Alga of the month – in March the rocks, boulders and reeds turn brown and green

The spring is in full bloom in the sea even though there is still ice and snow covering rocks and boulders up on land. Light is returning and the algae begin to grow.

klippor-mars

It is frightfully cold to stick the hands into the water and fetch some rocks, all covered with algae by the jetty at the Askö Laboratory. Overwintering tufts of the brown alga Pylaiella littoralis are only 4-5 cm long but have started to grow even though the water temperature is little more than + 2 or 3 °C. The name littoralis is well suited, since it is often found in the shallow zone near the shore, as littoral means shore.

The Pylaiella is about to reproduce for the first time this year, so that in  2-3 months when many of you go out to your summer-houses by the sea, large areas of the shallow hard or rocky bottoms will be covered with the next generation of  Pylaiella. The reproduction consists of lots and lots of spores being released from single-roomed sporangia, which look like beads on string in the single-cell branches.

pylasporangier

Many of the branches have transformed into sporangia and will be completely emptied of their content. Under a microscope, we can tell that this is Pylaiella littoralis and not the very similar species Ectocarpus siliculosus, since the branches on Pylaiella are situated opposite each other. The brances on Ectocarpus siliculosus are strewn. Also, this species does not occur until later in the year, so I will get back to you with some pictures of that. Ectocarpus siliculosus was actually the first brown algae to get its whole genome sequenced.

motsatta-grenar

On the branches of the Pylaiella can also be seen clusters of pointy, narrow diatoms. Later in spring, there will be enormous amounts of diatoms. They are also species that thrive in colder water. On many rocks by the shore, we can also see the pretty green alga Monostroma grevillei, which is only one layer of cells thick. The species name monostroma means ”one cellular layer”.

monosten

Monostroma grevillei is a common green alga, with a narrow base and broadening leaf, which splits in the top, forming long bands. It is of a marine origin and grows on any substrate that it can attach itself to, such as rocks, shells and other large algae. It is also an early spring species, reaching about 5-10 cm in size. It reproduces during March-May. After reproduction, the new offspring lives as a microscopic stage until late winter-early spring the following year.

monostroma

The family Monostroma is one of the most farmed green algae in Asia and is marketed as ”hirohano-hitoegusa nori”. Perhaps something for you to try as a salad, if you find some fresh green Monostroma during your walk along the shore, far away from pollution sources.

 

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Artificial algalbelt created by ferry traffic

h3>In the non-tidal Baltic Sea, the daily wash from the regular ferry traffic along the archipelago shores creates an algal zonation similar to a tidal shore. The regular wash of the rocky shores bordering the ferry route results in marked green algal zone. In the springtime it is composed of e.g. Spirogyra species and in the summer by Cladophora glomerata and Enteromorpha/Ulva species. Just below the green algal belt a zone of Fucus vesiculosus is found. The swell created by the ferry traffic is enough to keep the thalli wet and not drying out. The daily wash from the ferry traffic also affects the communities in rock pools. If you want to know more about these changes have a look at the article by Östman and Rönnberg Effects of ships’ waves on rock-pools in the Åland …

algzonering ovan ytanSvallvågor

3Spirogyra i luppen

A stone with Spirogyra spp. collected from the Askö laboratory a week before.

This algal belt could be observed from the ferry last week when I was travelling from Mariehamn, Åland to Stockholm,Sweden. The other less positive effects from the traffic is the strong erosion of sandy coastal parts where threes are falling down and the shores are disappearing, leaving larger stones and boulders along the shore.

erosionsstrand

 

 

Nordic OIKOS poster sessions

The number of posters was very large and one poster presented by a PhD student won the award as the best poster, selected by the board of Oikos during the conference. This was number 100 with the title: “Ant larvae as a secret weapon against social parasites” by Unni Pulliainen. During the poster session lots of engaged presentations occurred.

1Winning poster Ants

Winner of “Best Poster Award”

1 a Ben presents his poster

Ben presents his poster

There were also a number of marine and aquatic posters, for some the author had the possibility to pitch their poster in 3 minutes.

