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Mathematical Biology Group

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Mathematical biology group
Department of Biosciences
Faculty of Biological and Environmental Sciences
PO Box 65 (Viikinkaari 1)
FI-00014 University of Helsinki

phone: + 358 9 1911 (exchange)
fax: +358 9 191 57694




Metsätammi (Quercus robur)

Mathematical Biology Group


It is difficult to make direct observations on the causal relationships driving ecological and evolutionary processes. Consequently, much of the empirical research describes patterns resulting from such processes, e.g. patterns of distribution and abundance. Modern mathematical and statistical tools make it possible to use data on patterns to infer about the underlying processes, e.g. inter- and intraspecific interactions.

The Mathematical biology group focuses on the interface between mathematics and biology. Our research spans from development of general and mathematically rigorous theories to statistical approaches linking the theories to data. We utilize both forward (from process to pattern) and inverse (from pattern to process) approaches to learn about the ecological, genetic, and evolutionary dynamics of populations and species inhabiting the heterogeneous and changing landscapes of the real world.

The current core areas include the theory of spatial and stochastic processes, diffusion-based modelling approaches to animal movement, integrating ecological and evolutionary data, and Bayesian approaches in evolutionary quantitative genetics.


The research in the Mathematical Biology Group is supported by the ERC Starting Grant SPAECO (Spatial Ecology: bringing mathematical theory and data together) to Otso Ovaskainen.




15.3.2013 Veera Norros defended her thesis.

17.11.2012 Dmitry gave an invited lecture in British Mycological Society Autumn Meeting.

1.9.2012 Dmitry Schigel started his postdoc project funded by Academy of Finland.

11.11.2011 Wood-decaying fungi: molecular ecology meeting was held in Biocenter 3, organized by Dmitry Schigel.

22.10.2009 Otso Ovaskainen was awarded the Academy of Finland Award for his scientific courage. Press release.

1.8.2009 Otso Ovaskainen was appointed Professor of Mathematical Ecology.

1.6.2009. Markku Karhunen started as a PhD student.

1.1.2009 Dmitry Shchigel started as a post doc in the wood-decaying fungi project.

1.11.2008 Heini Ali-Kovero started as a laboratory technician to extract fungal DNA from environmental samples.

1.11.2008 Eliezer Gurarie started as a post doc in the animal movement project.

1.7.2008 Otto Miettinen joined the wood-decaying fungi project to construct a reference library for spruce associated wood-decaying fungi.

1.7.2008 Otso Ovaskainen's 5-year ERC-project "Spatial ecology: bringing mathematical theory and data together" started.

14.5.2008. Juho Pennanen started as a scientific programmer.

14.4.2008. Elina Karhu and Inka Silften started their pro gradu projects on wood-decaying fungi.

12.12.2007. Otso Ovaskainen received a 5-year starting grant from the European Research Council.

15.10.2007. Veera Norros obtained a 4-year LUOVA-graduate school fellowship.