What Finnish damselflies eat, new research

This 2018 video from Ferguson, Missouri in the USA is called Damselflies Mating and Laying Eggs.

From the University of Turku in Finland:

Dragonflies are efficient predators

They consume hundreds of thousands of insects in a small area

March 3, 2020

A study led by the University of Turku, Finland, has found that small, fiercely predatory damselflies catch and eat hundreds of thousands of insects during a single summer — in an area surrounding just a single pond. In terms of weight, this equates to a total prey mass of just under a kilo. Dragonflies mostly catch different kinds of midges, but also large numbers of other insects.

Who keeps numbers of insects in check during the summer? This has been debated for some time, but a clear answer has remained elusive, as it has been difficult to monitor the numbers consumed by different insect predators. A new study now sheds light on the role of dragonflies that occur in large numbers.

Even in just a small area, populations of matchstick-sized damselflies that whiz around, consume hundreds and thousands of insects. Although the numbers of prey species individuals hatching in the area is as much as one hundred times the quantities being consumed by the damselflies, the quantity consumed is nevertheless significant because there are many other predators also preying on the same prey species.

The results of the novel study were obtained by combining multiple scientific methods. The prey species of the dragonflies and their relative quantities were assessed by examining prey DNA extracted from the faeces of damselflies, using a method known as metabarcoding. Population estimates of dragonflies were also obtained.

Chironomids are damselflies’ favourite food

Dragonflies are among the apex predators of the insect world and are considered to be responsible for regulating the numbers of many other insect species. During the period studied, the insect species consumed the most by the damselflies were different chironomids.

– In the 12-hectare area we studied, the catch mass for the four species of dragonflies was about 900 grams, equivalent to about 700,000 medium-sized midges. This equated to around 1% of the total mass of the midge populations in the area. This amount should not, however, be disregarded, as damselflies are by no means the only predators of midges and other insects. The area we are studying has an enormous number of other predators, including twenty other species of dragonfly, as well as birds and bats, explains Docent of Molecular Ecology Eero Vesterinen from the Biodiversity Unit of the University of Turku, who was responsible for the project’s DNA analyses.

We investigated the numbers of dragonflies by marking them with a series of numbers on their wings, releasing them and then catching them again. By comparing the numbers of marked and unmarked dragonflies caught, we were able to estimate the total number of individuals in the area. The numbers of insects consumed, meanwhile, were estimated by covering certain areas with tent-like hatching traps and counting how many insects accumulated in them over a particular surface area, explains Senior Researcher Kari Kaunisto from the Biodiversity Unit of the University of Turku, who led the study.

Dragonflies have always fascinated people, as they are impressive insects and effective predators. Dragonflies are also particularly at risk because they are apex predators in natural ecosystems.

– In this study, we focused on four small but locally abundant damselfly species from among the 62 dragonfly species found in Finland, Vesterinen adds.

The species studied were the common blue damselfly (Enallagma cyathigerum), the northern damselfly (Coenagrion hastulatum), the Irish damselfly (Coenagrion lunulatum), and the variable damselfly (Coenagrion pulchellum).

New information on natural food web functions

Understanding the functioning of the food webs is particularly important now, when natural diversity is diminishing at an accelerating rate.

– For the first time, our study examined the intensity of insect hunting in relation to the total number of insects being preyed on. The collapse of insect populations reduces the amount of food available to dragonflies, but it has not been possible to assess the impacts of predation by dragonflies without this accurate information on food chains, says Kaunisto.

Professor Tomas Roslin from the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, who participated in the study, is really excited about the new approach and the interesting results of the study.

– By combining several methods, the research reveals the overall impact of predation in nature. We succeeded in revealing both the wide range of insects preyed on by dragonflies and the significance of predation in relation to both individual prey species as well as the community as a whole, Roslin exclaims.

Finnish dippers fly through waterfall

This 17 November 2019 video from northern Finland says about itself:

White-throated dippers “fly” through water to find food and nest.

I saw these dippers in northern Finland. I saw how they dived in icy water and dealt with ice. But then I did not see them flying through a waterfall, like in this video.

Flounders in the Gulf of Finland

This August 2017 video says about itself:

European flounder let back into the sea

This washed ashore youngster was placed back in the Baltic sea.

From the University of Helsinki in Finland:

Flounders in the Gulf of Finland: Decline caused by the near disappearance of one species

January 25, 2019

Over the past 40 years, there has been a dramatic decline in fishery landings of an iconic Baltic Sea fish: the flounder. In the 1980s, the landings of the flounder fishery in the Gulf of Finland dropped by 90 per cent, a trend that was later confirmed by fishery-independent surveys.

