Archipelago Research Institute

Field station full of stories

New seawater laboratory in the making

During the winter, the “Laundry” building has undergone major renovations, which finished a few weeks ago. This week our staff started to move the lab equipment, glassware and other small items from the water lab in the main building (also known as a course lab) to the new sea water lab. The old lab will also undergo some renovations later this year and transform into something complete different. Here is a sneak peak to the new seawater lab!

Seili sea water laboratory

The “Laundry” building (on the left) will significantly improve the field laboratory facilities on the island. Next to it is a red storeroom (“Makasiini”), which includes two climate chambers and a couple freezers, where researchers can store samples during summertime. On the right is the “Sikala” building, named after its ancient use as a piggery. The building nowadays also functions as a small seawater lab with facilities for indoor and outdoor aquaria experiments. 5.5-6 PSU seawater is supplied to both labs with openings outside the island.

Seili sea water laboratory

The laundry room after the renovations.  The old washing machines and drier are replaced with a fume hood and stainless steel tables. The room is almost finished, only a couple of items remain to be added.

Seili sea water laboratory

The former drying room is still empty, waiting for two aquaria racks to be installed. The space is designed for experimental work.

Seili sea water laboratory

Previously a gym for the staff and visitors, this  course room is now a perfect class room for school and university students awaiting to learn about the Baltic Sea and species identification. The cabinets includes new Zeiss stereomicroscopes, acquired with FINMARI funding, and all glassware and plastic items you need in handling samples. Next week the room will receive few finishing touches, when tables and chairs arrive. The room will also include a  video projector and a WiFi connection.

Ways FINMARI infrastructure has improved our research

High-quality research and teaching requires investment in good research infrastructures. The FINMARI consortium was founded in 2013 and since then, with its support, we have been able to modernize and improve our research infrastructure.  Good research equipment help researchers and students across disciplines to study various interesting and important questions, related for example to the climate change. Here we introduce some of the equipment we have recently acquired.

Henkilön Saaristomeren tutkimuslaitos - Turun yliopisto kuva.

Last week, we visited Tvärminne, the Zoological Station of the University of Helsinki and attended in the FINMARI Researcher Days. During the two-day meeting, we presented our latest work as well as heard many interesting presentations from other FINMARI partner organizations. In the photo, our master’s student Markus Weckström is giving a presentation on his master’s thesis. Photo: Jari Hänninen.

What is FINMARI?

Finnish Marine Research Infrastructure (FINMARI) is a cross-institutional consortium founded in 2013 and coordinated by the Marine Research Centre of SYKE. The consortium assembles research institutes, universities and a state-owned company, all with a strong interest in marine research. The distributed infrastructure network includes field stations, research vessels an multi-purpose icebreakers, laboratory facilities, ferryboxes, fixed measurement platforms and buoys.

Our research vessel r/v Aurelia is a part of the FINMARI infrastructure network.The 18,1 m long vessel hosts small wet and dry labs and is equipped with standard hydrographic and marine biological research and sampling equipment (incl. CTD, sediment corers and grabs, An acoustic Doppler current profiler (ADCP), on-line chlorophyll fluorometer, Meridata digital sonar system and other sonars), weather station, differential GPS, Navi Fisher navigating system. R/v Aurelia operates in the Archipelago Sea.

The latest major additions to our research infrastructure have been a Hydro-Bios Multinet Mini and a Manta trawl. The Multinet allows the collection of 5 parallel horizontal or vertical zooplankton samples (mesh size 100 um) and thereby essentially increases sampling efficiency by allowing the collection of more samples in less time. The Manta-trawl is a horizontal net system (mesh size 335 um), which allows researchers to collect microplastics and plankton from the surface waters.

The multiple plankton sampler on board of r/v Aurelia.

Sampling microplastics in the Arctic with the manta trawl. Did you know that the net was named after the Manta ray due to their similar shape?

In 2015, we acquired 10 aquaria racks. Each rack includes 12 aquaria with a closed water circulation to a flow-through system. Recently the aquaria have been used to study how the projected future salinity conditions of the Baltic Sea will affect the genetics of bladderwrack (Fucus vesiculosus).

University and school courses visiting Seili have been able to use new  improved stereo microscopes since 2016.

