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Browsing by study line "Ekologi och evolutionsbiologi"

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  • Englund, Mikael (2022)
    I present a case study demonstrating how an integrative approach can be applied in systematics to describe a new lepidopteran species and genus. I apply several imaging techniques to provide unambiguous illustrations of diagnostic morphological characters with an emphasis in experimenting non-destructive imaging methods, especially the Micro CT scanning. We establish the taxonomic position and molecular phylogeny of the study species using a multigenetic dataset comprising the study species and 272 other terminal taxa from the superfamily Geometroidea. My study taxon is a largish and conspicuous geometrid moth from South Africa, which we classify to the looper moth family Geometridae, the subfamily Larentiinae of the tribe Xanthorhoini sensu lato. Based on the inspection of the study specimens and all other available information, we conclude that the study specimens belong to a yet undescribed genus and species. During the study, we found out that the species has been present in collections for at least 128 years but has not been formally described. Micro CT scanning was found to be a useful imaging method, particularly when the target structure is flat such as arthropod wing venation, and I recommend it to be applied when dealing with rare specimens. We provide images and description of the known distribution, habitat, host plant, adult and immature stages, and parasitoids of a new species, Chloecolora vergetaria sp. n. Englund & Staude. We intend to publish the formal description of the new genus and species in a separate forthcoming article. Tutkielmassani selitän tieteelle uuden perhossuvun ja -lajin soveltaen useita kuvantamis- ja muita menetelmiä, joiden avulla esitän uudelle lajille tunnusomaiset ulkoiset tuntomerkit. Erityisesti tutkin Micro CT skannauksen ja muiden näytteitä rikkomattomien kuvantamismenetelmien soveltamista integratiivisessa taksonomisessa tutkimuksessa. Selvitämme uuden lajin sukulaisuussuhteet ja taksonomisen paikan käyttäen uuden lajin ja 272 muun mittarimaisten perhosten (Geometroidea) yläheimoon kuuluvan lajin useista geenisekvensseistä koostettua tietokantaa. Tutkimuslajini on suurehko Etelä-Afrikkalainen yöperhonen, jonka luokittelemme kuuluvaksi heimoon mittarit (Geometridae), alaheimoon Larentiinae ja sukukuntaan Xanthorhoini sensu lato. Näyteyksilöiden tutkimuksiin ja kaikkeen muuhun käytössämme olleeseen aineistoon perustuen päättelemme, että näyteyksilöt kuuluvat aiemmin kuvaamattomaan sukuun ja lajiin. Tutkimuksen aikana selvisi, että lajin yksilöitä on ollut tieteellisissä kokoelmissa jo ainakin 128 vuoden ajan, mutta laji on jäänyt vaille muodollista kuvausta. Micro CT skannaus osoittautui käyttökelpoiseksi kuvantamismenetelmäksi erityisesti, kun kuvattava kohde on tasomainen, kuten esimerkiksi niveljalkaisen siipisuonitus - suosittelen sen käyttöä, kun kuvauksen kohteena on harvinainen näyteyksilö. Esitämme uuden lajin, Chloecolora vergetaria sp. n. Englund & Staude, aikuisten sekä sen tunnetun levinneisyyden, elinympäristön, ravintokasvin, kehitysasteiden sekä tunnettujen loisten kuvaukset. Aiomme julkaista uuden suvun ja lajin muodolliset kuvaukset erillisessä artikkelissa.
  • Zavattoni, Giorgio (2022)
    Populations of forest grouse – capercaillie (Tetrao urogallus), black grouse (Lyurus tetrix) and hazel grouse (Tetrastes bonasia) - have been declining through all of Europe. Habitat loss, fragmentation and degradation are recognized to be the most important ultimate causes behind this trend. In Fennoscandia, there is a general consensus that forestry practices have a primary role, even though the mechanisms are still not fully understood. Nest predation is generally thought to be an important proximate cause of the declines, but how nest predation relates to habitat changes remains poorly understood. I combined long-term data provided by the Natural Resources Institute Finland (LUKE) from inventory studies, both for grouses and predators, with an artificial nest experiment. I investigated a) how predation rate varies with forest age and landscape structure; b) what is the possible role of non-native mesopredator species as predators; c) how nest predation rate relates to larger scale reproductive success. In spring 2021, I placed 141 nests with two hen eggs each, in the regions of Kainuu and North Karelia for 14 days with camera traps. The nests were equally divided between mature forests (>80 years), young forests (<40 years) and edges of mature forests (in a mature forest 5m from a clearcut or a field). I found that the overall predation rate was low (~13 %) and similar in the three sites, but predation time was faster in mature forests, suggesting that when these are scarce, they can act as an ecological trap by increasing nest detectability. However, nest predation decreased with the increasing of mature forests in the landscape around the nest, supporting the hypothesis that on a larger scale forestry may increase generalist predator densities. Areas with higher predator densities suffered higher nest losses. The main predators were pine martens, badgers and magpies, followed by bears and ravens. No nests were predated by raccoon dogs or American minks. There was no correlation between areas with higher nest predation and areas where grouse had lower reproductive success which may result from other factors, e.g., chick predation. My results add to the diverse outcomes of several studies of grouse nest predation in Europe, which together indicate large variation in nest predation, no consistency in predatory species, and weak effects of landscape composition on nest predation.
