More information about CAnMove and the research activities within the programme can be found at:


torsdag 24 september 2009

Graduate student course on Ecology of Animal Migration starting 29 September

Tuesday 29 September 42 PhD students arrive to Lund for a 12-day course on Ecology of Animal Migration organized by CAnMove.

The course is given for the fifth time, and never before has there been so many students (42) participating and from so many countries (23!). (Unfortunately, we did have to close the course for more participants.) New Zeeland is the location furthest away, this year, but we do also have participants from China for the first time, and from Nigeria, Hungary, Russia and Slovakia. I am happy to Welcome You All as well as the invited lecturers, who will also arrive to Lund for different parts of the course. The course program is available at the CAnMove web site, and we also have produced an abstract booklet, which can be downloaded. I am very happy we have been able to convince so many excellent lecturers to come to the course (several who has decided to return year after year – thank you very much for again coming to Lund!), and I am very much looking forward also to hear all the presentations by the participants.

I am sure this will be a spectacular event, and I hereby invite anyone interested to listen to the talks during the course to attend lectures and oral presentations by the participants. I also would like to stress the fact that we do have a high number of students attending different courses during this time of the year in the Ecology Building. It is going to be somewhat crowded in the entrance, at the café and in lecture halls. I hope it will all work out fine, but we all need to be understanding and helpful.

To lecturers, participants and to interested audience – Very Welcome to the 5th Migration Course in Lund, now organized by CAnMove starting 29 September!

Scientists have much to gain from communication

Recently, Vetenskap & Allmänhet, IVA, KVA, KSLA and the Swedish Research Council organized an ODE seminar on Science Communication. Result of discussions among the ca 100 participating scientists: scientists have much to gain by communicating their results with the society. You may read more here (in Swedish):



The New CAnMove logo is here!

Thanks to the fantastic work by Kate Spencer (Lizardfish Studios), an excellent nature illustrator and artist located at Pacific Grove in California, we have now a logo for the Centre of Animal Movement Research at Lund University. You will find more information about Kate and her work at: http://www.katespencer.com/

The logo will soon be possible to download at the CAnMove home page.

Thanks Kate for your excellent work!

Linnea is migrating south

The lesser black-backed gull, named Linnea, fitted with a satellite transmitter at Stora Karlsö earlier this season has started the migration south to the wintering quarters in Africa. The migration was initiated from a site northeast of the Island of Gotland near Finland, and suggested a very interesting northeast movement before the fast migration flight to the south along the eastern flyway across Europe and the Mediterranean was initiated. One may speculate that the marine feeding lesser black-backed gull might have followed some prey species (sprat?) to fuel before the migration was initiated. We hope that further tracking studies during the coming years will reveal whether this is a natural behaviour of the lesser black-backed gulls breeding at Stora Karlsö or if it this was the result of an exploitation of a occasional nature. Now first we are waiting for Karla to also start her migration. The destination of the two birds might however be completely different, and their plumage characteristics at capture suggested slightly different colour, with Linnea having the darkest back. More and updated information on Linneas movements are available at: http://www.seaturtle.org/

tisdag 22 september 2009

Mobile phones as new tools for efficient field data collection

Many of us who are affiliated with CAnMove work in the field with notebooks, binoculars and electronic equipment such as GPS. Typically, in a field study, GPS-positions (coordinates) are taken, and these coordinates are written down in a notebook alongside with ecological information, morphological information, behavioural information etc. This is the typical working scheme of those who work with (say) monitoring of breeding birds, population studies of nestbox-breeding birds or those performing mark-recapture studies on small mammals or insects. Can this type of data collection be made more efficient in the future?

Probably, according to a new methods-paper published in the open-source journal PLoS ONE. The authors of this study were interested in using so-called "smartphones" to more efficiently collect epidemiological data over a large geographical area, to understand the rate of spread of diseases. They used an open-source software that is available for mobile phones called EpiCollect and a spatial software web application that is also open source and which is located at http://www.spatialepidemiology.net/.

This new system enables scientists (and laymen who would like to volonteer as well, so-called "citizen scientists") to collect data directly in the field, alongside with geographic positions, and quickly download it to a database on the web, as a safe and immediate backup of the files. Data collected by multiple field workers can thus be submitted by phone, together with GPS data, to a common web database and can be displayed and analysed, along with previously collected data, using Google Maps (or Google Earth). You can also read more about this new methods-study in this article provided by BBC.

This system, and similar new high-throughput data-collection systems is something that could also be quite interesting also for us in CAnMove and for other field ecologists and field evolutonary biologists, outside the area of epidemiology (which was the original motivation for the study above). We have recently hired two new technical engineers, Johan Bäckman and Arne Andersson, who will hopefully soon start to look more in to these kind of systems, or even more efficient ones for field data collections. A few years ago, there were some handheld computers on the market ("Palm Pilots") that were used by some field ecologists, but their main disadvantage was that they could not be immediately backed up in the field. With new mobile phones that can be used as efficient data-collecting devices, we might soon enter a new revolutionary era in field work that will make us faster and more efficient in our studies.

tisdag 15 september 2009

More on climate change and the consequences of range expansions in damselflies

Here is a follow-up post on that theme, briefly discussing one of our most recently published articles that is now out in Evolution. The abstract for that article can be found here, but since this journal is not yet open source (unfortunately) you cannot access the entire article. If you are interested in a pre-print or reprint, please contact me or Maren Wellenreuther(maren.wellenreuther@zooekol.lu.se).

