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Browsing by study line "Ekologia ja evoluutiobiologia"

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  • 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.
  • Arkkila, Sarella (2022)
    Fear has far-reaching physiological and behavioural effects for animals, altering their foraging efficiency, parental care and breeding success. Extensive research shows that an animal’s perceived risk of predation, for example, can have fitness effects equivalent to direct killing. However, less work has explored the effects of fear induced by other natural enemies. Here I investigated by field experiment how the perceived risk of brood parasitism by common cuckoos (Cuculus canorus) affects behaviour of reed warblers (Acrocephalus scirpaceus), one of the favourite host species. Previous work shows that reed warblers upregulate behavioural defences based on social information about parasitism risk, but it is not known whether this alters their behaviour outside of an encounter with a cuckoo. Therefore, I manipulated social information about parasitism risk using models and alarm-call playbacks, and measured differences in vigilance behaviour depending on the amount of social information provided (high, medium, low, no risk). I found that vigilance increased when the perception of parasitism risk increased, both during social information presentations and 6 days later during incubation (when the nest is no longer at risk of parasitism). The findings suggest that when perceived risks are high, incubation behaviour is adapted to reduce parasitism risk. Additionally, the cues indicating increased parasitism risk reduced the fledging success, possibly due to the increased stress and the time allocated into vigilance rather than parental care. Therefore, these changes in incubation behaviour impact individual fitness. Further study is required into the behavioural changes in parenting during chick rearing from the increased perception of parasitism risk.
  • Kontio, Vesa (2023)
    Non-native species can have complex effects on the abundance of native species potentially altering the functioning of ecosystems negatively. Invasive species can outcompete local species competing for resources, ultimately causing the extinction of local species. Inter- and intraspecific competition can be especially vigorous for limited resources. Invasive species have been thought to be a leading cause in native species extinction, and their effects on native species can be especially pronounced during reproductive crucial life-history stages, such as nest-building. Based on previous information about invasive species and their effects on ecosystems, and previous studies conducted related to invasive species, I conducted an experiment at the Tvärminne zoological station in Hanko, southern Finland during May and June of 2021. I conducted a laboratory experiment in which the test species used were the invasive fish species round goby, that has increased its range across the Baltic Sea rapidly, and the native fish species sand goby. The purpose was to see, if there was any effect the invasive species has on the nesting success and motivation of the native species. Methods included five different treatments in aquariums. The results did not differ statistically between different treatments, length was close to statistical significance. However, these results do not demonstrate, that the round goby has no effect on the nest building motivation of sand gobies. Some factors of the experimental setup might have been faulty, and future studies with a larger sample are needed to examine the effects of competition on native species’ abundance.
  • Niittynen, Taru (2022)
    Domesticated horses have been used for various tasks over their thousands of years of shared history with humans. To be able to perform these tasks every horse needs to learn the needed skills, and this requires systematic training. Training of adult horses has been studied for a long time and comparisons between the efficacy of different training methods have been done. There have also been some studies comparing how much and when young foals need to be handled for them to grow into easily trainable adults. From adult horses it is known that emotional state affects cognitive processes and with that also their learning efficiency and speed. The early stages of training young horses have not been studied very well. There is no clear picture about how young horses feel during training and how that affects their learning. In my thesis I studied young horses’ emotional states while learning new tasks and how that affects their learning. I followed the early training of 19 young horses (11 one-year-olds and 8 two- and three-year-olds) by videotaping five training sessions and collecting saliva samples before and after three of those sessions to analyse cortisol and oxytocin. From the videos I analysed how fast horses responded to trainer’s asks and how unfocused they were. From the hormone samples I measure the change in cortisol and oxytocin levels during training. Salivary cortisol has been widely used to measure acute stress. Oxytocin on the other hand is a newer indicator for positive emotions. To the best of my knowledge salivary oxytocin has never been used in horses. My data showed that the horses learned the required tasks: they became quicker at their responses and focused better during the course of training. Because my data was quite small and individual variation in the hormone levels was high, the results might have been affected by these factors. Linear mixed effect models showed that higher oxytocin levels before training session predicted quicker responses during training and lower levels after training predicted lower focusedness. Bigger increase in cortisol levels during training compared to the before level explained quicker responses and better focusedness, but higher levels before training resulted to lower focusedness and slower responses. This is in line with previous studies of adult horses, that showed that horses in a better emotional state and with less stress learn faster and are more interested in working with humans. This shows that it is important to not only focus on physical wellbeing but also mental wellbeing from early on in horses’ life.
  • Carlson, Helmi (2021)
    Tiivistelmä Referat – Abstract One of the major fundamental ecological questions is the composition of a species diet. The diet of a species is crucially linked to finding out its environmental requirements, and information about the possible changes in the diet is needed when studying the impact of environmental changes such as climate change on species. Siberian flying squirrel (Pteromys volans), classified as endangered in Finland, is a species living in coniferous and mixed forests. More precise information about the dietary habits of the species is needed to support conservation. The aim of my thesis was to investigate the diet composition and diet diversity of adult flying squirrels using DNA barcoding of their excrement pellets, a technique that provides highly accurate information quickly and effectively. The main research questions were whether the diet varies between sexes and seasons, whether diet has an influence on body condition and breeding success of the females, and whether diet diversity is related to the amount of suitable forest habitat near the nests. We collected faecal samples from 51 different flying squirrel individuals from two different study areas near the cities of Vaasa and Pietarsaari in June of 2020. Another set of samples from 8 individuals was collected in November 2020 in Vaasa. The collected samples were sent to a laboratory in Turku, where the DNA barcoding was conducted. I then made further statistical analyses from the laboratory results using general linear models to test my study questions. Although the sample size was too small to obtain statistically significant results for all the research questions, my results indicated that the diet of the Siberian flying squirrel differs between males and females just like its other living habits. Male flying squirrels have more diverse diet than female flying squirrels which have more specific and narrow diet, as they also have smaller home ranges during the breeding season and are more linked to their nesting forest patch compared to males. The aspect that female flying squirrels are more specialists during breeding time is crucial for the species conservation planning. DNA barcoding studies with bigger sample sizes should be done to further investigate the relationship between diet diversity and individual’s body condition and to ascertain the statistical significance to the results of this study.