Once upon a time in the most north-eastern part of Norway…
…there was an intern (financed by the EU-funded ERASMUS+ program: https://ec.europa.eu/programmes/erasmus-plus/node_en) at the Svanhovd Research Station, a station that is a part of NIBIO, the Norwegian Institute of Bioeconomy Research. I am Helena Klöckener, a student from Germany, staying here about two and a half months to get an insight into the work of NIBIO Svanhovd in the valley of the Pasvik river. I have a bachelor’s degree in Landscape Ecology and studying now for a M.Sc. in “Biodiversity and Education for Sustainable Development” at the University of Education in Karlsruhe.
At the end of July, I left the hot weather of Central Europe and came all the way to northern Norway, where I was welcomed with 11°C at Svanhovd biological station, near Kirkenes. Svanhovd was originally built in 1934 by the Norwegian government to train farmers and expand the agricultural sector as a means of strengthening Norwegian sovereignty in the north of Norway. Today, the biological station has its focus on molecular ecological research, combining genetics-based research with ecological experimentation and monitoring of arctic and subarctic ecosystems.
I chose to get an insight into this specific region because not only Norway, Finland, and Russia, with their three times zones, meet here but also because the different ecosystems of the boreal forest, the Siberian taiga, and the northern mountain birch forests turn into the arctic tundra. This geographical region is seen as a meeting point for many species from the west and the east. You can find a lot of different terrestrial habitats, for example, different types of forests, tundra, and wetlands but also aquatic habitats like lakes, rivers, fjords, and the Barents Sea.
The biological station of Svanhovd provides laboratory facilities for microbiology and DNA-research, a conference centre, a visitor centre with an exhibition about the nature in the Pasvik valley and a botanical garden, one of only three such gardens open to the public north of the polar circle. There is also a teaching laboratory that is fully equipped for DNA-research and is used to teach pupils from different schools about this kind of research.
I have had the possibility to participate in many different projects this summer which I want to present in my following posts. Stay tuned!