Hilde Karine Wam

Research Scientist

(+47) 920 10 746
hilde.wam@nibio.no

Place
Ås H8

Visiting address
Høgskoleveien 8, 1433 Ås

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Abstract

Citizen science is sometimes described as "public participation in scientific research," or participatory monitoring. Such initiatives help to bring research into, for example, the classroom and engage pupils in well-structured observations of nature in their vicinity. The learning and practising of observation may increase the understanding of complex conditions occurring in nature, related to biology, ecology, ecosystems functioning, physics, atmospheric chemistry etc. For school curricula and motivation of pupils, practical hands-on activities performed by school pupils themselves by using their own senses stimulate faster learning and cognition. For this, the EDU-ARCTIC project developed the monitoring system. All schools in Europe are invited to participate in a meteorological and phenological observation system in the schools’ surroundings, to report these observations on the web-portal and to have access to all the accumulated data. The schools and pupils become part of a larger citizen effort to gain a holistic understanding of global environmental issues. The students may learn to act as scientific eyes and ears in the field. No special equipment is needed. Reporting of observations should be made once a week in the monitoring system through the EDU–ARCTIC web-portal or the accompanying mobile app. A manual and a field guide on how to conduct observations and report are available through the web. Teachers may download reports containing gathered information and use them for a wide variety of subjects, including biology, chemistry, physics and mathematics. Meteorological parameters are reported as actual values: air temperature, cloud cover, precipitation, visibility reduction and wind force, in all 19 parameters. There are also reports on meteorological and hydrological phenomena, which occurred within the previous week: like lightning, extreme and other atmospheric phenomena, ice on lakes and rivers and snow cover, in all 23 parameters. The monitoring system also includes biological field observations of phenological phases of plants: birch, black adler, lilac, rowan, bilberry, rosebay willwherb and denadelion, in all 26 parameters. The occurrence of the first individual of five species of insects: bumblebee, mosquito, ant and 2 butterflies: common brimstone and European peacook, and the registration of the first appearance of the bird species: arctic tern, common cuckoo, white wagtail and crane. An app for the monitoring system has been developed in order to engage pupils more by making it more comprehensive to register the meteorology and the phenophases. Further, special webinars and Polarpedia (the project’s own online encyclopedia) entries are developed to strengthen the monitoring system. The EDU-ARCTIC monitoring system gathered more than 2000 reports from schools, with an average monthly number of more than 80 observations. They are freely available via the web-portal, but password access is needed in order to enter registrations and data.

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Abstract

EDU-ARCTIC is an open-schooling project, funded by the EU for the years 2016-2019. The main aim is to attract young people (13-20 years old) to the natural sciences. The project is using Arctic to illustrate how research are carried out and put together in order to reveal what is happening in Arctic and how Europe ins influencing Arctic and how Arctic is influencing Europe. To achieve these goals, EDU-ARCTIC uses innovative online tools like webinars provided by scientists, Polarpedia (an online encyclopaedia) of scientific terms used in the EDU ARCTIC, as well as the monitoring system that is an open-access database including app for motivation on field registration. In addition, the EDU-ARCTIC offers Arctic Competitions, where pupils submit their idea for a science project as an essay, a poster or a video. During a three-step evaluation, a few lucky winners get the possibility to join scientists on expeditions to polar research stations during the summer. For school curricula and motivation of pupils, practical hands-on activities performed by school pupils themselves by using own senses stimulate to faster learning and cognition. The learning and practicing of observation increase the understanding of complex conditions occurring in nature, related to biology, ecology, ecosystems functioning, physics, atmospheric chemistry etc. For this, the EDU-ARCTIC project developed the monitoring system. All schools in Europe are invited to participate in a meteorological and phenological observation system in the schools’ surroundings, to report these observations on the web-portal and to have access to interesting accumulated data. The schools and pupils become a part of a larger effort to gain a holistic understanding of global environmental issues. The students may learn to act as scientific eyes and ears in the field. No special equipment is needed. Reporting of observations should be made once a week in the monitoring system at the EDU–ARCTIC web-portal. A manual and a field guide on how to conduct observations and report are available through the web. Teachers may download reports containing gathered information and use them for a wide variety of subjects, including biology, chemistry, physics and mathematics. Meteorological parameters are requested reported as actual values: air temperature, cloud cover, precipitation, visibility reduction and wind force, in all 19 parameters. It is also asking for reports on meteorological and hydrological phenomena, which occurred within the previous week: like lightning, extreme and other atmospheric phenomena, ice on lakes and rivers and snow cover, in all 23 parameters. The monitoring system is also include biological field observations, including plants, like Birch, Lilac, Bilberry in all 26 parameters. Then occurrence of first individual of five species of insects like Bumble bee, Mosquito, Ant and butterfly, and then registration of first appearance of the bird species Arctic tern, Common Cuckoo, White wagtail and Crane. An app for the monitoring system has been developed in order to engage pupils more by making it more comprehensive to register the meteorology and the phenophases. Further, special webinars and polarpedia entries are developed to strengthen the monitoring system. The web-portal is open source but password access is needed in order to enter registrations. keywords: observation system, natural science, interdisciplinary, stem.