  • Pääkkö, Henna (2021)
    Animal personality is described as consistent behavioural variation between individuals over long periods of time. Behaviours often connected to animal personality are such as boldness, aggressiveness, and anxiety. In this thesis, the focus was on the behaviours along the shy-bold axis, containing various degrees of boldness expressing behaviour. The study was conducted by using long-term data from the past 30 years on the banded mongoose (Mungos mungo) population in the Mweya Peninsula in the Queen Elizabeth National Park in Uganda. In particular, I used the data on regular weighing events done within the population. As the weighing is not forced on these individuals, the participation percentage on these events can be used to describe an individual’s boldness. I used the participation percentage as a boldness index (values between 0 and 1) for each individual to describe their position on the shy-bold axis. This index was then used to analyse the differences between sexes, and the fitness effects boldness had on the individuals of this population by using proxies of survival, weight at sexual maturity and lifetime reproductive success (LRS). To determine long-term consistency between individuals, I analysed the repeatability of the boldness index. The repeatability of these values showed we can consider this behaviour as an animal personality. From the fitness analyses, it was concluded that boldness had significant positive effects on the fitness proxies used, proposing that bold individuals have higher fitness in this population. While sex did not affect an individual’s boldness, it had significant interactions with boldness, affecting the strength of fitness effects on individuals in weight at sexual maturity and LRS.
  • Saarinen, Ronja (2023)
    Monen eri eläinryhmän edustajat käyttävät sosiaalista informaatiota sekä lajinsisäisesti, että lajienvälisesti erilaisten kelpoisuuteen vaikuttavien päätösten tekemisessä. Sosiaalinen informaatio voidaan jakaa tahallisiin ja tahattomiin signaaleihin ja informaation havainnoija voi käyttää tahattomia signaaleja hyväkseen johtaen siihen, että signaalin tuottaja kärsii huonommasta kelpoisuudesta. Tästä johtuvat valintapaineet voivat luoda informaation peittämisstrategioita signaalin tuottajassa. Tämä voi puolestaan johtaa osapuolten väliseen adaptaatioiden sykliin, jota kutsutaan myös koevolutiiviseksi kilpavarusteluksi. Pesäloiset ja niiden isäntälajit ovat klassinen esimerkki tällaisesta vuorovaikutussuhteesta. Leppälintu (Phoenicurus phoenicurus) on ainoa käen (Cuculus canorus) isäntälaji, joka pesii pelkästään koloissa. Kolopesintä tekee leppälinnusta erityisen isännän, eikä sen puolustautumiskäyttäytymistä ole laajalti tutkittu. Tutkimukseni päähypoteesi on, että leppälinnut piilottavat sosiaalista informaatiota käeltä puolustamalla niiltä pesäänsä vähemmän munintavaiheessa verrattuna haudontavaiheeseen. Aiemmissa tutkimuksissa näitä kahta vaihetta ei olla juurikaan vertailtu, vaikka käki loisii pesän pelkästään isännän munintavaiheessa. Testasin päähypoteesiani kenttäkokeilla, joissa ensin vertailin sitä, miten usein leppälinnut ovat läsnä pesillään muninnan ja haudonnan aikana sekä sitä, miten ne puolustavat molemmissa vaiheissa eri uhkia vastaan: pesäloinen, saalistaja ja kontrolli. Leppälinnut olivat enemmän pesillään haudonnan aikana ja tämä johtuu luultavasti siitä, että silloin linnut ovat panostaneet enemmän pesintäyritykseensä ja siitä, että naaraan täytyy pysyä pesällä pidempiä aikoja. Kaiken kaikkiaan, linnut puolustivat pesiään enemmän haudontavaiheessa, mutta niiden reaktio käkeä vastaan oli alhainen molemmissa vaiheissa. Jos siis leppälinnut peittävät informaatiota käiltä, ne eivät muuta tätä käyttäytymistä muninnan ja haudonnan välillä. Lintujen varoittelu lisääntyi saalistajan läsnä ollessa, mutta muu puolustautuminen ei vaihdellut uhkien mukaan. Tulokseni osoittavat, että saalistus saattaa olla pesäloisintaa suurempi uhka leppälinnuille tai että leppälinnut eivät tunnista käkeä uhkaksi. Kolopesintä vaikuttaa olevan leppälinnun paras puolustus käkeä vastaan, mutta lisää tutkimusta tarvitaan näiden kahden välisen dynamiikan tarkastelemiseksi.
