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Geodiversity as a surrogate for freshwater biodiversity and a measure of a conservation value

Project description

Geodiversity as a surrogate for freshwater biodiversity and a measure of a conservation value is MSc Maija Toivanen's PhD research project. This doctoral research addresses the link between biodiversity and geodiversity (i.e. abiotic diversity) in freshwater ecosystems. Research is conducted in the Geography Research Unit in University of Oulu.

The aim of the project is to explore the potential of geodiversity as a measure of freshwater biodiversity and conservation value both in Finland and Northern Europe, using available open access data and datasets obtained via project partners across Europe. During the project, Toivanen developes and compares various geodiversity measures designed for different spatial scales, and compares them to other factors commonly considered in ecological research, such as climate and local conditions (e.g. water quality). The main organism group in the study is aquatic plants, whose relationship to geodiversity has never been studied before. The starting point is a question, how does geodiversity reflect the diversity of aquatic plants in Finland and the Northern Europe.

Geodiversity forms the basis for biodiversity, and is thus essential to integrate into nature conservation principals and actions. This projects offers information about the link between geodiversity and biodiversity in freshwaters, and methods to quantify geodiversity, across scales. This project also contributes to global iGEOBIO research project (funded by the Academy of Finland) where European wide geodiversity data are produced.

Peer-reviewed publications

  • Alahuhta, Toivanen, Hjort (2020) Geodiversity-biodiversity relationship needs more empirical evidence. Nature Ecology & Evolution 4 (1) 2-3. [Original]
  • Toivanen, Hjort, Heino, Tukiainen, Aroviita, Alahuhta, (2019) Is catchment geodiversity a useful surrogate of aquatic plant species richness? Journal of Biogeography 46 (8) 1711-1722. [Original]

Other publications

  • Toivanen (2019) Geodiversiteetti luonnon monimuotoisuuden näyttämönä. Versus 17.1.2019, 1-4. [Original]

Presentations

  • Toivanen (poster). Why is understanding biodiversity-geodiversity relationship important? Evidence from freshwaters. Nordic Oikos 2020. Reykjavik, Iceland. 5.3.2020
  • Toivanen (oral). Why is understanding biodiversity-geodiversity relationship important? Evidence from freshwaters. Kaamos Symposium 2019. Oulu, Finland. 11.12.2019
  • Toivanen (poster). Geodiversity - the stage of nature. University Business Forum 2019. Oulu, Finland. 16.10.2019
  • Toivanen (poster). Geodiversity - the stage of nature. Sustainable Development Week, Research Fair. Oulu, Finland. 9.10.2019
  • Toivanen (oral). Geodiversity as a surrogate of lake biodiversity and a measure of conservation value. University of Nottingham Biogeography Research Group Seminar. Nottingham, England. 14.3.2019
  • Toivanen, Hjort, Heino, Tukiainen, Aroviita & Alahuhta (oral). Is catchment geodiversity a useful surrogate of aquatic plant species richness? International Biogeography Society Conference 2019. Malaga, Spain. 9.1.2019
  • Toivanen (oral). Geodiversity as a surrogate of lake biodiversity and a measure of conservation value. Geography Days 2018. Helsinki, Finland. 26.10.2018

Supervisors

  • Senior Research Fellow Janne Alahuhta, Geography Research Unit, University of Oulu [Researcher profile]
  • Professor Jan Hjort, Geography Research Unit, University of Oulu [Researcher profile]
  • Dr Jani Heino, Finnish Environmental Institute [Homepage]

Project results

(Ongoing project, will be updated)

In the first published study of this PhD project (Toivanen et al. 2019) it was found that abiotic diversity (i.e. geodiversity) of land areas close to water bodies also affects the biological diversity. More specific, the more diverse the catchment area was in terms of geodiversity, the larger was the species richness of aquatic plants. The research material consisted of nearly 300 lakes and rivers across Finland, and catchment geodiversity was described as soil-type, bedrock-type and geomorphological-feature-type richness. The found positive link between geodiversity and biodiversity was constant in lakes and rivers, even within different plant functional groups.

The study was one of the first to focus on the relationship between geodiversity and biodiversity in aquatic environments. It confirmed previous observations from terrestrial ecosystems (on the positive link between geodiversity and biodiversity). Yet, further research is required to elucidate the underlying mechanisms. That is why in the next two chapters of this PhD project Toivanen will be focusing on additional spatial scales as well as extending the ways of measuring biodiversity. As stated in Nature Ecology and Evolution (Alahuhta et al. 2020), geodiversity-biodiversity relationship urgently needs more empirical evidence.

Research groups

  • Physical Geography Research Group (PGRG)

People

Maija Toivanen

Maija Toivanen

Doctoral Researcher