PhD dissertations

Taita Research Station of the University of Helsinki facilitates and supports world-class research that contributes to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) of the United Nations and helps conserve biodiversity in the fragile ecosystems of the Taita Hills. The research station promotes the mission of the University of Helsinki: High-quality research and education as well as active social interaction for a better world.

Taita Research Station does not provide research permits or affiliation letters to students, researchers or other persons operating in the region. All foreign and Kenyan citizens planning to carry out research in the country must apply a research permit well in advance (processing the application may take several months) from NACOSTI (National Commission for Science, Technology and Innovation). The application for a research permit must be submitted online. Further, an affiliation letter from a Kenyan university or research institute must be attached to the research permit application. Depending on the type of research work planned, additional permits from other organizations such as KWS, KFS or NEMA may be required. The researchers and research teams should also reserve time to go through an ethical assessment of their research project before the permit will be granted.

The earlier one starts applying the research permit, the better.

The following doctoral dissertations have utilized the facilities and services of the Taita Research Station

Abera, Temesgen (2020). Climatic impacts of vegetation dynamics in Eastern Africa.

Räsänen, Matti (2020). Precipitation controls on carbon and water relations in two African ecosystems.

Stam, Åsa (2020). Growth and resilience of non-vascular epiphytes in the Taita Hills, Kenya.

Väisänen, Elina (2020). Novel human protoparvoviruses : Epidemiology and clinical impact.

Adhikari, Hari (2019). Airborne and spaceborne remote sensing for assessment of forest structural attributes across tropical mosaic landscapes.

Dickens, Odeny (2019). Modelling biodiversity and carbon storage along the inhabited slopes of Mount Kilimanjaro (Tanzania) and Taita Hills (Kenya). University of Nairobi, Department of Geospatial and Space Technology.

Vesala, Risto (2019). Diversity and ecology of Termitomyces symbionts in Macrotermes mounds of the Tsavo Ecosystem, Kenya.

Achola, Sarah (2018). The decline and fall of the coffee sector in Kenya: a case study of Murang'a and Taita Hills. Université Toulouse - Jean Jaurès, France.

Hohenthal, Johanna (2018). Local ecological knowledge in deteriorating water catchments – Reconsidering environmental histories and inclusive governance in the Taita Hills, Kenya.

Jyrkänkallio-Mikkola, Jenny (2018). Factors contributing to the spatial variation of stream communities in boreal and tropical regions.

Nthuni, Samuel (2018). Identification of tree species using airborne hyperspectral remote sensing data – case study of Ngangao forest in Taita Hills, Kenya. University of Nairobi, School of Engineering.

Piiroinen, Rami (2018). Airborne imaging spectroscopy in mapping of heterogeneous tropical land cover in Eastern Africa.

Boitt, Mark (2016). Hyperspectral Remote Sensing for Cropland Assessment and Modeling for Agro-ecological Zones: A Case Study of Taita Hills, Kenya. Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology.

Mwalusepo, Sizah (2015). Modelling the Impact of Climate Change to the Maize Stem Borer Communities and their Main Natural Enemies along Altitudinal Gradients in East Africa. University of Dar es Salaam.

Thijs, Koen (2015). Tree community dynamics and ecosystem function in a tropical landscape under deforestation pressure. KU Leuven.

Aben, Job (2014). Dispersal , connectivity and population viability of birds in a fragmented Afrotropical cloud forest. University of Antwerp.

Callens, Tom (2012). Genetic and demographic signatures of population fragmentation in a cooperative breeding bird from south-east Kenya. University of Ghent, Belgium.

Omoro, Loice (2012). Impacts of indigenous and exotic tree species on ecosystem services – Case study on the mountain cloud forests of Taita Hills, Kenya.

Himberg, Nina (2011). Traditionally protected forests’ role within transforming natural resource management regimes in Taita Hills, Kenya.

Maeda, Eduardo (2011). Agricultural expansion and climate change in the Taita Hills, Kenya: an assessment of potential environmental impacts.

Clark, Barnaby (2010). Enhanced processing of SPOT multispectral satellite imagery for environmental monitoring and modelling.

Siljander, Mika (2010). Geospatial environmental data modelling applications using remote sensing, GIS and spatial statistics.

Publications and other research outputs of the scientists and students affiliated with the University of Helsinki are available from the Tuhat database.