  • Witting, Ossian (2023)
    Urbanisation threatens species and biodiversity globally. Consequent habitat loss and habitat fragmentation force species upon one another, inevitably also increasing human-wildlife conflicts. Despite the situation growing dire for many organisms, studies also show species from a variety of taxa being able to adapt to urban environments. Most studies of primates’ ability to adapt to urban environments have been done on diurnal species. To my knowledge, the African lesser bushbaby (Galago moholi) is the only nocturnal primate in which this has been studied. To assess urban adaptability in another nocturnal primate, I present transect and recording data on the abundance of the white-tailed small-eared greater galago (Otolemur garnettii lasiotis) in an urban and rural environment in the biodiversity hotspot Taita Hills, Kenya. Sampling was done in Wundanyi town and Ngangao forest and the two locations were then compared by fitting a negative binomial as well as a Poisson model for recording and transect count data. Additionally, preliminary observations are made regarding behavioural and spectral acoustic adaptation, increased sociality, and colouration coupled traits. My results indicate O. g. lasiotis to be significantly more abundant in the town than in the forest. In the town, I observed a two-fold increase in total number of vocalizations and mean vocalization rate, and a seven-fold increase in total number of sightings and mean encounter rate, as indicated by recordings and transects respectively. This discrepancy in estimated abundance differences in location from transect and recording data (two-fold versus seven-fold) suggest that urban individuals vocalize less than rural individuals. The spectral profile of three vocalization types were studied and urban individuals exhibited significantly higher high frequencies in the clustered squawk vocalization. I found town dwelling individuals to be a part of a larger group or pair considerably more often than forest dwelling individuals. A dark morph, as opposed to a light morph, was significantly more frequently encountered in the urban location, whereas both morphs were encountered almost equally often in the rural location. In summary, O. g. lasiotis seems to be capable of adapting to an urban environment, as indicated by its’ greater abundance in the town than in the forest. My data suggest decreased vocalization rate, increased sociality, and colouration coupled traits being possible adaptations affecting O. g. lasiotis’ capability to inhabit an urban environment. Further research is required to draw conclusions on what factors and adaptations might allow for the high abundance of O. g. lasiotis in the town.
  • Schwenk, Cindy Emilia (2022)
    Breeding-dispersal and philopatry are important life-history traits when it comes to the ecology of animals. A number of factors such as sex, age, habitat stability, population density, predation and various environmental factors influence the movement patterns of species. Philopatry, in general, can be used by organisms as a predator avoidance strategy and to improve feeding efficiency. Dispersal on the other hand has been shown to help avoid inbreeding and competition within groups or between kin. Among the different types of dispersal and philopatry, breeding dispersal and site fidelity to breeding sites have been studied in many vertebrates. Many birds and some ungulate species have been the focus of these studies and have shown that breeding success influences site fidelity. Among ungulates, the reindeer genus (Rangifer tarandus spp.) however, has received little attention for this topic. A species of special conservational value is the wild forest reindeer (Rangifer tarandus fennicus), which is a rare, and near-threatened subspecies of reindeer living in Finland. Knowledge of factors influencing the dispersal and site fidelity for this species is lacking but has important implications for the conservation and management of this and other vulnerable species. In my thesis I investigated the philopatry of wild forest reindeer females from eastern Finland and tested if the calving site fidelity was influenced by breeding success, predator pressure and the female’s age. Given the high densities of predators in the study area (Kainuu) and thus high predator pressure on reindeer, I expected (i) the philopatry of the wild forest reindeer female’s to be stronger in areas with higher predator pressure but (ii) higher dispersal movement when wild forest reindeer females had no breeding success the previous year. Additionally, I expected (iii) the dispersal distances of wild forest reindeer females to be negatively correlated with their age. For this study I used long-term GPS monitoring data of 53 collared wild forest reindeer females, which were followed for varying periods (2-6 years) between 2010-2021 from Eastern Finland. I found that the inter-year distances between calving sites per female had a median distance of 2.84 km, confirming that female wild forest reindeer show philopatry to calving sites, as do other reindeer subspecies. Even though the movement ranged from 4.8 m to 36.99 km, showing substantially longer dispersal for some individuals. The model outcomes indicate some association between predation pressure and site fidelity, and reduced philopatry following calf mortality, although none of these associations were significant. The age of the mother did also not show any significant influence on a female’s site fidelity. Nonetheless, these results would suggest that a mother's choice to leave or return to the same calving site might be influenced by the previous year's calf mortality but more complex variables like anthropogenic disturbances, environmental factors, as well as intrinsic factors and the physical condition of the mother most likely also play a role in this.
  • Lindholm, Tanja (2015)
