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  • Lahdenranta, Johanna (Helsingin yliopisto, 2004)
  • Wirzenius, Maria (Helsingin yliopisto, 2007)
    The circulatory system consists of the blood and lymphatic vessels. While blood vessels transport oxygen, cells, and nutrients to tissues, the lymphatic vessels collect fluid, cells, and plasma proteins from tissues to return back to the blood circulation. Angiogenesis, the growth of new blood vessels from pre-existing ones, is an important process involved in several physiological conditions such as inflammation, wound healing, and embryonic development. Furthermore, angiogenesis is found in many pathological conditions such as atherosclerosis and the growth and differentiation of solid tumors. Many tumor types spread via lymphatic vessels to form lymph node metastasis. The elucidation of the molecular players coordinating development of the vascular system has provided an array of tools for further insight of the circulatory system. The discovery of the Vascular Endothelial Growth Factor (VEGF) family members and their tyrosine kinase receptors (VEGFRs) has facilitated the understanding of the vasculature in different physiological and pathological situations. The VEGFRs are expressed on endothelial cells and mediate the growth and maintenance of both the blood and lymphatic vasculatures. This study was undertaken to address the role of VEGFR-2 specific signaling in maturation of blood vessels during neoangiogenesis and in lymphangiogenesis. We also wanted to differentiate between VEGFR-2 and VEGFR-3 specific signaling in lymphangiogenesis. We found that specific VEGFR-2 stimulation alone by gene therapeutic methods is not sufficient for production of mature blood vessels. However, VEGFR-2 stimulation in combination with expression of platelet-derived growth factor D (PDGF-D), a recently identified member of the PDGF growth factor family, was capable of stabilizing these newly formed vessels. Signaling through VEGFR-3 is crucial during developmental lymphangiogenesis, but we showed that the lymphatic vasculature becomes independent of VEGFR-3 signaling after the postnatal period. We also found that VEGFR-2 specific stimulation cannot rescue the loss of lymphatic vessels when VEGFR-3 signaling is blocked and that VEGFR-2 specific signals promote lymphatic vessel enlargement, but are not involved in vessel sprouting to generate new lymphatic vessels in vivo, in contrast to the VEGFR-2 dependent sprouting observed in blood vessels. In addition, we compared the inhibitory effects of a small molecular tyrosine kinase inhibitor of VEGFR-2 vs. VEGFR-3 specific signaling in vitro and in vivo. Our results showed that the tyrosine kinase inhibitor could equally affect physiological and pathological processes dependent on VEGFR-2 and VEGFR-3 driven angiogenesis or lymphangiogenesis. These results provide new insights into the VEGFR specific pathways required for pre- and postnatal angiogenesis as well as lymphangiogenesis, which could provide important targets and therapies for treatment of diseases characterized by abnormal angiogenesis or lymphangiogenesis.
  • Jeltsch, Michael (Helsingin yliopisto, 2002)
  • Pietiäinen, Vilja (Helsingin yliopisto, 2005)
  • Sundell, Janne (Helsingin yliopisto, 2002)
  • Savola, Sakeri (Helsingin yliopisto, 2015)
    Approximately 75% of Finland is covered by boreal forest. Intensive commercial forestry has shaped the Finnish landscape as well as the animal communities that inhabit it. It has been suggested that commercial forestry increases the density of voles in boreal ecosystems. Voles, especially those belonging to Microtus, are important prey items for many avian and mammalian predators and are susceptible to numerous pathogens, e.g., Puumala virus In this thesis, I studied the effects of a changing landscape on vole populations and the influence of dynamic vole population densities on other trophic levels in the ecosystem. The main questions in the thesis are: how is commercial forestry affecting small mammal populations?; how does habitat and the small mammal community influence the prevalence of Puumala virus?; what are the main factors regulating red fox (Vulpes vulpes) population density?; and what are the habitat preferences of red fox? In our vole study in Taivalkoski northern Finland we found that the early stages of forest succession are preferred by Microtus and, thus, commercial forestry is increasing the amount of habitat used by Microtus voles. In the Finnish