Geodiversity–biodiversity relationships in northern environments

A long-term challenge in biodiversity research has been the establishment of robust methods for cost-effective targeting of conservation actions.

The concept of geodiversity has recently been expressed as a novel complementary and potentially useful means to explore biodiversity.

Geodiversity refers to the variability of the Earth’s surface materials, forms, and physical processes at different scales. In general, there is a lack of studies where geodiversity has been systematically inventoried across environments and scales. Importantly, the potential of geodiversity as a surrogate of biodiversity has not been assessed using comprehensive biological and geodiversity data sets.

Thus, our fundamental goal is to promote biodiversity monitoring by examining geodiversity and its relationship to biodiversity in boreal and subarctic landscapes. This research may produce answers to several scientifically important questions in geodiversity mapping and biodiversity assessment by revealing the most suitable measures of geodiversity for biodiversity assessments, and by improving the performance and robustness of biodiversity models.


13.4.2018 Researcher

Jan Hjort

14.5.2018 Researcher

Janne Alahuhta

19.2.2019 Researcher

Terhi Ala-Hulkko

11.2.2019 Researcher

Helena Tukiainen

19.2.2019 Researcher

Marja Lindholm

12.3.2019 Researcher

Olli-Matti Kärnä

16.2.2019 Researcher

Maija Toivanen

5.3.2019 Researcher

Tuija Maliniemi

Main objectives

  • To develop a methodology to map and measure geodiversity across scales
  • To explore the potentiality of measures of geodiversity in predicting biodiversity patterns
  • To scrutinize the relationship between geodiversity and biodiversity

Main collaborators

  • Professor Miska Luoto, Department of Geosciences and Geography, University of Helsinki, Finland
  • Professor Risto Kalliola, Department of Geography and Geology, University of Turku, Finland
  • Associate Professor Richard Field, School of Geography, University of Nottingham, UK
  • Dr., Honorary Professor John Gordon, School of Geography & Geosciences, University of St Andrews, Scotland
  • Dr. Risto K. Heikkinen, Finnish Environment Institute, Natural Environment Centre/Ecosystem Change Unit, Finland
  • Dr. Risto Virtanen, Senior Curator, Department of Biology, Botanical Museum, University of Oulu, Finland
  • PhD Researcher Katja Kangas, The Finnish Forest Research Insitute
  • Researcher Dr. Joseph Bailey, York St John University, UK
  • Dr. Franziska Schrodt, University of Nottingham, UK

Current projects

Past Projects

  • GEOBIO – Potentiality of geodiversity information in biodiversity assessments “Kone Foundation”
  • LIFEPeatLandUse – Quantification and valuation of ecosystem services to optimize sustainable re-use for low-productive drained peatlands (funding from the European Union)


  • Toivanen, M., Hjort, J., Heino, Tukiainen, H., Aroviita, J. & J. Alahuhta (In press). Is catchment geodiversity a useful surrogate for aquatic plant species richness? Journal of Biogeography.
  • Tukiainen, H., Kiuttu, M., Kalliola, R., Alahuhta, J. & Hjort, J. (2019) Landforms contribute to plant biodiversity at alpha, beta and gamma levels. Journal of Biogeography.
  • Kärnä, O.-M., Heino, J., Grönroos, M. & J. Hjort, J. (2018). The added value of geodiversity indices in explaining variation of stream macroinvertebrate diversity. Ecological Indicators 94, 420–429.
  • Alahuhta, J., Ala-Hulkko, T., Tukiainen, H., Purola, L., Akujärvi, A., Lampinen, R. & J. Hjort (2018). The role of geodiversity in providing ecosystem services at broad scales. Ecological Indicators 91, 47–56.
  • Bailey, J.J, Boyd, D.S., Hjort, J., Lavers, C.P. & R. Field (2017). Modelling native and alien vascular plant species richness: at which scales is geodiversity most relevant? Global Ecology and Biogeography 26, 763–776.
  • Tukiainen, H., Alahuhta, J., Ala-Hulkko, T., Field, R., Lampinen, R. & J. Hjort (2017). Spatial relationship between biodiversity and geodiversity across a gradient of land use intensity in high-latitude landscapes. Landscape Ecology 32, 1049–1063.
  • Alahuhta, J., Kosten, S., Akasaka, M., Auderset, D., Azzella, M., Bolpagni, R., Bove, C., Chambers, P., Chappuis, E., Ilg, C., Clayton, J., De Winton, M., Ecke, F., Gacia, E., Gecheva, G., Grillas, P., Hauxwell, J., Hellsten, S., Hjort, J., Hoyer, M., Kolada, A., Kuoppala, M., Lauridsen, T., Li, E.-H., Lukács, B., Mjelde, M., Mikulyuk, A., Mormul, R., Nishihoro, J., Oertli, B., Rhazi, L., Rhazi, M., Sass, L., Schranz, C., Søndergaard, M., Yamanouchi, T., Yu, Q., Wang, H., Willby, N., Zhang, X.-K. & J. Heino (2017). Global variation in the beta diversity of lake macrophytes is driven by environmental heterogeneity rather than latitude. Journal of Biogeography 44, 1758–1769.
  • Tukiainen, H., Bailey, J.J., Kangas, K., Field, R. & J. Hjort (2017). Combining geodiversity with climate and topography to account for threatened species richness. Conservation Biology 31, 364–375.
  • Räsänen, A., Kuitunen, M., Hjort, J., Vaso, A., Kuitunen, T. & A. Lensu (2016). The role of landscape, topography, and geodiversity in explaining vascular plant species richness in a fragmented landscape. Boreal Environment Research 21, 53–70.
  • Hjort, J., Gordon, J.E., Gray, M. & M.L. Hunter Jr. (2015). Why geodiversity matters in valuing nature’s stage. Conservation Biology 29, 630–639.
  • Beier, P., Sutcliffe, T., Hjort, J., Faith, D., Pressey, R.L. & F. Albuquerque (2015). A review of selection-based tests of abiotic surrogates for species representation. Conservation Biology 29, 668–679.
  • Hjort, J., Heikkinen, R.K. & M. Luoto (2012). Inclusion of explicit measures of geodiversity improve biodiversity models in a boreal landscape. Biodiversity and Conservation 21, 3487–3506.
  • Hjort, J. & M. Luoto (2012). Can geodiversity be predicted from space? Geomorphology 153–154, 74–80.
  • Hjort, J. & M. Luoto (2010). Geodiversity of high-latitude landscapes in northern Finland. Geomorphology 115, 109–116.
  • Virtanen, R., Luoto, M., Rämä, T., Mikkola, K., Hjort, J., Grytnes, J.-A. & J. Birks (2010). Recent vegetation changes in the high latitude tree line ecotone are controlled by geomorphologic disturbance, productivity and diversity. Global Ecology and Biogeography 19, 810–821.