    Suomesta tavataan kaksi majavalajia: alkuperäinen euroopanmajava (Castor fiber) ja vieraslaji amerikanmajava (Castor canadensis). Euroopanmajava metsästettiin sukupuuttoon 1800–luvulla ja viimeinen euroopanmajava ammuttiin tiettävästi Sallan Eniönjoesta vuonna 1868. Vuonna 1935 aloitettiin majavien uudelleenistutukset 17 Norjasta tuodulla euroopanmajavalla. Vuonna 1937 Suomen majavakantaa vahvistettiin seitsemällä Amerikasta tuodulla amerikanmajavalla. Tahallisesta vieraslajin tuomisesta ei kuitenkaan ollut kyse, vaan vasta vuonna 1973 todettiin Castor-suvun koostuvan kahdesta eri lajista. Alueilla, joille istutettiin molempia lajeja, on jäljellä ainoastaan amerikanmajava. Syyt ovat edelleen epäselviä. Molempien lajien kannat ovat edelleen keskittyneet alkuperäisten istutusalueiden läheisyyteen, ja amerikanmajavakanta on muutamia poikkeuksia lukuun ottamatta saanut kasvaa ilman euroopanmajavan kilpailun vaikutusta. Jos lajien elinympäristövaatimukset ovat samat, eivät lajit voi esiintyä rinnakkain. Näin ollen on tärkeää tuntea molempien lajien elinympäristön käyttö mahdollisemman tarkkaan aluekohtaisesti ja ennakoida, johtaako majavalajien kohtaaminen kahden lajin rauhaisaan yhteiseloon vai mahdollisesti euroopanmajavan häviämiseen läntisestä Suomesta. Tutkimuksen tarkoituksena oli vertailla lajien elinympäristön vaatimuksia ja sitä kautta tuoda lisätietoa euroopanmajavan suojeluun. Tutkimusalueeksi valikoitui keskinen Pirkanmaan alue, missä lajien välinen etäisyys on ainoastaan 11 kilometriä linnuntietä. Aineisto koostuu vuoden 2013 Luonnonvarakeskuksen koordinoimista valtakunnallisten majavalaskentojen pesätiedoista sekä erilaisista paikkatietoaineistoista. Elinympäristönkäytön mallin muuttujat on tuotettu CORINE Land Cover 2012 (CLC2012), vuoden 2011 Valtakunnallisen Metsien Inventoinnin (VMI) ja Maanmittauslaitoksen maastotietokannan digitaalisiin paikkatietoaineistojen avulla. Alueelle luotiin 60 satunnaispistettä, jotka kuvaavat tarjolla olevaa elinympäristöä. Lajien elinympäristöjen käyttöä analysoitiin kahden logistisen regressioanalyysimallin avulla, joista ensimmäisessä tarkastellaan ydinaluetta (50m) ja toisessa elinpiiriä (1km). Analyyseissä verrattiin lajeja keskenään sekä satunnaispisteisiin. Ennen regressioanalyysejä tarkasteltiin muuttujien kolineaarisuutta Variance Inflation Factor:in (VIF) avulla, jonka jälkeen tarkasteltiin aineiston yhteensopivuuttaa mallin kanssa Akaiken informaatiokriteerin (AIC) avulla. Pienin AIC ilmaisee parhaan mallin korkeimman selitysasteen ja mallin yksinkertaisuuden (parsimonisuuden) kompromissina. Ydinalueella ei havaittu merkitseviä eroja elinympäristön vaatimuksissa lajien välillä. Majavien elinympäristönkäyttö ei kuitenkaan ollut satunnaista. Kuusen tilavuudella oli positiivinen vaikutus euroopanmajavan esiintymiseen ja lehtipuiden tilavuudella oli positiivinen vaikutus amerikanmajavan esiintymiseen verrattuna tarjolla olevaan ympäristöön. Elinpiirianalyyseissä lajien välillä havaittiin merkitseviä eroja, joissa euroopanmajava esiintyi alueilla, missä kuusen tilavuus ja sekametsän osuus oli suurempi verrattuna amerikanmajavan elinpiiriin. Kasvavalla kuusen tilavuudella, sekametsän osuudella sekä vesistöjen määrällä oli positiivinen vaikutus euroopanmajavan esiintymiseen ja rakennetuilla alueilla negatiivinen vaikutus euroopanmajavan esiintymiseen verrattaessa tarjolla olevaan ympäristöön. Amerikanmajavan elinympäristön käyttö ei poikennut satunnaisesta. Tulokset saattavat heijastaa rantavyöhykkeen metsäsukkession eri vaiheita, mutta on huomattava, että lajien välillä oli merkittäviä eroja. Elinympäristön muuttujat selittivät huomattavasti enemmän euroopanmajavan esiintymistä alueella verrattuna amerikanmajavaan. Toisin sanoen euroopanmajavan elinympäristön vaatimukset ovat spesifimmät/tarkemmat/ominaisemmat. Tulosten avulla on mahdollista ennustaa niin amerikanmajavan leviämistä alueella kuin hyödyntää tietoja euroopanmajavalle tärkeiden elinympäristöjen suojelussa.
  • Malmsten, Annina Maria (2023)
    Promoting carbon sequestration and storage is an important part of climate change mitigation. Soils play a prominent role in this, as they contain the largest terrestrial carbon pools. Urban soils have been shown to contain significant amounts of carbon, and thus, urban green spaces have the potential to contribute to climate regulation through soil carbon sequestration and storage. Many green spaces in cities consist of managed lawns containing significant amounts of soil organic carbon, although management activities such as mowing can also be a source of carbon emissions. A low-maintenance alternative to lawns is urban meadows. The benefits in terms of soil carbon sequestration in urban meadows, however, are still poorly documented. This study aims to contribute to an increased understanding of the ecosystem services urban meadows provide, which is valuable in the planning of urban green infrastructure. I quantified soil organic carbon content in 140 urban meadows of different land use types in the Helsinki Metropolitan Area to determine their value in terms of carbon storage and to compare this with the soil carbon storage in highly managed urban lawns. The meadow types explored included valuable grasslands, which have special nature or cultural values, landscape meadows, road verge grasslands, and rocky outcrops. Soil samples were taken from a depth of 0–10 cm using a soil corer. The soil organic matter content and bulk density were measured. Existing data from the soils of city park lawns in Helsinki were used for comparison in the analysis. The soil organic carbon content in the different meadows, as well as in the lawns, was then analysed using land use type and site productivity as explanatory variables. Results show that park lawn soils have a significantly higher carbon density (kg C per square meter) than any of the meadow types. Out of the meadow sites, valuable grasslands had the highest carbon density. The higher carbon content in park lawn soils may be due to increased productivity due to frequent mowing, as well as the fact that these lawns were likely established on nutrient-rich soil. Interestingly, the highest %C was detected in rocky sites. However, the total carbon stocks of rocky sites are lower due to the soil cover being shallow and large portions of the sites not having soil cover at all. To answer the question of whether a lawn should be converted into a meadow in hopes of increasing carbon sequestration and storage, future studies should focus on meadows that were formerly lawns, and that had the same or similar initial conditions as a typical lawn.
