Global change impacts on northern animal communities: from mechanisms to ecosystem-level implications

Project description

Declining animal abundance has been repeatedly reported in recent times. This project, conducted at the Research Unit of Ecology and Genetics, University of Oulu, examines if such declines occur also in northern environments by using moths and birds as the study system. Moths are important herbivores, pollinators and food for insectivorous birds, so their abundance affects ecosystem functioning and ecosystem services. This project uses extensive long-term data, experimentation and advanced statistical analyses for elucidating how moths respond to climate and land use changes, and how these responses affect interactions among moth species, abundance of birds and interactions among bird species. Moreover, the project uses mathematical modelling for predicting future changes in moth and bird communities. The information on global change effects on animal communities produced here is scientifically significant and can also be applied in nature conservation and environmental management.

This research project consists of two interconnected work packages. Work package 1 includes analysis of dynamics and interdependency of moth and bird communities by using existing community data and state-of-the-art joint dynamic species distribution models. Work package 2 follows an experimental and modelling approach. Experiments will focus on physiology and thermal sensitivity of lepidopteran larvae, with the aim of using the experimental results in mathematical modelling of larval growth. The model would then be used in predicting how biomass and phenology of larvae respond to changes in environmental conditions and how these responses would affect communities of insectivorous birds. When running the laboratory experiments, working even on weekends and public holidays is required. The recruited post-doc will mainly focus on one of the work packages, with the recruited PhD student focusing on the other one. The assignment of the work packages to the recruited persons will depend on their skills and knowledge, and all applicants are asked to indicate which work package they find more appealing. However, the post-doc may participate in both work packages, depending on her/his skills. Both the recruited post-doc and PhD student are expected to teach at most 5% of their working time at the Department of Ecology and Genetics.

The research group currently consists of the PI (, two post-docs and two doctoral students. At present, we study both evolutionary consequences of urbanization by using Lepidoptera as a study system and the diversity of interspecific interactions in bird communities.





Sami Kivelä

Sami Kivelä

Academy Research Fellow