, yet are increasingly exposed to artificial light. Gammarus species are amphipods commonly found in freshwater and estuarian ecosystems across Eurasia and North America. They are key components of ecosystems in recycling nutrients and serving as a food source for other species. They are night active and, hence, vulnerable to ALAN. Earlier studies show that ALAN increases their predation risk and induces physiological stress. However, no study has assessed the impact of ALAN on mating behavior, although mating success is a key fitness component that influences population dynamics. Gammarus pulex is a common freshwater detritivore where females are receptive for a short period and males compete for females and then guard them through amplexus, precopulatory guarding. The aim of this master’s thesis was to study if and how ALAN affects the mating behavior of the G. pulex, and if this depends on the presence of male-male competition for females. G. pulex, individuals were collected from a stream in Helsinki and exposed to control (natural light conditions) or ALAN in the absence or presence of male competition, eight treatment combinations in total, for one week under laboratory conditions. In each trial, one female and either one or two males were placed into a tank – in the absence or presence of ALAN – and their behavior recorded for ten minutes, including active time, contact between the sexes, and pair formation and separation. The results show that ALAN influences both night and day mating behaviour, but that the effect depends on the presence of male competition. ALAN had no impact on activity during the night, while male competition decreased it. During the day, ALAN decreased activity, but male competition counteracted and increased activity. Number of contacts between female and male(s) was only impacted by male competition during the night, but by both ALAN and male competition during the day; ALAN reduced contact time during the day in the absence of male competition, while male competition increased contact time. Pair formation was negatively affected by ALAN during the night, while male competition increased formation. Pair separation was higher under ALAN during the day, independent of male competition, but unaffected at night. These results indicate that ALAN causes a carry-over effect, with light conditions during the night influencing mating behaviour during the day. This is most likely through physiological changes incurred during the night because of the artificial light, such as increased stress levels. Further studies should assess how ALAN impacts mating behavior when many individuals are present, as G. pulex is more choosy in mate selection at higher population densities. Follow up studies are also needed to determine if the effect of ALAN depends on the colour of the light, as found for other organisms, as such information is needed in conservation work aiming to reduced negative effects of ALAN on ecosystems through the development of environment friendly lighting systems. Regarding the consequences of the change in mating behaviour when exposed to ALAN, this could alter population dynamics. Given the key ecological role of the species in ecosystems, this could lead to changes in nutrient recycling and the structure of food webs. Considering that the presence and intensity of ALAN is expected to increase in the future, it is of great importance to assess its effects on organisms, not only during the night but also during the day through carry-over effects, as indicated by the present study.
  • Ahti, Ella (2023)
    Carnivores all around the world are struggling as a result of increased anthropogenic activity. In many areas, human-carnivore conflict is a main driver of this struggle, driven by environmental challenges and leading to negative results for both people and the wildlife. The natural habitat of most carnivore species is also disappearing fast, which can lead to population decreases and even local or global extinctions of some of the world’s most recognised carnivores. Carnivores have high ecological and cultural significance, and therefore it is vital to understand how these challenges are affecting the different species in various environments. Even though the struggle of carnivores is widely recognised, it has not been widely studied in all parts of the world. In my thesis I study how large carnivores in Sibiloi National Park, northern Kenya, are responding to a quickly increasing anthropogenic pressure in the area. Together with the Daasanach, camera traps were used near bomas for a timespan of three years to discover which species are still habiting this rapidly evolving landscape. I assumed that because of the different robustness at which different carnivore species are able to respond to environmental changes, the most commonly observed species would be the ones that have previously been often seen in the area by the Daasanach and researchers and exhibit a generalist behaviour towards prey and habitat preferences, such as the spotted hyena (Crocuta crocuta). In total I observed over 20 different mammal species out of which 6 were chosen as the focal carnivore species due to the higher amount of interactions they typically have with the people and their livestock. In addition I focus on the possible ecological and behavioural adaptations of the focal species, especially daily activity patterns near the bomas and seasonal variation of encounter rates. These results help us understand how carnivores have adapted to the changing landscape of Sibiloi where human-carnivore conflict has been increasing in recent years. My first hypothesis is that carnivores have become more nocturnal around the bomas than they would be in a completely natural habitat with little anthropogenic pressure to reduce the risk of being harmed by humans. I also hypothesise that there are more carnivores present during the dry seasons (June-September and January-February) due to the decrease in wild herbivores that forces the carnivores near the bomas. Through statistical analysis I will also study the probability of meeting a carnivore near the bomas. I predict that the frequency at which carnivores approach humans and their livestock will depend on the season and if there are either wild herbivores or livestock nearby. In the end I will discuss what implications the study results can have for the future conservation of Sibiloi National Park and why the discoveries of this study are important for mitigating the increasing conflict between the Daasanach and carnivores.