Tiina Salo, now being on a post-doc, showed in her poster that Lymnea stagnalis responds more strongly to a heat wave after exposure to a mixture of micropollutants. But they recovered fast after the heat wave had passed. To feed the snails she used ecological salad. In the future experiments they will be fed leaves from different aquatic plant species.

2Tiina presents her poster

Tiina (left) pitches her poster

Several posters presented different aspects on the hot topic “ top- down – bottom-up” regulation of different ecosystems and impact of cascading effects and interactions between species. One species that creates lots of emotions is the cormorant, when establishing large populations on small islands along the Baltic coast.

4 aPelagic food-web  poster

Top-down fish poster

5Cormorant poster

Bottom-up cormorant poster

From the Department of Ecology, Environment and Evolution two posters were presented, one on the long-term effect of Pilayella on the settlement of Fucus vesiculosus by Susanne Qvarfordt and the other one presented results from a master project on the Swedish west coast about two closely related Littorina snail species behaviour when placing their egg sacs on different fucoid species.

6Pylaiella påverkan på etablering av blåstång

Susanne Qvarfordt show how the effects of Pylaiella can be seen for a long time in the macroalgal community

7Littorina poster

Our poster!

The last poster that I want to present was of high interest dealing with the new crab species, the mud crab, Rhithropanopeus harrisii and its impact on the local fauna. It is just a question when this crab will arrive on the Swedish coast. Keep your eye out for it.
8Mud crab introduced

The conference ended after three intense days.

9Thanks for the conference

 

Lots of exciting findings washed onto the beach by the storm Svea

1.SVEA TILL FACKBOOK FPROLIGBILD+
The wind was strong at Saltö, a small island on the Swedish west-coast close to the marine research station Tjärnö on January 2 when the first storm called Svea hit the shores and some of the finds were really exciting. From earlier in the year, we found a seal skeleton and a bird´s wing high up on the beach.
2 SÄLSKELETT
3 FÅGELVINGE
That it is a seal skeleton can be recognized by that the pelvis is low and sits far back. The head was not there anymore. There was not much left of the bird except for one of the wings.
4 många backar
Further down was a broad zone with materials washed ashore. It included lots of plastic containers in different colours, a large shovel and various species of seaweed.

5 KNöltång o spade
6 knöltång betad o ostron
Green shovel with fouling and large knotted wrack, Ascophyllum nodosum, with giant sized receptacles on the way to develop and get mature. Another sign beyond morphology of the knotted wrack, that much of the material comes from countries other than the Swedish coast, was the long rope-like receptacles of Himentalia elongata. Both males and female thalli were found among the seaweed wrack.

6 a Remtång
The picture shows the pits on the female receptacle from which oogonia and eggs are released when ripe. On the lower male receptacle the orange spots are millions of sperms released from the conceptacle. The thalli may come from the Norwegian coast which is the closest areas where this species occurs.

7 blå hink
10 havsborstmask
I also found a blue bucket, with a some green algae on the outside and many white polychaete tubes belong to the species, Pomatoceros triqueter on the inside. Upon closer scrutiny of the inside I also found two other polychaete tubes, which was lined with small pieces of shell and sand grains. Those I have not been able to determine what species it is.

8Trollhummer o havstulpan
9 sjöborre
The blue bucket comes right from the English Channel, which is revealed by the tiny little pink coloured barnacles. The nearest locations of this species Balanus perforates, is just there and it is also found in the Mediterranean Sea. Together with them and a small squat lobster, Munida and a small sea urchin, they have made a long journey at sea before being washed ashore on one of the beaches in Saltö, near Tjärnö where a marine biological research station is located.

12Rotsystem binder sanden
The small beach beside the pier had a lot of sand washed away. It is fortunate that the root system of plants can help to retain a portion of the sand so that it does not completely disappear.

