Taita Research Station of the University of Helsinki facilitates and supports world-class research and teaching that contributes to the sustainable wellbeing of future generations and helps conserve biodiversity in the fragile ecosystems of the Taita Hills and surrounding areas. The research station promotes the mission of the University of Helsinki to produce research-based knowledge for the benefit of the whole world.

The station also plays an important role in the implementation of the Africa Program of the University of Helsinki. In addition, the research station promotes reaching the Sustainable Development Goals of the United Nations by fostering research impact; e.g. in climate change mitigation and adaptation, agricultural production, human health, water management and biodiversity. Capacity building and raising awareness in local communities and other stakeholders are also important activities of the station.

A preliminary evaluation report on the role of the research ecosystem of Taita Research Station in the local context was written by Adjunct Professor Mikko Rask in November 2018. 

The Government of Kenya has on 20 September 2021 maintained the previously implemented measures to combat COVID19 infections. New lockdown orders may be given in a short notice, and can have an immediate effect on research activities and travel within the country as well as on arrivals and departures abroad. All travellers are therefore requested to follow the updated travel advisory and latest flight information of airlines regarding the coronavirus before and during their visit to Kenya.

The following measures continue to be imposed:

  • All public gatherings and in-person meetings remain suspended. Such gatherings should be undertaken virtually or postponed.
  • International travel is permitted but subject to a negative coronavirus test (see more below).
  • Nationwide curfew hours start at 10:00 p.m. and continue until 04:00 a.m.
  • Eateries and restaurants must operate with strict adherence to health guidelines.

All international travelers arriving in Kenya must present a negative result from a COVID-19 PCR test taken no more than 96 hours before travel. The test must be digitally verified through the Trusted Travel Initiative or Global Haven partnership. Upon arrival, arriving international travelers must also present a quick response (QR) code that is generated after completing an International Travelers Health Surveillance Form.

Due to these restrictions, we advise our visitors to plan their itinerary in such a way that they arrive the research station during the daylight hours before the curfew starts.

Taita Research Station does not provide research permits or affiliation letters to students, researchers or other persons operating in the region. All foreign and Kenyan citizens planning to carry out research in the country must apply a research permit well in advance (processing the application may take many months) from NACOSTI (National Commission for Science, Technology and Innovation). The application for a research permit must be submitted online. Further, an affiliation letter from a Kenyan university or research institute must be attached to the research permit application. Depending on the type of research work planned, additional permits from other organizations such as KWS, KFS or NEMA may be required. The researchers and research teams should also reserve time to go through an ethical assessment of their research project (mandatory for research involving human subjects and use of laboratory animals) before the permit will be granted.

The earlier one starts applying the research permit, the better.

The following doctoral dissertations have utilized the facilities and services of the Taita Research Station

Liu, Yang (2022). Biogenic volatile organic compounds and formaldehyde from East African ecosystems.

Tang, Zhipeng (2022). Gap-filling using machine learning: implementations and applications in remote sensing.

Toivonen, Mikko (2022). Practical Spectral Diffraction Imaging.

Uusitalo, Ruut (2022). Geospatial risk analysis of disease vectors and vector-borne diseases in boreal and tropical landscapes.

Wachiye, Sheila (2022). Soil greenhouse gas emission from dominant land use types in lowlands and highlands of Southern Kenya.

Tuure, Juuso (2021). Dew Collection and Mulching as Measures to Improve Water Balance in Dryland Agriculture.

Abera, Temesgen (2020). Climatic impacts of vegetation dynamics in Eastern Africa.

Räsänen, Matti (2020). Precipitation controls on carbon and water relations in two African ecosystems.

Stam, Åsa (2020). Growth and resilience of non-vascular epiphytes in the Taita Hills, Kenya.

Väisänen, Elina (2020). Novel human protoparvoviruses : Epidemiology and clinical impact.

Adhikari, Hari (2019). Airborne and spaceborne remote sensing for assessment of forest structural attributes across tropical mosaic landscapes.

