Profiles

Lena Kautsky, foto: Niklas Björling/SU

Lena Kautsky

Senior advisor

Visa sidan på svenska
Telephone 08-16 28 59
Email lena.kautsky@su.se
Visiting address Svante Arrhenius väg 20 F, plan 5
Room P533
Postal address Stockholms universitets Östersjöcentrum 106 91 Stockholm

About me

Professor emeritus

My research focuses on studying various aspects of macroalgae and rooted aquatic plant ecology, their reproductive mechanisms, population dynamics and phenotypic plasticity, as well as goods and services produced in shallow coastal environments and algal belts. The Baltic Sea with its salinity gradient, makes it possible to study the evolutionary changes and adaptation in many marine macroalgal species. Comparative studies between the species rich habitats at the Swedish west coast to the low biodiversity in the Baltic sea presents experimental options by using the facilities at two field stations the Askö Laboratory and the Tjärnö marin station. I am also interested to work with issues increasing our knowledge of marine biodiversity, its patterns and processes and changes in coastal areas and to develop tools for the management. I have participated in writing a manual on how to restore Fucus vesiculosus in areas where it has decreased or disappeared due to nutrient enrichment or pollution. I am also engaged in a number of research projects, e.g. the clonal patterns in the endemic species narrow wrack (Fucus radicans) and the free-living Fucus vesiculosus a by HELCOM red-listed habitat and studies on macroalgal species producing halogenated toxic substances and how these compounds may impact invertebrates. 

You will find more about my science and seaweed related events on my blogs www.tangbloggen.com (in Swedish) or www.balticseaweed.com (in English).

 

Publications

A selection from Stockholm University publication database
  • 2019. Lena Kautsky, Susanne Qvarfordt, Ellen Schagerström. Botanica Marina 62 (1), 17-30

    Fucus vesiculosus is common both on the tidal coasts of the North Atlantic and in the Baltic Sea, where it has adapted to low salinity and nontidal conditions over the last 7000 years. During the late 1970s and early 1980s, extensive declines of F. vesiculosus populations were reported in the Baltic Proper, mainly attributed to high nutrient loads. During the past 30-40 years, considerable efforts have been made to reduce nutrient runoff to coastal areas but few successful initiatives to restore F. vesiculosus populations have been performed. In this paper, we present how substratum manipulation, i.e. clean rocky surfaces, brushing rocks, Hildenbrandia rubra cover and different filamentous algae, as well as different algal exudates, affect the recruitment and survival of juvenile F.vesiculosus. Further, we show through a 5-year field experiment that it will take at least 4-5 years to reach reproductive age for F. vesiculosus in the Baltic Sea. We also present transplantation studies from two different areas, showing that epiphytic load, light, grazing and type of substratum are some of the factors that need to be taken into consideration in order to achieve successful restoration of F. vesiculosus.

  • 2019. Francisco R. Barboza (et al.). Ecology and Evolution 9 (16), 9225-9238

    In the course of the ongoing global intensification and diversification of human pressures, the study of variation patterns of biological traits along environmental gradients can provide relevant information on the performance of species under shifting conditions. The pronounced salinity gradient, co-occurrence of multiple stressors, and accelerated rates of change make the Baltic Sea and its transition to North Sea a suitable region for this type of study. Focusing on the bladderwrack Fucus vesiculosus, one of the main foundation species on hard-bottoms of the Baltic Sea, we analyzed the phenotypic variation among populations occurring along 2,000 km of coasts subjected to salinities from 4 to >30 and a variety of other stressors. Morphological and biochemical traits, including palatability for grazers, were recorded at 20 stations along the Baltic Sea and four stations in the North Sea. We evaluated in a common modeling framework the relative contribution of multiple environmental drivers to the observed trait patterns. Salinity was the main and, in some cases, the only environmental driver of the geographic trait variation in F. vesiculosus. The decrease in salinity from North Sea to Baltic Sea stations was accompanied by a decline in thallus size, photosynthetic pigments, and energy storage compounds, and affected the interaction of the alga with herbivores and epibiota. For some traits, drivers that vary locally such as wave exposure, light availability or nutrient enrichment were also important. The strong genetic population structure in this macroalgae might play a role in the generation and maintenance of phenotypic patterns across geographic scales. In light of our results, the desalination process projected for the Baltic Sea could have detrimental impacts on F. vesiculosus in areas close to its tolerance limit, affecting ecosystem functions such as habitat formation, primary production, and food supply.

