Hanne Sickel

Research Scientist

(+47) 404 83 467
hanne.sickel@nibio.no

Place
Ås R9

Visiting address
Raveien 9, 1430 Ås

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Abstract

Effective evidence-based nature conservation and habitat management relies on developing and refining our methodological toolbox for detecting critical ecological changes at an early stage. This requires not only optimizing the use and integration of evidence from available data, but also optimizing methods for dealing with imperfect knowledge and data deficiencies. For policy and management relevance, ecological data are often synthesized into indicators, which are assessed against reference levels and limit values. Here we explore challenges and opportunities in defining ecological condition in relation to a reference condition reflecting intact ecosystems, as well as setting limit values for good ecological condition, linked to critical ecological thresholds in dose–response relationships between pressures and condition variables. These two concepts have been widely studied and implemented in aquatic sciences, but rarely in terrestrial systems. In this paper, we address practical considerations, theoretical challenges and possible solutions using different approaches to determine reference and limit values for good ecological condition in terrestrial ecosystems, based on empirical experiences from a case study in central Norway. We present five approaches for setting indicator reference values for intact ecosystems: absolute biophysical boundaries, reference areas, reference communities, ecosystem dynamics based models, and habitat availability based models. We further present four approaches for identifying indicator limit values for good ecological condition: empirically estimated values, statistical distributions, assumed linear relationships, and expert judgement-based limits. This exercise highlights the versatile and robust nature of ecological condition assessments based on reference and limit values for different management purposes, for situations where knowledge of the underlying relationships is lacking, and for situations limited by data availability. Ecological condition Index Management Reference condition Terrestrial

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Abstract

Abstract: GrassPlot is a collaborative vegetation-plot database organised by the Eurasian Dry Grassland Group (EDGG) and listed in the Global Index of Vegetation-Plot Databases (GIVD ID EU-00-003). Following a previous Long Database Report (Dengler et al. 2018, Phyto-coenologia 48, 331–347), we provide here the first update on content and functionality of GrassPlot. The current version (GrassPlot v. 2.00) contains a total of 190,673 plots of different grain sizes across 28,171 independent plots, with 4,654 nested-plot series including at least four grain sizes. The database has improved its content as well as its functionality, including addition and harmonization of header data (land use, information on nestedness, structure and ecology) and preparation of species composition data. Currently, GrassPlot data are intensively used for broad-scale analyses of different aspects of alpha and beta diversity in grassland ecosystems.

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Abstract

Hay-making structures are part of the agricultural landscape of meadows and pastures. Hay meadows are still used and found all over Europe, but their distribution patterns as well as their characteristics and regional features depend on geographical area, climate, culture, and intensity of agriculture. Intensively used hay meadows are the most dominant, using heavy machinery to store hay mostly as rounded or square bales. Traditional hay-making structures represent structures or constructions, used to quickly dry freshly cut fodder and to protect it from humidity. The ‘ancient’ forms of traditional hay-making structures are becoming a relic, due to mechanisation and the use of new technologies. Both the need for drying hay and the traditional methods for doing so were similar across Europe. Our study of hay-making structures focuses on their current state, their development and history, current use and cultural values in various European countries. Regarding the construction and use of hay-making structures, we have distinguished three different types, which correlate to natural and regional conditions: (1) temporary hay racks of various shapes; (2) hay barracks, a special type of shelters for storing hay and (3) different types of permanent construction and buildings for drying and storing hay. Hay-making structures have been mostly preserved in connection with traditional agricultural landscapes, and particularly in the more remote regions or where associated with strong cultural identity.

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Abstract

We present a methodology for distinguishing between three types of animal movement behavior (foraging, resting, and walking) based on high-frequency tracking data. For each animal we quantify an individual movement path. A movement path is a temporal sequence consisting of the steps through space taken by an animal. By selecting a set of appropriate movement parameters, we develop a method to assess movement behavioral states, reflected by changes in the movement parameters. The two fundamental tasks of our study are segmentation and clustering. By segmentation, we mean the partitioning of the trajectory into segments, which are homogeneous in terms of their movement parameters. By clustering, we mean grouping similar segments together according to their estimated movement parameters. The proposed method is evaluated using field observations (done by humans) of movement behavior. We found that on average, our method agreed with the observational data (ground truth) at a level of 80.75% ± 5.9% (SE).