  • Tuokko, Emmi (2022)
    Nitrogen fixation by Sphagnum mosses in a boreal fen ecosystem Emmi Tuokko Master’s Programme in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology Faculty of Biological and Environmental Sciences University of Helsinki May 2022 Faculty: Faculty of Biological and Environmental Sciences Degree programme: Master’s Programme in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology Study track: Ecology and Evolutionary Biology Author: Emmi Tuokko Title: Nitrogen fixation by Sphagnum mosses in a boreal fen ecosystem Level: Master’s thesis Month and year: May 2022 Number of pages: 34 pages + 4 appendix pages Keywords: nitrogen fixation, Sphagnum, boreal fen, acetylene reduction, diazotroph Supervisor: Dr. Juha Mikola Where deposited: HELDA – Digital Repository of the University of Helsinki Abstract: Ecosystems in the North are heavily constrained by nitrogen (N) and the main pathway of N for plants is biological N2 fixation by Sphagnum mosses. Mosses fix N with either free-living, associated or symbiotic diazotrophs and convert it to a plant-accessible form. This way N2 fixation contributes significantly to the level of photosynthesis and carbon sequestration that these ecosystems can maintain. However, diazotrophs are exposed to large fluctuations in abiotic factors and earlier findings have suggested that to affect the rate of N2 fixed. Only a few studies have focused on boreal Sphagnum-dominated fens and thus, I wanted to figure out what environmental factors control N2 fixation activity in this habitat type. Most of the N2 fixing bacteria are heterotrophs but also methanotrophs have been shown to participate in N2 fixation. Therefore, I tested if methane (CH4) flux was connected to N2 fixation activity. As N is a necessary nutrient for plants, I also wanted to see whether the variation in N2 fixation can explain the variation in plant growth and productivity and on the other hand, if the productivity can explain the rate of N2 fixation by providing more energy. To test these interactions, we established the acetylene reduction assay (ARA) on a fen in Northern Finland to measure, how much N2 is fixed. We also recorded environmental factors (soil moisture, soil temperature, air temperature, relative humidity and radiation), measured CO2 and CH4 fluxes and calculated vascular plant coverage and Sphagnum growth from 20 study plots. I expected to find a correlation especially between soil moisture and N2 fixation because earlier studies have shown it to control the fixation activity the most. I found out that leaf area index (LAI) of vascular plants was explained by N2 fixation. This is a significant finding because it has not been proved before. It supports the earlier findings about the connection between N2 fixation and vascular plant photosynthesis. I also discovered that radiation (PAR) and potential gross primary production (GPP1200) explained the variation in N2 fixation in the first measurement. This shows the dependency of N2 fixation on the energy that photosynthesis provides. Contrary to my predictions, none of the other factors explained N2 fixation or were explained by N2 fixation. Further studies about moss-associated N2 fixation are needed especially in the light of future changes in climate and N deposition. Tiedekunta: Bio- ja ympäristötieteellinen tiedekunta Koulutusohjelma: Ekologian ja evoluutiobiologian maisteriohjelma Opintosuunta: Ekologia ja evoluutiobiologia Tekijä: Emmi Tuokko Työn nimi: Rahkasammalten typensidonta boreaalisessa suoekosysteemissä Työn laji: Maisterin tutkielma Kuukausi ja vuosi: 5/2022 Sivumäärä: 34 sivua + 4 sivua liitteitä Avainsanat: typensidonta, rahkasammal, boreaalinen, suo, ARA, diatsotrofi Ohjaaja: Dr. Juha Mikola Säilytyspaikka: HELDA - Helsingin yliopiston digitaalinen arkisto Tiivistelmä: Pohjoisen ekosysteemit ovat erittäin typpirajoitteisia, ja kasvit saavat suurimman osan typestä rahkasammalten biologisen typensidonnan kautta. Sammalet sitovat typpeä joko vapaana elävien tai symbionttisten diatsotrofien välityksellä ja muuttavat typen kasvien käytettävissä olevaan muotoon. Tätä kautta typensidonta vaikuttaa merkittävästi koko ekosysteemin fotosynteesin ja hiilensidonnan tasoon. Diatsotrofit ovat kuitenkin alttiita abioottisten tekijöiden suurelle vaihtelulle, ja aikaisemmat tutkimukset ovat todenneet sen vaikuttavan typensidonnan tasoon. Vain harvat näistä tutkimuksista ovat keskittyneet boreaalisiin minerotrofisiin soihin, joilla rahkasammalet dominoivat, joten halusin selvittää, mitkä ympäristötekijät kontrolloivat typensidonnan aktiivisuutta tällaisessa elinympäristössä. Suurin osa typpeä sitovista bakteereista on heterotrofeja, mutta myös metanotrofien on osoitettu osallistuvan typensidontaan. Sen vuoksi halusin tutkia, onko metaanivuo yhteydessä typensidonnan tasoon. Typen ollessa välttämätön ravinne kasveille halusin myös nähdä, voiko vaihtelu typensidonnan tasossa selittää kasvien kasvua ja tuottavuutta, ja toisaalta, voiko tuottavuus selittää typensidonnan vaihtelua tarjoamalla sille lisää energiaa. Testataksemme näitä yhteyksiä mittasimme typensidontaa asetyleenin pelkistysmenetelmällä Halssiaavalla Sodankylässä. Mittasimme myös ympäristötekijöitä (maan kosteus, maan lämpötila, ilman lämpötila, suhteellinen kosteus, säteily), hiilidioksidi- ja metaanivuota, putkilokasvien peittävyyttä ja rahkasammalten kasvua 20 tutkimusruudulta. Odotin löytäväni korrelaation erityisesti typensidonnan ja maan kosteuden väliltä, sillä aikaisemmat tutkimukset ovat todenneet kosteuden olevan merkittävin typensidontaa säätelevä tekijä. Sain selville, että typensidonta selitti ruutujen välistä vaihtelua putkilokasvien lehtipinta-alassa. Tämä on tärkeä löydös, sillä yhteyttä ei olla todistettu aiemmin. Tulos tukee aiempia löydöksiä typensidonnan ja putkilokasvien fotosynteesin yhteydestä toisiinsa. Ensimmäisten mittausten tulokset osoittivat, että säteily ja potentiaalinen bruttoperustuotanto selittivät typensidontaa. Tämä todistaa typensidonnan riippuvuuden fotosynteesin tarjoamaan energiaan. Vastoin odotuksiani muut tekijät eivät selittäneet typensidontaa, eikä typensidonta selittänyt niitä. Lisätutkimukset sammalten typensidonnasta ovat tarpeen erityisesti ilmastonmuutoksen ja lisääntyvän typpilaskeuman valossa.
