Northern shoveler in Sweden

This is a 2012 northern shoveler video from the Västmanland region in Sweden.

Pine grosbeak in Sweden

This November 2012 video shows a pine grosbeak feeding in Uppland region in Sweden.

Siberian jays in Sweden

This video is about Siberian jays, and a great tit, on a snowy day in December 2012 in Gästrikland region in Sweden.

Turkey’s Erdogan tries censoring Swedish documentary on Assyrian genocide

This video says about itself:

16 December 2010

The Assyrian Genocide (also known as Sayfo or Seyfo) refers to the mass slaughter of the Assyrian/Chaldean/Syriac population of the Ottoman Empire during the First World War. The Assyrian population of northern Mesopotamia (the Tur Abdin, Hakkari, Van, Siirt regions of present-day southeastern Turkey and the Urmia region of northwestern Iran) was forcibly relocated and massacred by Ottoman (Turkish) forces between 1914 and 1920. Estimates on the overall death toll have varied. Contemporary reports placed the figure at 270,000, although recent estimates have revised that figure to as many as 500–750,000.

These two videos are the sequels.

From The Local in Sweden:

24 April 2016 15:25 GMT+02:00

The Turkish embassy in Stockholm tried to bring pressure to bear over a TV4 documentary, according to the station’s programme director, Viveka Hansson.

Hansson, in a statement on the TV4 website, said that she had been sent an e-mail by Arif Gulen, the press officer at the Turkish embassy, asking her to “reconsider the decision” to broadcast a documentary tonight about the slaughter by the Ottoman Empire of Christian Assyrians that occurred during the First World War.

Turkey has long rejected claims that the killing of some 275,000 Assyrians should be classified as a genocide. The mass killing, called Seyfo by Assyrians, is designated as a genocide by the International Association of Genocide Scholars.

Hansson dismissed the request out of hand.

“We can never accept this. We will protest against any attempt to exert pressure that threatens freedom of expression,” Hansson said.

See also here.

Turkish journalists jailed for Hebdo cover: here.

Former Miss Turkey Merve Buyuksarac convicted for ‘insulting Recep Tayyip Erdogan’ on Instagram. Buyuksarac was crowned Miss Turkey in 2006: here.

Good guillemot news from Sweden

This video from England says about itself:

(Common) Guillemot (Uria aalge)

Filmed on Inner Farne, the Farne Islands, Northumberland, UK on 6th June 2013 with a Canon PowerShot SX30 IS. (Black-legged) Kittiwake (Rissa tridactyla) and Herring Gull (Larus argentatus) also feature.

From the 2000 report Long-term study of mortality in the common guillemot in the Baltic Sea:

The common guillemot is a seabird that was almost extinct in the Baltic Sea at the end of the 19th century, due to hunting and collection of eggs. Only about 20 birds remained in 1880. Following legal protection of the species and its breeding areas, the population has increased to about 45,000 birds today. The common guillemot was on the 1996 Swedish Red List of threatened vertebrates, in the category “Care Demanding”.

As guillemots are slow to reach maturity, are long-lived and produce only a few offspring each year, the population is particularily vulnerable to factors that affect adult survival.

Each summer, the fledglings jump from the nesting ledges to the beach or sea below, to swim out to sea with the males. What fate awaits them during their lifetime?

This report is a follow-up of the Swedish Action Plan on Biological Diversity, which was published in 1995: “Action 26” states the need to continue to study and analyse the habitat requirements of red-listed species and the need for measures to protect them.

Nearly 43,000 common guillemots were ringed in Sweden from 1912 to 1998, mainly on the island of Stora Karlsö in the southern Baltic proper. About 6 % of the ringed birds have been recovered. Of the recovered birds, 50 % were found entangled in fishing gear, mainly in the southern Baltic Sea. It appears that the main culprit is the commercial drift-net fishery for salmon. The proportion of oiled birds was smaller, and has decreased since the 1960s to less than 5 % today.

It is alarming that so many guillemots meet a painful death by drowning in fishing gear. Moreover, many of the bycatches of birds caught in fisheries may never be reported. The results show that measures need to be implemented to prevent guillemots from drowning in commercial fisheries in the Baltic Sea.