forest landscape, Puumala virus is found in forests of all ages as is its main host, the bank vole. However, the highest bank vole densities are found in mature forests. We also found evidence of a dilution effect in that the incidence of Puumala virus antibodies in breeding bank voles was lower when the abundance of other small mammal species was high. Our results based on Finnish long-term wildlife monitorings suggest that the red fox population is regulated by its main predator, the Eurasian lynx, in addition to its own abundance in the environment. The red fox hunting bag was surprisingly related positively to the red fox population growth. We also found a negative relationship between autumn vole density and fox population growth in the next year. We suggest that the red fox population is affected by both top-down and bottom-up factors. In our study on GPS-collared red foxes we found that foxes favour agricultural areas, and that home range size is smaller in regions dominated by crop fields. Within the home range, foxes prefer open forests that have been recently clear-cut and replanted, where Microtus voles can be found more abundantly. In comparison to lynx, foxes tend to range within more modified habitats, e.g., agricultural and urban areas, where predator densities are lower and alternative resources can be found. Commercial forestry is affecting vole population density and other trophic levels in boreal forests. The increasing abundance of apex predators (e.g., lynx) is limiting the density of the vole predators (e.g., red fox) and thereby driving the system and its trophic interactions in a new level.
  • Kallio, Kari (Helsingin yliopisto, 2012)
    In lake-rich regions, the gathering of information about water quality is challenging because only a small proportion of the lakes can be assessed each year by conventional methods. One of the techniques for improving the spatial and temporal representativeness of lake monitoring is remote sensing from satellites and aircrafts. The experimental material included detailed optical measurements in 11 lakes, air- and spaceborne remote sensing measurements with concurrent field sampling, automatic raft measurements and a national dataset of routine water quality measurements from over 1100 lakes. The analyses of the spatially high-resolution airborne remote sensing data from eutrophic and mesotrophic lakes showed that one or a few discrete water quality observations using conventional monitoring can yield a clear over- or underestimation of the overall water quality in a lake. The use of TM-type satellite instruments in addition to routine monitoring results substantially increases the number of lakes for which water quality information can be obtained. The preliminary results indicated that coloured dissolved organic matter (CDOM) can be estimated with TM-type satellite instruments, which could possibly be utilised as an aid in estimating the role of lakes in global carbon budgets. Based on the results of reflectance modelling and experimental data, MERIS satellite instrument has optimal or near-optimal channels for the estimation of turbidity, chlorophyll a and CDOM in Finnish lakes. MERIS images with a 300 m spatial resolution can provide water quality information in different parts of large and medium-sized lakes, and in filling in the gaps resulting from conventional monitoring. Algorithms that would not require simultaneous field data for algorithm training would increase the amount of remote sensing-based information available for lake monitoring. The MERIS Boreal Lakes processor, trained with the optical data and concentration ranges provided by this study, enabled turbidity estimations with good accuracy without the need for algorithm correction with field measurements, while chlorophyll a and CDOM estimations require further development of the processor. The accuracy of interpreting chlorophyll a via semi empirical algorithms can be improved by classifying lakes prior to interpretation according to their CDOM level and trophic status. Optical modelling indicated that the spectral diffuse attenuation coefficient can be estimated with reasonable accuracy from the measured water quality concentrations. This provides more detailed information on light attenuation from routine monitoring measurements than is available through the Secchi disk transparency. The results of this study improve the interpretation of lake water quality by remote sensing and encourage the use of remote sensing in lake monitoring.