  • Pietikäinen, Tia-Marie (2021)
    Ihmisten aiheuttama ympäristönmuutos nähdään nykyään joka puolella maailmassa. Haitallisimmat ihmisperäiset vaikutukset ovat elinympäristöjen heikkeneminen, häviäminen ja pirstoutuminen. Muutokset eliöiden ympäristössä vaikuttaa väistämättä niiden elinympäristönvalintaan. Monien eliölajien ohella myös lepakoiden on havaittu herkistyneen ympäristön muutoksen, erityisesti vanhojen metsien häviämisen, vaikutuksille. Tästä syystä ne toimivatkin oivina tutkimuskohteina ympäristönmuutoksen vaikutusten selvittämisessä. Tutkimuksessa selvitin Suomessa yleisesti tavatun lepakkolajin, pohjanlepakon (Eptesicus nilssonii), elinympäristönvalintaa ihmisen muokkaamassa ympäristössä sekä luonnontilaisessa ympäristössä. Tutkimuksessa otettiin huomioon erilaiset ympäristömuuttujat mutta myös kauden sisäinen vaihtelu aktiivisuudessa eri kuukausien välillä. Tutkimusalueeksi rajattiin koko pääkaupunkiseudun kattava 400 km2 kokoinen alue, joka kattoi osan Helsingistä, Vantaasta sekä Espoosta. Koko tutkimusalue jaettiin viiteen ympäristöluokkaan: vanha metsä, talousmetsä, maatalousalue, esikaupunkialue ja kaupunkialue, joiden jokaisen oli tarkoitus edustaa erilaista ihmisperäistä ympäristönmuutosta. Tutkimuksessa oletettiin, että ympäristöluokista esikaupunki olisi ollut eniten käytetty ympäristöluokka ja kaupunki sen sijaan vähiten käytetty. Lepakoiden aktiivisuuden seuranta toteutettiin bioakustista ääniaineistoa keräämällä AudioMoth-passiividetektoreja käyttäen. Tutkimuksen tilastoanalyysit koostuivat kahdesta pääanalyysistä: spatiotemporaalinen analyysi sekä ympäristöanalyysi. Analyyseillä pyrittiin selvittämään pohjanlepakon riippuvuutta habitaatista sekä erilaisista ympäristömuuttujista. Spatiotemporaalisessa analyysissä aktiivisuudessa havaittiin eroja ympäristöluokkien ja kuukausien välillä. Ympäristöluokista vanhoissa suojelluissa metsissä aktiivisuus oli kaikkein suurinta. Lepakkoaktiivisuus oli korkeimmillaan elokuussa. Ympäristöanalyysiin valituista ympäristömuuttujista rakennusten lukumäärä, lehtipuiden latvuspeittävyys ja etäisyys vesistöön vaikuttivat pohjanlepakon aktiivisuuteen eniten. Tulokset viittaavat siihen, että pohjanlepakko kykenee käyttämään hyvinkin moninaisia elinympäristöjä, mutta hieman vaihtelevalla intensiteetillä. Kuitenkin vähintään yhtä merkittävä, ellei jopa merkittävin aktiivisuuteen vaikuttava tekijä oli oletettavasti kauden sisäinen vaihtelu ympäristössä sekä pohjanlepakon käyttäytymisessä. Tulosten perusteella vanhoja suojeltuja metsiä voidaan pitää tärkeimpänä elinympäristönä pohjanlepakolle. Sen sijaan esikaupunkialueet voitaisiin alhaisen aktiivisuuden perusteella nähdä vähiten sopivaksi elinympäristöksi pohjanlepakon kannalta. Vaikka tulokset vahvistavat käsitystä siitä, että pohjanlepakko kykenee esiintymään myös alueilla, joissa ihmisperäinen häiriö on vahvasti läsnä korostavat ne lepakoiden kannalta tärkeiden habitaattien, kuten vanhojen suojeltujen metsien, säilyttämisen merkitystä.