This study was a collaborative project together with our colleague Katja Tynkkynen at University of Jyväskylä, and the experiments were performed in the summer of 2008. The basic idéa was to investigate the potential consequences of the future range expansion in the calopterygid damselfly C. splendens ("CS" see picture on map above!), which is soon expected to move north in to the allopatric zone in Northern Scandinavia of its close relative C. virgo ("CV"; see picture above). These two morphologically similar congeneric damselflies are sympatric over the major part of Europe, and it is only in the northern areas that C. virgo occurs alone (i. e., allopatry), and where C. splendens does not yet occur (see map above).

However, things might change in the future: a recent study have revealed that C. splendens and many other damselfly and dragonfly species are currently expanding northwards in response to increasing temperatures and ongoing climate change. Increasing temperatures are particularly affecting ectothermic animals like damselflies and other insects, which respond very rapidly to the ongoing climate change in Europe and elsewhere in the northern Hemisphere. Thus, we would soon expect that dispersing individual C. splendens on the move from the south will encounter the isolated C. virgo populations in the north. As usual, the issue of "animal movement" is the key to many fascinating biological phenomena!

What will happen when the more southern species C. splendens expands in to the zone where "naive" C. virgo populations have been isolated for quite long time? Have these northern allopatric C. virgo populations lost their species recognition ability entirely, i. e. do they not discriminate against heterospecifics anymore? This would be expected, since (per definition) there cannot be any selection for species recognition in the absence of heterospecifics. Alternatively, since these northern C. virgo populations are most likely derived from southern populations that expanded northwards after the last Ice Age, they might still have a genetic evolutionary "memory" and discriminate against heterospecifics, that is based on their past evolutionary interactions with C. splendens when they co-occurred in the south.

We investigated this by experimentally simulating range expansion ourselves: we took C. splendens females from the sympatric zone in southern Finland and transported them to northern Finland where they were presented to the local C. virgo males. We then recorded the local male's reaction to this "novel" female phenotype and compared with the responses of C. virgo males in the sympatric zone. It turned out, rather surprisingly, that northern C. virgo males from the allopatric zone did actually show some discrimination against heterospecific C. splendens females, although the level of mate discrimination was weaker than among C. virgo males from the sympatric zone in the south. Thus, mate recognition against heterospecifics had been lost, although not entirely so. This will have some consequences for what to expect following range expansions in these and other insect species.

One potential risk of range expansions following climate change are changed interspecific interactions, which can lead to local extinctions, e. g. through hybridizations and/or heterospecific matings. This risk might not be as great as one might fear in this damselfly species pair, since obviously some level of mate recognition and ability to discriminate against heterospecifics is still there. The interesting remaining question is of course: how long will a maladaptive (or at least neutral) trait that is no longer maintained by selection persist, and why do these C. virgo males still discriminate against heterospecific females long after they run any risk of meeting them?


Wellenreuther M, Tynkkynen K, Svensson EI.

Prolonged periods of allopatry might result in loss of the ability to discriminate against other formerly sympatric species, and can lead to heterospecific matings and hybridization upon secondary contact. Loss of premating isolation during prolonged allopatry can operate in the opposite direction of reinforcement, but has until now been little explored. We investigated how premating isolation between two closely related damselfly species, Calopteryx splendens and C. virgo, might be affected by the expected future northward range expansion of C. splendens into the allopatric zone of C. virgo in northern Scandinavia. We simulated the expected secondary contact by presenting C. splendens females to C. virgo males in the northern allopatric populations in Finland. Premating isolation towards C. splendens in northern allopatric populations was compared to sympatric populations in southern Finland and southern Sweden. Male courtship responses of C. virgo towards conspecific females showed limited geographic variation, however, courtship attempts towards heterospecific C. splendens females increased significantly from sympatry to allopatry. Our results suggest that allopatric C. virgo males have partly lost their ability to discriminate against heterospecific females. Reduced premating isolation in allopatry might lead to increased heterospecific matings between taxa that are currently expanding and shifting their ranges in response to climate change.

Evolution. 2009 Aug 6. [Epub ahead of print]

måndag 14 september 2009

Extra CAnMove seminar 16 Sept at 11.00h in Communis

Hi All,

Extra CAnMove seminar:

Masters student Tom Evans from York University will present his project on: The foraging behavior of common guillemots at Stora Karlsö.

Tom has used new technology to track the foraging movements with GPS-loggers and monitored the diving behavior with TDRs (time-depth-recorders) in common guillemots during breeding season 2009 at Stora Karlsö. The work has been done at the newly installed artificial ledge and is a collaboration with CAnMove (S. Åkesson) and Stockholm University and Stockholm Recilience Centre (Olof Olsson) and the Baltic Seabird Group (Jonas Sundberg).

The seminar will be given 16 September 11.00-12.00h in Communis (3rd floor).

You are All very Welcome!

Susanne Åkesson