Nelli Rönkä

Postdoctoral Researcher
Mailing Address: 
Ecology & Genetics Research Unit
P.O. Box 3000
FI-90014 University of Oulu

Tel: 0294 48 1217


Thesis and objectives:

Population viability, genetic structure and dispersal of small and declining wader populations. I have finished by thesis Phylogeography and conservation genetics of waders in 2016 and continued as a postdoctoral researcher.


Research and interests:

I am a molecular ecologist, working with conservation genetics and ecology of endangered wader populations of the Southern Dunlin (Calidris alpina schinzii), Temminck's Stint (Calidris temminckii) and Terreck Sandpiper (Xenus cinereus). With genetic markers, I study the genetic population structure, dispersal and phylogeography (the geographic and genetic history) of these birds. The information obtained from these studies will be used in practical conservation work in the Baltic area.

My interests also include the migratory behaviour or waders. With the help of geolocators we get information on the detailed migration routes and wintering areas. Information on migration patterns is important in conservation biology, because environmental changes affecting the breeding population may occur well outside the breeding area.

In addition, with collaboration with the University of Iceland, I am looking at the extra-pair (EP) paternity in the Purple Sandpiper (Calidris maritima) with microsatellites and ddRAD-sequencing (double digestion restriction-site associated DNA-sequencing). Knowledge of the breeding system is important in conservation aspect, because it affects the genetic variation of the species or population.


Science Chicks Blog



Rönkä, N., Kvist, L., Pakanen, V.M., Rönkä, A., Degtyaryev, V., Tomkovich, P., Tracy, D. & Koivula, K. 2012: Phylogeography of the Temminck’s Stint (Calidris temminckii): historical vicariance but little present genetic structure in a regionally endangered Palearctic wader. Diversity and Distributions 18(7):704–716.

Pakanen, V.M., Rönkä, N., Thomson, R.L. and Koivula, K. 2013: Informed renesting decisions – the effect of nest predation risk. Oecologia. DOI 10.1007/s00442-013-2847-9.