63 Degrees North


Darwin had Galapagos finches. Norway has… house sparrows?

Season 1, Ep. 5
The different species of Galapagos finches, with their specially evolved beaks that allow them to eat specific foods, helped Charles Darwin understand that organisms can evolve over time to better survive in their environment.Now, nearly 200 years later and thousands of miles away, biologists are learning some surprising lessons about evolution from northern Norwegian populations of the humble house sparrow (Passer domesticus).Darwin’s finches evolved on the exotic, volcanic Galapagos Islands. NTNU’s house sparrows are dispersed over a group of 18 islands in Helgeland, in an archipelago that straddles the Arctic Circle.Every summer since 1993, when NTNU Professor Bernt-Erik Sæther initiated the House Sparrow Project, a group of biologists has travelled to the islands collect data on the sparrows. They capture baby birds, measure different parts of their bodies, take a tiny blood sample, and then put a unique combination of coloured rings on their legs that help researchers identify the birds throughout their lifetime.Those decades of research have given researchers information that can be helpful in managing threatened and endangered species. They have also done some experiments where they made evolution happen in real time — and then watched what happened when they let nature run its course.And then there was the series of experiments where they learned more than you might want to know about sparrow dating preferences, and about rogue sparrow fathers who court exhausted sparrow mothers — and then fathered children with the cute little she-bird next door.Our guests for today’s show were Henrik Jensen, Thor Harald Ringsby and Stefanie Muff.You can find a transcript of the show here.Selected academic and popular science articles:From NTNU’s online research magazine, Norwegian SciTech News:Why aren’t house sparrows as big as geese?Inbreeding detrimental for survivalWhy house sparrows lay big and small eggsOn DarwinDarwin, Charles (1859)On the Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection, Or, the Preservation of Favoured Races in the Struggle for Life. London: J. Murray.Weiner, J. (2014).The beak of the finch: A story of evolution in our time. Random House.Sulloway, F. J. (1982). Darwin and his finches: The evolution of a legend.Journal of the History of Biology,15,1-53.Sulloway, F. J. (1982).Darwin's conversion: the Beagle voyage and its aftermath. Journal of the History of Biology,15,325-396.Academic articles from the House Sparrow Project:Araya-Ajoy, Yimen; Ranke, Peter Sjolte; Kvalnes, Thomas; Rønning, Bernt; Holand, Håkon; Myhre, Ane Marlene; Pärn, Henrik; Jensen, Henrik; Ringsby, Thor Harald; Sæther, Bernt-Erik; Wright, Jonathan.(2019)Characterizing morphological (co)variation using structural equation models: Body size, allometric relationships and evolvability in a house sparrow metapopulation.Evolution.vol. 73 (3).Kvalnes, Thomas; Ringsby, Thor Harald; Jensen, Henrik; Hagen, Ingerid Julie; Rønning, Bernt; Pärn, Henrik; Holand, Håkon; Engen, Steinar; Sæther, Bernt-Erik.(2017)Reversal of response to artificial selection on body size in a wild passerine bird.Evolution.vol. 71 (8).Ringsby, Thor Harald; Jensen, Henrik; Pärn, Henrik; Kvalnes, Thomas; Boner, Winnie; Gillespie, Robert; Holand, Håkon; Hagen, Ingerid Julie; Rønning, Bernt; Sæther, Bernt-Erik; Monaghan, Pat.(2015)On being the right size: Increased body size is associated with reduced telomere length under natural conditions.Proceedings of the Royal Society of London. Biological Sciences.vol. 282 (1820).Ranke, Peter Sjolte; Skjelseth, Sigrun; Pärn, Henrik; Herfindal, Ivar; Borg Pedersen, Åsa Alexandra; Stokke, Bård Gunnar; Kvalnes, Thomas; Ringsby, Thor Harald; Sæther, Bernt-Erik; Jensen, Henrik.(2017)Demographic influences of translocated individuals on a resident population of house sparrows.Oikos.vol. 126 (10).Jensen, Henrik; Steinsland, Ingelin; Ringsby, Thor Harald; Sæther, Bernt-Erik.(2006)Indirect selection as a constraint on the evolution of sexual ornaments and other morphological traits in the House Sparrow.Journal of Ornithology = Journal fur Ornithologie.vol. 147.Jensen, Henrik; Svorkmo-Lundberg, Torkild; Ringsby, Thor Harald; Sæther, Bernt-Erik.