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Abstract

EDU-ARCTIC is an open-schooling project, funded by the EU for the years 2016-2019 and managed by scientists, nature educators and IT technicians. The main aim is to attract young people (13-20 years old) to the natural sciences. Further, to raise awareness of how everything in nature is connected, and that STEM education therefore in part must be interdisciplinary across normal school curricula. To achieve these goals, EDU-ARCTIC uses innovative online tools with open-access, combined with nature expeditions. Four main modules complement each other, but can also be used independently: 1) Webinars, where scientists conduct online lessons about their own field of expertise. The lessons comes as packages with worksheets and online games. The lessons brings youth close to scientists. They can ask questions what it means to work with science. It is also a valuable tool for teachers to brush up their STEM knowledge and get inspiration for their own teaching. 2) Polarpedia, which is an online encyclopaedia of scientific terms used in the webinars. The science is kept easy-to-grasp, with the aim to stimulate the pupils’ curiosity to look for more information. 3) Monitoring system, which uses citizen science and the project’s own app to record observations of meteorology and phenology. Observations are open for everybody to use in their own teachings. 4) Arctic Competitions, which is the module that has engaged the pupils the most. They submit their idea for a science project in late autumn, work with the project over the winter and present it in spring as an essay, a poster or a video. Teachers come up with innovative ways to fit this work into the normal curricula. A few lucky winners get to join scientists on expeditions to polar research stations. After 2.5 years, EDU-ARCTIC has engaged at least 1093 teachers from 58 countries. There is a language barrier for some teachers, and it is difficult to fit webinars into the school timetable. However, the challenges are minor compared to the interdisciplinary success of having teachers meet across countries and curricula. Here we illustrate this in detail by presenting a way of interdisciplinary teaching (“the beauty of poetry and maths”) developed by one of the teachers in the project, Mr. Francisco José Gómez Senent. Starting from a single poem published in Nature, it innovatively combines mathematics, literature, history and linguistic competence. The teacher originally used it to stimulate curiosity about the aesthetic criterion in science. Science is not only about facts! The approach can be generalized to cover a wide range of curricula, and different teachers can use it in a team effort across classes. Conclusion: The EDU-ARCTIC project has demonstrated that letting teachers meet across countries and teaching fields facilitates inspiring and innovative cross-overs in the normal school curricula. When teachers are inspired we believe it creates a happy teacher – happy teaching effect. keywords: interdisciplinary, natural science, open schooling, research, transdisciplinary.

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Abstract

The prevalence of livestock grazing in wildlife area s is increasing. This transformation of ecosys- tems into agroecosystems is concerning because the intr oduction of new species may cause niche displacement of the functionally related native species. We used a la rge-scale fence scheme and f ecal analyses to study the in fl uence of free-ranging livestock on moose diet on thr ee boreal forest ranges. We found low interspeci fi cdiet overlap between moose and livestock (mean Pianka ’ s O across ranges = 0.21, SD = 0.104), and the diet overlap with livestock did not differ between moose in areas with livestock and in adjacent control areas without live- stock. Still, moose sympatric with livestock had less fe cal nitrogen (a proxy for diet quality) than moose in the control areas. Our fi ndings suggest that interspeci fi c interactions other than direct food competition contributed to reduce the moose ’ foraging opportunities, such as altered forag e abundance and composition, or behavioral avoidance of livestock. We caution that displacement in the foodscape (i.e., spati otemporal use of food) can occur through pathways not evident in niche indices based on composition of plant species in the diet.

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The research literature on food selection by large herbivores is extensive. Still, we are generally lacking in our knowledge of the influence of potentially interacting chemical contents of the food. We made a qualitative review of a systematic literature search of studies that empirically link chemical contents of food to the food selection by northern cervids (genera Alces, Capreolus, Cervus, Dama, Odocoileus, Rangifer). We found that although the majority of the 98 relevant studies measuring any given food constituent (energy, protein, fiber, minerals, plant secondary metabolites) provided support for it acting as a driver of food selection (in either a negative or positive way), there was little support for the traditional hypotheses of maximization or limitation of any single constituent. Rather, because of the animals’ need to acquire an appropriate intake of several constituents at the same time, our review highlights how new empirical stud- ies need to focus on several food constituents in synchrony: (1) Study designs should capture sufficient variation in the content of food constituents in order to tease apart their many co-variations; and (2) insights about nutritional drivers may be lost if one uses only composite currencies such as crude energy, crude fiber, ash, or tannins, which may mask contrasting selection patterns of the lumped constituents. Season had an apparent influence on the selection of some food constituents, particularly various fiber frac- tions. In contrast, our review revealed a lack of evidence that cervids more strongly select for protein in summer than they do in winter. Our overall conclusion of the review is that interacting chemical contents of food make the nutritional value of a given food type into a varying entity. To better elucidate this varia- tion, we need new technologies that non-invasively capture nutrient intake of free-ranging animals, across seasons.