  • Heidbreder, Patrick (2022)
    Hybridization between species is widespread across the tree of life and plays a role in adaptation, speciation and evolution. A critical component of hybridization is the compatibility of the combining genomes. Mechanisms that create incompatibilities, such as transposable element (TE) activity, are thus central to understanding and predicting the evolutionary effects of hybridization. The genomic shock hypothesis posits a burst of TE activity in hybrid genomes due to the uncoupling of TEs and their silencers. While many studies on this topic have focused on laboratory hybrids, there is relatively little data for wild hybrid populations, especially in non-model species. Here, I take advantage of a recent (< 50 generations ago), natural, and replicated hybridization events between two wood ant species, Formica aquilonia and F. polyctena, to test for increased TE abundance in hybrids. Analyses of whole genomes (N total = 99) from both parental species and three hybrid populations revealed significantly more total TE copies in all hybrid populations compared to each parental species, and this partly remained after controlling for genome size, suggesting TE reactivation in the hybrids. LINE, DNA, and LTR elements, as well as multiple new and unclassified repeats, contributed most to the observed increase. However, I also found concurrent increases in satellite DNA copies in hybrids, suggesting heterochromatin expansion after hybridization. So while the observed TE-copy number increase I have detected is consistent with the genomic shock hypothesis, additional work is required to demonstrate and fully characterize TE reactivation in hybrids. Overall my work contributes to our understanding of the effects of hybridization on TE reactivation, satellite DNA abundance, and genome size evolution in natural populations.
  • Hämäläinen, Lotta (2023)
    Norway rats are common commensal species across the world. Despite their long history with humans, the ecology of urban rats is still relatively unknown. Which is why in my thesis, I model the population dynamics of wild urban rats of Helsinki using trap data from a professional pest management company. To protect the privacy of the company’s customers, the data are on the scale of postal code areas. Using a generalized linear mixed model, I investigate several different factors that might affect rat populations. As the data come from a pest management company, trapping factors need to be considered. Other factors include environmental, such as the proportion of parks or the type of sewer present in the postal code area. But as urban rats live in cities, anthropogenic factors such as human density and income matter too. In the span on seven and half years, 8 415 rats were trapped all across Helsinki, in some places more than others. Of all the factors only the trapping factors along with household median income were significant. Median income was negatively associated with trapped rats, so more rats were trapped in areas with lower income. Future studies should try to uncover for what unknown factor income acts as a proxy for.
  • Rossinyol Fernàndez, Aina (2023)
    Driven by the growing world population and increased food demand, the conversion of natural habitats into agricultural lands is occurring at an unprecedented rate. This is in turn the leading driver of the current biodiversity crisis, particularly in tropical forest areas characterised by prominent species diversity. Due to an accelerating cash-crop expansion, the once forest-savannah landscape of Northern Guinea-Bissau is now notably occupied by cashew orchards, in addition to scattered forest patches and floodable rice paddies. So far, it remains unknown how these kinds of human-modified landscapes can sustain mammal species over contrasting seasons, and how the habitat use varies across feeding guilds. To address this gap, this study aimed to understand how medium-sized mammals make use of mosaic-like landscapes in Northern Guinea-Bissau by considering the interactive effects of (1) habitat type: forest patch, cashew orchard and rice paddy and (2) season: before (June-July 2022) and after (October-November 2022) the peak of the rainy season. To do so, in each of the two seasons we conducted a 30-day consecutive camera-trap survey across seven landscapes, each of which comprised the three habitat types, amounting to 21 sampling sites. I evaluated mammal species richness, abundance (number of records) and composition across habitat types and seasons at the assemblage-level and discussed the species-specific habitat dependency. I further analysed species abundance across four feeding guilds: carnivores, insectivores, herbivores and omnivores. Based on a sampling effort of 1200 camera-trap days and 940 records, I identified 21 mammal species from 10 families and five orders. At the assemblage-level, species richness and abundance were similar between habitat types, but higher after the peak of the rainy season, except for rice paddies. Forest and cashew habitats shared similar species composition, which differed from rice paddies. Habitat-dependent species were found in each of the habitat types. At the feeding guild-level, in both seasonally periods carnivores and insectivores were less abundant in cashew orchards, while omnivores were more abundant. The results demonstrate that habitat conversion is likely to disrupt the functional structure of mammal assemblages. Maintaining heterogeneous landscapes, including both forested and open-area habitats, is crucial to maximize the integrity of mammal assemblages in Northern Guinea-Bissau. These findings can be used as baseline information in effective conservation measures in Guinea-Bissau and other tropical regions undergoing rapid conversion for cashew cultivation.