From PBS in the USA:

Tourist photos trace the fall and rise of Swedish seabirds

By Nsikan Akpan

March 21, 2016 at 1:20 PM EDT

Instead of throwing away those old vacation photos, consider saving them for science. Swedish ecologists collected nearly a century’s worth of tourist photos to trace the history of a single seabird, the common guillemot. Pulled from myriad sources, the photos tell a single tale of ecological hardship, caused by man-made destruction, but also of the guillemot’s renaissance.

The researchers behind this study relied on these amateur photos because, in general, the scientific record for many ecosystems is incomplete or incoherent. In many case, standardized methods for examining ecology didn’t exist until 30 or 40 years ago.

“Based on this experience, we encourage scientists to think ‘outside the box’ in order to generate data valuable for use in ecosystem-based management,” Jonas Hentati-Sundberg and Olof Olsson of Stockholm Resilience Centre write in their study.

The common guillemot is an Arctic, fish-eating seabird that dwells in subarctic portions of the Northern Hemisphere. In fact, two of every three common guillemot[s] live on a single island in the Baltic Sea, Stora Karlsö.

Probably, the author means two of every three birds of the Swedish population; not of the world population.

This island has a unique conservation story. In the late 1880s, Stora Karlsö was purchased by a private company to create a nature and hunting conservatory. But since the 1920s, the island has primarily served as a hotspot for nature tourism.

For the birds, these events meant their colonies would be largely unbothered by hunting, construction or other disruptive activities. For scientists, it meant a trove of amateur photos documenting the evolution of Stora Karlsö’s bird colonies.

To create an ecological scrapbook for the common guillemot, Hentati-Sundberg and Olsson dived into national and regional archives. They made requests to magazines and asked for submissions via a local radio station. In the end, the pair collected 113 amateur photographs, covering 37 individual years between 1918 and 2005. Next, they counted the number of breeding pairs within each photo to provide a rough estimate of the population size.

The team expected numbers to be low early on, given that common guillemots were heavily poached for food and eggs until the late 1800s, and that’s what they found in the pictures. Photos from 1918 to the 1940s show the lowest number of breeding pairs. These numbers start to then steadily rise for 20 years, until the birds hit a bump in the road. Their population drops between the mid-1960s until mid-1980s — a time period that corresponds to the introduction of DDT pesticide and PCB coolant.

“It is reasonable to expect that contaminants had a role in the decline,” Hentati-Sundberg said in a statement. “It has not been known previously that seabird populations were affected by the contaminants.”

Atlantic salmon fishing boomed during this time period, which may have hurt guillemot populations. The birds often get trapped in fishing nets.

But the story has a happy ending. The authors suspect that policies to curb environmental pollutants, hunting and driftnet fishing are responsible for the common guillemot’s rebound.

“We found that the population is currently increasing at an unprecedented rate of about 5 percent annually,” Jonas Hentati-Sundberg said. “This is interesting in that many common guillemot populations are decreasing worldwide.”

The authors findings, along with a list of the contributing photographers, were published today in the journal Current Biology.

Close to Stora Karlsö is a still smaller island, Lilla Karlsö. Lilla Karlsö has its own chapter in the well known Nils Holgersson (The Wonderful Adventures of Nils) children’s novel by Swedish author Selma Lagerlöf. The chapter says that Nils managed to trick the foxes of Lilla Karlsö, which were a danger to the geese, Nils’ travel companions, into a rock chasm.

Sea grass genome, new research

This 27 January 2016 video is called Gareth Pearson – Zostera marina genome published by Nature.

From the University of Gothenburg in Sweden:

Land plant became key marine species

February 1, 2016


The genome of eelgrass (Zostera marina) has now been unveiled. It turns out that the plant, once land-living but now only found in the marine environment, has lost the genes required to survive out of the water.

Scientists from the University of Gothenburg participated in the research study, the results of which are published in the scientific journal Nature.

Eelgrass belongs to a group of flowering plants that have adapted to a life in water. As such, it is a suitable candidate for studies of adaptation and evolution.

