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  • Rahkala, Mari-Johanna (Helsingin yliopisto, 2010)
    The aim of this research is to present, interpret and analyze the phenomenon of pilgrimage in a contemporary, suburban Greek nunnery, and to elucidate the different functions that the present-day convent has for its pilgrims. The scope of the study is limited to a case nunnery, the convent of the Dormition of the Virgin, which is situated in Northern Greece. The main corpus of data utilized for this work consists of 25 interviews and field diary material, which was collected in the convent mainly during the academic year 2002-2003 and summer 2005 by means of participant observation and unstructured thematic interviewing. It must be noted that most Greek nunneries are not really communities of hermits but institutions that operate in complex interaction with the surrounding society. Thus, the main interest in this study is in the interaction between pilgrims and nuns. Pilgrimage is seen here as a significant and concrete form of interaction, which in fact makes the contemporary nunneries dynamic scenes of religious, social and sometimes even political life. The focus of the analysis is on the pilgrims’ experiences, reflected upon on the levels of the individual, the Church institution, and society in general. This study shows that pilgrimage in a suburban nunnery, such as the convent of the Dormition, can be seen as part of everyday religiosity. Many pilgrims visit the convent regularly and the visitation is a lifestyle the pilgrims have chosen and wish to maintain. Pilgrimage to a contemporary Greek nunnery should not be ennobled, but seen as part of a popular religious sentiment. The visits offer pilgrims various tools for reflecting on their personal life situations and on questions of identity. For them the full round of liturgical worship is a very good reason for going to the convent, and many see it as a way of maintaining their faith and of feeling close to God. Despite cultural developments such as secularization and globalization, pilgrims are quite loyal to the convent they visit. It represents the positive values of ‘Greekness’ and therefore they also trust the nuns’ approach to various matters, both personal and political. The coalition of Orthodoxy and nationalism is also visible in their attitudes towards the convent, which they see as a guardian of Hellenism and as nurturing Greek values both now and in the future.
  • Huuskonen, Kari (Helsingin yliopisto, 2013)
    From The Dark Side: Experiences On Modernisation In The Narrative Community Of Visually Impaired People My study describes the experiences on modernisation among the first generations of the organised visually impaired people in the narrative context of the end of the 19:th century and the first decades of the 20:th century. My research material includes oral and written descriptions, photographs, and various objects that describe the thoughts and experiences of people in the past. The oldest data I found has been developed simultaneously with the formation of the publicity institution in Finland. This data includes both my main source the magazines of blind people and the minutes of blind people s associations. They have been supplemented by biographical interviews. The eldest interviewees have been among the founders of blind people s own magazines and associations in the beginning of the 20:th century. It has been an essential goal of my study to bring these thoughts and experiences of the past into the current discussion going on in the academic disability research: which/what kind of social changes connected with modernisation have increased the exclusion of disabled citizens from society, and which have promoted their integration. In the 19:th century, an institutional philosophy was adopted from other European countries to the Finnish education of disabled children. According to my study, this did not exclude the visually impaired from society. Most of the narrators included in the study lost the daily contact into their close communities when they started at the schools for the blind. Yet because of the huge effort that the society forced them to make, most of them developed into independent and self-supporting citizens. The study also shows that the schools of the blind were not closed institutional communities. Institutions for the blind were meeting points of several generations as well as of different thoughts and philosophies. For a long time, they functioned as the main arenas for the organisational life and social action of the visually impaired, where the community-based culture of activity gradually developed from the satisfaction of basic needs into social forms and a common strategy of survival.