  • Razumov, Vitali (2022)
    Climatic cycles lead to changes in habitat suitability, which in turn can lead to allopatry, i.e. isolation, between populations. Lack of gene flow between allopatric populations causes them to diverge through accumulation of genetic differences that can create incompatibilities between lineages upon secondary contact in the form of lowered survivability or reproduction rate in hybrids. Incompatible genes act as reproductive barriers and keep lineages isolated by selection against hybrids, while gene flow and recombination work as a counterforce to selection promoting admixture. Reproductive barriers like these are most often found inside hybrid zones and are well demonstrated in nature, but the isolating effect of individual genetic incompatibilities on genome-wide gene flow is still an open question. Here we test if selection counteracting gene flow maintains a narrow hybrid zone between two subspecies of the meadow grasshopper Pseudochorthippus parallelus. We targeted 0,01 % of the 13 GB genome, recovering a 29,1 mean coverage per locus per individual in targeted regions, when mapping against a transcriptome. We find that, for the nuclear markers, the hybrid zone is narrower than expected under a neutral scenario of no selection, suggesting that it is maintained by selection against hybrids. We also find significant isolation by distance, suggesting gene flow across the hybrid zone despite selection against hybrids. Different parts of the genome show significant excess or deficit of heterozygotes, suggesting that selection and gene flow are heterogeneous throughout the genome. Combined, our results show that reproductive isolation between recently diverged lineages can evolve quickly despite gene flow in neutral and positively selected sites.
  • Sen, Mihika (2023)
    With growing fragmentation of elephant habitats across the world, elephants are coming in closer contact with humans, leading to increasing human-elephant conflict over limited space and resources. Laikipia county in Kenya represents one such region where conflict with elephants has been (and continues to be) a widespread problem, stemming from intense land-use zoning since the 1970s. This conflict mainly takes the form of crop raiding by elephants in community farmlands adjoining conservation areas. Electric fencing has been the widely used conflict management tool in the region to prevent elephants from entering croplands. However, the establishment of electric fences can often have hidden political underpinnings, both caused by and resulting in conflicting interests of different land users. As human-elephant conflict is multidimensional, it is essential to incorporate both human and wildlife dimensions when assessing the effectiveness of electric fences in conflict mitigation. While there is a growing body of research on the ecological effects of electric fences, the role of social perceptions in long-term fence effectiveness is often neglected. In this study, I therefore conducted a combined social and ecological assessment of electric fences in Laikipia. For this, I evaluated the perceptions of three local communities (Mutara, Ex Erok and Lorien) towards two major electric fences in Laikipia: the West Laikipia Fence and the Lorien Community Fence. I conducted 188 individual interviews with farmers (and opportunistically pastoralists) in all three communities, comprising questions on demographics, human-elephant conflict, electric fences, and involvement of communities in fence management. I then combined this information with data on fence breaking and crop raiding behaviour of elephants to effectively inform electric fence management strategies in the region. First, I looked at changes in the perceptions of Mutara and Ex Erok between 2016-2022, following upgrades made to the West Laikipia Fence after 2016, through a comparison of results with previous research. Second, I investigated potential factors influencing community perceptions towards fence effectiveness. Third, I mapped fence break and crop raiding hotspots in the three communities. And fourth, I determined the environmental factors affecting crop raiding intensity. Both Mutara and Ex Erok showed more positive perceptions towards fence effectiveness in 2022 as compared to 2016. The main factor found to influence fence perceptions was community involvement in fence management. Communities involved in fence management had more positive fence perceptions than those with no involvement. Crop raiding hotspot mapping revealed that some areas within each community were more affected by crop raiding than others. Fence break hotspot mapping identified fence sections of the West Laikipia Fence more prone to breakages by elephants. Finally, crop raiding intensity in a given farm was found to be strongly affected by the diversity of crops grown there, and weakly by its distance from the nearest roads and electric fences. My results therefore contribute to a better understanding of patterns of crop raiding and fence breakages of elephants in Laikipia. My findings highlight the importance of including sociological data from local communities in assessments of electric fence effectiveness, and also provide empirical evidence on the importance of involving local communities in electric fence management. The findings from this study can serve as a reference to relevant stakeholders for future improvements in electric fence management in Laikipia and elsewhere.
  • George Varghese, Mebin (2021)
    The Glanville fritillary (Melitaea cinxia) butterfly inhabiting the fragmented meadows and pastures in the Åland Islands, Finland, has a classic metapopulation structure: its long-term persistence depends on frequent re-colonization events counter-balancing the extinctions of local populations. The spatial structure and the temporal dynamics of the metapopulation are likely to influence genetic variation within and among local population networks. With high population turnover, population declines accelerate genetic drift, potentially leading to a reduction in neutral genetic diversity. This loss is likely to be counteracted with immigration bringing in new alleles especially in well-connected populations. Dispersal has indeed been shown to be a key mechanism in maintaining genetic variation and adaptive potential in fragmented landscapes. In my MSc-thesis, I am utilizing long-term monitoring and genetic data collected from semi-independent networks from the main Åland region (Saltivik) and from two isolated island networks Föglö and Sottunga. Specifically, I investigate how genetic variation varies in time and space, in relation to demographic change and whether the responses vary among well- and poorly-connected networks and/or between island and mainland networks. My results showed that the total number of nests fluctuated in all the networks across time. Heterozygosity appeared to track the changes in population abundance but this tracking varied among the networks. Although connectivity did not explain the change in heterozygosity during the decline years, allele frequencies shifted over time and the speed of change in allele frequencies differed among networks.
