I am broadly interested in community ecology, especially in linking general theory in community ecology to empirical research. In my PhD project I studied how human-induced environmental changes affect wood-inhabiting fungal diversity and assembly processes at different spatial scales, and how these processes are related to functional traits and interaction networks. During my postdoc at the Centre of Biodiversity Dynamics in the Norwegian University of Science and Technology, I expanded my core research by taking part into the development of statistical methods, in particular joint species distribution models, which enable community ecologists to more efficiently link theory to empirical data. Thanks to gaining expertise in joint species distribution modelling, I established collaborations with empirical researchers working on a broad range of taxonomical groups, such as birds, insects, mammals and plants.

Currently, I am an Academy postdoc establishing my own research group (Fungal Community Ecology Group) at the University of Helsinki. My current principal lines of research are:

1) How interspecific interactions change and determine community structure under environmentally stressful conditions, using root-associated fungi as a model system (personal post-doctoral fellow awarded by the Academy of Finland).

2) How interspecific interactions and stochastic processes influence the colonization success of wood-inhabiting fungi of conservation concern (PhD project funded by the University of Helsinki).

3) Global spatiotemporal patterns of the fungal diversity with special focus on fungi affecting human life.

4) Development of joint species distribution models for analyzing community data.

Recent publications by Nerea Abrego

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My main research interests are biodiversity, macroecology and global change. I am interested in biodiversity synthesis and biodiversity patterns, and how we can generalize information across taxa and habitats, and furthermore across scales. In my future research, I will examine patterns of biodiversity change using long-term data and large scale environmental drivers, such as climate and land-use.

Profile: I have worked with insects and bats for several years. In my Bachelor’s thesis (2010; University of Turku) I examined the distribution of parasitoid wasp genus Epirhyssa (Ichneumonidae) in South America. My Master’s thesis (2010; University of Turku) was about the diversity of insects and other arthropods in the Archipelago of Turku. After that, I started my PhD project under the supervision of Niklas Wahlberg and Ilari Sääksjärvi about biological interactions spanning from individual to community level. More precisely, I studied the species interactions mainly between bats and their prey in Finland, along with a larger food web in Greenland. I also dug into bats' faeces to reveal the variety of bacterial flora inside a bat. Having defended my thesis in 2015, I have started a post doc in Spatial Foodweb Ecology Group with Tomas Roslin.

Research: Currently, my main task is to optimize the molecular applications in different sub projects. I also collaborate with other research groups whenever I have time. My major personal research interests at the moment are with individual specialism and foraging ecology.

Misc: I am originally from Turku (Åboriginal). I like pizza, cats and team sports.

Profile: I did my PhD on the population genetics and phylogeography of two invasive aquatic weeds (Elodea Canadensis and E. nuttallii) with Professor Helena Korpelainen as my supervisor. I investigated the genetic population struc­ture and reconstructed the spreading histories of these species using molecular methods. I also sequenced and characterized the complete chloroplast genome or­ganization of E. Canadensis. I defended my theses in October 2012. After finishing my PhD I had a two year postdoctoral position (2013-2015) at the Finnish Forest Research Institute (METLA). I was working in an EU-project (FORGER – Towards the sustainable management of forest genetic resources in Europe) aiming to enhance the conservation and use of forest genetic resources as part of sustainable forest management in Europe. In April 2015 I started to work as a postdoctoral researcher with Tomas Roslin in Spatial Foodweb Ecology Group.

Research: I am currently working on exposing the long-term dynamics in arctic ecosystems by analyzing a unique arctic time series of the arthropod samples collected over 18 years from Zackenberg, NE Greenland. We are interested in changes in overall biodiversity, in the relative abundances of different organisms, and in their annual rhythms. For achieving this data, we need species level information from the arthropod collection, which has not been previously available. We do this using metagenomic approach by sequencing a total DNA of bulk samples and identifying arthropod species by matching the resulting sequences to mitogenomes. For reliable identification, we are creating a comprehensive mitochondrial genome reference library by sequencing the complete mitochondrial genome from as many arthropod species in Greenland as possible. Arctic is one of the fastest warming regions on the planet, and therefore provides an ideal research area for studying changes in ecosystems due to the climate change.

Misc: I have a great passion for agility, and training and competing with dogs fills most of my free time.

Recent publications by Tea Huotari

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Profile: I did my PhD on the evolution of Madagascar’s dung beetles with academy professor Ilkka Hanski as my supervisor at the university of Helsinki. I examined how the species’ ancestors had reached the island and how the species then had evolved on the island using molecular phylogenies as the main tool and finished in 2009. After being a full-time-mom for two years, in 2012 I started to work as a post doc with professor Tomas Roslin in Spatial Foodweb Ecology Group.

Research: I’ve worked on a species poor Greenlandic community, examining the species‘ roles in the community. We did a DNA-barcode library including the vast majority of animal and plant species in the area. With this reference library, we’ve looked at the food web of the area. We do this by identifying remnants of species consumed by another species by DNA-barcodes and thus detecting the links in the food web. We have solved the connections of Lepidoptera and their parasitoids and the main arthropod predators of the area, birds and spiders, with Lepidoptera and Diptera. As the climate is due to warm up fast in the Arctic areas, it will be interesting to see how the interactions will change.