  • Yrjölä, Veikko (2023)
    While the effects of agricultural land use on biodiversity are beginning to unravel in Europe and North America, Africa remains poorly studied. Biodiversity in a broad sense provides ecosystem functioning and services, whose importance has become obvious to humankind in the quickly changing modern world. In Ghana, the practice of mango farming continues to grow in popularity due to suitable climate and potential source of livelihood. With increased demand and production of mango, natural habitats, namely savannahs, are being converted to plantations. The effects of such habitat conversion on local biodiversity are unknown for most taxa, thus providing an interesting study system for biodiversity research. Given the direct relation between functional diversity and ecosystem services, in this work I compare the taxonomic and functional diversity of ground-living spiders between mango orchards and savannah. I chose spiders (Arthropoda; Araneae) as model organisms as they critically contribute to several ecosystem services, such as biological pest control and nitrogen cycling, while being ubiquitous and abundant, thus easy to collect in the field. Spiders were captured with pitfall traps from six mango and four savannah areas in the Northern region of Ghana. A total of 424 individuals and 53 (morpho)species were identified and counted. Additionally, six morphological and four ecological traits were quantified for each (morpho)species. With these data, I calculated taxonomic richness and evenness, functional richness, dispersion, and evenness, and beta diversity of the different assemblages in the R environment. These metrics were then compared between spiders collected from mango orchards and savannah. Mango orchards showed lower taxonomic and functional evenness than savannah, contrary to all other alpha diversity measures. The two habitat types share many of the same diversity of ground-living spiders, but species and traits are distributed less evenly in mango orchards due to incomplete niche differentiation between species. Both taxonomic and functional beta diversity were significantly different between habitat types indicating that mango orchards sustain a similar richness of species as savannah, but the species composition is different. In conclusion, mango orchards have the potential to conserve some aspects of the original diversity, but species composition and the way species interact are substantially different. We should strive to find the best practices to produce mango without radically changing the natural biodiversity patterns.
  • Gonzaga Roa, Amaia (2023)
    Deforestation is the main threat to biodiversity, ecological integrity and socio-ecological resilience of the of the Amazon biome, one of the most biodiverse places on Earth and home to at least 2 million people. A complex network of diverse protection strategies exists across the Amazon as key component of the global strategy to halt biodiversity loss. Biosphere reserves are a part of this network that aims to create spaces to learn how human communities can develop sustainably, while the protecting the environment, by implementing a zonation system with different degrees of protection We consider that it is necessary to produce relevant efficiency assessments on area-based conservation strategies in this region, and to understand how different protection strategies affect conservation outcomes. We used state-of-the-art matching methods to create a counterfactual deforestation avoidance measure of seven Biosphere reserves the western Amazon: Yasuní, Podocarpus-El Cóndor, Sumaco, Manu, BIOAY, Pilón Lajas and Beni. We obtained diverse efficiency results, some of the studied reserves avoiding large quantities of deforestation to reserves that were attracting deforestation. We found that more strictly protected zones were subjected to significatively lower relative pressure levels and did not have higher deforestation avoidance values. Representativity of the matched treatment area was also lower for these zones, meaning that the matching analysis was more difficult to perform in these areas. These research findings add to growing evidence about the important role of biosphere reserves in buffering against deforestation in one of the world’s most important biodiversity hotspots.
  • Putkiranta, Pauli (2023)
    Arctic ecosystems face drastic changes in community structure due to warming, shrubification, permafrost loss, and other environmental changes. Due to the spatial heterogeneity of these ecosystems, understanding such changes on a local scale requires high-resolution data. Earth observation using satellite imagery and aerial photography has become a staple in mapping large areas and general patterns. Advances in sensor technology, the proliferation of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), and increases in processing capacity enable the use of higher spatial and spectral resolutions. As a result, more detailed ecological observations can be made using remote sensing methods. In this thesis, I assess how increased spectral resolution affects the remote-sensing based modelling of plant communities in low-growth oroarctic tundra heaths. Based on a large field observation dataset, I estimate biomass, leaf area index, species richness, Shannon's biodiversity index, and fuzzy community clusters. I then build random forest models of these with image data of varying spectral, spatial, and temporal specifications and topographical data. Finally, I create maps of the vegetation. Leaf area index and biomass are best estimated of the response variables, with R2 values of 0.64 and 0.59, respectively, with multispectral data proving the most important explanatory dataset. Biodiversity metrics are best estimated with R2 values of 0.40–0.50 with the most important explanatory variables being topographical and hyperspectral, and community cluster with R2 values of 0.27–0.53, with the importance of various explanatory variables depending on the cluster being estimated. These results can help choose a suitable high-resolution remote sensing approach for modelling plant communities in similar conditions.
