REC receives funding for biodiversity monitoring research

The Ministry of the Environment has awarded 478 000 € in funding to the University of Helsinki’s Research Centre for Ecological Change (REC) for the term 2022-2024.

The funding is a part of the Ministry of the Environment’s biodiversity research program BIOMON that aims to develop Finnish species and biotopes long-term data and monitoring methods from a nature conservation perspective. Altogether 10 research projects received funding through the BIOMON program.

The funding for REC will be used for the BIOMONITOR research project that focuses on Finnish biodiversity monitoring. REC will produce a systematic analysis of long-term monitoring programmes in Finland - what are the strengths and shortcomings of current monitoring schemes? The goal is also to provide practical recommendations for the improvement of biodiversity monitoring, and to ensure that the key metrics describing Finnish biodiversity reaches the relevant actors across different sectors.

Biodiversity loss threatens food production, economy and human health. The threats cannot be controlled without clear knowledge on the state and developmental trends of the natural world. Finland has exceptionally high quality long-term environmental monitoring data that extends far back in time. In collaboration with Natural Resources Institute of Finland, Finnish Environment Institute, Finnish Museum of Natural History and Åbo Akademi University, researchers at the Research Centre for Ecological Change have compiled environmental observation series of the country into a unified database. This covers periods ranging in duration from 16 to 250 years and contains information on nearly 3,000 species.

The centre’s operations are guided by close collaboration between four group leaders.

Professor Anna-Liisa Laine is the director of REC. She is an evolutionary ecologist specialising in interspecific interactions and epidemiology under global change.

Associate Professor (tenure track) Jarno Vanhatalo is the Vice-directors of REC and the main applicant of BIOMONITOR. He is a statistician specialising in developing computational solutions for the analysis of long-term datasets as well as in decision analysis in the sustainable use of natural resources. At the University of Helsinki, Vanhatalo works both in the Organismal and Evolutionary Biology Research Programme and at the Department of Mathematics and Statistics.

Professor Tomas Roslin is a community ecologist specialising in the response of species communities to environmental change.

Associate Professor (tenure track) Marjo Saastamoinen is an evolutionary biologist specialising in stress biology as well as in the effects of climate change on species communities, population trends and the genetic variation of populations in nature. Saastamoinen works at the Helsinki Institute of Life Science (HiLIFE) and in the Organismal and Evolutionary Biology Research Programme.