(2006)Environmental influence and cohort effects in a sexual ornament in the house sparrow, Passer domesticus.Oikos.vol. 114.Ringsby, Thor Harald; Sæther, Bernt-Erik; Jensen, Henrik; Engen, Steinar.(2006)Demographic characteristics of extinction in a small, insular population of house sparrows in Northern Norway.Conservation Biology.vol. 20.Skjelseth, Sigrun; Ringsby, Thor Harald; Jensen, Henrik; Tufto, Jarle; Sæther, Bernt-Erik.(2006)Dispersal patterns within a meta-population of House Sparrows after an introduction experiment.Journal of Ornithology = Journal fur Ornithologie.vol. 147.Hoset, Katrine S.; Espmark, Yngve; Fossøy, Frode; Stokke, Bård Gunnar; Jensen, Henrik; Wedege, Morten I; Moksnes, Arne.(2014)Extra-pair paternity in relation to regional and local climate in an Arctic-breeding passerine.Polar Biology.vol. 37 (1).Ranke, Peter Sjolte; Skjelseth, Sigrun; Pärn, Henrik; Herfindal, Ivar; Borg Pedersen, Åsa Alexandra; Stokke, Bård Gunnar; Kvalnes, Thomas; Ringsby, Thor Harald; Sæther, Bernt-Erik; Jensen, Henrik.(2017)Demographic influences of translocated individuals on a resident population of house sparrows.Oikos.vol. 126 (10).Hagen, Ingerid Julie; Lien, Sigbjørn; Billing, Anna Maria; Elgvin, Tore Oldeide; Trier, Cassandra Nicole; Niskanen, Alina Katariina; Tarka, Maja; Slate, Jon; Sætre, Glenn-Peter; Jensen, Henrik.(2020)A genome-wide linkage map for the house sparrow (Passer domesticus) provides insights into the evolutionary history of the avian genome.Molecular Ecology Resources.vol. 20 (2).Holand, Håkon; Jensen, Henrik; Kvalnes, Thomas; Tufto, Jarle; Pärn, Henrik; Sæther, Bernt-Erik; Ringsby, Thor Harald.(2019)Parasite prevalence increases with temperature in an avian metapopulation in northern Norway.Parasitology.vol. 146 (8).Kvalnes, Thomas; Røberg, Anja Ås; Jensen, Henrik; Holand, Håkon; Pärn, Henrik; Sæther, Bernt-Erik; Ringsby, Thor Harald.(2018)Offspring fitness and the optimal propagule size in a fluctuating environment.Journal of Avian Biology.vol. 49 (7).Lundregan, Sarah; Hagen, Ingerid Julie; Gohli, Jostein; Niskanen, Alina Katariina; Kemppainen, Petri; Ringsby, Thor Harald; Kvalnes, Thomas; Pärn, Henrik; Rønning, Bernt; Holand, Håkon; Ranke, Peter Sjolte; Båtnes, Anna Solvang; Selvik, Linn-Karina M.; Lien, Sigbjørn; Sæther, Bernt-Erik; Husby, Arild; Jensen, Henrik.(2018)Inferences of genetic architecture of bill morphology in house sparrow using a high-density SNP array point to a polygenic basis.Molecular Ecology.vol. 27 (17).Silva, Catarina; McFarlane, S. Eryn; Hagen, Ingerid Julie; Rönnegård, Lars; Billing, Anna Maria; Kvalnes, Thomas; Kemppainen, Petri; Rønning, Bernt; Ringsby, Thor Harald; Sæther, Bernt-Erik; Qvarnström, Anna; Ellegren, Hans; Jensen, Henrik; Husby, Arild.(2017)Insights into the genetic architecture of morphological and sexually selected traits in two passerine bird species.Heredity.vol. 119 (3).Stubberud, Marlene Wæge; Myhre, Ane Marlene; Holand, Håkon; Kvalnes, Thomas; Ringsby, Thor Harald; Sæther, Bernt-Erik; Jensen, Henrik.(2017)Sensitivity analysis of effective population size to demographic parameters in house sparrow populations.Molecular Ecology.vol. 26 (9).Holand, Håkon; Kvalnes, Thomas; Gamelon, Marlène; Tufto, Jarle; Jensen, Henrik; Pärn, Henrik; Ringsby, Thor Harald; Sæther, Bernt-Erik.(2016)Spatial variation in senescence rates in a bird metapopulation.Oecologia.vol. 181 (3).Rønning, Bernt; Broggi, Juli; Bech, Claus; Moe, Børge; Ringsby, Thor Harald; Pärn, Henrik; Hagen, Ingerid Julie; Sæther, Bernt-Erik; Jensen, Henrik; Grindstaff, Jennifer.(2016)Is basal metabolic rate associated with recruit production and survival in free-living house sparrows?.Functional Ecology.vol. 30 (7).Holand, Håkon; Jensen, Henrik; Tufto, Jarle; Pärn, Henrik; Sæther, Bernt-Erik; Ringsby, Thor Harald.(2015)Endoparasite infection has both short- and long-term negative effects on reproductive success of female house sparrows, as revealed by faecal parasitic egg counts.PLOS ONE.vol. 10 (5).Ringsby, Thor Harald; Jensen, Henrik; Pärn, Henrik; Kvalnes, Thomas; Boner, Winnie; Gillespie, Robert; Holand, Håkon; Hagen, Ingerid Julie; Rønning, Bernt; Sæther, Bernt-Erik; Monaghan, Pat.(2015)On being the right size: Increased body size is associated with reduced telomere length under natural conditions.Proceedings of the Royal Society of London. Biological Sciences.vol. 282 (1820).

