The end ...

EMBC+ Spring School 2017 is over and was again an unforgettable experience. During the 10 days 47 students worked on 7 challenging research projects guided by an international team of 10 teachers. The facilities of the Sven Lovén Centre for Marine Sciences in Tjärnö proved again to be an excellent location for this school.

Watch the documentary movies made by each team of students at the EMBC+ video channel! Enjoy!

How to stop the invasion?

After hearing our alien stories, you are probably wondering: Are there aliens around my area as well? And what can I do to stop them? We therefore want to dedicate this blogpost to a couple of actions every one of us can take to identify potential invaders and avoid their spreading.

At first, we want to call your attention to the DAISIE-project, a site dedicated solely to the alien species of Europe with an astonishing 11.000 alien species documented so far. They offer a lot of information on all kinds of biological invasions and provide access to species databases for every region of Europe. You can check out the “Invasive species of the week”, get in touch with international experts and report sightings of alien species. They even compiled a handbook of the invasive species of Europe. The DAISIE-project can be found under the following link:

Once you have informed yourself, you can follow these simple steps to stop aquatic hitch-hikers:

Check & clean…

After all, snails do kinda race for life!

As it turns out, the biologists were not so wrong after all and you might say the group reached a conclusion – at least one good enough to shut up the philosopher. Snails from different populations – a rocky shore and a wave exposed area – do differ in behaviour.
So picture this now: four biologists, a veterinarian, an architect and a philosopher under a black curtain made out of black plastic bags (after all, predators like crabs are most active at night) for 5 days in a row, hauling with tanks and checking environmental parameters in a very wet lab to ensure the best possible bed and breakfast conditions for the animals. And then the most absurd part: tracking snails’ movements in tanks through quadrants made out of dental floss. Crazy, right?
So here’s the deal: snails do seem to pick up chemical cues, both from their crab predators and their fellow snails.
The architect had this theory that their reaction to crab and conspecific scent (resulting from the damaged tissues of snails …

The importance of animal welfare in scientific research – Part 2

Nuri, you have chosen to study General Biology and Marine Science in order to become a Science Journalist. Is animal welfare in scientific research a topic which you would still consider as newsworthy?
Definitely yes! I would even say “more than ever”. Over the last few decades, advances in molecular- and neurobiology have increased the number of experiments involving animals. For a lot of studies, it is still seen without any alternative to kill test animals before or after an experiment. The same applies to academic education.
You mean experiments which involve the killing of test animals are still part of academic teaching programs? Do you have experience with that?
Yes, at least from my experience this is the case. I have worked with fish, rats, frogs, snails and flies. Some of them were already dead when we started working with them, some we had to suppress ourselves. For my BSc thesis I worked on gene expression analysis in sea cucumber. I sacrificed one i…

Recipe for the the perfect biodiversity assessment

1 Tjärnö Bay 1 Beam Trawl (BT) 1 Towed Video (TV) 1 Baited Underwater Video (BUV) 1 Photo-quadrat (PQ) 5 computers 1 laboratory 7 people

Wake up everyday at 7:30 in the morning and go on a boat. You will need to sample, a lot. Don’t forget to complain about being cold! It will show how committed you are, and people will appreciate it.

Analyze your data. With love. Here, it is important to stay calm. Coffee might help you achieve the right consistency of your assessment. Build graphs, tables and calculate indices. It’s very likely that they will be wrong. Remember to keep calm. Delete them, breath and do them again. Eventually some nice stuff will come out.

Sleep. Go to the sauna. Some fresh air might help, too. Hang out with your friends, ask them about anything, even the weather, but not how they’re project is going. Friends don’t like that kind of stuff.

Write a report. State that BUV was the method with the higher functional diversity and that BT, despite presenting a…

They have arrived…

Our investigation is up and running and after some strenuous days of fieldwork along the coast of Tjärnö bay as well as submerged in the 7°C cold Swedish waters we can already confirm the presence of at least two marine alien species.

Here you see our team of specialists detecting the invasive Pacific oyster Crassostrea gigas. This oyster originally inhabits the Pacific coast of Asia and has been introduced to Sweden around 50 years ago when trying to cultivate it near Tjärnö. From there, the pacific oyster ‘escaped’ but was not observed for another 40 years. In 2007, a massive invasion along the Swedish coast began. This alien newcomer is now competing for space with the native European oyster Ostrea edulis and the well-known blue mussel Mytilus edulis and is slowly starting to replace them. To give you an idea about its danger: Our colleagues from Australia have classified the Pacific oyster as one of the ten most damaging invasive species.

Our most recent finding in the bay is the…

Conflicts of Interests in Science

Most of people whom ever read a scientific article, be it by choice or obligation, should have noticed this sentence, most likely before kicking off the festivities:

The authors have declared that no competing interests exist.

This sentence, which appears as an automatic formula, deserves a short discussion, as in these few words lies a huge deal of questions on ethics and scientific conduct, especially in our mad modern world.

In its enterprise to understand the natural world, Science has knowledge and discovery for sole purposes. Science is foreign to the logic of benefit, cost and maximum profit that rules currently our modern, globalized and wild-financial world. This is a reason why dedicating a life to Science is a noble thing to do.
Yet nobleness is never acquired, and stick to it along a scientific career is a tortuous road to take, where the gulches and crevices are tricky situations called “conflicts of interests”.

The concept of conflict of interest is quite simple and sel…