The Helsinki Lab of Ornithology members and alumni. Only HelLO, never goodbye!
Aleksi Lehikoinen, Group Leader

I coordinate the Finnish common bird monitoring schemes and lead my research group the Helsinki Lab of Ornithology in the Finnish Museum of Natural History. I wrote my first bird observations in year 1987. I started my biology studies in 1999 and finished my MSc thesis about population dynamics and diet of the Great Cormorant in 2003. In my PhD thesis (2009), I studied impact of climate and food availability on timing of breeding and breeding success of eight bird species. I have been working in the Finnish Museum of Natural History since November 2009. I'm also a board member of the European Bird Census Council and a member of the Finnish Nature Panel (Luontopaneeli in Finnish). I am also an active ringer and observer at the Hanko Bird Observatory (website in Finnish).

Laura Bosco, Postdoctoral Researher

I am a grant-funded researcher at Helsinki Lab of Ornithology HelLO, where I have been working as a postdoc since 2020. My research focuses on understanding avian responses to climate and land-use changes in relation to habitat loss and fragmentation at various spatial scales. I graduated in 2018 from the University of Bern (Switzerland) where I researched effects of vineyard management and landscape structure on Woodlarks and their arthropod prey. Afterwards I worked at the Swiss Ornithological Institute as scientific collaborator in a project on increasing vineyard biodiversity in southern Switzerland. I am a board member of the Society for Conservation Biology Europe Section since 2021 and chair of the Policy Committee since 2022.

Josephine Couet, Doctoral Researcher

I started my PhD thesis at the beginning of 2022. My project aims at understanding altitudinal shifts in avian communities under climate change across European mountains and the implications for the conservation. The project takes a macroecological approach to understand the broad impacts of climate change on species communities. My thesis is supervised by Aleksi Lehikoinen, Emma Marjakangas and  Andrea Santangeli and is funded by the Kone Foundation. During my free time, I like to knit sew and walk in the nature.

Anna Haukka, Doctoral Researcher

In my PhD project I have used citizen science to create information on the aesthetic value of all the bird species to humans. I use this new data set to understand the role of the aesthetics of birds in different biodiversity conservation issues such as wildlife trade. The work is supervised by Aleksi Lehikoinen and Andrea Santangeli and is funded by the Kone Foundation. I have a background in ecology, geography, and pedagogics. I’m in general interested in biodiversity conservation and especially in human interactions with their environment and other species. In addition to research, I work in the field of education.

Leena Hintsanen, Doctoral Researcher

Birds, boxplots and boxing! My PhD focuses on the climate-driven changes in protected areas by examining the temperature preferences of bird communities and populations. By studying this topic, I aim to clarify the effectiveness of protected areas in a changing world and what actions should be taken to preserve birds with boreal ranges. My thesis is supervised by Aleksi Lehikoinen and Emma-Liina Marjakangas and funded by National Research Council Finland and The Emil Aaltonen Foundation. In my spare time, I move from studying birds and creating boxplots to birdwatching or boxing.

Sarella Arkkila, Doctoral Researcher

I am investigating how farmland practices affect bird and butterfly biodiversity.

Inari Nousiainen, Doctoral Researcher

I investigate how population dynamics of birds are affected by demographics, survival and productivity.

Sirke Piirainen, Doctoral Researcher

I am investigating which factors related to climate change and land use are affecting breeding populations of endangered bird species and also the risk of becoming endangered. I will also try to predict which currently general species might become endangered in the future and figure out with what measures the protection of these species could be enhanced. The thesis is supervised by Jari Valkama, Markus Piha and Aleksi Lehikoinen. I obtained her MSc in 2014 in the University of Helsinki. I did my Master’s thesis in Kenya, studying the co-operative breeding behavior of Cabanis’s greenbul. After graduation I acquired additional training in GIS and spent 4 months at the FMNH working with Jari Valkama on various GIS tasks. When not at the office I can be found outside either running, mountain biking, skiing or kayaking. 

Miina Suutari, Doctoral Researcher

My PhD thesis is about how climate change may affect species interactions and I use bats as a study taxon.

Yanjie Xu, Postdoctoral Researher

I am a macroecologist broadly interested in different research topics on macro-spatial ecological dynamics. I joined HelLO from 2020 and have been working on climate-driven dynamics of wildlife and zoonotic diseases in European birds and bats; pan-European conservation prioritization for birds under global change; waterbird diversity and abundance trends with wetland restoration practices in Finland. Before joining HelLO, I worked on connectivity of global bird migration networks and defended my PhD thesis entitled ‘Unravelling Networks: Causes and Consequences of Decreasing Connectivity in Bird Migration Pathways’ at Wageningen University & Research (the Netherlands).

Master's students

Sebastian Andrejeff

Pilvi Ahonen

Jenni Heiskanen

Wilma Munter

Esmeralda Villon


Noora Andersson investigated how climatic variables can influence the body condition of breeding birds.