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Abstract

The composition of plant secondary metabolites (PSMs) extensively impacts ecosystem functioning. It is vital that we understand temporal patterns in the plants’ allocation of resources to PSMs, particularly those influenced by human activity. Existing data are insufficient in the long-term perspective of perennial plants (age or ontogeny). We analysed phenolic concentrations in foliage from birch (Betula pubescens Ehr.) considered to be undamaged and growing on 5, 10 and 15 years old clear-cuts in two boreal forest landscapes in Norway, sampled at the peak of the growing season. In sum, low molecular weight phenolic concentrations decreased with age. Apart from one apigenin glycoside, the low molecular weight phenolics co-varied similarly at all ages, suggesting a lack of temporal compound-specific prioritisation of this group. In contrast, the concentration of MeOH-soluble condensed tannins increased with age. The compositional shift fits well with several hypotheses that may provide proximate explanations for age patterns in PSM allocations, including both resource constraints and external pressures. Regardless of these explanations, our study adds an important perennial perspective (plant age) to temporal PSM patterns already well-known in boreal plant phenology (foliage age).

Abstract

Plant defence against environmental stressors often changes dramatically as plant develop. The composition of secondary compounds (PSM) in the vegetation of a landscape has extensive influence on ecosystem functioning. It is therefore crucial that we understand how various temporal factors affect plant content of PSMs, particularly those indirectly induced and controlled by human activity. One illustrative PSM group of major ecological interest is phenolics, which serve needs as diverse as herbivory defence, pathogen resistance, allelopathy or symbioses signalling, frost and drought hardiness, and photodamage protection. I will present results from our ongoing studies of defensive chemistry of European beech (Fagus sylvatica) and birch (Betula spp) across seasons and ages, and discuss the results in relation to ecological theories and functionality of plant chemical defence.

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Abstract

Despite decades of intense research, it remains largely unsolved which nutritional factors underpin food selection by large herbivores in the wild. We measured nutritional composition of birch foliage (Betula pubescens) available to, and used by, moose (Alces alces) in natural settings in two neighboring regions with contrasting animal body mass. This readily available food source is a staple food item in the diet of moose in the high-fitness region, but apparently underutilized by moose in the low-fitness region. Available birch foliage in the two regions had similar concentrations of macronutrients (crude protein [CP], fiber fractions, and water-soluble carbohydrates [WSC]), although a notably lower variation of WSC in the low-fitness region. For minerals, there were several area differences: available birch foliage in the low-fitness region had less Mg (depending on year) and P, but more Ca, Zn, Cu, and Mn. It also had higher concentrations of some plant secondary metabolites: chlorogenic acids, quercetins, and especially MeOH-soluble condensed tannins. Despite the area differences in available foliage, we found the same nutritional composition of birch foliage used in the two regions. Compared to available birch foliage, moose consistently used birch foliage with more CP, more structural fiber (mainly hemicellulose), less WSC, higher concentrations of several minerals (Ca, Zn, K, Mn, Cu), and lower concentrations of some secondary metabolites (most importantly, MeOH-soluble condensed tannins). Our study conceptually supports the nutrient-balancing hypothesis for a large herbivore: within a given temporal frame, moose select for plant material that matches a specific nutritional composition. As our data illustrate, different moose populations may select for the same composition even when the nutritional composition available in a given food source varies between their living areas. Such fastidiousness limits the proportion of available food that is acceptable to the animal and has bearings on our understanding and application of the concept of carrying capacity.

Abstract

Natural and rural land provides resources for the majority of ecosystem services we need. Typical provisioning services from these resources are timber logging, collection of berries, mushrooms and hunting. Typical regulating services are carbon storage, regulation of flooding and temperature, and typical cultural services are education, science and nature based tourism. The use of one ecosystem service always affects the other services. How can we evaluate how the various use of services affect each other? In our research group, we work innovatively with multi-criteria analyses to find ways of trading-off contradicting interests in ecosystem services. The red tread is to consider «all» sides of multiuse and thereby reduce conflicts between stakeholders. To achieve this, it is necessary to combine conventional valuation methods (market-oriented recourse-economy) and new socioecological approaches.