13handske höger
14handske vänster
A few days earlier, it was quite cold and everything was covered with hoarfrost.
I find it strange that you only find a rubber glove and not two. So that day I found this the right glove on the beach. After the storm Svea I found the left glove on another beach, so now I have a pair.
15 solnedgång vid piren
Last night before we go home to Stockholm. A beautiful sunset at the pier at Svallhagen. All the best for the new year and hope of many new exciting discoveries and findings in 2015.

Trip to Vietnam – looking for seaweeds

When we landed in Hanoi we started with a meeting at MCD, Centre for Marinelife Conservation and Community Development, (more information to be found at http://www.mcdvietnam), where we got coffee and we had a first planning of the work for the following week.
välkomstmöte på MCD

MCD has been a partner to Stockholm University and the Department of Ecology, Environmental and Plant Science in Vietnam for many years. It is mainly women working at MCD and everything is very well-planned and efficient. During our visit we had the opportunity to meet with the local government in Phu Long and get information about the planning of aquaculture in the region for the future. Two master students will together with the help from MCD perform interview with local shrimp and fish farmers as well as trying to find out the use of trash fish in aquacultures, with the aim of proposing development improving the environmental conditions and integrated aquaculture.
Karta PHU Long areaMap of Phu Long

The next day we went to Cat Ba, to study different types of aquaculture activities, ranging from high to low intensity shrimp farming in mangrove plantations, where both fish mainly Tilapia are cultivated in combination with crabs and shrimps.
skylt vid odlingen

In the intensive shrimp cultivation 2-3 harvests are produced per year. This type of aquaculture takes up a much smaller area but has a strong impact on the environment while the extensive aquaculture takes up a 10 times larger area and has a less negative impact on the surrounding area and a lower but more diverse production.

hus på damm kantenThe family lives in the small house located on the edge of the pond.

Much of the island is part of a UNESCO World Heritage Site and the mangrove is 4000 ha protected. Between 1990- 2000, when aquaculture around the island peaked, 50 hectares of mangroves where cut down. The plan now is to replant mangroves and increasing area and cover.

Rhizophora
Mangrove plantering
Rhizophora utmed damm kant

The mangrove species planted are mainly Rhizophora and Avicennia. They are planted along both sides of the dam. The smallest plants are brand new and the largest over 2 meters in height are about 8 years old.

karta Lan Ha Bay

The second part of our trip was to visit Lan Ha Bay. The area is heavily influenced locally from farms, by untreated sewage from communities around the coast, from harbor construction and from runoff from the Red River, which transports large amounts of sediment, organic matter and nutrients. At the first farm we visited they were feeding the cultivated fish with thrash fish.

skräpfisk försäljning

skräpfisklådor till försäljning

Pictures of the on-going sale of trash fish and loading into boxes to be transported to neighbouring fish farms. At one of the fish farms you could stay and have a lunch with really fresh sea-food.

krabbor röda godaDelicious red crabs

Cultivation of seaweeds seems to be limited in Vietnam. On the road from Phu Long to Cat Ba I suddenly saw some red algae put out to dry along the small road. The algae had been collected form an adjacent pond where they grow naturally. They will get about 1 dollar for 10 kilos or one sac of dried algae (about 70000VDN). It may not be much money, but can still be a contribution to the salary which is around 200 -300 dollar/month.

samla torkade rödalger
rödalgskördRed algae harvest
The picture shows women who rakes up dried red algae and put them in sacks so that they can be transported and soled. My first guess on the species was Gracillaria, which I was able to confirm when I found some plants that were not dry.

Gracilaria spp.

Picture of Gracillaria spp. from the harvest of dried seaweeds photographed on a small plate at the hotel, since I had forgotten to pack paper for pressing seaweed!

During the visit to the fish farms, while the others were talking to the owner and investigated which fish were cultivated in the various cages and what they were fed, I lay on my knees and looked after what was growing on the edges of the cages and on the nets.
CladophoraCladophora
UlvaUlva

Here are some pictures of the findings! One Cladophora spp., one Ulva spp., looks just like our species on the west coast Ulva lactuca, one Bryopsis spp. and one Polysiphonia spp. The last two species were too small, so I was not able to take any photos.The algae were found only in the innermost fish farms, close to the coast and only down to about 0.5 m depth. Probably because the light conditions in water are so poor that the light is not enough for algal growth. Other species found on the cages were mainly different filter feeders, like sponges and hydroids.