Below is a list of selected publications from research work that has utilized the facilities and services of the Taita Research Station:

Aben, J., Pellikka, P. and J.M.J. Travis (2018). A call for viewshed ecology: Advancing our understanding of the ecology of information through viewshed analysis. Methods in Ecology and Evolution 9 (3), 624–633. https://besjournals.onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1111/2041-210X.12902

Abera, T.A., J. Heiskanen, P. Pellikka, M. Rautiainen & E.E. Maeda (2018). Clarifying the role of radiative mechanisms in the spatio-temporal changes of land surface temperature across the Horn of Africa. Remote Sensing of Environment 221: 210–224.

Abera, T.A., J. Heiskanen, P. Pellikka & E.E. Maeda (2018). Rainfall–vegetation interaction regulates temperature anomalies during extreme dry events in the Horn of Africa. Global and Planetary Change 167: 35–45.

Andersson, M. and P. Minoia (2018). Ecological sanitation: A sustainable goal with local choices. A case study from Taita Hills, Kenya. In, Africa in the Post-2015 Development Agenda: A geographical perspective. Zulu, L. C. & D'Alessandro, C. (eds.). London: Routledge, s. 182–198.

Capitani, C., Garedew, W., Mitiku, A., Berecha, G., Hailu, B. T., Heiskanen, J., Hurskainen, P., Platts, P. J., Siljander, M., Pinard, F., Johansson, T. & R. Marchant (2018). Views from two mountains: exploring climate change impacts on traditional farming communities of Eastern Africa highlands through participatory scenarios. Sustainability Science, 1–13. https://doi.org/10.1007/s11625-018-0622-x

Enroth, J., Pocs, T., He, X., Nyqvist, P., Stam, Å. C. S., Malombe, I., & Rikkinen, J. K. (2019). An annotated checklist of the bryophytes of Taita Hills region, Kenya. Acta Musei Silesiae. Scientiae Naturales, 68(1-2), 53–66. https://doi.org/10.2478/cszma-2019-0007

Forbes, K. M., Webala, P. W., Jääskeläinen, A. J., Abdurahman, S., Ogola, J., Masika, M. M., ... Sironen, T. (2019). Bombali Virus in Mops condylurus Bat, Kenya. Emerging Infectious Diseases, 25(5), 955-957. https://doi.org/10.3201/eid2505.181666

Gonsamo, A.G., J-M. Walter, J.M. Chen, P. Pellikka & P. Schleppi (2018). A robust leaf area index algorithm accounting for the expected errors in gap fraction observations. Agricultural and Forest Meteorology 248:197–204.

Heiskanen, J., Adhikari, H., Piiroinen, R., Packalen, P., & Pellikka, P. K. E. (2019). Do airborne laser scanning biomass prediction models benefit from Landsat time series, hyperspectral data or forest classification in tropical mosaic landscapes? International Journal of Applied Earth Observation and Geoinformation, 81, 176-185. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jag.2019.05.017

Hohenthal, J. M., Räsänen, M. and P. Minoia (2018). Political ecology of asymmetric ecological knowledges: diverging views on the eucalyptus-water nexus in the Taita Hills, Kenya. Journal of Political Ecology 25 (1), 1–19.

Hurskainen, P. J., Adhikari, H. and H. Andreas (2018). Land-use / land cover mapping of the Kilimanjaro savanna ecosystem. In, Hemp, C., Katrin, B-G., Fischer, M. & Andreas, H. (eds.). The KiLi Project: Kilimanjaro ecosystems under global change: Linking biodiversity, biotic interactions and biogeochemical process. Senckenberg Gesellschaft für Naturforschung, p. 89–90.

Johansson, T. P., Heiskanen, J., Siljander, M., & Pellikka, P. K. E. (2019). Web map application to support spatial planning, decision-making and transition towards climate-smart landscapes in the Taita Hills, Kenya. In K. Koutsopoulos, R. de Miguel Gonzales, & K. Donert (Editors), Geospatial Challenges in the 21st Century (p. 173-187). Springer, Cham. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-030-04750-4_9

Johansson, T., Owidi, E., Ndonye, S., Achola, S., Garedew, W. and C. Capitani (2019). Community-based climate change adaptation action plans to support climate-resilient development in the Eastern African Highlands. In, Leal Filho, W. and D. Ayal (eds.). Handbook of Climate Change Resilience. Springer Nature. (in print).

Jyrkänkallio-Mikkola, J., M. Siljander, V. Heikinheimo, P. Pellikka & J. Soininen (2018). Tropical stream diatom communities – the importance of headwater streams for regional diversity. Ecological indicators 95:183–193.