Dickens, Odeny (2019). Modelling biodiversity and carbon storage along the inhabited slopes of Mount Kilimanjaro (Tanzania) and Taita Hills (Kenya). University of Nairobi, Department of Geospatial and Space Technology.

Ngowi, Benignus Valentine (2019). Potential Effects of Climate Change on Tritrophic Interactions in Crucifer Farming Systems of Mount Kilimanjaro and Taita Hills. Department of Entomology, University of Nairobi.

Vesala, Risto (2019). Diversity and ecology of Termitomyces symbionts in Macrotermes mounds of the Tsavo Ecosystem, Kenya.

Achola, Sarah (2018). The decline and fall of the coffee sector in Kenya: a case study of Murang'a and Taita Hills. Université Toulouse - Jean Jaurès, France.

Hohenthal, Johanna (2018). Local ecological knowledge in deteriorating water catchments – Reconsidering environmental histories and inclusive governance in the Taita Hills, Kenya.

Jyrkänkallio-Mikkola, Jenny (2018). Factors contributing to the spatial variation of stream communities in boreal and tropical regions.

Nthuni, Samuel (2018). Identification of tree species using airborne hyperspectral remote sensing data – case study of Ngangao forest in Taita Hills, Kenya. School of Engineering, University of Nairobi.

Piiroinen, Rami (2018). Airborne imaging spectroscopy in mapping of heterogeneous tropical land cover in Eastern Africa.

Odanga, James Jeconia (2017). Climate change induced-effect on biology and ecology of avocado insect pests along Altitudinal gradient of Taita Hills and mount Kilimanjaro. Department of Crop Protection, University of Nairobi.

Boitt, Mark (2016). Hyperspectral Remote Sensing for Cropland Assessment and Modeling for Agro-ecological Zones: A Case Study of Taita Hills, Kenya. Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology.

Njeru, Crispus Mugambi (2016). Carbon stocks variability in Agro Ecosystems along an Altitudinal Gradient: a case study of Taita Hills, Kenya. Department of Plant Ecology, University of Nairobi.

Mwalusepo, Sizah (2015). Modelling the Impact of Climate Change to the Maize Stem Borer Communities and their Main Natural Enemies along Altitudinal Gradients in East Africa. University of Dar es Salaam.

Thijs, Koen (2015). Tree community dynamics and ecosystem function in a tropical landscape under deforestation pressure. KU Leuven.

Aben, Job (2014). Dispersal , connectivity and population viability of birds in a fragmented Afrotropical cloud forest. University of Antwerp.

Saarinen, Juha (2014). Ecometrics of large herbivorous land mammals in relation to climatic and environmental changes during the Pleistocene.

Steward, Peter Richard (2014). Ecosystem services and disservices in small-scale tropical agriculture. School of Biology, University of Leeds.

Callens, Tom (2012). Genetic and demographic signatures of population fragmentation in a cooperative breeding bird from south-east Kenya. University of Ghent, Belgium.

Omoro, Loice (2012). Impacts of indigenous and exotic tree species on ecosystem services – Case study on the mountain cloud forests of Taita Hills, Kenya.

Himberg, Nina (2011). Traditionally protected forests’ role within transforming natural resource management regimes in Taita Hills, Kenya.

Maeda, Eduardo (2011). Agricultural expansion and climate change in the Taita Hills, Kenya: an assessment of potential environmental impacts.

Clark, Barnaby (2010). Enhanced processing of SPOT multispectral satellite imagery for environmental monitoring and modelling.

Siljander, Mika (2010). Geospatial environmental data modelling applications using remote sensing, GIS and spatial statistics.

Gonsamo, Alemu (2009). Remote sensing of leaf area index: enhanced retrieval from close-range and remotely sensed optical observations.

Soini, Eija (2006). Livelihood, land use and environment interactions in the highlands of East Africa.

Ylhäisi, Jussi (2006). Traditionally Protected Forests and Sacred Forests of Zigua and Gweno Ethnic Groups in Tanzania.

Publications and other research outputs of the scientists and students affiliated with the University of Helsinki are available from the Tuhat database.

