Stockholm University has a number of research stations, which are all located in beautiful surroundings: the Tarfala Research Station in northernmost Sweden; the Askö Laboratory on the island of Askö in the Baltic Sea; Tovetorp, southeast of Stockholm; and the Navarino Environmental Observatory in Greece. These stations are mainly dedicated to research, but are also frequently used for teaching, meetings, conferences, and field studies, and are definitely worth a visit!
Last year I visited the Navarino Environmental Observatory, where the Bolin Centre for Climate Research had organised a PhD course, and last week I was able to visit the zoological research station Tovetorp, where members of the faculty board held their annual meeting.
Tovetorp is reached after a several kilometer-long drive on small forest roads. It appears suddenly, looking like a small village composed of the typical Swedish wooden houses, in the middle of fields, lakes and forests. Tovetorp ‘belongs’ to the Department of Zoology at Stockholm University, and it is here in this beautiful country side where several important research projects are carried out. Projects deal with different types of birds and their behavior, others study for example butterflies, fish, worms, and different types of mammals. The short tour around the station gave us a flavor of the research that is being conducted, and also showed how important this research station is for studying animals and monitoring their behavior in great detail.
One of the projects that has received quite some attention is focused on comparing the development and behavior of dog and wolf puppies. For this, the station has fenced in two large areas for the dog and wolf puppies, respectively. Thus wolf puppies and dog puppies live separately, but can ‘meet’ each other by watching and smelling each other across the high fences. The fences are pretty high, and the one containing the wolf puppies is actually a double-spaced fence, just to make sure that they can’t escape. By observing the development of wolf puppies, researchers hope to find out much more about dogs and their evolution. This sounds like a really fascinating project!
But – of course we did not come to Tovetorp to learn about animal behavior, we came here to spend two days discussing faculty matters! It felt nice to have a meeting here in the country side, surrounded by forest, fields and fruit trees; no street lights, and complete silence during the night, only to be woken up by a rooster crowing in the morning. In addition, we were served excellent food, which had been prepared by two really skilled local cooks! All in all, this is a great place to hold a meeting!