Northern Biodiversity and Ecosystem Functioning


NorEcoFun is a research group studying biodiversity and ecosystem functioning in Northern ecosystems – boreal forest and tundra. We focus on plants and plant communities, which form the foundation of ecosystems. This foundation is changing especially in tundra and boreal forest due to climate and land use changes. For predicting the community changes and understanding their consequences for ecosystem functioning, we investigate

1) long-term changes in natural plant communities,
2) characteristics of plant communities, which regulate their sensitivity to a change, and their impacts on ecosystem functioning,
3) how species interactions and dispersal influence plant community structure and thereby ecosystem functioning under a changing environment.

As research methods, we combine field and greenhouse experiments together with long-term observations of natural species communities and mathematical modelling. This kind of theory-driven mechanism-oriented research provides knowledge on biodiversity changes and their consequences on ecosystem functioning.

plant community tundra

Functional traits

Ecosystem functions are natural processes, such as nutrient cycling, carbon uptake and biomass production, on which our life is based on. Functioning of a system depends on abiotic environment, kinds of species and their interactions. Therefore, in our studies, we often describe diversity of communities with functional traits, which are related to performance of individuals and species. These characteristics, such as root length or seed weight, can reflect species’ responses to environment and other species, and their contribution to ecosystem functions.

Quantifying functional diversity

Meet the team

Our newly established group is growing during the coming months – could you be our new colleague?

We are an independent group within Research Centre for Ecological Change (REC) affiliated with the Organismal and Evolutionary Biology Research Programme at University of Helsinki. If we are not in the forests or mountains, we work at Biocentre 3 at Viikki Campus.

Mutual respect and inclusion are our core values. We promote a supportive and creative working environment.

Elina Kaarlejärvi

Principal Investigator, Dr., Academy Research Fellow 2022 – 2027

I am a community ecologist studying the role of biodiversity for stability of plant communities and functions they provide under a changing environment. What makes communities sensitive to change in the abiotic or biotic environment? What enforces their stability? I am curious about the role of functional traits. Are functional dominance and diversity related to stability of communities and provision of ecosystem functions? As methods, I use long-term observational data to explore large-scale patterns, and combine them with field and greenhouse experiments to test specific hypothesis of possible drivers behind the large-scale patterns.

Research profileORCIDScholarResearch GateCV

Doctoral researcher

The call is closed. Thanks to all applicants!

This could be you!

Post-doctoral researcher

We will have an opening for a post-doctoral researcher in late 2023 or in 2024. Prospective postdocs are encouraged to contact Elina to discuss their interests. I am also glad to discuss ideas for proposals.

This could be you!

Master’s student

We have 1-3 Master’s student opportunities per year.