Ulisses Camargo worked with the animal sound identifier (ASI) software in the group in 2018–2019.

Purabi Deshpande did her PhD in the group during 2019–2023. Read more about her research in Google scholar.

Sara Fraixedas Nuñez did her PhD in the group during 2013-2017. Read more about Sara's research: Sara's publications in Google scholar.

Petteri Hauta-aho finished his MSc thesis in the group in 2018. He investigates the dispersal distances of bird species.

Juan Gallego did his BSc thesis in Helsinki during one-year Erasmus exchange from autumn 2014 till spring 2015. In the thesis he investigated does the weather conditions explain the spatial and temporal synchrony in crop size of trees and how this is connected with berry eating bird species. Juan's publications in Google Scholar. Juan in X (former Twitter)

Samuli Haapalainen finished his MSc thesis on population trends of migratory birds 2021. 

Antti Halkka finished his PhD thesis on changing climate and Baltic biota in 2020.

Sari Holopainen did his post-doc studies in the group in 2020–2022 on factors affecting waterbird population trends. Sari's publications in UH Research Portal

Anni Jylhä-Vuorio did her MSc thesis on plastic debris found nests of great cormorants in 2023.

Edward Kluen worked as a post-doc in the group especially with the nest card data. Read more about Ed's work: Ed's publications in UH Research Portal

Katja Koskenpato finished her PhD on colour polymorphism of tawny owls in the group in 2022. Katja's publications in UH Research Portal

Janne Koskinen coordinated the complete checklist project on plants, animals and fungi in 2022–2023.

Petteri Lehikoinen finished his PhD entitled 'Avian conservation in a changing environment: species' responses and the efficiency of conservation measures' in the group in 2020. Petteri's publications in Research Portal. Pepe in X (former Twitter)

Valtteri Lehto finished his MSc thesis on impact of temperature and habitat quality on winter survival of forest birds in 2019.

Emma-Liina Marjakangas did her post-doc studies on climate driven bird community changes in the group during 2020–2022. Emma-Liina's publications in Google Scholar

Sanna Mäkeläinen did her post-doc studies on ienvironmental impact assessments and role of grazing on biodiversity. Sanna's publications in Google Scholar.

Kalle Meller defended his PhD about climate change and birds in the group in 2016. Kalle's publications in ResearchGate

Veronica Nanni was an exchange student in 2019. Veronica's publications in Google Scholar

Nico Ordax did his MSc thesis on trace elements of feathers in migratory birds. Nico's publications in ResearchGate

Andreas Otterbeck finished his PhD about population responses of birds to climate change in 2023. Andrea's publications in UH Research Portal

Juuli Paananen finished her MSc thesis in the group in 2017. The thesis dealt about spatial variation in changes in population sizes of forest birds in Finland.

Diego Pavón Jordán finished his PhD project entitled 'Waterbirds in a changing world: effect of climate, habitat and conservation policy on European waterbirds'  in the group in 2017. He continued as a post-doc in HelLO till the end of 2018. Diego's Publications in Google Scholar. Diego in X (former Twitter)

Miia Pietiläinen finished her MSc thesis in HelLO in 2017. Her thesis show how cyclic vole abundance influence autumn migration behaviour of owls in Finland. 

Dominique Potvin worked as a post-doc in HelLO in 2015. She investigated range shifts in wintering grounds across numerous migratory species using historical bird-ringing data. Dominique's publications in Google Scholar

Aapo Salmela finished his master thesis in the group in 2018. He is investigating are the changes in Finnish bird communities linked with climatic fluctuations.

Jarkko Santaharju did his MSc thesis on sex-specific differences in timing of autumn passerine migration using ringing data of the Hanko Bird Observatory. Jarkko's Publications in UH Research Portal

Andrea Santangeli did his post-doctoral research on various conservation issues in the group between 2017–2020. Andrea's publications in Google Scholar. Andrea in X (former Twitter)

Päivi Sirkiä worked as a postdoc and research coordinator in the group between 2014 and 2020. Päivi's publications in Google Scholar. Päivi in X (former Twitter)

Maria Tiusanen finished her MSc thesis in the group in 2018. The thesis concentrates on the effects of climate change on bird communities within protected areas during the last few decades.

Ari Turula investigated changes of winter bird communities in Finland in his MSc thesis (2019).

Martijn Versluijs worked a post-doct in the group on the cumulative impact of forestry and climate change. Martins's publications in Google Scholar

Lauri Viitanen did his MSc thesis on factors affecting abundances of wintering sparrows in University of Jyväskylä in 2021.

Kaisa Välimäki did her post-doctoral research in the group in 2013–2015. She studied factors affecting species-specific variation in density shifts in birds and mammals. Kaisa in X (former Twitter)