‘Since flowering plants have emerged and developed on land, eelgrass can be expected to share many genetic features with many land plants. Studying differences between them can tell us how eelgrass has adapted to a marine environment,’ says Mats Töpel, researcher at the Department of Marine Sciences, University of Gothenburg, who participated in the sequencing of the eelgrass genome.

Töpel is part of an international research collaboration involving 35 research teams. As a result of their efforts, the eelgrass genome has now been published in Nature.

A life on land no longer possible

One interesting discovery made by the scientists is that eelgrass has lost not only the special cells that flowering plants need to be able to ‘breathe’ (meaning to absorb carbon dioxide and release oxygen) but also the genes required to form these cells.

‘This is a good example of how evolution extends beyond mere accumulation of useful traits; organisms can also benefit from losing certain genes and characteristics,’ says Töpel.

Eelgrass — a key species in trouble

Eelgrass belongs to a group of plants generally referred to as seagrass and forms gigantic submarine meadows along European, North American and Asian shores. The plant has adapted to many different environments, from the bitter Arctic cold to the warm waters further south.

In all of these environments, eelgrass serves an important function in the ecosystem by binding sediments and acting as a nursery for young fish and other animals. It also influences our own environment by binding large amounts of nutrients and carbon dioxide.

‘Lately, the eelgrass meadows have disappeared in many places, and a lot of research is underway to figure out how these ecosystems work and what we can do to protect them,’ says Töpel.

Further studies remain

The genome of an organism contains huge amounts of information.

‘So far we have only scratched the surface. A vast number of bioinformatic analyses of eelgrass remain to be done. And the increasing availability of genomes of other organisms enables us to make new comparisons,’ says Töpel.

Swedish women against racist pseudo-feminism

This video says about itself:

Anti racist demonstration in Stockholm, Sweden

3 September 2014

Swedish women taking to the streets to protest against racism in Sweden.

From The Local in Sweden:

Swedes tell racists: ‘We are not your women’

Published: 01 Feb 2016 07:46 GMT+01:00
Updated: 01 Feb 2016 14:46 GMT+01:00

Swedes are hitting back following a series of far-right violent marches over the weekend which targeted asylum seekers and migrants.

Swedes took to social media to hit back after violent far-right groups attacking refugee youths in Stockholm over the weekend handed out flyers and posted online messages claiming they acted to protect “Swedish women”.

The hashtag #inteerkvinna (#notyourwoman) was trending in Sweden on Sunday, with women posting pictures of themselves on Twitter alongside messages saying “not in my name”.

“I’m not your woman. I don’t want your protection. You’re the ones making me scared, worried, angry and sad,” tweeted one.

“No racist will use me as an alibi to commit their acts of violence,” wrote another.

The campaign came in response to a series of violent weekend incidents in the Swedish capital which began on Friday evening when gangs of up to a hundred masked men marched through the city, beating up non-Swedes and handing out leaflets threatening further attacks. …

According to Aftonbladet newspaper, men were distributing leaflets on Friday evening with the slogan “It’s enough now!” which threatened to give “the North African street children who are roaming around” the “punishment they deserve.”

On Saturday there were also reports of violence linked to an anti-immigration protest in Stockholm, where at least three people were arrested for assaulting counter-demonstrators after members of neo-Nazi groups and hooligans gathered in the capital’s central Norrmalmstorg square.

Meanwhile, refugee teenagers living in the city’s 16 homes for teens and underage asylum seekers arriving in Sweden alone without their parents were told to stay inside following the violence.

“It’s of course sad that we have to do this. But it’s still important that we put the young people’s safety first,” Alexandra Göransson, social services manager in Stockholm, told the Expressen newspaper.

The Friday evening attack on refugee children was organised by the Swedish Resistance Movement, a neo-nazi group.

A group of some 100 neo-Nazi thugs marched through the centre of the Swedish capital Stockholm Friday evening, carrying out a series of brutal attacks on refugees and foreign-looking bystanders. The action was claimed soon afterwards by the fascist Swedish Resistance Movement in a statement advocating vigilante “justice” against what it termed the “criminal” actions of refugees: here.