Misc: Our sons keep me occupied and we spend all the time we can in Lappland as well as on the sea; skiing, wandering in the forests, picking berries, fishing and sailing. Additionally, I’m in an afro dance group.

Recent publications by Helena Wirta

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Profile: I'm currently working on my PhD, studying how food webs of herbivores and their parasitoid predators vary in relation to local climates and climate change in the High Arctic. By using molecular methods to reveal interactions between individual parasitoids and their hosts, I can construct quantitative food webs for a range of climatic conditions, both locally and on a larger circumpolar scale. In practice, my work involves arduous field work in Northeast Greenland, laborious high-throughput DNA-extraction and finally serious analysis of next-generation sequencing data. My interests in biology also cover evolutionary and developmental biology, which are, naturally, easy to integrate with any biological research.

Outside of research, I am an all-round nature nerd, enjoying especially birding, collecting and photographing insects, especially in wetlands and forests, often done with conservation in mind. I also like brewing beer, building bicycles and playing the banjo. I tweet about scientific stuff: @morphospaceman

Profile: I started in SFEG as a visiting PhD student in January 2016 as a visiting researcher from UEF. I am studying the food web and community structures of fungus-associated arthropods. Non-polypore fungi and their associated insects are an elementary part of woodlands around the globe, and also of great interest to many people – easily witnessed when visiting a market in autumn or opening a mushroom guide. Although highly diverse, the fungus-associated arthropod fauna is relatively poorly known, and provides a great opportunity to study and model food web functions and community composition in spatially and temporally discrete, ephemeral habitats. Thus, I aim to build an understanding of who eats whom, who lives where, and how these translate into mushroom damages affecting humans. I utilize metabarcoding to understand whom lives where – the cornerstone of all ecological knowledge.

Outside my research, I am also a mushroom fanatic, birder and all-round nature enthusiast often interested in the small or arcane. I am also interested in cooking, music, modern arts, taxonomy, history and particularly computer gaming and its effects on us. I tweet about science, various off-topic materials, natural history, and occasionally about Eurovision Song Contest as @jskoskinen


After completing my Masters in plant ecology and in modelling of ecological systems, I joined SFEG in September 2019 as a PhD student. My research is mainly focus on the interactions between plants and microbes as determinants of Arctic vegetation dynamics.


In a context of global changes, most of plant ecology frameworks have an aboveground bias that overlooked belowground importance. Consequently, our understanding of multiple relationships among abiotic soil parameters, interaction between soil microbiome and plants communities’ characteristics remains fragmented. I am interested by integrating a microbial perspective into recent conceptual frameworks of plant communities’ ecology. Indeed, I want to explore how soil communities’ dynamics shape the structure of plant communities in space and in time, but also how climatic and ecological processes affects each communities over the course of the plants’ life cycle and over generations of plants and microbes. My work involves fieldwork and experiments across Arctic (for a range of climatic conditions, both locally and on a larger circumpolar scale), high-throughput DNA-extraction, analysis of next-generation sequencing data, use of latest generation of statistical approaches and models.


Outside of research, I am a nature and hiking enthusiast. Amateur photographer, I like shooting landscapes, plants and various things during my trips. I also like playing ukulele, developing my knowledge about Anthropology, Astronomy and various types of arts such as music and cinema.

Profile: I have been a member of Spatial Foodweb Ecology Group since December 2013: first as an undergraduate student, and since November 2015 as a PhD student. My research focus is on pollination of the High Arctic: I'm exploring the structures of the Arctic pollination community and the biodiversity impacts on ecosystem functioning. My study area lies in the Zackenberg valley, North-East Greenland, where the species pool is extremely scarce, when compared to the ones of the lower latitudes. Thus, it provides a perfect study system to improve our understanding on species-species interactions, foodwebs and community structures, as well as, their impacts on ecosystem functioning. Combining hardcore insect sampling with modern, molecular methods in species identification, a high resolution picture of the pollinator community and its effects on pollination is acquired.

I have over ten years of experience in insects, so please contact me in all the bug issues!

Profile: I started my studies at the Faculty of Biological and Environmental Sciences in 2013 with a major in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology. I have a background in Information studies at the University of Tampere. In the field of biology, I am especially interested in insect communities and the effects of climate change on their functioning and structure. I have been working on my bachelor and master's theses under the supervision of Tomas Roslin since October 2015. In my work, I will investigate the effects of certain environmental factors on arthropod community structure in the Zackenberg area of North-East Greenland. The High Arctic has experienced a drastic increase in temperature during the past few decades and the phenology of several taxa has changed. In my research, I utilize the concept of time-for-space –substitution for interpreting the effects of climate change on arthropod communities. I intend to compare the temporal variation observed in insect community structure to the variation in spatial, altitudinal scale.

In my spare time, I try to spend as much time as possible with my wife and son. I also enjoy reading books from a variety of fields.