Current members of Tvärminne Benthic Ecology Team.
Alf Norkko

Professor of Baltic Sea research at Tvärminne Zoological Station (TZS), Royal guest professor at the Baltic Sea Centre, Stockholm University

My role is to broadly promote Baltic Sea research and synthesis and marine ecological research. In my own research I work with understanding marine ecosystem processes in general and the ecology of seafloor habitats in particular. I am broadly interested in community ecology, exploring the value of biodiversity and the mechanisms important for its maintenance, and promoting basic science as a solid knowledge base to support decision-making. Examples of current research questions being addressed include the biodiversity of seafloor communities and their influence on carbon and nutrient transformation and retention along environmental gradients in coastal ecosystems, and cross-habitat quantifications of ecosystem metabolism and habitat-function relationships across coastal seafloor habitats.

Examples of current research projects:

  • The breathing seascape: resolving ecosystem metabolism and habitat-function relationships across coastal habitats. PI: Academy of Finland (01.09.2016 - 1.08.2020).
  • BONUS COCOA - Nutrient cocktail in coastal zones of the Baltic Sea – improving understanding of the transformation and retention of nutrients and organic matter in the coastal zone. Co-PI: funded jointly by the EU and the Academy of Finland (2014-2017).
  • Mångfaldens betydelse i våra kustvatten - hur påverkar miljöförändringar de ekosystemtjänster som våra kustnära vattenområden tillhandahåller? Co-ordinator: funded by Sophie von Julins Stiftelse (2017-2021).

Alf’s profile in the University of Helsinki research portal and Alf’s profile in Google Scholar.

Joanna Norkko

Research coordinator and local station manager at TZS

I am the local station manager as well as a research coordinator at TZS. My role is to facilitate all research projects at the station and to represent the station in different research infrastructure networks. I also work with general outreach, information and media contacts. I am a marine benthic ecologist with a particular interest in the links between soft-sediment invertebrate fauna, including invasive species, and ecosystem functioning. I want to know how environmental change, such as eutrophication, hypoxia, climate change and ocean acidification, affects the benthic fauna and subsequently ecosystem functioning.

Examples of research infrastructure projects / networks:

  • FINMARI (Finnish marine infrastructure network), vice coordinator (ongoing).
  • ASSEMBLE Plus - Association of European Marine Biological Laboratories Expanded. Principal investigator, funded by the European Union (2018-2022).
  • AQUACOSM-plus - Network of Leading Ecosystem Scale Experimental AQUAtic MesoCOSM Facilities Connecting Rivers, Lakes, Estuaries and Oceans in Europe and beyond (Call: H2020-INFRAIA-2018-2020). Principal investigator, funded by the European Union (2020-2024).

Joanna’s profile in the University of Helsinki research portal and Joanna’s profile in Google Scholar.

Märta Brunberg

PhD student at TZS

My research interests are centred around greenhouse gases (GHG; CO₂, CH₄, and N₂O) in shallow coastal waters. More specifically, I am interested in sea-air fluxes and the production and consumption pathways of GHGs. I am currently working on high-resolution spatiotemporal measurements of greenhouse gases in shallow coastal waters.

Current research project:

  • Greenhouse gas dynamics in vegetated coastal ecosystems of the Baltic Sea. Funded by Walter & Andrèe de Nottbeck Foundation.

Märta's profile in the University of Helsinki research portal.

Johanna Gammal

Project planner at TZS

I am currently a project planner at Tvärminne Zoological Station and within the CoastClim Research Centre. My role is to assist with research project planning, funding application, and project administration, as well as work with science outreach and communication. I am a marine benthic ecologist with an interest in the relationships between benthic macrofauna communities and ecosystem functioning, and especially how these relationships are affected by the multiple pressures our coastal ecosystems are experiencing (pressures such as eutrophication, hypoxia, and climate change). My position is funded by Swedish Cultural Foundation in Finland.

Johanna's profile in the University of Helsinki research portal and Johanna's profile in Google Scholar.

Nicolas-Xavier Geilfus

University Researcher at TZS

My research interest lies into understanding and quantifying the role of coastal marine environment as sink or source of greenhouse gases (GHG, i.e., CO2, CH4, N2O) to the atmosphere. Gas dynamic is investigated, in association with the highly heterogeneous coastal ecosystem, to determine the scale and drivers of changes in GHG concentration and its implications for GHG exchanges with the atmosphere.

Current research project:

  • CoastClim: Includes the development of a station continuously monitoring physical and biogeochemical changes of surface seawater properties.

Nicolas' profile in Google Scholar.

Camilla Gustafsson

University Researcher at TZS

Seagrasses and other aquatic plants are foundation species that maintain biodiversity and modify the abiotic and biotic environment. They form vast underwater meadows that can contain up to 8-9 co-occurring plant species. My research interests lie in the field of marine biodiversity and ecosystem functioning with a focus on seagrasses and other vascular aquatic plants. More specifically, I explore how plant diversity in terms of functional traits contribute to ecosystem processes (e.g. primary production and carbon dynamics) and properties (community resilience and recovery) in vegetated coastal environments across spatial and temporal scales.