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Abstract

Interest in localized agri-food systems has grown significantly in recent years. They are associated with several benefits and are seen as important for rural development. An important share of the academic debate addresses the contribution of localized food systems to the current and/or future sustainability of agriculture. Sustainability is defined in several ways, but many scholars recognize that sustainability can only be achieved by a combination of socio-economic, cultural, and environmental aspects. However, the attributes and indicators used for sustainability analyses also differ. Biodiversity is, for instance, often not included in analyses of environmental sustainability even if biodiversity is of crucial importance for longer-term ecological sustainability. To contribute to the debate about the importance of localized food production for sustainability from the environmental point of view, specifically with regard to biodiversity, this is therefore discussed based on the results of several studies presented in this paper. The studies focus on Nordic low-intensity livestock systems related to species-rich semi-natural grasslands. All the studies show that low-intensive agriculture and use of semi-natural grasslands may play an important role in maintaining biodiversity on both small and large scales. They also show that milk and dairy products from free-ranging livestock in heterogeneous landscapes with semi-natural grasslands may have a unique quality associated with local grazing resources. Thus, producers can combine production of food of documented high nutritional and gastronomic value with maintenance of biodiversity, i.e., localized agri-food production based on low-intensive agriculture systems and semi-natural grasslands may be a win-win recipe for both farmers and the society.

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Abstract

Dette kapittelet presenterer forslaget til fagsystem for vurdering av god økologisk tilstand og begrunner valgene som er tatt. Deltagere i undergruppe hav (Per Fauchald, Normann Whitaker Green, Eva Ramirez-Llodra, Sylvia Frantzen, Cecilie von Quillfeldt og Anne Kirstine Frie) har bidratt betydelig til å utvikle egenskapene som gir en normativ beskrivelse av god økologisk tilstand i kapittel 3.4 .

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Abstract

Mountain tourism depends intensively on the quality of the landscape. In recent years, the Norwegian Trekking Association has focused on local food products at their staffed lodges and it uses the slogan “eat the view.” Such a strategy raises the focus on the agricultural use of the land and the quality of the products. Several Norwegian studies were carried out to investigate the quality of different mountain products and connections with vegetation types and grazing behavior. The results show that milk and meat products from animals grazing on alpine rangelands have improved quality compared to “normal” products. A healthier fatty acid composition and a higher content of secondary plant metabolites were characteristic of mountain products. Furthermore, grazing is of the utmost importance for the maintenance of open mountain landscapes and the biodiversity that is dependent on such landscapes. Maintaining traditional grazing systems also secures the preservation of traditional ecological knowledge about utilizing natural resources. Mountain tourism experiences could be improved and enhanced by documenting and telling the unique story of these complex connections between mountain landscapes, biodiversity, agricultural traditions, and local food products.

Abstract

Terroir characteristics of local food products are sometimes a result of ecosystem services from special nature types as mountain semi-natural grasslands. Several environmental conditions such as climate, topography, location above sea level, geology and soil are important factors defining frames for different vegetation types and available fodder resources in mountain areas. In addition, cultural traditions and a great variety in human land use systems are important determinants for grassland biodiversity. Results from several Norwegian studies show that species rich mountain pastures improve local food quality.

Abstract

In this project plant and vegetation preferences of two Norwegian dairy cattle breeds with different selection history were studied. The Norwegian dairy breed Blacksided Trønder and Nordland Cattle (STN) has never been selected efficiently for higher milk production. The other breed, however, the Norwegian Red (NR), has mainly been selected for this. Two herds both consisting of STN and NR cows, were studied. To examine the animals\" plant preferences, faeces samples were collected and analysed for plant fragments. Vegetation maps were also used to find possible differences in grazing preferences. Breed differences with regard to recorded plant fragments in the faeces samples were significant for Nardus stricta, a species characteristic for nutrient poor but mostly species rich vegetation types in the studied areas, vegetation types of high importance for the biodiversity especially in one of the areas. STN had the highest share of Nardus stricta. Altogether the results of the study indicate that a higher producing cattle breed might prefer to graze more nutrient rich vegetation areas compared to a lower yielding cattle breed, when grazing less nutrient and base rich - but species rich grasslands.