Hydroid med symbiontisk rödalg

Beautiful red-coloured and finely branched hydroid, looking a bit like Dynamena or Abitenaria. The colour red is produced from a symbiontisk red algae that live inside the animal wall.

Svampdjur och ostron

Krabba i svampdjur

Those who had the most beautiful colours were different species of sponges, in colours of maroon, red or clear blue. In one of them was a small crab, who had found good protection inside the sponge. It has been a new experience and I have learned a lot of new things about Vietnam and would very much like to come back and learn more.

solnedgång Cat BaSunset over the bay – view from our hotel.

I will remember the travel to Vietnam for a long time during the dark winter months in Sweden and going to the Askö Laboratory studying the Baltic Fucus.

PhD position on seaweed farming in Sweden

The Department of Biological and Environmental Sciences at Gothenburg University announces a PhD-position on macroalgae farming. The lucky winner will be located at Tjärnö Marinebiological Laboratory, just south of Strömstad on the Swedish west coast. It sounds like really interesting stuff!

Tjärnö Station as seen from r/v Nereus

Tjärnö Station as seen from r/v Nereus

Type of employment: Fixed-term employment, four years
Extent: 100 %
Location: Department of Biological and Environmental Sciences, Tjärnö, on the Swedish west coast.
First day of employment: Up on agreement
Reference number: UR 2014/914

Doctoral education
The admission to doctoral education takes place in natural science, specialising in biology. The program comprises four years of fulltime study and includes three years working on a thesis project and one year of courses and literature studies. Courses can be selected within the department/faculty, but national/international courses can also be included. Teaching and supervision of undergraduate students may be included, which extends the doctoral education period.

Project description
The PhD project is part of the larger research project “Sustainable large-scale cultivation of seaweeds in Sweden” where researchers from the University of Gothenburg, the KTH Royal Institute of Technology, and the Scottish Association of Marine Science participate. The overall project objective is to develop a sustainable large-scale system for growing kelp (Saccharina latissima) at the Swedish west coast. Seaweed cultivation is the fastest growing aquaculture sector globally, but is totally undeveloped in Sweden despite good natural conditions. The project deals with methodological and environmental aspects such as new cultivation techniques, mass production of spores and seedlings, breeding of crop varieties, and effects of seaweed cultivation on the surrounding marine ecosystem.

Saccharina latissima

Saccharina latissima

Job assignments
The main task is to carry out thesis work under supervision, during which the PhD student will develop knowledge and skills in methodology, analytical ability and subject theory. The work tasks include laboratory-based production of seedlings, development of new cultivation techniques for seaweeds in the field, development of high-performing lines through breeding, and evaluation of positive and negative environmental effects of large-scale algal cultivation. The studies will be conducted both in the field and in the laboratory.
The thesis work also includes statistical analyses and compilation of results in scientific papers, leading to the publication of a doctoral thesis. The PhD student will also present results at conferences, seminars, and project meetings and is expected to communicate and collaborate actively with other participants.

Small seedlings of Saccharina latissima on rope.

Small seedlings of Saccharina latissima on rope.

The admission to doctoral education takes place in Natural Science, specialising in Biology. The program comprises four years of fulltime study and includes three years working on a thesis project and one year of courses and literature studies. Courses can be selected within the department/faculty, but national/international courses can also be included. Teaching and supervision of undergraduate students may be included, which extends the doctoral education period.

For more information on the position, check THIS LINK

You can also contact
Henrik Pavia, +46(0)31-7869685, henrik.pavia@bioenv.gu.se
or
Head of department: Ingela Dahllöf, +46 (0)31 786 3393, ingela.dahllof@bioenv.gu.se