Current research projects:

  • Monitoring coastal biodiversity in a rapidly changing world — resolving pattern and process across seascapes (CoastalBiomon). PI: Ministry of Environment, 2022-
  • CoastClim: Macrophyte ecology (PI: 2021-)
  • Diversity strikes back: Does functional diversity enhance resilience in vegetated benthic communities. Co-PI. The Swedish Cultural Foundation and the Wihuri Foundation 2018->
  • RESIST: Resilience of macrophyte species to stress temperature pulses. Co-PI: AQUACOSM, 2022->

Camilla’s profile in the University of Helsinki research portal and Camilla’s profile in Google Scholar.

Norman Göbeler

PhD student at TZS

The intensity and frequency of marine heatwaves have increased globally not sparing the Baltic Sea, an environment already stressed by e.g. eutrophication and hypoxia. My research focuses on the impact of such episodic events on benthic communities and the maintenance of their respective ecosystem functioning of bioturbation and nutrient cycling. Organisms possess different strategies in adapting to changing environmental conditions – but what are the consequences of prompt, intense changes? What traits are favorable in coping with such events? Additionally, I will also assess what habitats (seagrass meadows, bladder wrack belt, mussel bed, etc.) are most susceptible to marine heatwaves.

Current research project:

  • The role of episodic events for biodiversity and ecosystem functioning in coastal waters. Funded by Walter & Andrèe de Nottbeck Foundation.

Norman's profile in the University of Helsinki research portal and Norman's profile in Google Scholar

Laura Kauppi

Post-doctoral researcher at TZS

Climate change, eutrophication and species introductions promote changes in the structure and function of marine benthic communities. My research focuses on biodiversity and ecosystem functioning in the benthos with a special emphasis on invasive species. I am interested in what affects the structuring of the communities, and how the biotic and abiotic interactions affect the outcome of different processes. More specifically I am studying the effects of macrofauna and environmental factors on bioturbation and nutrient cycling in the coastal environment.

Current research projects:

  • Changes in the population of a key species, Limecola balthica, 1926-2017. Post doc, funded by Viking Line, (2018).
  • Diversity strikes back: Does trait diversity enhance resilience in aquatic plant and faunal ecosystems. Co-PI: funded by Svenska Kulturfonden (2017-2022).
  • Chasing a moving target: From wriggling worms in the warming mud to ecosystem-level effects and management of our valuable seas. Post doc, funded by the Nottbeck foundation (2019-2020).

Laura’s profile in the University of Helsinki research portal and Laura’s profile in Google Scholar.

Roel Lammerant

PhD student at TZS

Coastal vegetated ecosystems have received international interest for their possible role in climate change mitigation and adaptation. These vegetated ecosystems can be heterogeneous and consist of diverse macrophyte (i.e. aquatic plants and macroalgae) stands where multiple species contribute to ecosystem functioning.  My research focuses on how diversity of functional trait characteristics in coastal systems can be linked to ecosystem functions over varying temporal and spatial scales. More specifically, I explore the links between various traits (i.e. leaf/blades, rhizome, and root) and their respective carbon stocks. Additionally, I will assess the context-dependency of biodiversity-ecosystem functioning relationship.  

Current research project:

Functional perspective on the role of macrophytes in the coastal carbon cycle over different temporal and spatial scales. Funded by Walter & Andrèe de Nottbeck Foundation.

Roel's profile in the University of Helsinki research portal.

Federica Manca

PhD student at Global Change and Conservation and TZS

Marine macrophytes (macroalgae and vascular plants) deliver important ecosystem and socio-economic services, and provide nutrition and habitat to a multitude of associated species. Global environmental change is driving extensive shifts in marine macrophyte communities, with potential cascading effects on coastal biodiversity and ecosystem functioning. Despite their key ecological role, the mechanisms through which macrophytes support their associated animal species are still unclear. In my project, I use network analysis to explore the variety of ecological interactions between macrophytes and their associated macrofauna in the Baltic Sea, and ultimately model how macrophyte-dominated communities will shift under future scenarios of environmental change.

Current research project:

  • Investigating ecological networks of macrophytes and associated fauna in the Baltic Sea. Funded by the Onni Talas foundation.

Federica's profile in the University of Helsinki research portal

Saara Mäkelin

PhD student at TZS

I explore the role of benthic animals for carbon and nutrient cycling in the Baltic Sea. Coastal ecosystems are highly threatened by climate change and eutrophication, with harmful consequences for biodiversity and ecosystem functions. Benthic macrofaunal communities play a pivotal role in biogeochemical cycling and can increase the nutrient binding capacity of the seafloor, which enhances ecosystem resistance to eutrophication. I am adapting theories of ecological stoichiometry to explore the elemental contents in benthic invertebrates to see whether these animals function as nutrient sinks or sources in the ecosystem. I am very interested in biological traits, and the goal of my research is to understand how the features of animals are linked to whole ecosystem processes.

