The beaver – our wetland rescuer

The beavers (Castor canadensis and Castor fiber) have recovered from near extinction, and come to the rescue of wetland biodiversity. Two major processes drive boreal wetland loss: the near extinction of beavers, and extensive draining (if we exclude the effects of the ever-expanding human population). Beaver dams have produced over 500 square kilometers of wetlands in Europe during the past 70 years.

 

The wetland creation of beavers begins with the flood. As floodwaters rise into the surrounding forest, soil and vegetation are washed into the water system. The amount of organic carbon increases in the wetland during the first three impoundment years, after which they gradually begin reverting back to initial levels. The increase in organic carbon facilitates the entire wetland food web in stages, beginning with plankton and invertebrates, and ending in frogs, birds and mammals.

The previous shoreline is very evident from an aerial photograph. Also the beaver flooded area shows clearly. © Antti Nykänen

The previous shoreline is very evident from an aerial photograph. Also the beaver flooded area shows clearly. © Antti Nykänen

Beaver-created wetlands truly become frog paradises. The wide shallow water area creates suitable spawning and rearing places. The shallow water warms up rapidly, and accelerates hatching and tadpole development. Beaver-created wetlands also ensure ample nutrition. The organic carbon increase raises the amounts of tadpole nutrition (plankton and protozoans) in the wetland, along with the nutriment of adult frogs (invertebrates). Furthermore, the abundant vegetation creates hiding places against predators for both tadpoles and adult frogs.

Beaver-created wetlands are perfect rearing places for frogs. The warm water accelerates hatching and the abundant aquatic vegetation gives cover against predators. © Mia Vehkaoja

Beaver-created wetlands are perfect rearing places for frogs. The warm water accelerates hatching and the abundant aquatic vegetation gives cover against predators. © Mia Vehkaoja

The flood and beaver foraging kill trees in the riparian zone. Deadwood is currently considered a vanishing resource. Finnish forests have an average 10 cubic meters of deadwood per hectare, whereas beavers produce over seven times more of the substrate into a landscape. Beaver-produced deadwood is additionally very versatile. Wind, fire and other natural disturbances mainly create two types of deadwood: coarse snags and downed logs. Beavers, on the other hand, produce both snags and downed logs of varying width, along with moderately rare deciduous deadwood. The more diverse the deadwood assortment is, the richer the deadwood-dependent species composition that develops in the landscape.

Beaver-created wetlands produce  especially standing deadwood. © Mia Vehkaoja

Beaver-created wetlands produce especially standing deadwood. © Mia Vehkaoja

Deadwood-dependent species are one of the most endangered species groups in the world. The group includes e.g. lichens, beetles and fungi. Currently there are 400 000 to a million deadwood-dependent species in the world. Over 7000 of these inhabit Finland. Pin lichens are lichens that often prefer snags as their living environment. Beaver actions produce large amounts of snags, which lead to diverse pin lichen communities. Snags standing in water provide suitable living conditions for pin lichens; a constant supply of water is available from the moist wood, and the supply of light is additionally limitless in the open and sunny beaver wetlands.

 

The return of beavers has helped the survival of many wetland and deadwood-associated species in Finland, Europe and North America. Only 1000 beavers inhabited Europe at the beginning of the 20th century. Now over a million beavers live in Europe. I argue that this increase has been a crucial factor benefitting the survival and recovery of wetland biodiversity. Finland and the other EU member states still have plenty of work to do to achieve the goals of the EU Water Framework Directive. Both the chemical conditions and the biodiversity of wetlands / inland waters affect the biological condition and quality of wetlands.

 

The whole research published here

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Happy World Wetland Day 2016!

We are celebrating the 45th year of wetland conservation. On February 2, 1971 the Ramsar Convention was signed to uphold wetland biodiversity and functions. More than a billion people make a living from wetlands, so conserving them is essential not only for wildlife but also to us all.

Green sandpipers (Tringa ochropus) flourish in wetlands. © Sari Holopainen

Green sandpipers (Tringa ochropus) flourish in wetlands. © Sari Holopainen

Hunters and conservationists – with shared cause

Do hunters conserve nature? This seemingly controversial issue seems to be a source of never-ending debate. I recently found a text discussing this issue, published in the “Finnish Nature” (Suomen Luonto) magazine as early as 1944. While conservationists and hunters may sometimes be in direct conflict, some shared targets were recognized already in 1944.

