Heikki Hirvonen - Ecology and Evolutionary Biology

Behaviour, Ecology and Evolution Team - BEET

Group Leader: Heikki Hirvonen, Senior Lecturer

heikki.hirvonen|at|helsinki.fi

Research database Tuhat:

Research Group:
Behaviour, Ecology and Evolution Team - BEET

Behaviour, Ecology and Evolution Team - BEET

All major ecological phenomena are based on behavioural decisions of individuals. We use
behavioural approaches to study different ecological and evolutionary processes. We also apply behavioural principles and develop behavioural tools to solve conservation problems.

Our research is focused on

  • predator-prey interactions
  • behaviour and conservation
  • ecology and evolution of individual growth
  • foraging ecology
  • ecological impact assessment.

Currently, we mainly conduct research on life-skills of captive-reared fish from threatened populations used in reintroduction and supplement stocking programs. The major problem is that the fish young die soon after the release to the wild. We study (i) why life-skills (e.g. antipredator responses) often degenerate in captive breeding and rearing, and (ii) how life-skills could be improved for higher probability of recovery of endangered and depleted populations.

Our strength in research is in the ability to integrate behavioural, physiological, molecular, quantitative genetic, immunological and life-history approaches on both individual and population level. Such a multidisciplinary approach is essential in understanding the ultimate reasons for the lowered fitness of captive reared fish and how it could be improved by developing the breeding and rearing procedures.

The present composition of BEET includes the head, three full time PhD students and two post doc associates sharing part of the time in collaborative projects. Close collaboration with aquaculture and fisheries researchers and managers of the Finnish Game and Fisheries Research Institute guarantees that research results can be quickly applied into practice. Besides national cooperation, collaboration with international experts on different disciplines and other research groups in related fields has a major role in our research activities. In addition to fishes, our target animals include aquatic insects, crustaceans, amphibians and birds. BEET is part of the Integrative Ecology Unit.