Current research

Climate warming effects on Betula dominated northern ecosystems


Understanding the impact of global warming on northern ecosystems is one of the most demanding challenges of today. In this project, we have established two large-scale, well replicated field experiments to study the acclimation and adaptation capacity of Betula species and their associated communities to warming. One of the experiments consists of northern genotypes of four Betula species, planted on heated field plots in the mountain birch area of northernmost Finland (for more information see our Poster). The other experiment includes Betula pendula and B. pubescens genotypes, collected from the entire latitudinal distribution range of the  species and planted on common garden transplantation sites ranging from Finnish Lapland to south Europe (for more information see our Poster). In such transplant set-up, transfer towards lower latitudes mimics a shift to the future warmer climate.

This study is a collaboration project with Elina Oksanen and Sarita Keskisaari, University of Eastern Finland, Kaisa Nieminen and Matti Rousi, Natural Resources Institute Finland, and Luisa Ghelardini and Alberto Santini, National Research Council, Institute of Sustainable Plant Protection (CNR), Italy. The project is funded by the Academy of Finland Arctic Programme.


Kinship effects on tree seedling growth and behavior


The kin selection theory proposes that cooperative, non-selfish behavior is more likely to evolve among relatives than strangers. The theory has been very successful, but the empirical testing has mostly neglected the plants. Unlike commonly assumed, however, plant interactions can also be based on kin recognition. In this project, we examine the so far unexplored effects of kinship on tree seedling resource allocation, pest resistance and volatile signaling using two common, broad-leaved tree species, Betula pendula and B. pubescens.

This study is a collaboration project with Jouni Laakso and Heikki Helanterä, University of Helsinki, and Matti Rousi, Natural Resources Institute Finland.

Soil characteristics and carbon fluxes in northern ecosystems

Tiksi station

Arctic tundra and northern peatlands store up large quantities of carbon in their soils. We are contributing to research projects that aim at resolving how global climate warming will impact on ecosystem-atmosphere carbon fluxes and carbon storages in these ecosystems. Our task is to examine the spatial variation of soil characteristics and link it to the variation in plant communities and satellite images in the sites of carbon flux measurements. The field sites are in Tiksi (Siberian Arctic tundra) and Sodankylä and Kaamanen (Finnish northern peatlands).

The projects are led by Mika Aurela and Tuomas Laurila, Finnish Meteorological Institute and Atte Korhola, University of Helsinki. Main collaborators include Maiju Linkosalmi, Finnish Meteorological Institute and Tarmo Virtanen, Sari Juutinen and Aleksi Räsänen, University of Helsinki.

Tiksi oven