Behavioral ecology

UEF is the only university that carries out field research on the ecology of the Saimaa ringed seal. In recent years, our research has focused especially on the survival of young age classes, because pup mortality is currently worryingly high. Furthermore, special focus is on dispersal of pups during their first critical year. Additionally, impacts of weather, human caused disturbance, and predation on the seal population are studied. The methods used include GPS/GSM- and VHF-telemetry, and remotely operated cameras. These technologies enable detailed monitoring of individuals for several months (telemetry) or even through an individual's whole life (individual recognition based on photo-ID). Results from individual monitoring can be utilized also in population modeling, which enables risk assessment at the population level.

Current monitoring and conservation methods of the Saimaa ringed seal have mostly been developed at the University of Joensuu. UEF has continued this work. Development of methods for monitoring has been focused especially on estimation of juvenile mortality and improvement of pup survival in the changing climate. UEF has created and tested 'man-made snowdrift' method for artificially improving the lair conditions during breeding season. This method was successfully used at large scale as conservation action during the mild winter 2014.

During 2013-2018, part of this research belonged to the Safeguarding the Saimaa Ringed Seal LIFE+ project (LIFE Saimaa Seal), coordinated by the Natural Heritage Services of Metsähallitus.

At the moment UEF coordinates a cross-border cooperation project focusing on the sustainable coexistence of freshwater seals and humans in Finland and Russia. Read more on CoExist.

Saimaa ringed seal photo-ID catalogue

UEF collects Saimaa ringed seal photo-ID catalogue. If you wish to send your photos for research purposes and get information about the seal photographed, please send them to:

Please provide the following information: name of the photographer, date and location for the photos. Photo quality does not matter as long as fur pattern can be distinguished. Photos will not be published without permission and all rights are reserved to the photographer.



LIFE Saimaa Seal

Wildlife Photo-ID Network