Below is a list of selected publications from research work that has utilized the facilities and services of the Taita Research Station:

Aben, J., Pellikka, P. and J.M.J. Travis (2018). A call for viewshed ecology: Advancing our understanding of the ecology of information through viewshed analysis. Methods in Ecology and Evolution 9 (3), 624–633.

Abera, T.A., Heiskanen, J., Pellikka, P.K.E., Maeda, E.E. (2020). Impact of rainfall extremes on energy exchange and surface temperature anomalies across biomes in the Horn of Africa. Agriculture and Forest Meteorology 280, 107779.

Abera, T., Heiskanen, J., Pellikka, P., Adhikari, H., Maeda, E. (2020). Climatic impacts of bushland to cropland conversion in Eastern Africa. Science of the Total Environment 717, no. 137255, 137255

Abera, T.A., J. Heiskanen, P. Pellikka, M. Rautiainen & E.E. Maeda (2018). Clarifying the role of radiative mechanisms in the spatio-temporal changes of land surface temperature across the Horn of Africa. Remote Sensing of Environment 221: 210–224.

Abera, T.A., J. Heiskanen, P. Pellikka & E.E. Maeda (2018). Rainfall–vegetation interaction regulates temperature anomalies during extreme dry events in the Horn of Africa. Global and Planetary Change 167: 35–45.

Adhikari, H., Valbuena, R., Pellikka, P., Heiskanen, J. (2020). Mapping forest structural heterogeneity of tropical montane forest remnants from airborne laser scanning and Landsat time series. Ecological Indicators 108.

Amara, E., Adhikari, H., Heiskanen, J., Siljander, M., Munyao, M., Omondi, P., Pellikka, P. (2020). Aboveground Biomass Distribution in a Multi-Use Savannah Landscape in Southeastern Kenya: Impact of Land Use and Fences. Land 9(10), [384]

Andersson, M. and P. Minoia (2018). Ecological sanitation: A sustainable goal with local choices. A case study from Taita Hills, Kenya. In, Africa in the Post-2015 Development Agenda: A geographical perspective. Zulu, L. C. & D'Alessandro, C. (eds.). London: Routledge, s. 182–198.

Atashi, N., Tuure, J., Alakukku, L., Rahimi, D., Pellikka, P., Arbayani Zaidan, M., Vuollekoski, H., Räsänen, M., Kulmala, M., Vesala, T., Hussein, T. (2021). An Attempt to Utilize a Regional Dew Formation Model in Kenya. Water 13(9), 1261.

Autio, A., Johansson, T., Motaroki, L., Minoia, P., Pellikka, P. (2021). Constraints for adopting climate-smart agricultural practices among smallholder farmers in Southeast Kenya. Agricultural Systems 194.

Capitani, C., Garedew, W., Mitiku, A., Berecha, G., Hailu, B. T., Heiskanen, J., Hurskainen, P., Platts, P. J., Siljander, M., Pinard, F., Johansson, T. & R. Marchant (2018). Views from two mountains: exploring climate change impacts on traditional farming communities of Eastern Africa highlands through participatory scenarios. Sustainability Science, 1–13.

Cuni-Sanchez, A., Sullivan, M.J.P., Platts, P.J., Lewis, S.L., Marchant, R., Imani, G., Hubau, W., Abiem, I., Adhikari, H., Albrecht, T., (90 more) (2021). High aboveground carbon stock of African tropical montane forests. Nature 596(7873).

Enroth, J., Pocs, T., He, X., Nyqvist, P., Stam, Å. C. S., Malombe, I., & Rikkinen, J. K. (2019). An annotated checklist of the bryophytes of Taita Hills region, Kenya. Acta Musei Silesiae. Scientiae Naturales, 68(1-2), 53–66.

Forbes, K. M., Webala, P. W., Jääskeläinen, A. J., Abdurahman, S., Ogola, J., Masika, M. M., ... Sironen, T. (2019). Bombali Virus in Mops condylurus Bat, Kenya. Emerging Infectious Diseases, 25(5), 955-957.

