The ecology and behaviour of wolverines (Gulo gulo) in relation to other members of the large carnivore guild in taiga forests of Finland
Research and Interests:
Ecological guilds are groups of species using common resources in a similar way. Wolverines, bears, wolves and lynx are the members of the large carnivore guild in Finland. As a scavenger wolverine is seen especially dependent on other species of the guild. In my thesis I’m concentrating on the ecology and behaviour of wolverines in relation to other members of the guild. The main population of Finnish wolverines is living within the areas of semi-domestic reindeer husbandry in the northern parts of the country. However, the smaller part of the population is located in the east-central part of Finland (Middle Ostrobothnia, Kainuu and North Karelia) and the ecology of these wolverines is very poorly known. In the reindeer management area wolverines can prey heavily on semi-domestic reindeers, but in east-central parts of the country there has been documented only one case where wolverine has preyed on wild forest reindeer. I’m trying to find out the foraging behaviour of these “taiga wolverines”. Is other carnivore species’ existence in the same area necessary for wolverine? Is the diet of a wolverine different in Eastern (wolf area) and Western (area with no wolves) study area? I’m also comparing the dispersal and breeding behaviour of wolverines between two study sites.The main methods in this project are following snow tracks and monitoring wolverines with GPS-collars. We are also going to do some sound experiments, where we will play some wolf howling to GPS-collared wolverines to find out how they react.
Nature has always been very close to me. My parents took me to the forest already when I was a small child and taught me a lot of things about the patterns of nature, different species, preys and predators. When I was in high school, it was quite clear to me that I want to become a biologist, animal ecologist. I guess my Kainuu backround had quite a big impact on the fact that during my studies in the University of Oulu I got more and more interested in great carnivores. I come from an area where people are living in a close contact with carnivores. On my master thesis I studied the poaching of wolves in Finland and compared different management strategies. I really enjoyed working with that subject and wanted to continue to doctoral thesis immediately after graduation. The topic in my doctoral thesis is pretty much what I wanted: something with a lot of field work, something about some large carnivore species.
Books are my passion, writing is one way to relax and my friends bring a lot of sunshine to my days. I also enjoy running, horseback riding, hiking, birdwatching and long conversations. Sometimes it’s difficult to separate my free-time and work-time from each other - right now I take it as a positive aspect in my life.