  • Van Teeffelen, Astrid (Helsingin yliopisto, 2007)
    Ongoing habitat loss and fragmentation threaten much of the biodiversity that we know today. As such, conservation efforts are required if we want to protect biodiversity. Conservation budgets are typically tight, making the cost-effective selection of protected areas difficult. Therefore, reserve design methods have been developed to identify sets of sites, that together represent the species of conservation interest in a cost-effective manner. To be able to select reserve networks, data on species distributions is needed. Such data is often incomplete, but species habitat distribution models (SHDMs) can be used to link the occurrence of the species at the surveyed sites to the environmental conditions at these locations (e.g. climatic, vegetation and soil conditions). The probability of the species occurring at unvisited location is next predicted by the model, based on the environmental conditions of those sites. The spatial configuration of reserve networks is important, because habitat loss around reserves can influence the persistence of species inside the network. Since species differ in their requirements for network configuration, the spatial cohesion of networks needs to be species-specific. A way to account for species-specific requirements is to use spatial variables in SHDMs. Spatial SHDMs allow the evaluation of the effect of reserve network configuration on the probability of occurrence of the species inside the network. Even though reserves are important for conservation, they are not the only option available to conservation planners. To enhance or maintain habitat quality, restoration or maintenance measures are sometimes required. As a result, the number of conservation options per site increases. Currently available reserve selection tools do however not offer the ability to handle multiple, alternative options per site. This thesis extends the existing methodology for reserve design, by offering methods to identify cost-effective conservation planning solutions when multiple, alternative conservation options are available per site. Although restoration and maintenance measures are beneficial to certain species, they can be harmful to other species with different requirements. This introduces trade-offs between species when identifying which conservation action is best applied to which site. The thesis describes how the strength of such trade-offs can be identified, which is useful for assessing consequences of conservation decisions regarding species priorities and budget. Furthermore, the results of the thesis indicate that spatial SHDMs can be successfully used to account for species-specific requirements for spatial cohesion - in the reserve selection (single-option) context as well as in the multi-option context. Accounting for the spatial requirements of multiple species and allowing for several conservation options is however complicated, due to trade-offs in species requirements. It is also shown that spatial SHDMs can be successfully used for gaining information on factors that drive a species spatial distribution. Such information is valuable to conservation planning, as better knowledge on species requirements facilitates the design of networks for species persistence. This methods and results described in this thesis aim to improve species probabilities of persistence, by taking better account of species habitat and spatial requirements. Many real-world conservation planning problems are characterised by a variety of conservation options related to protection, restoration and maintenance of habitat. Planning tools therefore need to be able to incorporate multiple conservation options per site, in order to continue the search for cost-effective conservation planning solutions. Simultaneously, the spatial requirements of species need to be considered. The methods described in this thesis offer a starting point for combining these two relevant aspects of conservation planning.
  • Ghobad-Nejhad, Masoomeh (Helsingin yliopisto, 2011)
    The Caucasus region is a hotspot of biodiversity and is one of the few areas in the Northern Hemisphere which harbor Pleistocene glacial refugia. The region encompasses Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia, the southernmost European Russia, NE Turkey, and northern Iran. The study on fungal composition of the Caucasus region and its connection and possible contribution to the present mycota of Europe has largely escaped empirical scrutiny. Using taxonomic surveys, phylogenetic reconstruction methods, haplotype analysis, and similarity tests, this study has aimed to, 1) summarize the knowledge on the occurrence of corticioids and polypores in the Caucasus region, 2) resolve the phylogenetic relationships of selected, resupinate wood-inhabiting basidiomycetes for which the Caucasus region is currently the mere, or one of the noteworthy areas of distribution, and, 3) assess the similarity of Caucasian corticioid fungi to those of Europe and important areas in the Northern Hemisphere, and to examine the significance of the Caucasus region as a glacial refugium for these fungi. This study provides the first catalogue of corticioids and polypores (635 species) occurring in the Caucasus region. The phylogeny and systematics of the Caucasian resupinate taxa in focus has been resolved and the usefulness of some morphological characters has been re-evaluated. In this context, four new genera and two new species were described and five new combinations were proposed, two of which were supplemented with modern descriptions. The species composition of corticioids in the Caucasus region is found to be distinctly more similar to Europe and North America than to East Asia and India. The highest molecular diversity and within population pairwise distance for Peniophorella praetermissa has been detected in the Caucasus and East Asia, with the isolates of the latter area being highly divergent from the European ones. This, and the assignment of root haplotype to the Caucasian isolates in a haplotype network for Phlebia tuberucalta and P. livida, call attention to the role of the Caucasus region in shaping the current mycota of Europe.