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Abstract

Co-existing species at the same trophic level often segregate with respect to diet, habitat use, or spatial distribution, reducing their direct competition for resources. However, temporal patterns in species-specific habitat use, for instance due to climatic variation, may affect the strength of interspecific interactions, and generate temporal variation in niche partitioning. We assessed temporal variation in habitat overlap between a wild ungulate, moose Alces alces, and two freeranging domestic ungulates, sheep Ovis aries and cattle Bos taurus, on a boreal forest range in southern Norway. We also calculated the distance between species’ realised niches, as well as the width of their realised niches to evaluate the extent of temporal niche partitioning under different diurnal weather conditions. Analyses of each habitat variable suggested complex relationships between species-specific habitat use, photoperiod, and weather, related to species-specific behaviour and activity patterns. We found shorter overall niche distance between moose and sheep, compared to moose and cattle, and shorter niche distances during day and night than during the twilight hours. The niche distance between moose and sheep was positively related to temperature during night, but negatively during day. Moreover, niche distance between moose and both sheep and cattle was negatively related to precipitation at daytime. Moose niche width was narrower in periods with short niche distance to sheep, while we did not find such pattern towards cattle. A lack of similar moose response to cattle could be attributed to lower niche overlap between moose and cattle. Our results suggest that temporal niche partitioning between moose and livestock breaks down under the weather conditions that are predicted to become more common as climate change, potentially increasing wildlife-livestock interactions in the future.

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We are increasingly confronted with severe social and economic impacts of environmental degradation all over the world. From a valuation perspective, environmental problems and conflicts originate from trade-offs between values. The urgency and importance to integrate nature's diverse values in decisions and actions stand out more than ever. Valuation, in its broad sense of ‘assigning importance’, is inherently part of most decisions on natural resource and land use. Scholars from different traditions -while moving from heuristic interdisciplinary debate to applied transdisciplinary science- now acknowledge the need for combining multiple disciplines and methods to represent the diverse set of values of nature. This growing group of scientists and practitioners share the ambition to explore how combinations of ecological, socio-cultural and economic valuation tools can support real-life resource and land use decision-making. The current sustainability challenges and the ineffectiveness of single-value approaches to offer relief demonstrate that continuing along a single path is no option. We advocate for the adherence of a plural valuation culture and its establishment as a common practice, by contesting and complementing ineffective and discriminatory single-value approaches. In policy and decision contexts with a willingness to improve sustainability, integrated valuation approaches can be blended in existing processes, whereas in contexts of power asymmetries or environmental conflicts, integrated valuation can promote the inclusion of diverse values through action research and support the struggle for social and environmental justice. The special issue and this editorial synthesis paper bring together lessons from pioneer case studies and research papers, synthesizing main challenges and setting out priorities for the years to come for the field of integrated valuation.

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People provide wild ungulates with large quantities of supplementary feed to improve their health and survival and reduce forest damage. Whereas supplementary feeding can positively affect the winter survival of ungulates and short-term hunting success, some of the feeds provided may actually reduce ungulate health and increase forest damage. Here, we highlight how recent advances in ungulate nutritional ecology can help explain why supplementary feeding can lead to undesirable outcomes. Using Europe’s largest cervid, the moose (Alces alces), as a model species, and Sweden, as the socio-ecological context, we explain the concept of nutritional balancing and its relevance to supplementary feeding. Nutritional balancing refers to how animals alter their food intake to achieve a specific nutritional target balance in their diet, by selecting balanced food items or by combining items with nutritional compositions that are complimentary. As the most common supplementary feeds used contain higher concentrations of non-structural carbohydrates than the ungulates’ normal winter diet, the consumption of such feeds may cause animals to increase their intake of woody browse, and thereby exacerbate forest damage. We also explain how animal health may be negatively affected by large intakes of such feed if complementary browse items are not available. We therefore suggest that the use of inappropriate feed is an additional means by which supplementary feeding may result in negative outcomes for hunters, forest owners, and wild animals.

Abstract

Finding new ways to simultaneously account for monetary and non-monetary goals in ecosystem services is needed in order to establish a new modelling framework for the facilitation of trade-offs between competing stakeholder interests. The socioecological sustainability of an ecosystem service is dependent on the consent of the people in the area of the ESS. An important reason is that a given ecosystem service may have highly different value in different stakeholder cultures. In this aspect is also the understanding of disservices and hidden services. The kind and level of conflict tend to differ with location and the operational level of decision-making. It is crucial work to identify all linked subservices and organise them into a common framework for evaluation. In our research group (MULTIESS) we try to develop multi-criteria tools to assess the implications of prioritizing different interests on ecological, sociological and economic output. Similarly, changes in the human population and environment will interact and influence on the services and their values, demanding such parameters to be evaluated for the whole range of potential scenarios. We maintain that in order to make multi-criteria analyses (MCA) successful, service outputs and externalities must and can be measured in familiar terms (e.g. money, biomass) without the use of direct or stated pricing of non-commodities such as welfare, recreation or biodiversity.