  • Fernández Multigner, Lola (2023)
    Biodiversity has been declining over the last decades due to land-use changes. Habitat loss and fragmentation are considered the key drivers of biodiversity loss. While evidence indicates that habitat loss has a negative impact on biodiversity, the effect of fragmentation itself is debated. The Habitat Amount Hypothesis proposes that fragmentation per se –more discontinuous habitat distribution but no difference in habitat amount- has no effect or even a positive effect on biodiversity. Studies have looked at its effect on species richness, but its impact on intraspecific genetic diversity is still unknown. In this thesis, I aimed to test this hypothesis using the Glanville fritillary butterfly, which has been extensively monitored in the Åland islands since 1990, as a model system. I studied how fragmentation per se affects genetic diversity of the focal populations, while controlling for the habitat amount within the landscape in the Åland islands. For this, I used an existing dataset for which larvae were sampled during two consecutive years and genotyped for 40 neutral SNPs, and calculated four genetic diversity indices in over 200 habitat patches with relatively high population abundance. Following Martin et al. (2021) protocol, I first defined the scale of effect. Then, to reduce the correlation between total habitat amount and number of habitat fragments, I split my dataset in two sub-datasets. Finally, I assessed for each sub-dataset the differences in genetic diversity between landscapes with different level of fragmentation and total habitat amount. The number of fragments had a neutral effect on the genetic diversity, supporting the habitat amount hypothesis. Moreover, the results suggest that all habitat fragments, even the small ones, are contributing to maintain the genetic diversity of the focal population. The species’ ecology, population dynamics and specific adaptations to a fragmented landscape might have led the Glanville fritillary butterfly to be especially resistant to fragmentation.
  • Vainio, Anssi (2023)
    Research into animal emotions is important for improving animal welfare and understanding behavior. Emotional research also provides a better overview of ecology and helps from the point of view of protection. According to the consensus, animals feel different emotions and express their feelings in many ways. Emotional expression is also an important part of communication between animals. In my research, I wanted to study zoo visitors’ ability to interpret animals’ emotions. The study was conducted in Korkeasaari as a survey, where respondents were asked to rate animals’ valence and arousal based on short video clips. According to several theories, valence and arousal are two important dimensions of emotion. Interpretation is based on movements, expressions, and gestures of one animal or several animals. In my research, I used videos of Barbary macaque, Siberian tiger, and Markhor expressing different emotions. The aim of this study was to explore if there are differences in participants ratings between the species. In addition, I explored whether a specific emotion is interpreted better than others. I expected that, based on an evolutionary distance, the emotions of the Barbary macaque would be interpreted best despite the emotion. Secondly, I expected the best identification of negative Valence and high arousal, which would be important for evolution and survival. I found that the valence of the barbary macaque was interpreted best, but the arousal of the markhor was interpreted as well as the Barbary macaques. Different emotions were interpreted differently in each specie. The interpretation of emotions is also influenced by the participant’s demographic factors such as age and gender. Differences in ratings between the species may also be explained by species-specific factors such as the extent of the emotional scale to be expressed or need to express emotions. Together with other similar studies, the aim of this study is to improve animal welfare and to increase interest and knowledge of animal emotions.
  • Mirko, Pomatti (2023)
    Animal welfare is a multifaceted concept that encompasses the overall well-being of animals, considering their physical and psychological health, behaviour, social interactions, and ability to engage in species-specific behaviours. Though there isn't a single universally accepted definition, the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE) provides a widely recognized definition. According to the OIE, animal welfare refers to how well an animal copes with its living conditions. An animal is considered to have good welfare if it is healthy, comfortable, well-nourished, safe, able to express innate behaviour, and not suffering from pain, fear, or distress. In my thesis, the main objective is to identify knowledge gaps in recognizing factors that influence welfare among animal caretakers and to gather essential information that can serve as a foundation for future efforts to improve animal welfare in Korkeasaari Zoo. The project was conducted in collaboration with the zoo and involved studying and assessing the welfare of four different species. The assessments were based on scientific knowledge obtained through extensive literature research. The findings were then compared and analyzed by using a general linear model (GLM) with the zookeepers' own assessments. The results revealed that, overall, zookeepers tended to assess animal welfare more positively than the knowledge-based evaluation, although the extent of this difference varied among species. Notably, the results brought to light that certain species, especially the Asiatic lion, have specific welfare requirements that might not be fully recognized by the keepers. This implies there are opportunities for enhancing animal welfare in these cases. Furthermore, assessments varied depending on the type of question posed, with a significant observation being that nutritional requirements consistently received the highest evaluation across all species, regardless of the evaluator. This underscores the heightened attention that zookeepers pay to the nutritional well-being of the animals. This likely stems from the availability of well-documented nutritional information, in contrast to other facets of welfare in the studied species that might still be less comprehensively understood. My research is practical in nature, focusing on four specific species within one zoo. It may not primarily contribute to theoretical advancements but rather offer practical insights and applications. This marks just the starting point and indicates the need for further exploration and advancement. Shedding light on the various factors that shape animal welfare is pivotal for refining the operational protocols within the zoo setting. Such insights can pave the way for constructive measures that contribute to the betterment of the animals' well-being within the zoo environment. For instance, the notable difference in the evaluation of Asiatic lions, where the zookeepers scored them higher than the literature-based assessment, emphasizes the importance of incorporating scientific knowledge into zoo management practices. By bridging this gap and aligning assessments with well-established scientific data, we can make substantial strides in improving animal welfare in Zoos.