  • Spoof, Marja (Helsingin yliopisto, 2007)
    The purpose of this study is to determine what class teachers and special teachers emphasise in ethical consideration, in which situations they find that ethical difficulties arise and how they would overcome them. In additions, the study aims to describe the effects of ethical con-sideration on the teachers` work. The theoretical backround is based on theories concerning the ethics of the teacher and the literature associated with education and teaching. The empirical study was based on data obtained through questionnaires and interviews. The questionnaires were posted to 470 randomly-selected class teachers and special teachers; 298 of them (63%) completed and returned the questionnaire, and 19 teachers were inter-viewed. The results of the questionnaires and the interviews were examined crosswise with a mixed-methods procedure. The questionnaires were analysed by factor analysis. Those items which rose above the av-erage served as the foundation for the analysis. The questionnaires also included open ques-tions. These questions and the interviews were analysed with a content analysis method. Some principles of this method were combined with the results of the questionnaires to in-crease mutual understanding. In this study, the ethical consideration of the teachers was divided in to four notable parts: 1) moral obligations, 2) respect for the teaching stuff, 3) the demand for responsibility, and 4) dependence on the situation. These items were also notable both in situations that were ethi-cally difficult for teachers and in their solutions to these situations. It became evident that these situations were very common in everyday work and resulted from the character of the teachers´ work. This study showed that the teacher meets the pupils as a group and that the teacher must examine according to the circumstances the truth, individuality, special ar-rangements and co-operation between the school and the parents. The teachers` continuous lack of time limited the ethical consideration. It emerged that the teachers consider their work very multi-faceted and that the sense of obligation, power and responsibility was inevitably received emphasis. The consciousness of authority and the responsibilities associated with it seemed, however, to strengthen this ac-tion. The study showed that the teachers, especially the young female ones, long for more solidarity. Significantly, such experience does not eliminate the importance of ethical consid-eration; on the contrary, it deepens it. According to the results, creating conditions and cir-cumstances for the teachers that open co-operation is inevitable, and easy interaction will in-evitably be possible in the future. There was not observed any differences in ethical consideration between class teachers and special teachers. Therefore, the integration of the pupils to general teaching cannot be consid-ered questionable. Teachers´ answers suggested that ethical consideration improved the tolerance of stress, increased self-confidence and courage as well as belief in the future. The teachers considered ethical consideration important and encouraging for it increased justice and empathy in the teachers´ work.
  • Novitski, Nikolai (Helsingin yliopisto, 2006)
    Pitch discrimination is a fundamental property of the human auditory system. Our understanding of pitch-discrimination mechanisms is important from both theoretical and clinical perspectives. The discrimination of spectrally complex sounds is crucial in the processing of music and speech. Current methods of cognitive neuroscience can track the brain processes underlying sound processing either with precise temporal (EEG and MEG) or spatial resolution (PET and fMRI). A combination of different techniques is therefore required in contemporary auditory research. One of the problems in comparing the EEG/MEG and fMRI methods, however, is the fMRI acoustic noise. In the present thesis, EEG and MEG in combination with behavioral techniques were used, first, to define the ERP correlates of automatic pitch discrimination across a wide frequency range in adults and neonates and, second, they were used to determine the effect of recorded acoustic fMRI noise on those adult ERP and ERF correlates during passive and active pitch discrimination. Pure tones and complex 3-harmonic sounds served as stimuli in the oddball and matching-to-sample paradigms. The results suggest that pitch discrimination in adults, as reflected by MMN latency, is most accurate in the 1000-2000 Hz frequency range, and that pitch discrimination is facilitated further by adding harmonics to the fundamental frequency. Newborn infants are able to discriminate a 20% frequency change in the 250-4000 Hz frequency range, whereas the discrimination of a 5% frequency change was unconfirmed. Furthermore, the effect of the fMRI gradient noise on the automatic processing of pitch change was more prominent for tones with frequencies exceeding 500 Hz, overlapping with the spectral maximum of the noise. When the fundamental frequency of the tones was lower than the spectral maximum of the noise, fMRI noise had no effect on MMN and P3a, whereas the noise delayed and suppressed N1 and exogenous N2. Noise also suppressed the N1 amplitude in a matching-to-sample working memory task. However, the task-related difference observed in the N1 component, suggesting a functional dissociation between the processing of spatial and non-spatial auditory information, was partially preserved in the noise condition. Noise hampered feature coding mechanisms more than it hampered the mechanisms of change detection, involuntary attention, and the segregation of the spatial and non-spatial domains of working-memory. The data presented in the thesis can be used to develop clinical ERP-based frequency-discrimination protocols and combined EEG and fMRI experimental paradigms.