  • 2018. Sture Hansson (et al.). ICES Journal of Marine Science 75 (3), 999-1008

    Seals and fish-eating birds have increased in the Baltic Sea and there is concern that they compete with fisheries. Using data from around year 2010, we compare consumption of different fish species by seals and birds to the catch in the commercial and recreational fishery. When applicable this is done at the geographical resolution of ICES subdivisions. Predation by birds and mammals likely has limited impact on the populations of the commercially most important species (herring, sprat, and cod). In the central and southern Baltic, seals and birds consume about as much flatfish as is caught by the fishery and competition is possible. Birds and seals consume 2-3 times as much coastal fish as is caught in the fishery. Many of these species are important to the fishery (e. g. perch and whitefish) and competition between wildlife and the fishery is likely, at least locally. Estimated wildlife consumption of pike, sea trout and pikeperch varies among ICES subdivisions and the degree of competition for these species may differ among areas. Competition between wildlife and fisheries need to be addressed in basic ecosystem research, management and conservation. This requires improved quantitative data on wildlife diets, abundances and fish production.

  • 2017. P. Joana Dias (et al.). Management of Biological Invasions 8 (2), 215-225

    Introduced Marine Pests (IMP, = non-indigenous marine species) prevention, early detection and risk-based management strategies have become the priority for biosecurity operations worldwide, in recognition of the fact that, once established, the effective management of marine pests can rapidly become cost prohibitive or impractical. In Western Australia (WA), biosecurity management is guided by the Western Australian Prevention List for Introduced Marine Pests which is a policy tool that details species or genera as being of high risk to the region. This list forms the basis of management efforts to prevent introduction of these species, monitoring efforts to detect them at an early stage, and rapid response should they be detected. It is therefore essential that the species listed can be rapid and confidently identified and discriminated from native species by a range of government and industry stakeholders. Recognising that identification of these species requires very specialist expertise which may be in short supply and not readily accessible in a regulatory environment, and the fact that much publicly available data is not verifiable or suitable for regulatory enforcement, the WA government commissioned the current project to collate a reference collection of these marine pest specimens. In this work, we thus established collaboration with researchers worldwide in order to source representative specimens of the species listed. Our main objective was to build a reference collection of taxonomically vouchered specimens and subsequently to generate species-specific DNA barcodes suited to supporting their future identification. To date, we were able to obtain specimens of 75 species (representative of all but four of the pests listed) which have been identified by experts and placed with the WA Government Department of Fisheries and, where possible, in accessible museums and institutions in Australasia. The reference collection supports the fast and reliable taxonomic and molecular identification of marine pests in WA and constitutes a valuable resource for training of stakeholders with interest in IMP recognition in Australia. The reference collection is also useful in supporting the development of a variety of DNA-based detection strategies such as real-time PCR and metabarcoding of complex environmental samples (e.g. biofouling communities). The Prevention List is under regular review to ensure its continued relevance and that it remains evidence and risk-based. Similarly, its associated reference collection also remains to some extent a work in progress. In recognition of this fact, this report seeks to provide details of this continually evolving information repository publicly available to the biosecurity management community worldwide.