  • Kangasniemi, Riku (2023)
    Grasslands occur on every continent except Antarctica and are a key part of agricultural and urban landscapes in many parts of the world. In Finland, many of the grassland species are threatened nowadays. Fragmentation, worsening quality and shrinking area of habitats are the biggest threats to grassland species. Many grassland plants, however, can be found in urban habitats such as road verges, different meadows and rocky outcrops. Suitable urban habitats could be important for these species if the degradation of their habitats continues elsewhere. Indicator species could provide information about the ecological quality of urban habitats and thus the suitability for grassland specialists. My aim for this thesis was to determine how indicator species can be used to assess the ecological quality of urban grasslands by answering the following research questions: 1. Does habitat type affect the abundance and occurrence of known quality indicator species of semi-natural grasslands? 2. Which species are characteristic to different urban grassland habitat types? 3. How different sites relate to each other in terms of vegetation? 4. How do the measures used to answer the other three questions compare together? I collected vegetation data from 28 study sites in the cities of Espoo, Helsinki and Vantaa, southern Finland. In addition, a dataset consisting of 116 sites from these cities, collected by another person, was included here. The study sites were divided into eight habitat types: dry and mesic landscape grasslands, dry and mesic road verges, dry and mesic valuable grasslands, rocky outcrops and valuable rocky outcrops. From all study sites, I collected a list of plant species observed within a standardized time frame by doing an on-site vegetation inventory. In addition, I observed the frequencies of plant species within 1 x 1 m vegetation quadrats. I used one-way ANOVA and Tukey-Kramer test as well as Welch’s ANOVA and Games-Howell test to study the effect of habitat type on abundance and occurrence of semi-natural grassland indicator species. I used IndVal to identify which species are indicators for the habitat types and their combinations. I used NMDS to study the grouping of different habitat types and their species. Habitat type affects the abundances and occurrences of semi-natural grassland indicator species in urban settings and these species can be used in evaluation of the ecological quality of urban grasslands. Indicator species produced from observed data seem to have a limited potential in evaluating the ecological quality of urban grasslands, but they provide a good method for classifying urban grassland habitats, especially valuable rocky outcrops and valuable grasslands. Study sites do form groups according to their vegetation, but these groups do not entirely follow the habitat type division used in the study. With right standardization for the use, indicator species can be a valuable tool in assessing the ecological quality of urban grasslands.
  • Valanne, Valeria (2023)
    Urbanisation is rapidly increasing, along with the use of artificial lighting, which poses a growing threat to wildlife, especially nocturnal fauna. Bats are nocturnal mammals that prey on light-sensitive insects, making them particularly vulnerable to the effects of artificial light sources. Responses to artificial lights vary among bat species, with some being strongly repelled while others appear to benefit from them. However, little attention has been given to the impact of light pollution on bats in northerly latitudes, where bright summer nights may influence the effects of artificial light on these animals. In my thesis I compared the presence of bats in artificially illuminated and unilluminated areas in urban parks in Southern Finland. To see the effect of bright nights in the early summer I collected acoustic data during two time periods: bright early summer (June), and dark late summer (August). My aim was to determine if different bat species respond differently to artificial light, if lamp type affects their response, and how natural light influences their activity patterns. I found that northern bats (E. nilssonii) were drawn to street lights in both early and late summer, and they seemed to prefer HPS (high-pressure sodium) lamps to LED (light emitting diode) lamps. Conversely, more light shy bats from the genus Myotis strictly avoided street lamps at all times. The strongest effect of natural light on bats was observed on their activity patterns: the timing of peak activity shifted considerably along with changes in natural light conditions. My results indicate possible changes in the responses of nocturnal wildlife to the changes in spectral composition of illumination along with increasing popularity of LEDs. The significant differences in the responses of different bat taxa to illumination highlight the importance of conservation of dark spaces and times.
