Greetings from NIBIO Svanhovd Station in Norway

The four researchers from the AQUATERR project (see our homepage, Twitter, and ResearchGate for more info) who travelled to Kilpisjärvi Biological Station (see other post for more information) continued their journey to the Norwegian Lapland to collect even more Arctic emergent aquatic insects. We, Dr. Martin Kainz (Austria), Prof. Dominik Martin-Creuzburg (Germany), Dr. Margaux Mathieu-Resuge (France), and PhD candidate Tarn Preet Parmar (Germany) road tripped from Kilpisjärvi to the NIBIO Svanhovd Research Station (Figure 1). NIBIO Svanhovd Research Station (Figure 2) is located in Svanvik, a small village of a few hundred in the Pasvik Valley. The station is located close to the western shore of the Pasvik River, which defines the border between Norway and Russia.

Figure 1: A fjord view on the E6 near Kirkenes (Norway) on the way to the NIBIO Svanhovd Research Station in Svanvik (Photo: Tarn Preet Parmar).

Figure 2: The main building of the NIBIO Svanhovd Research Station in Svanvik, which has accommodations, laboratories, meeting rooms, and a staffed kitchen. The Visitor Centre for the Øvre Pasvik National Park is also found in the same building (Photo: Tarn Preet Parmar).

We were interested in studying the role small Arctic ponds may have in supplying important dietary energy and nutrients to terrestrial predators via emerging aquatic insects. Anyone who spends outdoor time during the Lapland summers will have their best strategy to avoid the swarm of mosquitos. Mosquitos, along with other aquatic emergent insects, represent a key vector of aquatic-derived energy and nutrient transfer to terrestrial food webs. Aquatic insects typically contain higher content of long-chain polyunsaturated fatty acids (LC-PUFA) than terrestrial insects. Small Arctic ponds may only be productive for a few weeks in a year, but the aquatic insects that emerge may be a crucial nutrient source of physiologically important LC-PUFA for terrestrial predators such as spiders and birds. Accelerated Arctic warming will likely influence the production and export of emerging insects leading to a potential phenological mismatch with terrestrial consumers. Little is known about emergent insect and LC-PUFA export in Arctic ponds but with the help of INTERACT we wanted to change that!

Figure 3: Dominik (hands) holding a dragonfly, an example of an aquatic emergent insect, larva exuvia (left) and adult insect (right; Photo: Tarn Preet Parmar).

During the 7 days we stayed at the NIBIO Svanhovd Research Station, we built and deployed our floating emergence traps. We sampled aquatic insects emerging from 5 small Arctic ponds (Figure 4). The floating emergence traps were sampled every few days to make sure the insects were alive. Insects were frozen as soon as possible and transferred to the Kilpisjärvi Biological Station for further processing. We had all left Central Europe at the beginning of the 2022 heat waves but what we did not expect was higher than 30 °C temperatures 400 km north of the Arctic Circle. Although the swarm of mosquitoes and black flies sometimes made sampling challenging, it confirmed to us that it is important to understand this aquatic to terrestrial nutrient transfer, especially with global warming potentially altering this cross-ecosystem connection.

Figure 4: Margaux (left) and Dominik (right) emptying one of the floating emergent insect traps using a portable vacuum-powered aspirator (Photo: Tarn Preet Parmar).

Figure 5: Martin (left) and Dominik (right) at the Øvre Pasvik National Park (Photo: Tarn Preet Parmar).

The NIBIO Svanhovd Research Station has well-equipped laboratories for microbiology and DNA-research (see their website for more details). Outside you can find a vegetable garden and a botanical garden, one of only three public botanical gardens north of the Arctic Circle. At the time, there was also an open and very informative exhibition about the Pasvik valley and all its habitats and inhabitants. We would gladly come back to continue our project or for any future collaborations! We want to thank all the staff of the NIBIO Svanhovd Research Station for their support; “Takk skal du ha” to Cornelya Klutsch and Snorre Hagen. “Tausend Dank” to Birk Schulze for all his tremendous help sampling!

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