Not enough COVID-19 tests? No problem, we'll make them!

Season 1, Ep. 4
Not enough COVID-19 tests? No problem, we’ll make some!When the coronavirus first transformed from a weird respiratory disease centered in Wuhan, China to a global pandemic, no one was really prepared. Worldwide, no one had enough masks, personal protective gear and definitely — not enough tests.The problem was especially acute in places like Norway, a small country that had to compete on a global market to get anything and everything.What happened when a molecular biologist, some engineers and a couple of PhDs and postdocs put their heads together to design a completely different kind of coronavirus test — and how it changed lives in India, Denmark and Nepal. This last country was given coronavirus tests as NTNU’s annual Christmas gift, in coordination with a volunteer organization called NepalimedNorway.Our guests on today’s show are Magnar Bjørås, Sulalit Bandyopadhyay, Vegar Ottesen, Anuvansh Sharma and Tonje Steigedal.There's a transcript for today's show here.You can read more in detail about the tests here: https://www.ntnu.edu/ntnu-covid-19-testAnd here is a list of articles from NTNU and SINTEF’s online research magazine, Norwegian SciTech News:NTNU’s new COVID-19 test to be used in India and DenmarkNTNU establishes a factory to produce coronavirus testsFrom thousands of tiny balls to 150,000 tests per weekThis episode was written, recorded, edited and produced by Nancy Bazilchuk. Sound design and editorial assistance from Randi Lillealtern at Historiebruket.