There are two cryptic (i.e. morphologically very similar) species of flounder in the Baltic Sea: the European flounder (Platichthys flesus), which spawn pelagic eggs in high-salinity offshore basins, and the recently described Baltic flounder (Platichthys solemdali), the only endemic fish of the Baltic Sea.

The latter lays demersal eggs and is well adapted to the low salinities of the coastal waters of the Gulf of Finland and northern Baltic Proper. It was long assumed that only the demersal-spawning species occurs in the Gulf of Finland, where salinity is too low for P. flesus’s reproduction.

Researchers from the University of Helsinki developed a simple genetic test to distinguish the two species. By analyzing the DNA from flounders’ ear bones collected over the past four decades, they discovered that European flounders were in fact once the most abundant species in the Gulf of Finland. However, they have almost completely disappeared.

“We discovered that the decline in fishery landings closely mirrors in time the near-complete disappearance of the pelagic-spawning European flounder — a species that was not supposed to occur here. This species — not the Baltic flounder — dominated local assemblages until three decades ago, but has since disappeared as a result of worsening environmental conditions,” says researcher Paolo Momigliano from the University of Helsinki.

European flounders cannot reproduce in the Gulf of Finland; their northernmost spawning ground is east of Gotland, in the eastern Gotland Basin. However, larvae and juveniles can be transported to the Gulf of Finland by deep water currents.

Eutrophication and climate change have contributed to the worsening of environmental conditions in the eastern Gotland Basin. This, in turn, has likely greatly reduced the supply of larvae to the Gulf of Finland, explaining the near-complete disappearance of European flounders from the Finnish coast.

Revealing the contribution of each species to flounder stocks is essential for the appropriate management of this marine resource. The test developed by the authors also provides the means to monitor the contribution of each species to the local flounder assemblages in real-time, and for the first time will allow estimations of demographic changes, resilience to climate change and exploitation, as well as each species’ response to management.

“But perhaps more importantly, our study demonstrates that cryptic species could become locally extinct before we even notice their presence,” Momigliano points out.

DNA was extracted from 480 otoliths (ear bones), sampled from a collection containing over 29 000 flounder otoliths. These were collected annually from 1975 to 2011 as part of the routine sampling conducted by the Finnish Natural Resources Institute and its predecessor, Finnish Game and Fisheries Research Institute.

Religious homophobia in Finland

This 1 March 2017 video is called Gay Marriage Legalized in Finland!

From Yle.fi in Finland:

23.12.2018 14:42

Prof slams Lutheran church over reprimands for gay weddings

So far Finland’s Lutheran Evangelical Church has reprimanded at least six clerics for officiating at gay weddings.

Finland’s Evangelical Lutheran Church has taken to issuing warnings to priests who officiate at gay weddings. The last such case came to light last Monday, when a priest from Mikkeli in southeast Finland received a caution from the diocese for marrying a same-sex couple.

So far this year the church has reprimanded six clerics for officiating at gay weddings. Last year the Helsinki diocese also issued a reprimand to priest Kai Sadinmaa for the practice. His was considered the first case in which a priest was sanctioned for administering marriage vows to a same-sex couple.

The church has said that the priests in question have violated church rulings and guidelines. However from a legal perspective the issue is not as clear. Priests who officiate at weddings are seen as performing official duties and in such cases must comply with Finnish law.

In Finland, same-sex marriage has been legal since 1 March 2017. “Priests act appropriately when they use their official powers to marry same-sex couples,” said Helsinki University civil law emeritus professor Urpo Kangas.

Kangas noted that marriage has a legal status and added that the current cases turn on a clash between secular and religious views.

Bishop: Priest committed official misconduct

Head of the Mikkeli diocese, Bishop Seppo Häkkinen said that priests in Finland’s Lutheran Evangelical Church have neither the right nor the opportunity to officiate at wedding ceremonies for gay couples.

“If a priest acts in violation with the given rules, then he has committed dereliction of duty. In such cases, the diocese must intervene,” Häkkinen observed.

However legal scholar Kangas disagreed. “That statement is not accurate. A priest’s right to marry is not based on church law or regulations, but on marriage laws,” he declared.

Kangas added that any employer has the right to caution an employee, but not necessarily in matters that which also relate to matters of conscience.