  • Stigell, Eveliina (2022)
    Talousmetsissä on huomattavasti vähemmän lahopuuta kuin luonnontilaisissa metsissä. Noin 25 % metsälajeista on riippuvaisia lahopuusta, ja lahopuun väheneminen on syynä monen lajin uhanalaisuuteen. Talousmetsiin on luotu lisää lahopuuta tekopökkelöiden avulla. Tekopökkelöitä tehdään harvennus- tai päätehakkuissa katkaisemalla puu noin 1–5 m korkeudelta. Tekopökkelöiden teko on yleistynyt 1990-luvulta lähtien, mutta niitä hyödyntävää lajistoa, etenkin lintuja, on tutkittu Suomessa vasta vähän. Tutkin, mitkä lintulajit käyttävät teko- ja luonnonpökkelöitä ja eroavatko niiden lajistot toisistaan. Lisäksi tutkin, millaisia pökkelöitä linnut käyttävät. Keräsin tutkimusaineistoni Viitasaarelta Keski-Suomesta tuoreilta päätehakkuilta, vanhoilta päätehakkuilta ja harvennushakkuilta. Laskin yhteensä 78 tekopökkelöstä ja 69 luonnonpökkelöstä (puulajeina kuusi ja koivu) lintujen syönnösjälkien ja pesäkolojen määrän sekä määritin ne tehneet lajit. Mittasin myös pökkelöistä ja tutkimuskuvioista ympäristömuuttujia selvittääkseni, millaisia pökkelöitä linnut käyttävät. Tutkimuskuvioilla ja niiden lähistöllä suoritettiin lisäksi lintujen linjalaskennat, jotta pystyin vertaamaan, eroavatko tutkimuskuvioiden lintulajiston laji- tai parimäärät lähialueen lintulajistosta. Vertasin tutkimusalueen linjalaskenta-aineistoa myös pohjoisen Keski-Suomen lintujen vakiolinjalaskenta-aineistoon saadakseni tietää, eroaako tutkimusalue yleisesti pohjoisen Keski-Suomen lintulajistosta laji- tai parimäärän suhteen. Käytin tilastollisissa analyyseissä lineaarisia sekamalleja ja yleistettyjä lineaarisia sekamalleja. Tutkimukseni perusteella linnut käyttävät tekopökkelöitä pesintään ja ruokailuun. Suurin osa syönnösjäljistä ja koloista oli tikkojen tekemiä, todennäköisesti käpytikan. Pökkelötyypillä (teko- tai luonnonpökkelö) ei ollut tilastollisesti merkitsevää yhteyttä pökkelön syönnösjälkien tai pesäkolojen määrään. Pökkelöllä oli tilastollisesti merkitsevästi enemmän syönnösjälkiä, kun pökkelö oli korkeampi, paksumpi, pidemmälle lahonnut, kaarnan peittävyys oli alhaisempi tai pökkelö sijaitsi lähellä metsän reunaa. Kolojen määrä oli tilastollisesti merkitsevästi suurempi, kun pökkelö oli korkeampi, paksumpi tai kun metsäkuviolla oli vähemmän maalahopuuta. Kolojen tai syönnösjälkien määrään ei vaikuttanut tilastollisesti merkitsevästi se, sijaitsiko pökkelö harvennushakkuulla vai päätehakkuulla säästöpuuryhmässä, keskellä päätehakkuuta tai päätehakkuun reunassa. Linjalaskennoissa tutkimuskuvioiden lintulajisto ei eronnut laji- tai parimäärältään lähialueen linnustosta. Tutkimusalueen lintulajisto ei myöskään poikennut pohjoisen Keski-Suomen linnustosta lajimäärältään, joten tuloksiani voi pitää yleistettävissä laajemminkin. Parimäärät olivat tutkimusalueen laskentalinjoilla alhaisempia, koska linjat olivat lyhyempiä kuin vakiolinjat. Tulosteni perusteella linnut hyötyvät eniten korkeammista ja paksummista tekopökkelöistä, jotka sijaitsevat lähellä metsän reunaa. Ajan myötä pökkelön lahotessa siitä tulee paremmin lintujen käyttöön soveltuva.
  • Sutinen, Suvi (2023)
    Metsätalouden seurauksena lahopuu on vähentynyt Suomen metsissä ja siten useat lahopuusta riippuvaiset lajit ovat päätyneet uhanalaisiksi. Lahopuun määrän lisäämiseksi metsähakkuiden yhteydessä on alettu jättämään säästöpuita ja tekopökkelöitä. Tekopökkelöt hyödyttävät lahotessaan lahopuusta riippuvaisia lajeja, kuten kolopesiviä myrkkypistiäisiä. Kolopesivät myrkkypistiäiset rakentavat pesänsä yleensä kovakuoriaisten puiden runkoihin kaivamiin koloihin. Tässä tutkimuksessa selvitettiin, millaista myrkkypistiäislajistoa tekopökkelöt tukevat, millaiset ja miten sijoitetut tekopökkelöt ovat hyödyllisimpiä myrkkypistiäisille, onko tekopökkelön vai ympäristön laatu merkittävämpää myrkkypistiäisille ja eroavatko eri ekologisten ryhmien (mesipistiäiset, petoina elävät myrkkypistiäiset ja pesäloiset) myrkkypistiäiset pesäpaikkavaatimuksiltaan. Tutkimuksen aineisto kerättiin kesällä 2021 Keski-Suomessa Viitasaarella, kuusivaltaisilta eri tavoin käsitellyiltä metsäkuviolta. Kuvioista kahdeksan oli harvennuksia, tuoreita päätehakkuita kahdeksan ja vanhoja päätehakkuita kymmenen. Tekopökkelöiden myrkkypistiäislajistoa tutkittiin keinopesien avulla. Keinopesät koostuivat muoviputkilosta, jonka sisällä oli eri kokoisia järviruo’on (Phragmites australis) korsia, monenlaisten myrkkypistiäislajien houkuttelemiseksi. Keinopesiä kiinnitettiin yhteensä 120 kappaletta teko- ja luonnonpökkelöihin, sekä kantoihin. Puulajeina oli kuusi ja koivu, sekä yksi haapa. Pökkelöistä ja metsäkuvioilta mitattiin niiden laatua kuvaavia muuttujia. Keinopesät olivat maastossa keväästä syksyyn, jolloin ne haettiin säilytykseen ulkovarastoon. Keinopesät siirrettiin huoneenlämpöön alkuvuonna 2022 pistiäisten aikuiseksi kehittymisen vauhdittamiseksi. Korret avattiin ja aikuiset myrkkypistiäiset tunnistettiin pesittäin