The Longship that could help save the planet

Season 1, Ep. 3
Everyone knows there’s just too much carbon dioxide in the atmosphere — and we’re heating up the planet at an unprecedented pace.More than 20 years ago, Norwegians helped pioneer an approach to dealing with CO2that’s still ongoing today— they captured it and pumped it into a rock formation deep under the sea.Now the Norwegian government is building on those decades of experience with a large-scale carbon capture and storage project called Longship.Will it work? Is it safe? And is it something that other countries can benefit from, too?Our guests for this episode wereOlavBolland,Philip RingroseandMonaMølnvik.You can find the transcript of the episode here.More resources/reading:OlavBolland’sbook:Nord, Lars O.;Bolland, Olav. (2020) Carbon Dioxide Emission Management in Power Generation. Wiley-VCHVerlagsgesellschaft. 2020. ISBN 978-3-527-34753-7.You can read the White Paper from the Norwegian government aboutthe Longship project here.Here’s a press releasefrom 15 December 2020thatreports on the NorwegianStorting’sfunding approval for the Longship project.This link takes you to a transcript, inEnglish, from the press conference from 21 September 2020in which Norwegian officials announce the Longship plan.Here’s theofficial website for the Longship CCSproject.You can readabout the Norwegian CCS Research Centrethat MonaMølnvikis head of here.An older, butstill goodvideo aboutSleipnerhttps://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KG5_WSXj1pI&t=271s Philip Ringrose’sgroup’s most recent videohttps://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pAAb1S4bqks&t=28s A e-lecture by Philip Ringrose about CCShttps://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eozVdrvejDs&t=400s Selected popular science and scientific articlesIf the world can capture carbon, there’s capacity to store it.Norwegian SciTech News, 13 December 2019The world doesn’t realise how much we need CO2storage. Norwegian SciTech News, 5 December 2016Carbon capture and storage essential to reach climate target.Norwegian SciTech News, 7 April 2014https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2013-09-20/norway-drops-moon-landing-as-mongstad-carbon-capture-scrappedRingrose, Philip; Meckel, T A. (2019) Maturing global CO2 storage resources on offshore continental margins to achieve 2DS emissions reductions. Scientific Reports.9 (1).Grethe Tangen, ErikG.B. Lindeberg, ArvidNøttvedt, Svein Eggen.(2014)Large-scale Storage of CO2 on the Norwegian Shelf Enabling CCS Readiness in Europe,Energy Procedia,vol.51, pp.326-333Mai Bui, Claire S.Adjiman, AndreBardowet al.(2018)Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS): the way forward. Energy Environ. Sci . 11, 1062From the summary for policymakers,IPCC Special Report on Global Warming of 1.5C(2018):“All pathways that limit global warming to 1.5°C with limited or no overshoot project the use of carbon dioxide removal (CDR) on the order of 100–1000 GtCO2 over the 21st century. CDR would be used to compensate for residual emissions and, in most cases, achieve net negative emissions to return global warming to 1.5°C following a peak (high confidence). CDR deployment of several hundreds of GtCO2 is subject to multiple feasibility and sustainability constraints (high confidence). Significant near-term emissions reductions and measures to lower energy and land demand can limit CDR deployment to a few hundred GtCO2 without reliance on bioenergy with carbon capture and storage (BECCS) (high confidence).”

Viking raiders stole this box. But the real surprise is what they did with it!

Season 1, Ep. 2
It’s no bigger than four decks of cards stacked one on top of the other — a tiny box raided from an Irish church. In Ireland, the box held the holy remains of a saint.What a mound of sand, some leftover nails and the box itself tell us about the Viking raiders who stole it — and what they did with it when they brought it back to Norway.Our guests for this episode were Aina Heen-Pettersen, a PhD candidate at NTNU, and Griffin Murray, who is a lecturer in the Department of Archaeology at University College Cork.The reliquary itself is at NTNU’s University Museum in Trondheim. You can see it virtually if you register to view the museum’s Online Collections and search for “shrine”.A transcript of today’s show is available here.Here are some of the academic articles on the reliquary research:Heen-Pettersen, A. (2019). The Earliest Wave of Viking Activity? The Norwegian Evidence Revisited.European Journal of Archaeology,22(4), 523-541. doi:10.1017/eaa.2019.19Pettersen, Aina Margrethe Heen.(2018)Objects from a distant place: transformation and use of Insular mounts from Viking-Age burials in Trøndelag, Central Norway.Anglo-Saxon Studies in Archaeology and History.vol. 21.Pettersen, Aina Margrethe Heen; Murray, Griffin.(2018)An Insular Reliquary from Melhus: The Significance of Insular Ecclesiastical Material in Early Viking- Age Norway.Medieval Archaeology.vol. 62 (1).Pettersen, Aina Margrethe Heen.(2014)Insular artefacts from Viking-Age burials from mid-Norway. A review of contact between Trøndelag and Britain and Ireland.Internet Archaeology.vol. 38.And here are the books that are mentioned in the podcast:Brunning, S. (2019).The Sword in Early Medieval Northern Europe: Experience, Identity, Representation. Boydell & Brewer. doi:10.1017/9781787444560Etting, V. (2013) The Story of the Drinking Horn: Drinking Culture in Scandinavia During the Middle AgesVolume 21 of Publications from the National Museum / Studies in archaeology & history: Publications from the National Museum,ISSN0909-9506Lowenthal, D. (2015). The Past is a Foreign Country — Revisited. Cambridge University Press. doi:10.1017/CBO9781139024884A transcript of today’s show is available here.