  • Raivio, Minna (Helsingin yliopisto, 2007)
    Pitfalls in the treatment of persons with dementia Persons with dementia require high-quality health care, rehabilitation and sufficient social services to support their autonomy and to postpone permanent institutionalization. This study sought to investigate possible pitfalls in the care of patients with dementia: hip fracture rehabilitation, use of inappropriate or antipsychotic medication, social and medicolegal services offered to dementia caregiving families. Three different Finnish samples were used from years 1999-2005, mean age 78 to 86 years. After hip fracture operation, the weight-bearing restriction especially in group of patients with dementia, was associated with a longer rehabilitation period (73.5 days vs. 45.5 days, p=0.03) and the inability to learn to walk after six weeks (p<0.001). Almost half (44%) of the pre-surgery home-dwellers with dementia in our sample required permanent hospitalization after hip fracture. Potentially inappropriate medication was used among 36.2% of nursing home and hospital patients. The most common PIDs in Finland were temazepam over 15 mg/day, oxybutynin, and dipyridamole. However, PID use failed to predict mortality or the use of health services. Nearly half (48.4%) of the nursing home and hospital patients with dementia used antipsychotic medication. The two-year mortality did not differ among the users of conventional or atypical antipsychotics or the non-users (45.3% vs.32.1% vs.49.6%, p=0.195). The mean number of hospital admissions was highest among non-users (p=0.029). A high number of medications (HR 1.12, p<0.001) and the use of physical restraints (HR 1.72, p=0.034) predicted higher mortality at two years, while the use of atypical antipsychotics (HR 0.49, p=0.047) showed a protective effect, if any. The services most often offered to caregiving families of persons with Alzheimer s disease (AD) included financial support from the community (36%), technical devices (33%), physiotherapy (32%), and respite care in nursing homes (31%). Those services most often needed included physiotherapy for the spouse with dementia (56%), financial support (50%), house cleaning (41%), and home respite (40%). Only a third of the caregivers were satisfied with these services, and 69% felt unable to influence the range of services offered. The use of legal guardians was quite rare (only 4.3%), while the use of financial powers of attorney was 37.8%. Almost half (47.9%) of the couples expressed an unmet need for discussion with their doctor about medico-legal issues, while only 9.9% stated that their doctor had informed them of such matters. Although we already have many practical methods to develop the medical and social care of persons with AD, these patients and their families require better planning and tailoring of such services. In this way, society could offer these elderly persons better quality of life while economizing on its financial resources. This study was supported by Social Insurance Institution of Finland and part of it made in cooperation with the The Central Union of the Welfare for the Aged, Finland.
  • Tikkanen, Minna (Helsingin yliopisto, 2008)
    Placental abruption, one of the most significant causes of perinatal mortality and maternal morbidity, occurs in 0.5-1% of pregnancies. Its etiology is unknown, but defective trophoblastic invasion of the spiral arteries and consequent poor vascularization may play a role. The aim of this study was to define the prepregnancy risk factors of placental abruption, to define the risk factors during the index pregnancy, and to describe the clinical presentation of placental abruption. We also wanted to find a biochemical marker for predicting placental abruption early in pregnancy. Among women delivering at the University Hospital of Helsinki in 1997-2001 (n=46,742), 198 women with placental abruption and 396 control women were identified. The overall incidence of placental abruption was 0.42%. The prepregnancy risk factors were smoking (OR 1.7; 95% CI 1.1, 2.7), uterine malformation (OR 8.1; 1.7, 40), previous cesarean section (OR 1.7; 1.1, 2.8), and history of placental abruption (OR 4.5; 1.1, 18). The risk factors during the index pregnancy were