  • Lehtinen, Oskari Jouko (2022)
    Lifespan is a key fitness trait, together with fecundity, dispersal, and growth. In addition to environmental factors shaping variation in lifespan, it is also influenced by genetic components. Based on theory, genetic variation in lifespan is expected to be reduced due to its high relevance to fitness. However, due to trade-offs between different life-history traits and the variable or unstable environmental conditions organisms face in nature, life-history traits are also expected to sustain higher genetic variation. From studies in model organisms, such as the fruit fly and the roundworm, researchers have uncovered key insights into the genetic basis of lifespan. Some genes have been shown to contribute more to lifespan than others and different species seem to share homologous genes influencing lifespan that have been conserved. Many of these genes relate to the insulin receptors and insulin signaling processes. The allelic variation and over- or under-expression of these genes have been shown to be associated with changes in lifespan. However, regardless of our accumulating knowledge of these genes in impacting lifespan under laboratory conditions, we have little understanding of the role of these genes impacting variation in lifespan under more natural conditions. In general, assessment of genes affecting variation in lifespan in natural populations is rare, even under circumstances where we know that the lifespan has a heritable component. The Glanville fritillary (Melitaea cinxia) is a butterfly that inhabits most of Europe. It is used as a model species in ecology and evolution in relation to metapopulation dynamics and spatially structured habitats. It has been studied extensively both under experimental conditions and via observational studies in the field. The Glanville fritillary butterfly works as a good model organism for assessments of genetic components of life-history variation, as vast amounts of genomic and ecological data are already available. In this thesis, I aim to shed light on the genetic background of lifespan by using the Glanville fritillary as a model organism. More specifically, I will test the association of some well-known lifespan-related candidate genes with a phenotypic variation on the butterfly’s adult lifespan based on previously obtained experimental data on individuals collected from the natural metapopulation during the larval stage.
  • Koppelomäki, Krista (2023)
    Good understanding of animal emotions is vital for improvement of animal welfare. Emotions are affective states that are defined by positive or negative valence depending on the pleasantness of the situation, as well as the state of arousal or excitement. As subjective experiences, emotions are hard to measure directly. Lateralization, a phenomenon in which emotion processing is done asymmetrically in different hemispheres of the brain, has been used to study changes in valence. The state of arousal is known to cause changes in the activation of the autonomic nervous system, which lead to changes in peripheral blood circulation. These neurologically mediated changes in blood flow can lead to changes in surface temperature that can be detected by infrared thermography (IRT). IRT is a technology that’s based on converting infrared radiation to images. From these images, the surface temperature of an animal can be quantitatively measured. Previous studies have focused mostly on negative emotions, which are known to affect surface temperatures. Positive and neutral affective states are in need of more research, as they have been studied less. Lateralization is also still a fairly new area of research. In this thesis I investigated if there would be detectable surface temperature patterns in riding horses at Cypis-talli, Espoo, that could be linked with mainly positive and neutral emotional states. I also explored the possibility of finding lateralization effects related to emotional states in horses. Additionally, I wanted to know if these changes in surface temperature would be situational or dependent on individual variation. We used naturally occurring situations in the horses’ lives to observe them in three situations: one where the horses got fed, one where they were taken outside to the paddocks after feeding, and one where the horses were momentarily separated from their paddocking buddies. During all situations the horses’ eyes and nasal region were measured with a thermal camera. Numerical data was collected from the images and analysed with linear mixed models and post-hoc pairwise comparisons. I found that there were significant changes in surface temperature in the eyes and nasal region of the horse that were likely related to changes in arousal. The surface temperature of the eyes and nasal region dropped when the horses got their feed, got taken outside to the paddocks and when they were separated and reunited with another familiar horse. Another finding was that there appeared to be a lateralization effect in the eyes and nasal region on the nasal cavities. There seemed to be a lot of individual variation in temperature throughout. An interesting finding was that the health condition of the horse significantly affected the temperature changes in many cases. My results suggest that surface temperature effects that have been previously seen in other species via IRT can also be detected in horses, and that the changes in temperature are most likely related to the emotional state and health status of the animal. Nasal temperature could be useful for measurement in future studies, but further research to validate its use in detection of emotional or health related states is required.
  • Villon, Esmeralda (2024)
    Flight collisions with buildings contribute to a significant proportion of human-related bird mortalities globally. However, the global scope of this phenomenon remains poorly studied and little is known about the vulnerability of European bird populations to glass collisions. Here I investigate the impact of bird-window collisions (BWCs) on bird populations in Finland by analyzing long-term ringed-bird data and complementing it with empirical findings from an on-site survey in an urban area. Specifically, I aimed to discern spatiotemporal and ecological patterns in collisions over the past 50 years at both national and local scales. I found that based on ringing recoveries, the probability of detecting collisions has decreased over time and there are distinct seasonal patterns, with collisions peaking during the spring and fall seasons. Most collisions have occurred in urban areas, with collision densities decreasing with degrees of urbanization. Notably, the White-backed Woodpecker (Dendrocopos leucotos), an endangered species in Finland, emerged as the most vulnerable species. Moreover, young, first-year birds collide at higher rates than adults, and habitat preference and foraging strata significantly influence species-specific collision risks. Specifically, species with open and aquatic habitat preferences collide at lower rates than species favoring urban and forested areas, while water-foraging birds collide less than species foraging at low and high levels. In my case study in Helsinki, I found 42 collisions over 21 days, with the House Sparrow (Passer domesticus), another endangered species in Finland, being the most common collider. A positive correlation was identified between site-specific collision rates and glass area, while vegetation cover had no significant effect on collisions. These findings shed light on critical species, temporal variations, and urban factors influencing BWCs at a national level, representing a crucial step in understanding and monitoring the threat posed by glass to Finland’s bird population. I propose a standardized survey procedure to further understand the extent of this issue in Finland, which will be essential in developing efforts to mitigate the adverse impact of human activities on wildlife.