“It is entirely open to interpretation whether or not a priest commits official misconduct for marrying two people with the same gender,” Kangas continued.

However Bishop Häkkinen stressed that in the view of the diocese, issuing a reprimand to errant clerics is not a violation of the law.

“On the contrary. We have observed the regulations of church law that bind our diocese council.”

Finnish app saves reindeer lives

This September 2017 video says about itself:

Porokello – The Reindeer bell: Reindeer app made in Finland

Centre for Economic Development, Transport and the Environment is developing in cooperation with e.g. Finnish Transport Agency, Reindeer herder’s association in Finland, Paikkatieto Online Oy, V-Traffic, HERE and Milliemallie a service for road users “Porokello” to reduce reindeer accidents on the roads.

From Yle.fi in Finland:

26.12.2018 14:30

Watch: Reindeer alert app makes Lapland roads safer for drivers

Technology is helping motorists to avoid reindeer, one of the biggest causes of road accidents in Lapland.

“I once hit six reindeer all at the same time,” truck driver Tuomas Juopperi told Yle News. “It was dark and slippery.”

“And they all died,” he added as he barrelled along open expanses of road last autumn.

There are over 200,000 reindeer in Lapland – almost as many as there are people – and they cause around 4,000 traffic accidents in the region every year.

Now, a project funded by the Finnish Transport Agency is using an app to try to reduce the number of reindeer-related accidents on Lapland’s roads.

The new reindeer alert app, Porokello, uses mobile phone and satellite navigation location services to warn users of reindeer on the road.

Warnings are uploaded by a network of drivers – usually bus or truck drivers – who can press a button to place a location marker on the map when they see a reindeer while driving.

The marker, which remains in place for 30 minutes, will trigger a warning in the app for other Porokello users as they approach the location.

Lapland is reindeer territory

“There are a lot of reindeer in Lapland, and they are half wild, so they can basically go anywhere they want,” said Porokello driver and land surveyor Tommi Uusimäki.

“I see it as a small favour to other drivers that if I see the reindeer, I can just press a button, and maybe it will help them to drive safer,” he added.

The Porokello project is run by the Lapland Centre for Economic Development, Transport and the Environment or ‘Ely-keskus’, and has received support from the Finnish Reindeer Herders’ Association.

“Some reindeer herders have the application,” explained app developer Ahti Lahtela. “I listened to drivers and they were happy it’s so simple to use. It doesn’t take your attention very much when you’re driving.”

Porokello project manager, Henna Nurminen, told Yle News that the project has had a positive impact in the region. “This year it looks as if our work is working, the [number of] reindeer accidents is quite low at this time.”

“Reindeer currently cause about 4,000 accidents a year. Our goal is to get to 2,000,” she noted.

Porokello was publicly launched in September 2017, and Nurminen claimed it has between 500-1,000 daily users.

This past autumn, there were 2,952 accidents involving reindeer in Lapland compared to 4,133 in 2017, according to figures provided by Nurminen.

Finnish protests before Trump-Putin summit

This video from Finland is called Helsinki Protests Ahead Of Trump-Putin Summit.

15 Juy 2018 Helsinki demonstrators, photo REUTERS/Leonhard Foeger

Trump vs. the Democrats: Two reactionary factions fight over foreign policy. 16 July 2018. Monday’s scheduled meeting between US President Donald Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin has been preceded by a massive barrage of propaganda from the Democrats, their allied media outlets and the US intelligence agencies, demanding that Trump intensify military pressure on Russia: here.

US PRESIDENT Trump and Russian President Putin held a historic meeting in Finland yesterday in which they talked about joint cooperation with Israel in dealing with Syria: here.

Who’s Thrilled With The Helsinki Summit, Besides Russia? Israel. Read more here.

By Bill Van Auken in the USA, 17 July 2018:

No sooner had the US and Russian presidents finished their joint press conference than CNN’s anchor in Helsinki, Anderson Cooper, an heir to the Vanderbilt fortune who interned with the CIA before going into television news, announced to his viewers that they had been “watching the most disgraceful conduct by an American president…that I have ever seen.”

”The most disgraceful conduct by an American president”? That’s really saying something!

More disgraceful than George W. Bush’s launching of a war of aggression against Iraq based on lies, which claimed more than a million lives? More disgraceful than Barack Obama’s drone assassination campaign that murdered thousands? More disgraceful than Trump’s own savage war on immigrants, in which the deliberate torture of children has become a weapon?