Kaasalainen, U.S., Hemp, A. and J.K. Rikkinen (2018). Lichen diversity on Mt. Kilimanjaro. In, Hemp, C., Böhning-Gaese, K., Fischer, M. & Hemp, A. (eds.). The KiLi Project: Kilimanjaro ecosystems under global change: Linking biodiversity, biotic interactions and biogeochemical ecosystem processes. Senckenberg Gesellschaft für Naturforschung, p. 74–75.

Kaistinen, H., Kivikko, T., Marttunen, E., Potinkara, M., Muukkonen, P. & M. Siljander (2018). Taita Taveta geodatabase. In, Tyystjärvi, V. & Muukkonen, P. (eds.). Creating, managing, and analysing geospatial data and databases in geographical themes. Helsinki: University of Helsinki, Faculty of Science, Department of Geosciences and Geography, p. 58–80. (Department of Geosciences and Geography C; no. C14).

Mwalusepo, S., Massawe, E. S., Johansson, T., Abdel-Rahman, E., Gathara, M., Njuguna, E., Calatayud, P. A., James, O. J., Landmann, T. and B.P. Le Ru (2018). Modelling the distributions of maize stem borers at local scale in East African mountain gradients using climatic and edaphic variables. African Entomology 26, (2) 458–470.

Odanga, J. J., Mohamed, S., Mwalusepo, S., Olubayo, F., Nyankanga, R., Khamis, F., Rwomushana, I., Johansson, T. P. & S. Ekesi (2018). Spatial distribution of Bactrocera dorsalis and Thaumatotibia leucotreta in smallholder avocado orchards along altitudinal gradient of Taita Hills and Mount Kilimanjaro. Insects 9(2), 11. http://www.mdpi.com/2075-4450/9/2/71

Odeny, D., Karanja, F., Mwachala, G., Pellikka. P. and R. Marchant (2018). Comparison and Prediction of the above Ground Carbon Storage in Croplands on the Inhabited Slopes on Mount Kilimanjaro (Tanzania) and the Taita Hills (Kenya). Journal of Geographic Information System 10 (4), 415–438.

Pellikka, P.K.E., Heikinheimo, V., Hietanen, J., Schäfer, E., Siljander, M. and J. Heiskanen (2018). Impact of land cover change on aboveground carbon stocks in Afromontane landscape in Kenya. Applied Geography 94 (5), 178–189.

Pfeifer, M., Gonsamo, A., Woodgate, W., Cayuela, L., Marshall, A.R., Ledo, A., Paine, T.C.E., Marchant, R., Burt, A., Calders, K., Courtney-Mustaphi, C., Cuni-Sanchez, A., Deere, N.J., Denu, D., Gonzalez de Tanago, J., Hayward, R., Lau, A., Macía, M.J., Olivier, P.I., Pellikka, P., Seki, H., Shirima, D., Trevithick, R., Wedeux, B., Wheeler, C., Munishi, P.K.T., Martin, T., Mustari A. and P. J. Platts (2018). Tropical forest canopies and their relationships with climate and disturbance: results from a global dataset of consistent field-based measurements. Forest Ecosystems 5 (7). https://doi.org/10.1186/s40663-017-0118-7

Piiroinen, R., Fassnacht, F.E., Heiskanen, J., Maeda, E., Mack, B. and P. Pellikka (2018). Invasive tree species detection in the Eastern Arc Mountains biodiversity hotspot using one class classification. Remote Sensing of Environment 218, 119–131. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0034425718304292?via%3Dihub

Räsänen, M. M. Chung, M. Katurji, P. Pellikka, J. Rinne & G.G. Katul (2018). Similarity in fog and rainfall intermittancy. Geophysical Research Letters. DOI: 10.1029/2018GL078837.

Suija, A., Kaasalainen, U.S., Kirika, P. and J.K. Rikkinen (2018). Taitaia, a novel lichenicolous fungus in tropical montane forests in Kenya (East Africa). Lichenologist 50 (2), 173–184. https://doi.org/10.1017/S0024282918000026

Uusitalo, R. J., Siljander, M., Culverwell, C. L., Mutai, N., Forbes, K. M., Vapalahti, O., & Pellikka, P. K. E. (2019). Predictive mapping of mosquito distribution based on environmental and anthropogenic factors in Taita Hills, Kenya. International Journal of Applied Earth Observation and Geoinformation, 76, 84-92. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jag.2018.11.004