Publications

NIBIOs employees contribute to several hundred scientific articles and research reports every year. You can browse or search in our collection which contains references and links to these publications as well as other research and dissemination activities. The collection is continously updated with new and historical material.

2022

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Abstract

Democratizing learning is essential for environmental sustainability. Less privileged areas are crucial in this regard. Informal education has great such potential, but often fails to reach the less privileged, and to document learning. With the objective to identify and counter these issues, we here report on EDU-ARCTIC, an informal open schooling course in environmental science, aimed at European teachers with teenage pupils. Of the 1,181 teachers who enrolled, 73% were females and 43% were from less privileged nations (according to UN Human Development Index). This is a higher share of less privileged (females) than is the case for the general population of Europe. Teachers from less privileged nations also participated in more project activities than did those from more privileged nations, apart from in urban areas. For the project period, the teachers reported a significant increase in all the three categories of aspired learning outcomes for their pupils. We conclude that courses like ours can increase teenagers’ literacy and engagement in science and environmental issues, not the least in less privileged areas. Deliberate efforts are required to reach these target groups, who may be less inclined to join on their own.

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Abstract

The categories and concepts in the existing official land-use maps have been under improvements over recent years; however, this study from Nordland, northern Norway, shows that they continue to pose several dilemmas when aiming to better capture the impacts of multiple land uses on reindeer herding. While these developments have done much to better communicate the presence of reindeer herding to developers and planners, there remain significant challenges to achieve best practices. In particular, the confluence of multiple landscape features, for instance, roads, farmland, ecoregions, tenure, pastures, tourism paths and cabins, may have interactions that create cumulative impacts that do not “add up” neatly across map layers. Migration routes, herding routes, and resting areas have been introduced in these maps. In collaboration with reindeer herders, this article analyses how to enrich mapping practices by for example including bottlenecks, parallel to increased attention to influence zones and avoidance zones, as important emergent impacts of multiple interacting features of the landscape. Our research reveals how local knowledge developed by herders through their “presence in the landscape” is better capable of accounting for interactions and cumulative dimensions of landscape features. Through our participatory mapping approach with Sámi reindeer herders, we focus on ways of combining reindeer herders’ knowledge and GIS maps and demonstrate the potential in collaborative work between herders and policymakers in generating a richer understanding of land-use change. We conclude that the practical knowledge of people inhabiting and living with the landscape and its changing character generates a rich understanding of cumulative impacts and can be harnessed for improved land-use mapping and multi-level governance.

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Populations of large herbivores, including members of the deer family Cervidae, are expanding across and within many regions of the northern hemisphere. Because their browsing on trees can result in economic losses to forestry and strongly affect ecosystems, it is becoming increasingly important to understand how best to mitigate resultant damage. Previous research has highlighted the importance of regulating deer density and the availability of alternative forage to reduce browsing damage levels in conifer production stands. However, often only one or two proxies of forage availability have been used instead of applying a broad foodscape approach and more knowledge is needed to understand which types of alternative forage best mitigate damage. We conducted field inventories of damage that occurred during the previous fall/winter in 112 production stands in southern Sweden, while also measuring forage availability and cervid faecal pellets in the surrounding landscape (16 ha). Local landowners provided data on supplementary feeding. We found that variation in cervid (Alces alces, Capreolus capreolus, Cervus elaphus and Dama dama) browsing damage to top shoots or stems of young Scots pine trees (Pinus sylvestris, hereon pine), was better explained by the availability of alternative natural forage (using several indices and species of trees and shrubs) than by supplementary feeding. The proportion of damaged pine trees was higher in stands with a lower density of pine stems; in landscapes with a lower density of key broadleaf tree species (genera Sorbus, Salix, Populus and Quercus); and in landscapes with more open land (agricultural fields and paddocks). Damage was also higher in stands where relatively large amounts of moose faeces was found, while not related to the amount of faeces from other cervid species. The amount of supplementary feed (silage or other types such as root vegetables) did not explain variation in pine damage, but the result was possibly affected by relatively few study areas supplying sufficient data on supplementary feeding. The results from our inventory illustrate the efficacy of using naturally growing forage to mitigate browsing damage to young pine trees in managed landscapes. Creation of such forage is also recommended over supplementary feeding because of co-benefits to forest biodiversity and ecosystem services.

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The Pasvik River experiences chemical, physical, and biological stressors due to the direct discharges of domestic sewage from settlements located within the catchment and runoff from smelter and mine wastes. Sediments, as a natural repository of organic matter and associated contaminants, are of global concern for the possible release of pollutants in the water column, with detrimental effects on aquatic organisms. The present study was aimed at characterizing the riverine benthic microbial community and evaluating its ecological role in relation to the contamination level. Sediments were sampled along the river during two contrasting environmental periods (i.e., beginning and ongoing phases of ice melting). Microbial enzymatic activities, cell abundance, and morphological traits were evaluated, along with the phylogenetic community composition. Amplified 16S rRNA genes from bacteria were sequenced using a next-generation approach. Sediments were also analyzed for a variety of chemical features, namely particulate material characteristics and concentration of polychlorobiphenyls, polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, and pesticides. Riverine and brackish sites did not affect the microbial community in terms of main phylogenetic diversity (at phylum level), morphometry, enzymatic activities, and abundance. Instead, bacterial diversity in the river sediments appeared to be influenced by the micro-niche conditions, with differences in the relative abundance of selected taxa. In particular, our results highlighted the occurrence of bacterial taxa directly involved in the C, Fe, and N cycles, as well as in the degradation of organic pollutants and toxic compounds.

2021

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Abstract

Simple Summary Chronic Wasting Disease is a deadly infectious disease affecting cervids that was discovered in Norway in 2016. CWD can transmit through environmental reservoirs and aggregation and spatial clustering of animals may affect transmission. Deer usually forage on scattered forage, but anthropogenic food sources are often concentrated in space, leading to spatial aggregation. We determined what caused red deer to revisit the same locations in the environment, and the extent to which this was caused by anthropogenic food sources. We document that the most visited sites were indeed anthropogenic, which opens potential avenues to disease mitigation. Abstract Herbivores like cervids usually graze on widely scattered forage, but anthropogenic food sources may cause spatial revisitation and aggregation, posing a risk for transmission of infectious diseases. In 2016, chronic wasting disease (CWD) was first detected in Norway. A legal regulation to ban supplemental feeding of cervids and to fence stored hay bales was implemented to lower aggregation of cervids. Knowledge of further patterns and causes of spatial revisitation can inform disease management. We used a recently developed revisitation analysis on GPS-positions from 13 red deer (Cervus elaphus) to identify the pattern of spatial clustering, and we visited 185 spatial clusters during winter to identify the causes of clustering. Anthropogenic food sources were found in 11.9% of spatial clusters, which represented 31.0% of the clusters in agricultural fields. Dumping of silage and hay bales were the main anthropogenic food sources (apart from agricultural fields), and unfenced hay bales were available despite the regulation. The probability of the clusters being in agricultural fields was high during winter. It may be necessary to find other ways of disposing of silage and enforcing the requirement of fencing around hay bales to ensure compliance, in particular during winters with deep snow.