Extensive red fox hunting makes it possible for the rare arctic fox to breed successfully in Sweden and Norway. Red fox in an arctic fox habitat in Varanger Peninsula, northern Norway. © Sari Holopainen

Extensive red fox hunting makes it possible for the rare arctic fox to breed successfully in Sweden and Norway. Red fox in an arctic fox habitat in Varanger Peninsula, northern Norway. © Sari Holopainen

O. Hytönen (1944) raised the very same observations that are still apparent. Although hunters kill animals, prey animal populations should not be eradicated by responsible hunting practices. Some hunting actions are straightly connected to nature conservation, such as feeding animals during harsh winters, habitat management and predator control. Currently discussed effect of trophy hunting as an important conservation tool in development countries is an example of an indirect connection: by paying for hunting permits hunters help to maintain local animal diversity. As noted in a recently published paper, banning of trophy hunting can lead to exacerbating biodiversity loss.

In 1953 “Finnish Nature” (Suomen Luonto) published another text on the subject, this time written by G. Bergman. Bergman wrote that the relationships between hunters and conservationists has not always been smooth in Finland, or in other Nordic countries, while no benefits could be gained from these conflicts. Bergman noted that modern game management has several shared principles with nature conservation. He also pointed out that nature conservation and hunting have successfully been managed together in the US. As during Bergman’s times, Europe is still somehow on separate paths, and the situation has become particularly inflamed in some countries. Ironically, Bergman wrote that if we refuse to understand the interests of others, nature conservation aims may be disturbed.

The good old American way

What were the good manners already mentioned by Bergman in America? Maybe he meant the Federal Duck Stamp system established already in 1934. All US hunters must buy a Duck Stamp on a yearly basis, however, whoever can get one. With this small cost the buyers contribute to bird habitat conservation. The US Fish and Wildlife Service advertises that the stamp is “among the most successful conservation tools ever created to protect habitat for birds and other wildlife”. About 1 500 000 stamps are bought yearly, and 98% of the profits are given to the National Wildlife Refuge System for wetland conservation.

Coldwater River National Wildlife Refuge in Mississippi provides great circumstances for wintering ducks. The park is protected, but bird watching is aloud in some parts of the park. Duck hunting is possible outside the park in private lands. © Sari Holopainen

Coldwater River National Wildlife Refuge in Mississippi provides great circumstances for wintering ducks. The park is protected, but bird watching is aloud in some parts of the park. Duck hunting is possible outside the park in private lands. © Sari Holopainen

Another traditional American actor smoothly combining conservation and hunting is Ducks Unlimited (DU), founded by a group of hunters in 1937. DU targets habitat conservation, and is now claimed to be the world’s largest and most effective private waterfowl and wetlands conservation organization according to their website. Most DU members are still hunters.

The land of a thousand lakes

Wetlands have been destroyed for a long time due to differing human interests, also in Finland. Some areas have been lost altogether, while some have lost their value due to e.g. vegetation overgrowth. We still have many lakes left, but shallow eutrophic lakes – the waterbird lakes – are the ones that have been lost most often. Hunters are a group with an interest to construct and restore wetlands. According to a report by the Finnish Wildlife Agency, hunters have constructed or restored about 2 000 wetlands during the past decades. In addition to benefitting game animals, the entire ecosystem benefits. Wetlands also offer several other ecosystem services, including water purification and erosion control.

Many wetlands have been established in Finland to support game animals. Saarikko-wetland in southern Finland is a small, yet very productive duck habitat constructed by the REAH-project (active management of game animal habitats). © Sari Holopainen

Many wetlands have been established in Finland to support game animals. Saarikko-wetland in southern Finland is a small, yet very productive duck habitat constructed by the REAH-project (active management of game animal habitats). © Sari Holopainen

Methods matter

Sometimes hunting itself supports animal populations. For example, hunters can help to maintain animal communities through ecosystem engineering pushed by hunting and the co-evolution of animals and humans. In 2013 a scientific paper showed that in Australia Aboriginal hunting was one of the cornerstones supporting monitor lizard populations. Monitor lizards occur most densely in areas where they are hunted, because of the hunting method used; the burning method creates a patchy mosaic of regrowth in the landscape. In areas with no hunters, occasional lightning strikes burn land in a more homogenous way, and thus also lizards are scarcer. The same practice might also benefit several other desert species. However, in many cases Aboriginals have lost their traditional hunting possibilities, and the loss of these traditional practices sustaining habitats might have contributed to decreasing populations of several desert animal species.

