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Plant Ecology and Population Biology

We are a research group at the Department of Biology, University of Oulu applying experimental, molecular, and theoretical methods to study:

1. plant adaptations in relation to biotic interactions, northern climate, and abiotic stress, and

2. plant population processes in relation to local and regional dynamics, and to conservation and management of plant populations.

The long-term goal of the group is to combine plant ecology, evolutionary and population ecology, and molecular ecology. Our goal is, on one hand, to contribute to the conceptual advancement in plant ecology and population biology and, on the other hand, to reveal important aspects of northern ecosystems both concerning their functioning and management. The project has special emphasis in symbiotic interactions and herbivory.

In December 2011, the group became a member of the Nordic Centre of Excellence TUNDRA, Workpackage 4: Moth-reindeer-birch dynamics in northernmost Fennoscandia.

Research topics

  • Pollination ecology of orchids. (Tuomi)
  • Seasonality and frost hardiness of northern plants under global change and environmental stress. (Taulavuori)
  • Interactions among mutualistic and pathogenic microfungi and their host grasses. (Wäli and Wäli and Kauppinen)
  • Effects of mountain birch defoliation by winter moth on carbon economy in plants and fungi. (Kaukonen, Markkola, Ruotsalainen, Saravesi, Wäli)
  • Long-term survey of macrofungal communities (Kaukonen, Markkola, Saravesi)
  • Molecular characterization of root and soil fungi (Huusko, Markkola, Ruotsalainen, Saravesi, Tarvainen)
  • Vulnerability of endangered sea shore species. (Aikio, Hyvärinen, Markkola, Niemelä)
  • Analysis of plant invasions from herbarium records. (Aikio)

Working at a mountain birch defoliation site in Kevo.


  • Elizabeth Crone, Harvard University
  • Marie-Charlotte Nilsson Hegethorn, Swedish University of Agricultural sciences, Uppsala
  • Marko Hyvärinen, Finnish Museum of Natural History, University of Helsinki
  • Ari Jumpponen, Kansas State University
  • Anne Jäkäläniemi, Metsähallitus, Kuusamo
  • Lorenzo Marini, University of Padova
  • Marika Niemelä, MTT Agrifood Finland
  • Sari Piippo, University of Oulu
  • Pasi Rautio, Finnish Forest Research Institute
  • Kari Saikkonen, MTT Agrifood Finland
  • Heikki Setälä, University of Helsinki
  • Otso Suominen, Kevo Subarctic Research Station

Tutkimuksestamme suomeksi (in Finnish)


We are teaching at the following courses (non-exhaustive list):

  • Plant ecology
  • Plant population biology
  • Eliökunnan systematiikka
  • Eliömaantiede
  • Special topics in plant ecology: Optimization and game theory, etc.

See separate page for course material (The link is visible only if you have logged in as University of Oulu student or staff).

Group members

Email: firstname.lastname(at)

Juha Tuomi, professor of plant ecology, group leader

  • Pollination ecology of orchids
  • Theoretical ecology
  • Population ecology


Laura Kvist, PhD, docent, university researcher

  • Molecular ecology

Annamari Markkola, PhD, docent, university researcher

  • Plant and soil ecology
  • Ecology of mycorrhizae
  • Viability of endangered sea shore species

Anna Liisa (Annu) Ruotsalainen, PhD, docent, curator of the Botanical Museum and Botanical Garden (Biodiversity unit)

  • Plant - fungal interactions
  • Dark septate endophytes

Kari Taulavuori, PhD, docent, university researcher

  • Environmental and experimental ecology
  • Winter ecology
  • Ecophysiology

Sami Aikio, PhD, docent, university researcher

  • Plant invasion analysis based on herbarium records
  • Analysis of fungal community data
  • Population dynamic modelling of various systems

Karita (Kati) Saravesi, PhD, post-doctoral researcher

  • Plant and fungal ecology
  • Herbivory


Oili Tarvainen, PhD, researcher, Finnish Forest Research Institute

  • Soil ecology
  • Forest ecology
  • Ecological restoration

Piippa Wäli, PhD, post-doctoral researcher

  • Plant and fungal ecology
  • Plant pathology
  • Species interactions
  • Grass endophytes (Epichloë/Neotyphodium -fungi)
  • Arctic-alpine plant ecology

Saija Ahonen, MSc, post-graduate student

  • Saphrophytic microbial communities along herbivory gradients


Nirmalee Hengodage, MSc, post-graduate student

  • Root fungal communities of understory plants in relation to changes in resource availability during forest regeneration

Karoliina Huusko, MSc, post-graduate student

  • Plant - fungal and plant - plant interactions
  • Plant and fungal ecology

Maarit Kaukonen, MSc, post-graduate student

  • Macrofungal fungal communities in relation to resource availability


Miia Kauppinen, MSc, post-graduate student

  • Grass endophytes


Riitta Laitinen, MSc, post-graduate student

  • Specialisation in parasitic plant – host plant interaction

Pauliina Wäli, MSc, post-graduate student

  • Ecology of ergot (Claviceps purpurea)
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