maternal (adjusted OR 1.8; 95% CI 1.1, 2.9) and paternal smoking (2.2; 1.3, 3.6), use of alcohol (2.2; 1.1, 4.4), placenta previa (5.7; 1.4, 23.1), preeclampsia (2.7; 1.3, 5.6) and chorioamnionitis (3.3; 1.0, 10.0). Vaginal bleeding (70%), abdominal pain (51%), bloody amniotic fluid (50%) and fetal heart rate abnormalities (69%) were the most common clinical manifestations of placental abruption. Retroplacental blood clot was seen by ultrasound in 15% of the cases. Neither bleeding nor pain was present in 19% of the cases. Overall, 59% went into preterm labor (OR 12.9; 95% CI 8.3, 19.8), and 91% were delivered by cesarean section (34.7; 20.0, 60.1). Of the newborns, 25% were growth restricted. The perinatal mortality rate was 9.2% (OR 10.1; 95% CI 3.4, 30.1). We then tested selected biochemical markers for prediction of placental abruption. The median of the maternal serum alpha-fetoprotein (MSAFP) multiples of median (MoM) (1.21) was significantly higher in the abruption group (n=57) than in the control group (n=108) (1.07) (p=0.004) at 15-16 gestational weeks. In multivariate analysis, elevated MSAFP remained as an independent risk factor for placental abruption, adjusting for parity ≥ 3, smoking, previous placental abruption, preeclampsia, bleeding in II or III trimester, and placenta previa. MSAFP ≥ 1.5 MoM had a sensitivity of 29% and a false positive rate of 10%. The levels of the maternal serum free beta human chorionic gonadotrophin MoM did not differ between the cases and the controls. None of the angiogenic factors (soluble endoglin, soluble fms-like tyrosine kinase 1, or placental growth factor) showed any difference between the cases (n=42) and the controls (n=50) in the second trimester. The levels of C-reactive protein (CRP) showed no difference between the cases (n=181) and the controls (n=261) (median 2.35 mg/l [interquartile range {IQR} 1.09-5.93] versus 2.28 mg/l [IQR 0.92-5.01], not significant) when tested in the first trimester (mean 10.4 gestational weeks). Chlamydia pneumoniae specific immunoglobulin G (IgG) and immunoglobulin A (IgA) as well as C. trachomatis specific IgG, IgA and chlamydial heat-shock protein 60 antibody rates were similar between the groups. In conclusion, although univariate analysis identified many prepregnancy risk factors for placental abruption, only smoking, uterine malformation, previous cesarean section and history of placental abruption remained significant by multivariate analysis. During the index pregnancy maternal alcohol consumption and smoking and smoking by the partner turned out to be the major independent risk factors for placental abruption. Smoking by both partners multiplied the risk. The liberal use of ultrasound examination contributed little to the management of women with placental abruption. Although second-trimester MSAFP levels were higher in women with subsequent placental abruption, clinical usefulness of this test is limited due to low sensitivity and high false positive rate. Similarly, angiogenic factors in early second trimester, or CRP levels, or chlamydial antibodies in the first trimester failed to predict placental abruption.
  • Noschis, Elias (Helsingin yliopisto, 2006)
    The TOTEM experiment at the LHC will measure the total proton-proton cross-section with a precision better than 1%, elastic proton scattering over a wide range in momentum transfer -t= p^2 theta^2 up to 10 GeV^2 and diffractive dissociation, including single, double and central diffraction topologies. The total cross-section will be measured with the luminosity independent method that requires the simultaneous measurements of the total inelastic rate and the elastic proton scattering down to four-momentum transfers of a few 10^-3 GeV^2, corresponding to leading protons scattered in angles of microradians from the interaction point. This will be achieved using silicon microstrip detectors, which offer attractive properties such as good spatial resolution (<20 um), fast response (O(10ns)) to particles and radiation hardness up to 10^14 "n"/cm^2. This work reports about the development of an innovative structure at the detector edge reducing the conventional dead width of 0.5-1 mm to 50-60 um, compatible with the requirements of the experiment.