  • Armeni, Nicholas (2023)
    During this study I examined the roles that resource diversity and trophic complexity play in the emergence and maintenance of biodiversity (ecological complexity) via the use of the evolutionary software Avida. I found a positive relationship between resource diversity and ecological complexity as would be expected from previous studies. However, a trade off was observed between ecological complexity and resource diversity, following the principle of diminishing returns. I also showed that trophic complexity exhibited a positive relationship with ecological complexity echoing what was described in previous studies. However, this increase in ecological complexity resulted in an increase in competition which slowed down the accumulation of higher resources which in-turn affected the emergence of higher-level functions. This study further suggests that an increase in ecological complexity results in an increase in ecosystem stability, however more rigorous measures are needed to fully establish this link. Despite, the inherent abstractions that are present in the Avida system, it has provided valuable insights into the relationships between these ecological factors. The findings suggest that there is need for more future studies possibly looking at the resilience and recovery of these ecosystems as this would be critical for understanding and addressing the current biodiversity crisis.
  • Selanniemi, Patrick (2023)
    Forests cover around a third of the world's terrestrial surface. In addition to providing habitat for many of the world's animals and plants, they are also significant carbon sinks making them instrumental in curbing climate change. Protected areas (PA) are a common tool for conserving natural habitats and are a cornerstone in many conservation strategies because they establish zones free from human interventions and allow natural processes to thrive. Global conservation targets of land covered by PA have been reached with varying degrees of success, often limited by lack of political will, monetary funding, or over-ambitious targets. Additionally, the conservation effectiveness of established PA is also less than expected. Two large contributors to such failures are conservation funding and governance within each country, although such relationships have not been duly studied. In this study I assess how funding and governance relate to the effectiveness of PAs as measured through the magnitude of deforestation between 2001 and 2010. I question whether there are trade-offs between investing in expanding the protected area network and securing the protection of already established reserves through a geospatial analysis of open-source datasets of 34 countries. By comparing relative deforestation inside and outside protected areas I defined a conservation effectiveness response variable and built a model comparing the response variable with conservation funding (expressed as annual average funding for biodiversity) and governance (corruption), while controlling for overall amounts of deforestation and forest cover on a national scale. Furthermore, I explored the relationship between the expansion of PAs in each country during the same period and the observed deforestation. The results show a relationship between conservation effectiveness, governance (p=0.0706) and funding (p=0.0608), were increases in the funding and/or governance variables resulted in better conservation effectiveness. Additionally, conservation effectiveness was found to be higher in countries with better governance but the same level of funding. Furthermore, while governance was found to positively correlated with conservation effectiveness across all levels of governance, funding had a positive impact on conservation effectiveness only after a certain amount of funding was reached. No association between protected area expansion and conservation effectiveness was found indicating the absence of a trade-off. This study highlights the importance of allocating appropriate levels of financing needed for successful conservation efforts and how good governance is a prerequisite for achieving conservation outcomes. This is especially important in light of the new 2030 biodiversity targets that commit large parts of the global south to expand their PA networks with limited amounts of funding.
  • Retez, Gabriele (2021)
    After drastic declines in large carnivores’ populations globally, conservation efforts have been successful, and predators’ populations are in recovery. However, their comeback has led to new interactions with locals, generating different conflicts. Two main approaches have been considered to mitigate these conflicts, those being the land sparing and land sharing models, however, the land sparing model requires great extents of protected areas, areas that in Europe are missing, therefore forcing a call for the land sharing model. In Finland, this approach has generated debates among different stakeholders, the outcomes of this debate shaping the fate for the four species: brown bear (Ursus arctos), grey wolf (Canis lupus), Eurasian lynx (Lynx lynx) and wolverine (Gulo gulo). Attitudes towards those species can be used to explore the drivers of the conflicts, however, only few studies have explored this context, considering the ecological and social dimension separately. In addition, the ecotourism industry has been recently recognized as a new stakeholder in the Finnish large carnivore’s context, but the effects of its activities were assessed only ecologically. Therefore, with this study I aimed to explore the attitudes of locals from a specific region of Finland towards the four large carnivores’ species, and to assess the different drivers of those species, through a combination of field questionnaires, social variables and large carnivores’ population data. I explored potential correlates of the differences in attitudes, adding also the spatial effect of ecotourism over the socio-ecological factors. I predicted attitudes to vary among species, having on one side the brown bear with positive attitudes, in contrast the wolf with negative attitudes, while neutral attitudes towards the lynx and wolverine. I also expected to find more negative attitudes in smaller localities rather than in localities with a greater human population density. Also, I explored whether the ecotourism activities have a positive or negative effect over the locals’ attitude towards carnivores, expecting the ecotourism industry to bring positive attitudes in nearby localities. As result, attitudes towards the four different species varied significantly, the attitudes towards each different species having different drivers, with the human population size being important for wolverines and wolves, while the status for bear and lynx populations. The ecotourism had an effect only on bear attitudes, being positively correlated (closer the ecotourism activities were, more positive the attitudes are). To mitigate the large carnivores-human conflict in Finland, a community approach is not the solution, since the different origins of the attitudes ‘drivers. However, the attitudes among species are positively correlated, consequently, by ameliorate the attitudes towards one species, also the others will benefit. Finally, by inducing a proper management within the ecotourism industry and promoting more the respective activity on a national level, the ecotourism can have a positive impact and get a positive role in the Finnish conflict.