Shedding light — on the polar night

Season 1, Ep. 1
Krill eyeballs. The werewolf effect. Diel vertical migration. Arctic marine biologists really talk about these things.There’s a reason for that — when it comes to the polar night, when humans see only velvety darkness, krill eyeballs see things a little differently. And when the sun has been gone for months, during the darkest periods of the polar night, the moon does unexpected things to marine organisms. Learn more about what biologists are figuring out about the workings of the polar night — and what it means at a time when the Arctic is warming at a breakneck pace.Our guests for this episode were Jørgen Berge, Geir Johnsen, Laura Hobbs and Jonathan H. Cohen. You can see a transcript of the episode here.Fridtjof Nansen’s book about his Arctic expedition is called Farthest North. You can also read about the other influences his pioneering journey had on science here.You can also read about Geir Johnsen’s different research projects in a series of articles from Norwegian SciTech News.The findings of the polar night team are so surprising that they actually wrote a textbook about it, edited by Jørgen Berge, Geir Johnsen and Jonathan H. Cohen. The book is titled Polar Night Marine Ecology: Life and Light in the Dead of Night.Here are some of the scientific articles describing the polar night research:Berge, J., Båtnes, A.S., Johnsen, G. et a. (2012) Bioluminescence in the high Arctic during the polar night. Mar Biol 159: 231-237Berge, J., Renaud, P. E., Darnis, G. et al. (2015) In the dark: A review of ecosystem processes during the Arctic polar night.Progress in Oceanography, 139: 258-271Berge, J., Daase, M., Renaud, P.E. et al. (2015) Unexpected Levels of Biological Activity during the Polar Night Offer New Perspectives on a Warming Arctic Current Biology,25, 2555-2561.Cohen J.H., Berge J., Moline M.A. et al. (2015) Is Ambient Light during the High Arctic Polar Night Sufficient to Act as a Visual Cue for Zooplankton? PLoS ONE 10(6): e0126247. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0126247Ludvigsen, M., Berge, J., Geoffroy, M. et al. (2018) Use of an Autonomous Surface Vehicle reveals small-scale diel vertical migrations of zooplankton and susceptibility to light pollution under low solar irradiance. Science Advances 4: eaap9887Hobbs L, Cottier FR, Last KS, Berge J (2018) Pan-Arctic diel vertical migration during the polar night. Mar Ecol Prog Ser 605:61-72.Berge, Jørgen; Geoffroy, Maxime; Daase, Malin; Cottier, Finlo Robert; Priou, Pierre; Cohen, Jonathan H.; Johnsen, Geir; McKee, David; Kostakis, Ina; Renaud, Paul Eric; Vogedes, Daniel Ludwig; Anderson, Philip J.; Last, Kim S.; Gauthier, Stephane.(2020)Artificial light during the polar night disrupts Arctic fish and zooplankton behavior down to 200 m depth.Communications Biology. 3 (102),10.1038/s42003-020-0807-6