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Comparing effects of tree species and genetic diversity on ecosystem functioning and services

  • Full or part time
  • Application Deadline
    Applications accepted all year round
  • Self-Funded PhD Students Only
    Self-Funded PhD Students Only

Project Description

The majority of forests in Europe are managed and underwent considerable changes in tree species richness, species composition and genetic diversity over the last few centuries. However, sound scientific evidence of the impact of these changes in tree species and genetic diversity on how ecosystems work and the services they provide to human welbeing is still lacking. Boreal forests are particularly species-poor, and therefore addition or loss of a single tree species may be expected to have large effects on the ecosystem. In addtion, the variation within tree species has also been recently shown to be an important determinant of ecosystem functioning, but the relative importance of of variation between tree species and within a single species has seldom been addressed in a single study. This project will take advantage of two unique long-term experiments previously established by our team in boreal forests of Finland in 1999-2000 ( These experiments manipulate both tree species diversity and tree within-species genetic diversity. The project will examine how this tree-based biodiversity affects the range of ecosystem processes and services, including production of timber and non-timber forest products (berries and mushrooms), mammalian and insect herbivory, predation etc. The relative importance of tree species vs. intraspecific diversity and potential trade-offs and synergies between the above services and processes will also be explored.


Cook-Patton S. et al. 2011. A direct comparison of the consequences of plant genotypic and species diversity on communities and ecosystem function. Ecology 92, 915-923
Gamfeldt L. et al. 2013. Higher levels of multiple ecosystem services are found in forests with more tree species. Nature Communications 4, 1340, doi:10.1038/ncomms2328
Barton K.E., Valkama E., Vehviläinen, H., Ruohomäki K., Knight T.M., Koricheva J. 2015. Additive and non-additive effects of birch genotypic diversity on arthropod herbivory in a long-term field experiment. Oikos 124: 697–706

How good is research at Royal Holloway, University of London in Biological Sciences?

FTE Category A staff submitted: 24.00

Research output data provided by the Research Excellence Framework (REF)

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