  • Ronkainen, Tiina (Helsingin yliopisto, 2015)
    Northern peatlands form a large storage of terrestrial carbon and at the same time they provide an important palaeoecological archive to study past climate changes and associated carbon dynamics. One of the most widely used methods to study peatland histories is the plant macrofossil method. However, peat material of the early succession stages, the fens, is often highly decomposed hampering the identification of the fossil plant remains. Thus, current methods may give only a partial view on the past vegetation, and as a result the accuracy of carbon balance estimations and climate implications may remain low. A new promising method to study past plant assemblages from peat is the geochemical plant biomarker method, which has performed well in less decomposed bog peat environments. In my study I assess the applicability of the geochemical plant biomarker method to study past plant assemblages from highly decomposed fen peat. For the first time I apply a living fen plant biomarker training set to study past fen phases. To do this, I collected and analysed two sets of living key fen plants. The training sets included boreal fen, arctic fen and permafrost peat plateau plants. The biomarker analyses on fossil peat were applied in parallel with macrofossil analyses to two boreal and one arctic permafrost peat section, all known to contain highly decomposed peat. The analyses of living plants showed that the biomarker compositions did not differ between the same species collected from different bioclimatic zones, suggesting that, at least to some extent, plant biomarkers can be used universally beyond the geographical areas where the training set was collected. The plant biomarker analyses indicate that the n-alkanes, and their ratios, are the most useful compounds to separate fen plant groups: Sphagnum mosses and vascular plants. Results showed also that biomarker composition of fen plants did not differ substantially from their bog counterparts. However, results indicated that when a wider combination of plants, plant parts and peatland habitats are incorporated into the training set the data interpretation becomes more challenging. For example, the biomarker composition of Sphagnum mosses and sedge roots resembled each other despite their differences in biology. Thus, a larger set of proxies is advisable when plant groups need to be separated more accurately. In the peat sections studied here, the biomarker method performed well in less humified bog peat layers but less well in the highly decomposed fen peat layers. The macrofossil method proved to be most competitive proxy to reconstruct past vegetation assemblages and local environmental conditions through-out the peat sections. However, when macrofossil and biomarker data were interpreted in parallel, it became clear that biomarkers were also able to reflect the major changes in dominating plant groups and in moisture conditions. Accordingly, the analysis separated the most important bog microhabitats and the major regime shifts from fen to bog. I conclude, however, that in fen environments the interpretation of biomarker data can be rather challenging. As a result, it appears that the biomarker method, as applied here, performs the best as a complimentary proxy when used in conjunction with macrofossils, and that the data should be interpreted cautiously.
  • Tarmi, Sanna (Helsingin yliopisto, 2011)
    Agri-environmental schemes have so far resulted in only minor positive implications for the biodiversity of agricultural environments, in contrast to what has been expected. Land-use intensification has decreased landscape heterogeneity and the amount of semi-natural habitats. Field margins are uncultivated areas of permanent vegetation located adjacent to fields. Since the number of these habitats is high, investing in their quality may result in more diverse agricultural landscapes. Field margins can be considered as multifunctional habitats providing agronomic, environmental and wildlife services. This thesis aimed at examining the plant communities of different types of field margin habitats and the factors affecting their species diversity and composition. The importance of edaphic, spatial and management factors was studied on regional, landscape and habitat scales. Vegetation surveys were conducted on regional and landscape scales and a field experiment on cutting management was conducted on a habitat scale. In field margin plant communities, species appeared to be indicators of high or intermediate soil fertility and moist soil conditions. The plant species diversity found was rather low, compared with most species-rich agricultural habitats in Finland, such as dry meadows. Among regions, land-use history, main production line, natural species and human induced distribution, climate and edaphic factors were elements inducing differences in species composition. The lowest regional species diversity of field margins was related to intensive and long-term cereal production. Management by cutting and removal or grazing had a positive effect on plant species diversity. The positive effect of cutting and removal on species richness was also dependent on the adjacent source of colonizing species. Therefore, in species-poor habitats and landscapes, establishment of margins with diverse seed mixtures can be recommended for enhancing the development of species richness. However, seed mixtures should include only native species preferably local origin. Management by cutting once a year for 5 years did not result in a decline in dominance of a harmful weed species, Elymus repens, showing that E. repens probably needs cutting more frequently than once per year. Agri-environmental schemes should include long-term contracts with farmers for the establishment, and management by cutting and removal or grazing, of field margins that are several metres wide. In such schemes, the timing and frequency of management should be planned so as not to harm other taxa, such as the insects and birds that are dependent on these habitats. All accidental herbicide drifts to field margins should be avoided when spraying the cultivated area to minimize the negative effects of sprayings on vegetation. The harmful effects of herbicides can be avoided by organic farming methods.