  • 2015. Angelica Ardehed (et al.). Ecology and Evolution 5 (19), 4233-4245

    In dioecious species with both sexual and asexual reproduction, the spatial distribution of individual clones affects the potential for sexual reproduction and local adaptation. The seaweed Fucus radicans, endemic to the Baltic Sea, has separate sexes, but new attached thalli may also form asexually. We mapped the spatial distribution of clones (multilocus genotypes, MLGs) over macrogeographic (>500km) and microgeographic (<100m) scales in the Baltic Sea to assess the relationship between clonal spatial structure, sexual recruitment, and the potential for natural selection. Sexual recruitment was predominant in some areas, while in others asexual recruitment dominated. Where clones of both sexes were locally intermingled, sexual recruitment was nevertheless low. In some highly clonal populations, the sex ratio was strongly skewed due to dominance of one or a few clones of the same sex. The two largest clones (one female and one male) were distributed over 100-550km of coast and accompanied by small and local MLGs formed by somatic mutations and differing by 1-2 mutations from the large clones. Rare sexual events, occasional long-distance migration, and somatic mutations contribute new genotypic variation potentially available to natural selection. However, dominance of a few very large (and presumably old) clones over extensive spatial and temporal scales suggested that either these have superior traits or natural selection has only been marginally involved in the structuring of genotypes.

  • 2014. Lena Bergström (et al.). Environmental Research Letters 9 (3), 034012

    Marine management plans over the world express high expectations to the development of offshore wind energy. This would obviously contribute to renewable energy production, but potential conflicts with other usages of the marine landscape, as well as conservation interests, are evident. The present study synthesizes the current state of understanding on the effects of offshore wind farms on marine wildlife, in order to identify general versus local conclusions in published studies. The results were translated into a generalized impact assessment for coastal waters in Sweden, which covers a range of salinity conditions from marine to nearly fresh waters. Hence, the conclusions are potentially applicable to marine planning situations in various aquatic ecosystems. The assessment considered impact with respect to temporal and spatial extent of the pressure, effect within each ecosystem component, and level of certainty. Research on the environmental effects of offshore wind farms has gone through a rapid maturation and learning process, with the bulk of knowledge being developed within the past ten years. The studies showed a high level of consensus with respect to the construction phase, indicating that potential impacts on marine life should be carefully considered in marine spatial planning. Potential impacts during the operational phase were more locally variable, and could be either negative or positive depending on biological conditions as well as prevailing management goals. There was paucity in studies on cumulative impacts and long-term effects on the food web, as well as on combined effects with other human activities, such as the fisheries. These aspects remain key open issues for a sustainable marine spatial planning.

  • 2013. Ann-Britt Florin (et al.). BioInvasions Records 2 (4), 303-309

    The invasive, biofouling, Conrad's false mussel Mytilopsis leucophaeata was first recorded in Sweden during spring 2011 in the cooling water system of the power plant of Forsmark in the southern Bothnian Sea. The cooling water discharge area offers a favourable environment for growth, survival, and reproduction of M. leucophaeata and may provide a stepping stone for further spread. We present three different studies in the area, revealing a rapid increase in mussels in the artificially heated area, with densities of the magnitude of thousands of individuals m-2, as well as mussels living in surrounding waters, indicating an on-going expansion in the region.

  • 2012. Joakim Hansen, Sofia Wikström, Lena Kautsky. Boreal environment research 17 (1), 1-20

    Shallow Baltic Sea bays undergo a process of morphometric isolation from the sea due to post-glacial land uplift. Recent studies have documented that both flora and fauna communities change along this gradient. Changes in taxon composition may in turn alter feeding ecology and trophic relationships. In addition, the relative importance of carbon from terrestrial sources may increase with bay isolation. In accordance with previous studies, we found a change in the community composition of both flora and fauna with bay isolation. Results of stable isotope analysis (δ13C, δ15N) suggested that epiphytes and periphyton are the major carbon sources for most benthic primary consumers, but that their importance in relation to angiosperms and charophytes decreased with bay isolation. The results also indicated that filter feeders utilize terrestrially derived carbon, but its importance could not be critically related to bay isolation. Trophic positions of the consumers were similar across the bay isolation gradient.