While the debate between hunting and nature conservation has already lasted a long time, and is still on-going, common targets have been raised throughout the process by cooperative actors of both sides. There has always been, and currently still are, differing hunting methods for concerning conservational effects, but it is self-evident that all these practices are not against conservation targets.

Read more:

Enrico Di Minin, Nigel Leader-Williams & Corey J.A. Bradshaw: Banning Trophy Hunting Will Exacerbate Biodiversity Loss. 2015. Trends in Ecology & Evolution. Online.

Connecting Aboriginal Land Use Management Strategies, Mammal Extinction Rates and Shifts in Fire Regimes in a Changing Climate: An Interdisciplinary Approach to Inform Conservation Strategies for Threatened Species in the Australian Western Desert

An interdisciplinary approach to understanding the role of anthropogenic fire in the desert grasslands of Australia

Beavers restore the dead wood of boreal forests

Dead wood is a necessary element for numerous species living in the boreal zone. It functions as a food resource, nesting space or growth substrate for several mammals, fungi, insects, and birds. Dead wood is produced through two main mechanisms: senescence and disturbances e.g. forest fires or wind damage. A controlled forest has less ageing trees and disturbances, and currently up to 90% of Fennoscandian forests have been influenced by forest management. The recent drop in dead wood levels due to intensive forest management across the globe has concurrently led to dead wood-dependent (= saproxylic) species becoming rare as well, which weakens food webs and ecosystem functionality. Managed forests may only contain a few cubic meters of dead wood per hectare, while dead wood levels in old-growth forests and forests influenced by disturbances can rise up to hundreds of cubic meters per hectare.

Beaver, the ecosystem engineer © Sari Holopainen

Beaver, the ecosystem engineer © Sari Holopainen

Strong disturbances are less frequent in moist lowland areas of the boreal zone, where dead wood is mainly created as single trees die due to competition and ageing. However, beavers act as wetland ecosystem engineers, raising floodwaters through the damming of water systems. These floodwaters kill surrounding shore forests due to oxygen deprivation, thus creating significant amounts of dead wood into the habitats. In certain cases the flooding may kill entire forest stands. Beavers can therefore be considered the main natural disturbance factor of lowland forests.

Beavers require wood for food and as a building material for their nests and dams. Foraging for woody materials causes the resource to run out within a few years, forcing the beavers to move location. The process of flooding and dead wood creation begins again in a new area, thus producing a continuation of dead wood hotspots into the landscape. Eventually after several years the beavers can return to a previously inhabited location, which will be then be repeatedly subjected to their engineering. These hotspots may be very important to dead wood -dependent species, especially as they uphold a network and continuous supply of different-aged dead wood.

Calculating dead wood levels at a beaver flood - spot the researchers! ©Mia Vehkaoja

Calculating dead wood levels at a beaver flood – spot the researchers! ©Mia Vehkaoja

Despite an overall decrease in dead wood levels, certain types of dead wood have become rarer in the boreal forest than others. Currently the rarest forms are standing dead trees (snags) and deciduous dead wood. Both have declined more rapidly than other types due to forest management actions and attitudes. Beavers create a broad range of dead wood types (e.g. downed wood, stumps and coniferous dead wood), but they particularly aid in the production of snags and deciduous dead wood. This is good news for many saproxylic species, as these organisms are often strongly specialized, utilizing very specific dead wood types.

The dead wood produced by beaver-induced flooding is also very moist, which may affect the wood-decay fungi species that begin colonizing the dead wood. For example, sac fungi are more tolerant of wet conditions, and may therefore outcompete Basidiomycetes at beaver sites. This in turn will lead to differing invertebrate communities that utilize sac fungi instead of Basidiomycetes. Very different dead wood –dependent species assemblages may therefore be formed at beaver sites compared to fire areas of clear-cuts. The interactions of these species are currently poorly understood.

The beaver offers a possibility for all-inclusive ecosystem conservation compared to the conservation of single species. The species could be used to produce dead wood and restore the shore forests of wetlands.