Current research project:

  • Elemental stoichiometry of benthic invertebrates as driver of coastal biogeochemical cycles. PI Anna Villnäs. Funded by University of Helsinki and the Nottbeck foundation (2019-2021).
Janina Pykäri

PhD student at TZS

In my PhD project I explore the importance of littoral soft-sediment ecosystems for carbon cycling. The research focus is on very shallow benthic habitats, which usually fall between the scopes of both marine and terrestrial studies. Several components of the benthic ecosystems, such as macroinvertebrates, microphytobenthos and macrophytes will be included in the study topics.

Current research project:

  • At the interface between land and sea: The importance of very shallow benthic ecosystems for carbon cycling. Funded by Walter and Andrée de Nottbeck Foundation.
Eva Rohlfer

PhD student at TZS

In my research I explore the role of benthic animals in coastal carbon cycling. Healthy coastal ecosystems can act as carbon sinks, so called Blue Carbon systems. I am interested in the biodiversity and carbon stocks of benthic macrofauna as well as their contribution of seafloor respiration and carbon turnover. Moreover, these studies will be done on temporal and spatial scales to describe variation. Another focus that I will look at in the future is the effect of stressors: the challenges that we are facing in this world right now (climate warming, biodiversity loss, eutrophication) have an effect on macrofauna in coastal systems. Within CoastClim I have the chance to link my research to different parts of the ecosystem to get a look at the bigger picture and what role the benthic fauna plays within that.

Eva's profile in the University of Helsinki research portal.

Anna-Roosa Vesanen

Technical assisstant at TZS

My work at TZS includes assisting researchers in the field and in the laboratory. I have a background in marine biology and scientific diving, which provides me with important tools when working on high quality research experiments, both in and out of the water. My interests focus on research diving, what different methods can be utilized by divers and how they can be improved to get best possible research results of field experiments.

Anna Villnäs

University Researcher at TZS

Our coastal environments provide a wide range of essential ecosystem functions and services. These diverse, productive environments are threatened by disturbances such as climate change and eutrophication. As a marine benthic ecologist, I explore how structural and functional aspects of biodiversity relates to ecosystem functions and services, and how changes in the environment affect this relationship. In current research, I use biological traits to estimate the role of benthic fauna for carbon and nutrient turnover in the coastal ecosystem. I strive to make research findings relevant for environmental management and for the general public.

Current research projects:

  • Elemental stoichiometry of benthic invertebrates as driver of coastal biogeochemical cycles. PI. Funded by the Academy of Finland, University of Helsinki three-year grant and the Nottbeck foundation (2019-2022/2023).
  • Mångfaldens betydelse i våra kustvatten - hur påverkar miljöförändringar de ekosystemtjänster som våra kustnära vattenområden tillhandahåller? Co-PI: funded by Sophie von Julins Stiftelse
  • CoastClim (benthic ecology)

Anna’s profile in the University of Helsinki research portal and Anna’s profile in Google Scholar.

Leena Virta

Post doctoral researcher at TZS

My research focuses on benthic microbes in the coastal zone. Microbes, such as diatoms and bacteria, are extremely important for the functioning of the marine ecosystems, but very little is still known about them. I want to find out, how climate change and benthic microbes are interconnected: 1) how does climate change modify the diversity of microbial communities, and 2) how do the microbial communities affect climate by storing and cycling carbon and by producing greenhouse gases.

Current research project:

  • Climate change modifies the Baltic Sea – what happens to the diversity of benthic microbial communities and their ability to slow down climate change by storing and cycling carbon? Funded by Sakari Alhopuro Foundation and Walter and Andrée de Nottbeck Foundation (2022-2023)
  • Microphytobenthos in shallow coastal ecosystems – Key to tackling climate crisis? Funded by Kone Foundation (2023-2026)

Leena’s profile in the University of Helsinki research portal 

Lydia White

Post doctoral researcher at TZS

My research focuses on understanding links between benthic habitats, ecosystem functioning and stability. I am currently exploring the dynamics of carbon flows associated with benthic habitats, specifically macroalgae, using a combination of in situ and laboratory approaches. I am interested in multiple different carbon pathways, including carbon fixation via photosynthesis, dissolved organic carbon production, degradation, respiration, and sequestration.

Current research projects:

  • CoastClim (macrophyte ecology)
    • Degradation processes of Fucus vesicuslosus
    • Multi-flux in situ chambers
  • CoastalBiomon

Lydia's profile in the University of Helsinki research portal and Lydia's profile in Google Scholar.