Gonsamo, A.G., J-M. Walter, J.M. Chen, P. Pellikka & P. Schleppi (2018). A robust leaf area index algorithm accounting for the expected errors in gap fraction observations. Agricultural and Forest Meteorology 248:197–204.

Heiskanen, J., Adhikari, H., Piiroinen, R., Packalen, P., & Pellikka, P. K. E. (2019). Do airborne laser scanning biomass prediction models benefit from Landsat time series, hyperspectral data or forest classification in tropical mosaic landscapes? International Journal of Applied Earth Observation and Geoinformation 81, 176-185.

Hohenthal, J. M., Räsänen, M. and P. Minoia (2018). Political ecology of asymmetric ecological knowledges: diverging views on the eucalyptus-water nexus in the Taita Hills, Kenya. Journal of Political Ecology 25 (1), 1–19.

Hurskainen, P. J., Adhikari, H. and H. Andreas (2018). Land-use / land cover mapping of the Kilimanjaro savanna ecosystem. In, Hemp, C., Katrin, B-G., Fischer, M. & Andreas, H. (eds.). The KiLi Project: Kilimanjaro ecosystems under global change: Linking biodiversity, biotic interactions and biogeochemical process. Senckenberg Gesellschaft für Naturforschung, p. 89–90.

Johansson, T. P., Heiskanen, J., Siljander, M., & Pellikka, P. K. E. (2019). Web map application to support spatial planning, decision-making and transition towards climate-smart landscapes in the Taita Hills, Kenya. In K. Koutsopoulos, R. de Miguel Gonzales, & K. Donert (Editors), Geospatial Challenges in the 21st Century (p. 173-187). Springer, Cham.

Johansson, T., Owidi, E., Ndonye, S., Achola, S., Garedew, W. and C. Capitani (2018). Community-based climate change adaptation action plans to support climate-resilient development in the Eastern African Highlands. In, Leal Filho, W. and D. Ayal (eds.). Handbook of Climate Change Resilience. Springer Nature.

Jyrkänkallio-Mikkola, J., M. Siljander, V. Heikinheimo, P. Pellikka & J. Soininen (2018). Tropical stream diatom communities – the importance of headwater streams for regional diversity. Ecological indicators 95:183–193.

Kaasalainen, U.S., Tuovinen, V., Mwachala, G., Pellikka, P., Rikkinen, J.K. (2021). Complex interaction networks among cyanolichens of a tropical biodiversity hotspot. Frontiers in Microbiology 12, 672333.

Kaasalainen, U.S., Hemp, A. and J.K. Rikkinen (2018). Lichen diversity on Mt. Kilimanjaro. In, Hemp, C., Böhning-Gaese, K., Fischer, M. & Hemp, A. (eds.). The KiLi Project: Kilimanjaro ecosystems under global change: Linking biodiversity, biotic interactions and biogeochemical ecosystem processes. Senckenberg Gesellschaft für Naturforschung, p. 74–75.

Kaistinen, H., Kivikko, T., Marttunen, E., Potinkara, M., Muukkonen, P. & M. Siljander (2018). Taita Taveta geodatabase. In, Tyystjärvi, V. & Muukkonen, P. (eds.). Creating, managing, and analysing geospatial data and databases in geographical themes. Helsinki: University of Helsinki, Faculty of Science, Department of Geosciences and Geography, p. 58–80. (Department of Geosciences and Geography C; no. C14). Open access database developed by the MSc students of University of Helsinki

Liu, Y, Schallhart, S., Taipale, D., Tykka, T., Räsänen, M., Merbold, L., Hellén, H., Pellikka, P. (2021). Seasonal and diurnal variations in biogenic volatile organic compounds in highland and lowland ecosystems in southern Kenya. Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics 21, 14761-14787.

Liu, Y., Schallhart, S., Tykkä, T., Räsänen, M., Merbold, L., Hellén, H., Pellikka, P. (2021). Biogenic volatile organic compounds in different ecosystems in southern Kenya. Atmospheric Environment 246, 118064.