  • 2011. Kerstin Johannesson (et al.). Journal of Phycology 47 (5), 990-998

    Asexual reproduction by cloning may affect the genetic structure of populations, their potential to evolve, and, among foundation species, contributions to ecosystem functions. Macroalgae of the genus Fucus are known to produce attached plants only by sexual recruitment. Recently, however, clones of attached plants recruited by asexual reproduction were observed in a few populations of Fucus radicans Bergstrom et L. Kautsky and F. vesiculosus L. inside the Baltic Sea. Herein we assess the distribution and prevalence of clonality in Baltic fucoids using nine polymorphic microsatellite loci and samples of F. radicans and F. vesiculosus from 13 Baltic sites. Clonality was more common in F. radicans than in F. vesiculosus, and in both species it tended to be most common in northern Baltic sites, although variation among close populations was sometimes extensive. Individual clonal lineages were mostly restricted to single or nearby locations, but one clonal lineage of F. radicans dominated five of 10 populations and was widely distributed over 550 x 100 km of coast. Populations dominated by a few clonal lineages were common in F. radicans, and these were less genetically variable than in other populations. As thalli recruited by cloning produced gametes, a possible explanation for this reduced genetic variation is that dominance of one or a few clonal lineages biases the gamete pool resulting in a decreased effective population size and thereby loss of genetic variation by genetic drift. Baltic fucoids are important habitat-forming species, and genetic structure and presence of clonality have implications for conservation strategies.

  • 2008. Anna Malmvärn (et al.). Chemosphere 72 (6), 910-916

    Hydroxylated polybrominated diphenyl ethers (OH-PBDEs) and methoxylated polybrominated diphenyl ethers (MeO-PBDEs) are present in the ecosystem of the Baltic Sea. OH-PBDEs are known to be both natural products from marine environments and metabolites of the anthropogenic polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs), whereas, MeO-PBDEs appear to be solely natural in origin. Polybrominated dibenzo-p-dioxins (PBDDs) are by-products formed in connection with the combustion of brominated flame retardants (BFRs), but are also indicated as natural products in a red alga (Ceramium tenuicorne) and blue mussels living in the Baltic Sea. The aims of the present investigation were to quantify the OH-PBDEs and MeO-PBDEs present in C. tenuicorne; to verify the identities of PBDDs detected previously in this species of red alga and to investigate whether cyanobacteria living in this same region of the Baltic Sea contain OH-PBDEs, MeO-PBDEs and/or PBDDs. The red alga was confirmed to contain tribromodibenzo-p-dioxins (triBDDs), by accurate mass determination and additional PBDD congeners were also detected in this sample. This is the first time that PBDDs have been identified in a red alga. The SigmaOH-PBDEs and SigmaMeO-PBDEs concentrations, present in C. tenuicorne were 150 and 4.6ngg(-1) dry weight, respectively. In the cyanobacteria 6 OH-PBDEs, 6 MeO-PBDEs and 4 PBDDs were detected by mass spectrometry (electron capture negative ionization (ECNI)). The PBDDs and OH-PBDEs and MeO-PBDEs detected in the red alga and cyanobacteria are most likely of natural origin.

  • 2007. Peter Haglund (et al.). Environmental Science and Technology 41 (9), 3069-3074

    Levels of polybrominated dibenzo-p-dioxins (PBDDs) were measured in marine fish, mussels, and shellfish. PBDDs were nondetectable in samples from freshwater environments, and their levels were successively higher in samples from the marine environments of the Bothnian Bay and Bothnian Sea, the West Coast of Sweden, and the Baltic Proper. In Baltic Proper littoral fish the levels of PBDDs generally exceeded those of their chlorinated analogues (PCDDs). This is alarming as some Baltic fish species already are contaminated by chlorinated dioxins to such an extent that they cannot be sold on the European market. By comparing spatial trends in PBDD and PCDD distributions, and PBDD patterns in fish, mussels, and algae, we show that the PBDDs are probably produced naturally, and we propose a route for their biosynthesis. We further show that the levels of PBDDs are high (ng/g wet weight) in mussels, and that the levels increase over time. Finally, we discuss the possibility that the PBDDs have adverse biological effects, and that the levels are increasing as a result of global warming and eutrophication.

Show all publications by Lena Kautsky at Stockholm University

Last updated: January 26, 2020

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