Our research group has recently published an article concerning the impacts beavers have on boreal dead wood. The article can be accessed from http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0378112715005757

Calculating dead wood levels at a beaver flood - spot the researchers! ©Mia Vehkaoja

Calculating dead wood levels at a beaver flood – spot the researchers! ©Mia Vehkaoja

Wetlands for citizens

Urban wetlands are typically multifunctional, offering several ecosystem services, for example water purification and recreational activities. Wetlands with several services are typically used by local people and even tourists are attracted to them in several areas. According to some studies, local people are quite well aware of the wetlands near them and support their preservation, while they might not be so aware of their functions.

More than one hundred river surfers gather every day in the Munich central park in Germany. The Isar River runs through the park and it is possible to surf in the Eisbach, a small artificial channel of the river. © Sari Holopainen

More than one hundred river surfers gather every day in the Munich central park in Germany. The Isar River runs through the park and it is possible to surf in the Eisbach, a small artificial channel of the river. © Sari Holopainen

Cultural ecosystem services, such as recreational services, are typically well known and utilized by local people. Several outdoor activities can be carried out in the wetlands, especially if they are surrounded by green parks. People can enjoy aesthetic values of wetland parks, which improves human physical and psychological health. Green areas, both forests and parks, are studied in Finland to prevent stress. Wetlands also regulate local climate, and offer pleasant city environments even during warm summers. When it is hot in the city (“urban heat islands”) due to dark materials on buildings and roads, green park areas can offer cooler pockets for the citizens and thus improve human health.

Sometimes wetland park areas can produce provisional services for local people. For example, beautiful wetland parks can also attract other than local people. Tourists willing to pay for recreational activities import money to the locals. Krka National Park in Croatia is a good example of provisional services offered by wetlands. Village of Skradin, situated at the entrance to the Park, benefits from wetland tourism. During the last few year, the park has been visited by more than 700 000 visitors annually. Before tourists, Krka river produced electricity for the city of Šibenik. In fact, Šibenik was the first city in the whole world with alternating current-powered street lights in 1895.

Krka National park in Croatia near the village of Skradin has a complex water system with waterfalls, rivers, ponds and lakes. © Sari Holopainen

Krka National park in Croatia near the village of Skradin has a complex water system with waterfalls, rivers, ponds and lakes. © Sari Holopainen

However, local people might not be familiar with wetland services connected to their functions. Wetland parks support high biodiversity and several habitat types. Rich biodiversity can even contribute to human health by preventing asthma and allergies. Wetlands also affect nutrient cycling and primary production. These are all very basic ecosystem services that people may not be aware of. According to some studies, local people are poorly aware that wetlands offer water purification. Stormwaters collect nutrients, heavy metals and solids and lead them into water systems. When running through wetlands, nutrients are consumed by the plants and in standing water solid material sinks to the bottom. Due to large constructed areas rain water has only a limited possibility of absorbing into the ground, and stormwater drains can be overloaded during heavy rains. Urban wetlands can mitigate floods and thus prevent costs for society.

A constructed wetland in Nummela village, Finland, offers recreational activities (e.g. picture taken from the birdwatching tower), but it also purifies stormwaters before they reach heavily eutroficated lake Enäjärvi. © Sari Holopainen

A constructed wetland in Nummela village, Finland, offers recreational activities (e.g. picture taken from the birdwatching tower), but it also purifies stormwaters before they reach heavily eutroficated lake Enäjärvi. © Sari Holopainen

Wetlands situated in urban landscapes are globally threatened. Destruction of wetlands leads to different kinds of environmental problems and several ecosystem services are lost; unfortunately it seems that local people are not often familiar with these services. Ongoing destruction is underlined especially in strongly expanding cities in developing countries, while developed countries have in many cases lost their wetlands already long time ago. By including wetlands in the urban landscapes by protecting the remaining wetlands or restoring the lost ones, several ecosystem services for the locals could be quarantined.

Read more:

Franco D. and Luiselli L. 2014. The shared knowledge behind payment for rural ecosystem services: a case study. International Journal of Environmental Studies.

Hettiarachchi M., Morrison T.H. and McAlpine C. 2015. Forty three years of Ramsar and urban wetlands. Global Environmental Change.

Johnson B.B. and Pflugh K.K. 2008. Local Officials’ and Citizens’ Views on Freshwater Wetlands. Society & Natural Resources: An International Journal.