  • Vahisalu, Triin (Helsingin yliopisto, 2010)
    Plants are rooted to their growth place; therefore it is important that they react adequately to changes in environmental conditions. Stomatal pores, which are formed of a pair of guard cells in leaf epidermis, regulate plant gas-exchange. Importantly, guard cells protect the plant from desiccation in drought conditions by reducing the aperture of the stomatal pore. They serve also as the first barrier against the major air pollutant ozone, but the behaviour of guard cells during ozone exposure has not been sufficiently addressed. Aperture of the stomatal pore is regulated by the influx and efflux of osmotically active ions via ion channels and transporters across the guard cell membrane, however the molecular identity of guard cell plasma membrane anion channel has remained unknown. In the frame of this study, guard cell behaviour during ozone exposure was studied using the newly constructed Arabidopsis whole-rosette gas-exchange system. Ozone induced a Rapid Transient Decrease (RTD) in stomatal conductance within 10 min from the start of exposure, which was followed by a recovery in the conductance within the next 40 min. The decrease in stomatal conductance was dependent on the applied ozone concentration. Three minutes of ozone exposure was sufficient to induce RTD and further ozone application during the closure-recovery process had no effect on RTD, demonstrating that the whole process is programmed within the first three minutes. To address the molecular components responsible for RTD, the ozone response was measured in 59 different Arabidopsis mutants involved in guard cell signalling. Four of the tested mutants slac1 (originally rcd3), ost1, abi1-1 and abi2-1 lacked RTD completely. As the ozone sensitive mutant slac1 lacked RTD, the next aim of this study was to identify and characterize SLAC1. SLAC1 was shown to be a central regulator in response to all major factors regulating guard cell aperture: CO2, light/darkness transitions, ozone, relative air humidity, ABA, NO, H2O2, and extracellular Ca2+. It encodes the first guard cell plasma membrane slow type anion channel to be identified at the molecular level. Interestingly, the rapid type anion conductance was intact in slac1 mutant plants. For activation, SLAC1 needs to be phosphorylated. Protein kinase OST1 was shown to phosphorylate several amino acids in the N-terminal tail of SLAC1, Ser120 was one of its main targets, which led to SLAC1 activation. The lack of RTD in type 2C protein phosphatase mutants abi1-1 and abi2-1, suggests that these proteins have a regulatory role in ozoneinduced activation of the slow type anion channel.
  • Jauni, Miia (Helsingin yliopisto, 2012)
    Plant invasions cause a serious threat to native biodiversity. Agricultural habitats are highly disturbed and often invaded by the alien plant species. Generally, the success of a plant invader depends on the abiotic (e.g. climate, habitat properties) and biotic factors (e.g. the characteristics of the invader and interaction with the resident species). In this thesis, I determined the invasion level of alien plant species in Finnish agricultural habitats. In addition, I assessed the environmental conditions and species characteristics affecting plant invasions, and the alien species impact on native species richness and diversity. The invasion level of alien plant species varied between different types of semi-natural agricultural habitats, geographical regions and study years. Generally, more frequently disturbed and more intensively managed habitats (e.g. field and road verges) were more often invaded by alien plants than infrequently disturbed and managed habitats (e.g. grassland). However, the effect of disturbance regime tended to depend on residence time of the alien plant species, and vary among the alien plant species. The invasion level decreased towards north with decreasing temperature and increased towards east with increasing continentality. The geographical trends may be explained by climate, migration history and land-use intensity. In addition, alien plant species diversity increased with higher native plant species diversity. Thus, the results suggest that species interactions, especially competition, with resident plant species do not limit plant invasions in semi-natural agricultural habitats. The positive relationship between native and alien species may be caused by both suitable environmental conditions and spatial heterogeneity in environmental conditions partly created by disturbance of agricultural habitats. The species traits of alien plant species are habitat-specific and strongly related environmental conditions. I did not find evidence that alien plants species cause a severe threat to native plant diversity in Finnish semi-natural habitats. The most harmful invasive plant species are still rare in Finnish agricultural landscape. In the future, the pressure of establishment and spread of alien species can be assumed to increase. Thus, regular monitoring is needed for early detection of new species and detection of the changes in the distribution and the spread of established alien species. The fact that plant invasions are species-specific and depended on environmental characteristics calls for habitat- and species-specific studies on the impacts of alien species and on the determinants of plant invasion at multiple spatial scales.