lajilleen mikroskooppia apuna käyttäen. Tilastolliset analyysit suoritettiin R-Studiolla. Yksilö- ja lajimäärän muutoksia suhteessa selittäviin muuttujiin arvioitiin yleistetyillä lineaarisilla sekamalleilla (GLMM). Selittävinä muuttujina toimivat lämpötila, pökkelön korkeus, kaarnan peittävyys, alustan tyyppi, puulaji, lahopuun määrä, ravintokasvien määrä, hakkuutyyppi, pökkelön sijainti ja pesäkolojen määrä. Myrkkypistiäislajiyhteisöjen erilaisuutta arvioitiin NMDS-analyysillä. Sen avulla havainnollistettiin lajiyhteisöjen erilaisuutta eri hakkuutyyppien välillä. Keinopesistä löydettiin kolopesiviä myrkkypistiäisiä ja niiden myrkkypistiäispesäloisia yhteensä yli 3000 yksilöä. Petoina eläviä myrkkypistiäisiä löytyi eniten harvennusmetsistä, joissa oli alhaisempi lämpötila kuin tuoreilla ja vanhoilla päätehakkuilla. Mesipistiäisiä, jotka ruokailevat sekä toukka että aikuisvaiheessa medellä ja siitepölyllä, löytyi eniten tuoreilta ja vanhoilta päätehakkuilta. Näillä kuvioilla oli korkeamman lämpötilan lisäksi aurinkoisempaa ja enemmän ravintokasveja kuin harvennusmetsissä. Kaikkia myrkkypistiäisiä löytyi eniten korkeilta pökkelöiltä, joiden rungoilla oli vain vähän kaarnaa. Myrkkypistiäiset suosivat enemmän teko- ja luonnonpökkelöitä kuin kantoja. Pökkelön ympäristön ominaisuudet olivat kuitenkin tärkeämpiä kuin pökkelön ominaisuudet niin lajimäärälle kuin yksilörunsaudelle. Koska eri ekologisten ryhmien lajit suosivat erilaisia elinympäristöjä, tekopökkelöitä kannattaa jatkossakin tehdä sekä pääte- että harvennushakkuiden yhteydessä. Tekopökkelöitä tehdessä kannattaa myös huomioida niiden monipuolinen sijoittuminen reunoille ja keskelle hakkuuta, jotta niitä jää hakkuualueelle monenlaisiin ympäristöoloihin. Tekopökkelö tulisi katkaista mahdollisimman korkealta, sillä korkeisiin pökkelöihin mahtuu enemmän pesiä kuin mataliin ja matalat pökkelöt ovat alttiimpia kosteudelle, sekä pesien homehtumiselle kuin korkeat pökkelöt.
  • Kivelä, Linnea (2022)
    Light pollution, or artificial light at night, is a globally increasing environmental problem that threatens especially nocturnal organisms dependent on darkness. Modern lighting technology offers opportunities for mitigation of the ecological impacts of light pollution, but effective implementation requires better understanding of how different artificial light qualities, such as light spectrum, influence its effects on wildlife. The common glow-worm, Lampyris noctiluca, is an example of a species believed to be suffering from light pollution. Artificial light has been found to interfere with glow-worm reproduction by decreasing the success of females in attracting males with their glow. In this study, I investigated how the color (spectrum) of artificial light affects the attraction of male glow-worms towards a female mimicking stimulus, in order to find out whether certain colors of artificial light are less detrimental to glow-worm reproduction than others. I used dummy female traps to capture male glow-worms in the field and compared the catch success of traps in different treatments: illuminated from above with blue, white, yellow or red artificial light, or left unilluminated as a control. I also conducted a laboratory experiment where male glow-worms were given two choices. One of the choices was an unilluminated dummy female, and the other was either a dummy female illuminated with yellow or red light, or a red light illuminated area with no dummy female. Traps illuminated with short wavelength artificial light (blue and white) caught significantly fewer males than unilluminated traps or traps illuminated with long wavelength artificial light (yellow and red). There was no significant difference in the number of males caught between unilluminated traps and traps illuminated with long wavelength artificial light. In the laboratory, males significantly preferred an unilluminated dummy female over a dummy female illuminated with yellow light. However, the males chose a red light illuminated dummy female or area more often than an unilluminated dummy female, although this difference in preference was not significant. The results show that mate attraction in the glow-worm is influenced by artificial light color, with short wavelength artificial light decreasing the mate attraction success of female glow-worms more than long wavelength artificial light. This could point to yellow-tinted artificial lighting presenting an ecologically friendly alternative to cool white lighting. However, the specifics of how long wavelength artificial light affects male glow-worm perception of female attractiveness are still unclear. Furthermore, male glow-worms show signs of attraction towards long wavelength artificial light, which could form an evolutionary trap for them. The impacts of artificial light spectrum on organisms are thus not straightforward, but can vary depending on both species and situation.