The 4th Pan European Duck Symposium in Hanko

The 4th Pan European Duck Symposium was organized in Hanko, the southernmost city in Finland 7.–11.4.2015. The symposium covered subjects widely from duck population dynamics to habitat changes, hunting and management. The following is a short report of a few presentations from the first two days.

Mikael Kilpi and Aleksi Lehikoinen giving the opening words in PEDS4

Mikael Kilpi and Aleksi Lehikoinen giving the opening words in PEDS4

Game husbandry manager Jarkko Nurmi from the Finnish Wildlife Agency used his opening words to underline the need for flyway management in duck populations. As he showed, different scales for successful management of the game species exist; e.g. forest grouse can be managed very locally, while ducks need cooperation between countries located on their flyway. Finland is responsible for offering breeding habitats for ducks. A few years ago the Finnish Wildlife Agency set up a project called “The return of rural wetlands”, which was presented by special planner Mikko Alhainen. 44 model wetlands have been established during this EU-funded project, in addition to several others inspired by these models. The wetland construction has been cost-efficient with minimal bureaucracy, and has encouraged landowners to restore their wetlands or establish new ones. The project has been a success in every way and ducks have accepted the man-made wetlands very rapidly.

Associate Professor at Utah State University David Koons, the plenary speaker of the first day

Associate Professor at Utah State University David Koons, the plenary speaker of the first day

Associate Professor at Utah State University David Koons, the plenary speaker of the first day, introduced next-generation methods for studying waterfowl population dynamics. By combining bird and location data it may be possible to move smoothly from site-level studies to the flyway and continental levels. Also combining several types of population data it may be possible to reduce analyses bias. As a case study, he showed that splitting scaup data into yearly processes explained by population parameters allows researchers to comprehend that the cause behind population declines is in the disappearing recovery years, while individual parameters haven’t changed as much.

The plenary speaker of the second day, Adjunct Professor in Biology at the University of Saskatchewan Rober Clark.

The plenary speaker of the second day, Adjunct Professor in Biology at the University of Saskatchewan Rober Clark.

The plenary speaker of the second day, Adjunct Professor in Biology at the University of Saskatchewan Rober Clark, presented the effects of climate change on duck populations. Snow cover in Canada has decreased more than expected by prediction models. Dry seasons will become more common and severe, thus affecting the availability of wetlands, the food webs therein and various competitive interactions. Clark also underlined that wetland dynamics will change in boreal areas due to land use. It seems that late-nesting duck species such as scaups and scoters are most vulnerable to climate change, while early breeders such as common goldeneyes are more tolerant. These patterns are pronounced both in Europe and North America.

Michael Johnson gave an introduction to duck management in North America, especially in the U.S. prairie pothole region. Large changes have occurred, of which some have even accidentally supported duck populations. The increase of grassland cover, wet years and changes in predator communities have raised duck populations to remarkably high levels. However, the grassland area has been disappearing rapidly, which will be reflected in duck populations according to Johnson. He underlined that much of the grasslands and wetlands are unprotected. The numbers of hunters are declining, and thus conservation funding might be difficult to find.

Michel Gendron gave an overview of duck hunting in Canada, where hunter numbers have also decreased. The duck harvest in Canada has recently stabilized after a drop from the 1970s to 2005. Goose hunting has concurrently steadily increased due to the growth of goose populations and liberalization of hunting regulations. The annual National Harvest Surveys in Canada are conducted by 1) questionnaires to find out the hunting activity and harvest of species, and 2) with wing and tail collection to generate information on the age- and sex ratios of the species hunted.

In Russia, the yearly hunting quarry is studied by identifying species and sexes from photographs hunters are asked to send to researchers, as presented by Alexander Solokha. All the species are studied during the autumn hunt, while the mallard bag is also observed during the spring hunt.

The North Atlantic Oscillation (NAO) was addressed in several presentations as an explanation for duck population dynamics. Aleksi Lehikoinen presented the effects of winter and summer NAO on the variation of duck population dynamics in 14 waterbird species. Jukka Rintala showed that the NAO explained a total of 20% of the environmental variance in a group of 11 duck species. The umbrella species, varying with other species, were the garganey and common pochard. Sari Holopainen found that the brood production of the common teal in Finland is varying with the winter NAO index and exceptionally good brood production demands two highly positive NAO winters. The mechanism behind this is believed to be that during high winter NAO index years Finland receives more snow and thus more seasonal ponds are available for the ducks during the breeding season. Wintering numbers of the species were more stochastic, but some carry-over effects can be found. Anthony Fox suggested that wigeon reproduction to also be influenced by the NAO index, but the summer one in this case. Density-dependent processes were additionally found from the wigeon reproduction numbers.