  • Kanerva, Sanna (2007)
    The aim of this study was to explore soil microbial activities related to C and N cycling and the occurrence and concentrations of two important groups of plant secondary compounds, terpenes and phenolic compounds, under silver birch (Betula pendula Roth), Norway spruce (Picea abies (L.) Karst) and Scots pine (Pinus sylvestris L.) as well as to study the effects of volatile monoterpenes and tannins on soil microbial activities. The study site, located in Kivalo, northern Finland, included ca. 70-year-old adjacent stands dominated by silver birch, Norway spruce and Scots pine. Originally the soil was very probably similar in all three stands. All forest floor layers (litter (L), fermentation layer (F) and humified layer (H)) under birch and spruce showed higher rates of CO2 production, greater net mineralisation of nitrogen and higher amounts of carbon and nitrogen in microbial biomass than did the forest floor layers under pine. Concentrations of mono-, sesqui-, di- and triterpenes were higher under both conifers than under birch, while the concentration of total water-soluble phenolic compounds as well as the concentration of condensed tannins tended to be higher or at least as high under spruce as under birch or pine. In general, differences between tree species in soil microbial activities and in concentrations of secondary compounds were smaller in the H layer than in the upper layers. The rate of CO2 production and the amount of carbon in the microbial biomass correlated highly positively with the concentration of total water-soluble phenolic compounds and positively with the concentration of condensed tannins. Exposure of soil to volatile monoterpenes and tannins extracted and fractionated from spruce and pine needles affected carbon and nitrogen transformations in soil, but the effects were dependent on the compound and its molecular structure. Monoterpenes decreased net mineralisation of nitrogen and probably had a toxic effect on part of the microbial population in soil, while another part of the microbes seemed to be able to use monoterpenes as a carbon source. With tannins, low-molecular-weight compounds (also compounds other than tannins) increased soil CO2 production and nitrogen immobilisation by soil microbes while the higher-molecular-weight condensed tannins had inhibitory effects. In conclusion, plant secondary compounds may have a great potential in regulation of C and N transformations in forest soils, but the real magnitude of their significance in soil processes is impossible to estimate.
  • Eeva, Manu (Helsingin yliopisto, 2010)
    A reversed-phase, high-performance liquid chromatographic method (RP-HPLC) with atmospheric pressure chemical ionisation mass spectrometry (APCI-MS) detection was developed utilising Turbo Method Development® and DryLab® programmes for the separation and identification of coumarins in Peucedanum palustre L. (Moench) and Angelica archangelica (L.) var. archangelica both belonging to the endemic flora of Finland. Fifteen coumarins were identified both in P. palustre and in A. archangelica. This is the first report on the xanthotoxin, isopimpinellin, pimpinellin, and coumarin composition of the umbels of P. palustre. The coumarin composition of Finnish P. palustre populations was analyzed and verified chromatographically. The main coumarin in roots was oxypeucedanin, and in aerial parts peulustrin/isopeulustrin. The highly varying total coumarin concentration was the highest in umbels and the lowest in stems. Leaves and roots contained comparable amounts of coumarins. The total coumarin concentration decreased towards the north. As regards the aerial parts, the coumarin content of the umbels and leaves resembled each other the most. The effective temperature sum clearly correlated with the coumarin concentrations of the aerial parts, but not with the roots of the plant. The study did not support the existence of chemotypes in Finnish P. palustre populations. A spontaneously embryogenic cell line of A. archangelica was established from seedlings via callus formation. The highest coumarin production was achieved after three weeks of cultivation in the medium containing 3.0% sucrose. Cryopreservation was found to be a suitable method for storing the cell line. Plantlets propagated in an air-sparged bioreactor were transferable directly to soil. The coumarin composition and levels in the regenerated plants were comparable to those in intact plants. A mathematical computer-aided model CELLOP was constructed in which the desirability functions in a three-dimensional experimental design are used for optimising the growing conditions for plant cultures. The calcium, inorganic nitrogen, and sucrose concentrations in the medium were optimised for coumarin-producing, spontaneously embryogenic cell lines of A. archangelica and P. palustre. In comparison to the reference, the dry mass for A. archangelica was 24.7% and the coumarin concentration 40.5% higher in the optimised conditions, and the dry mass for P. palustre 61.8% and the coumarin concentration 58.1% higher. For A. archangelica the highest embryogenic activity occurred in the medium containing 1.25 mM calcium and for P. palustre in the medium containing 50.0 mM NO3- and 4.01 mM NH4+.