In spring 2018, we will also receive a side scan sonar system for shallow water, with which we’ll be able to study for example the bottom morphology of fish spawning grounds. The equipment can also open new research possibilities for example in marine archaeology.

Researchers interested in working  abroad may apply for funding at Assembleplus.eu. Assemble plus provides transnational access to marine biological research facilities and resources. At Seili, we offer a wide variety of services, including access to a brackish-water coastal ecosystem, state-of-the-art experimental facilities, historical observation data, and various research support services. Contact us for more information or stay tuned for new funding calls!

New research project investigates parasites found in the Baltic herring

In the Archipelago Research Institute, the reproductive biology of the Baltic herring (Clupea harengus membras) has been studied for over 30 years, since 1984. During the last few years we have discovered large amounts of parasitic worms in the body cavity of herring, collected from the Airisto Inlet. The phenomenon is new as no worms have been previously discovered in our samples. Dna-analyses conducted by the University of Eastern Finland showed that the parasitic worms are in fact two species (Corynosoma strumosum ja C. semerme), belonging to the phylum Acanthocephala. A new research project, studying the distribution and occurrence of these worms in the local herring, seal and great cormorant populations will begin next summer. 

Acanthocephala, also called thorny- or spiny headed worms, are commonly found in fish and seals. In Finland, 11 species are known to occur. The parasitic worms don’t infect humans. The Baltic herring is a safe and nutritious food fish and no cold treatment is required when preparing the fish.

herring_sample

According to our preliminary studies, in 2014-2015, approximately 15% of herring in the Airisto Inlet were infected by the parasitic worms.

Corynosoma-worms use herring as an intermediate host. The grey seal (Halichoerus grypus) and/or ringed seal  (Pusa hispida) are definitive hosts for the Corynosomaspecies. Of the two seal species, the grey seal is common in the Bothnian Sea and nowadays also in the Archipelago Sea. The steady increase of the grey seal population and its spread to the middle- and inner archipelago might have caused the parasitic infection in herring. The species C. strumosum has also been discovered in  Great Cormorants (Phalacrocorax carbo). Therefore, it is possible that the bird species is also a definitive host as the increase of the cormorant population coincides with the timing of our findings.

herring_sample

Parasitic worms may cause negative effects for commercial herring fishery. Therefore, it is important to understand the extent of the phenomenon and the causes behind it.

The two-year study is funded by the Archipelago Sea Fisheries Action Group (officially Saaristomeren kalatalouden toimintaryhmä in Finnish). The research is carried out together with the Joensuu Molecular Ecology Group of the University of Eastern Finland. The project’s field work begins next summer. The aim is to chart the distribution and occurrence of the parasitic worm species in the local herring population. We will also investigate whether the Great Cormorant is a definitive host in addition to the grey seal.

Stay tuned for updates from the field!

Planning the future of field courses

Last Wednesday morning, a few of us headed towards the University of Helsinki’s Lammi biological station, where we were to attend in the  BIOPEDA -project’s second seminar, funded by the Kone foundation. In the first 3-day seminar, organized in March in the Konnevesi research station (University of Jyväskylä), teachers from every Finnish university came together to discuss the current state and future of biological field courses. Outcomes of this seminar were a webpage maasto-opetus.fi and a publication, published in the Journal of University Pedagogy (in Finnish). The aim of this 2-day seminar was to further develop the webpage, aimed at benefiting both university teachers and students, and to plan future events. 

Field courses are a central part of biological and other nature-related studies. Despite of their relevance, field courses and, also, field stations have been under budget-cuts. The aim of the BIOPEDA project is to improve cooperation between teachers and sharing of teaching resources within the Finnish university research network. This will aid both to reduce costs and improve the diversity and quality of courses offered to students, thus increasing the expertise and know-how available in Finland.

lammin biologinen asema

The snowy landscape of the Lammi biological station.

lammin biologinen asema, biopeda seminaari

Between planning, we also had time to listen and watch a presentation about a Svalbard trip.

Read more:

Maasto-opetus.fi, the university fieldwork website provides fieldwork related resources to teachers and students.

Turpeen uumenissa -blog, news and stories about fieldwork

Finnish Research Stations – a network to reach different Finnish biotopes and ecosystems

We will take a small break from posting new content and  are unplugging to enjoy the holidays. We will be back with new content again in the beginning of next year! We wish everyone a merry Christmas and a happy new year!

Season's greetings from ARI

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