Climate change has affected the migration phenology of common teals in France since the 1950s, as presented by Matthieu Guillemain. Birds arrive earlier and their movements during the winter have been diluted. In addition, the body condition of the wintering ducks has improved. Teals that have once wintered in Camargue seem to be returning the next year. However, as underlined by Guillemain, the hunting mortality in Camargue is high. As the duck turn-over rate is high, the stability of the wintering population is uncertain.

Several duck species have declined in Finland. Especially pronounced is the decline of species living in eutrophic lakes. It might be that vegetation overgrowth is causing the problem. Kim Jaatinen presented the cost efficient analysis of different management actions when working with overgrown wetlands. According to his analyses, cattle grazing is the best tool concerning bird diversity, and because it is also cheap, it was shown to be the most cost-efficient. Cutting and harrowing were also good alternatives, but because they do not produce dung, they are not as beneficial to some bird species as cattle grazing. Dredging was found to be the most expensive tool to control overgrowth. Ilkka Sammalkorpi presented that biomanipulation by removing fish could also be done in wetlands important for ducks.

Grazing by cattle maintains open shore meadows benefiting efficiently waterbird breeding. © Veli-Matti Väänänen

Grazing by cattle maintains open shore meadows benefiting efficiently waterbird breeding. © Veli-Matti Väänänen

In addition to freshwater ducks, some sea ducks have also been declining in Finland. Lasse Kurvinen showed dramatic trends of several common eider populations from the Finnish archipelago. Especially large colonies have disappeared. It seems that the colony-specific dynamics are mainly predation driven.

Opposite to Europe, Sidi Imad Cherkaoui told that the wintering numbers and distribution of several species in Morocco have increased during last decade. This is despite wetlands in the country meeting severe problems, such as drainage and urbanization. The ruddy shelduck is one of the species increasing its numbers in Morocco, and also in Netherlands as presented by Sjoerd Dirksen. His studies showed that the moulting populations of the species might be higher in some Central European countries than previously though.

Ducks offer ecosystem services, for instance by supporting connectivity for plants and invertebrates in isolated wetlands. The subject is now much studied, but was presented by Erik Kleyheeg in the symposium. Seeds carried on the bodies of ducks can end up far away from their origin, even hundreds of kilometers during the migration.

The Hanko bird observatory bird station produces a lot of information about migrating ducks. Just 70 kilometers south of the Hanko bird observatory station lays the Estonian bird observatory station Põõsaspea. Margus Ellermaa showed that even with this short distance between the observatories it is enough to create a huge difference between the numbers of migratory ducks due to differing migration paths.

PEDS4 had two options for the field trip. Here the participats are at the Bengtskär lighthouse photographing migrating  goldcrests.

PEDS4 had two options for the field trip. Here the participats are at the Bengtskär lighthouse photographing migrating goldcrests.

Mallard farming is a big business in Europe and every year 3 million farmed mallards are released into the wild. Considering that the population estimate for mallards in Europe is 7,5 million, the farmed ones compose a huge proportion. Most of the farmed individuals are hunted, and as shown by Jocelyn Champagnon, their survival during the first half a year is low, about half of the wild ones. Still, genetic mixing to the wild population has happened, as presented by Gunnar Gunnarsson. Present day mallards in Europe have wider, shorter and higher bills than the species had prior to large-scale farming. Mallards also show to have “alien genes”: their occurrence is especially pronounced in mallards in the core farming areas in Western Europe, while the trait is rarer in mallards of the remote areas without farming.

Taej Mundkur from Wetlands International presented a study concerning critical habitats for waterbirds in the Arctic region. Based on species-specific habitat requirements the study aims to find the critical habitats of different stages of the species’ life cycles. The long-tailed duck and Steller’s Eider have been used as pilot species. The project should help find new conservation areas and critical areas that are currently under threat.

Read more: Wetland Ecology Group web pages and our blog in Finnish

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