  • Ma, Maohua (Helsingin yliopisto, 2006)
    Buffer zones are vegetated strip-edges of agricultural fields along watercourses. As linear habitats in agricultural ecosystems, buffer strips dominate and play a leading ecological role in many areas. This thesis focuses on the plant species diversity of the buffer zones in a Finnish agricultural landscape. The main objective of the present study is to identify the determinants of floral species diversity in arable buffer zones from local to regional levels. This study was conducted in a watershed area of a farmland landscape of southern Finland. The study area, Lepsämänjoki, is situated in the Nurmijärvi commune 30 km to the north of Helsinki, Finland. The biotope mosaics were mapped in GIS. A total of 59 buffer zones were surveyed, of which 29 buffer strips surveyed were also sampled by plot. Firstly, two diversity components (species richness and evenness) were investigated to determine whether the relationship between the two is equal and predictable. I found no correlation between species richness and evenness. The relationship between richness and evenness is unpredictable in a small-scale human-shaped ecosystem. Ordination and correlation analyses show that richness and evenness may result from different ecological processes, and thus should be considered separately. Species richness correlated negatively with phosphorus content, and species evenness correlated negatively with the ratio of organic carbon to total nitrogen in soil. The lack of a consistent pattern in the relationship between these two components may be due to site-specific variation in resource utilization by plant species. Within-habitat configuration (width, length, and area) were investigated to determine which is more effective for predicting species richness. More species per unit area increment could be obtained from widening the buffer strip than from lengthening it. The width of the strips is an effective determinant of plant species richness. The increase in species diversity with an increase in the width of buffer strips may be due to cross-sectional habitat gradients within the linear patches. This result can serve as a reference for policy makers, and has application value in agricultural management. In the framework of metacommunity theory, I found that both mass effect(connectivity) and species sorting (resource heterogeneity) were likely to explain species composition and diversity on a local and regional scale. The local and regional processes were interactively dominated by the degree to which dispersal perturbs local communities. In the lowly and intermediately connected regions, species sorting was of primary importance to explain species diversity, while the mass effect surpassed species sorting in the highly connected region. Increasing connectivity in communities containing high habitat heterogeneity can lead to the homogenization of local communities, and consequently, to lower regional diversity, while local species richness was unrelated to the habitat connectivity. Of all species found, Anthriscus sylvestris, Phalaris arundinacea, and Phleum pretense significantly responded to connectivity, and showed high abundance in the highly connected region. We suggest that these species may play a role in switching the force from local resources to regional connectivity shaping the community structure. On the landscape context level, the different responses of local species richness and evenness to landscape context were investigated. Seven landscape structural parameters served to indicate landscape context on five scales. On all scales but the smallest scales, the Shannon-Wiener diversity of land covers (H') correlated positively with the local richness. The factor (H') showed the highest correlation coefficients in species richness on the second largest scale. The edge density of arable field was the only predictor that correlated with species evenness on all scales, which showed the highest predictive power on the second smallest scale. The different predictive power of the factors on different scales showed a scaledependent relationship between the landscape context and local plant species diversity, and indicated that different ecological processes determine species richness and evenness. The local richness of species depends on a regional process on large scales, which may relate to the regional species pool, while species evenness depends on a fine- or coarse-grained farming system, which may relate to the patch quality of the habitats of field edges near the buffer strips. My results suggested some guidelines of species diversity conservation in the agricultural ecosystem. To maintain a high level of species diversity in the strips, a high level of phosphorus in strip soil should be avoided. Widening the strips is the most effective mean to improve species richness. Habitat connectivity is not always favorable to species diversity because increasing connectivity in communities containing high habitat heterogeneity can lead to the homogenization of local communities (beta diversity) and, consequently, to lower regional diversity. Overall, a synthesis of local and regional factors emerged as the model that best explain variations in plant species diversity. The studies also suggest that the effects of determinants on species diversity have a complex relationship with scale.