Masika, M. M., Korhonen, E. M., Smura, T., Uusitalo, R., Vapalahti, K., Mwaengo, D., Jääskeläinen, A. J., Anzala, O., Vapalahti, O., Huhtamo, E. (2020). Detection of dengue virus type 2 of Indian origin in acute febrile patients in rural Kenya. PLoS Neglected Tropical Diseases 14(3), [0008099].

Measho, S., Chen, B., Pellikka, P., Guo, L., Zhang, H., Cai, D., Sun, S., Kayiranga, A., Sun, X., Ge, M. (2021). Assessment of Vegetation Dynamics and Ecosystem Resilience in the Context of Climate Change and Drought in the Horn of Africa. Remote Sensing 13(9), 1668.

Munyao, M. N., Siljander, M., Johansson, T., Makokha, G. & Pellikka, P. (2020). Assessment of human–elephant conflicts in multifunctional landscapes of Taita Taveta County, Kenya. Global Ecology and Conservation 24 , e01382 .

Mwalusepo, S., Massawe, E. S., Johansson, T., Abdel-Rahman, E., Gathara, M., Njuguna, E., Calatayud, P. A., James, O. J., Landmann, T. and B.P. Le Ru (2018). Modelling the distributions of maize stem borers at local scale in East African mountain gradients using climatic and edaphic variables. African Entomology 26, (2) 458–470.

Odanga, J. J., Mohamed, S., Nyankanga, R., Olubayo, F., Johansson, T., Ekesi, S. (2020). Temporal Population Patterns of Oriental Fruit Flies and False Codling Moths within Smallholder Avocado Orchards in Southeastern Kenya and Northeastern Tanzania. Int. J. Fruit Sci. 

Odeny, D., Karanja, F., Mwachala, G., Pellikka. P. and R. Marchant (2018). Comparison and Prediction of the above Ground Carbon Storage in Croplands on the Inhabited Slopes on Mount Kilimanjaro (Tanzania) and the Taita Hills (Kenya). Journal of Geographic Information System 10 (4), 415–438.

Pellikka, P.K.E., Heikinheimo, V., Hietanen, J., Schäfer, E., Siljander, M. and J. Heiskanen (2018). Impact of land cover change on aboveground carbon stocks in Afromontane landscape in Kenya. Applied Geography 94 (5), 178–189.

Pfeifer, M., Gonsamo, A., Woodgate, W., Cayuela, L., Marshall, A.R., Ledo, A., Paine, T.C.E., Marchant, R., Burt, A., Calders, K., Courtney-Mustaphi, C., Cuni-Sanchez, A., Deere, N.J., Denu, D., Gonzalez de Tanago, J., Hayward, R., Lau, A., Macía, M.J., Olivier, P.I., Pellikka, P., Seki, H., Shirima, D., Trevithick, R., Wedeux, B., Wheeler, C., Munishi, P.K.T., Martin, T., Mustari A. and P. J. Platts (2018). Tropical forest canopies and their relationships with climate and disturbance: results from a global dataset of consistent field-based measurements. Forest Ecosystems 5 (7).

Piiroinen, R., Fassnacht, F.E., Heiskanen, J., Maeda, E., Mack, B. and P. Pellikka (2018). Invasive tree species detection in the Eastern Arc Mountains biodiversity hotspot using one class classification. Remote Sensing of Environment 218, 119–131.

Rosti, H., Rikkinen, J., Pellikka, P., Bearder, S., Mwamodenyi, J. M. (2020). Taita Mountain dwarf galago is extant in the Taita Hills of Kenya. Oryx 54(2), 152–153. 

Räsänen, M., Merbold, L., Vakkari, V., Aurela, M., Laakso, L., Beukes, P., Zyl, P. V., Josipovic, M., Feig, G., Pellikka, P., Rinne, J. and Katul, G. G. (2020). Root-zone soil moisture variability across African savannas: From pulsed rainfall to landcover switches. Ecohydrology 13(5), [2213].

Räsänen, M. M. Chung, M. Katurji, P. Pellikka, J. Rinne & G.G. Katul (2018). Similarity in fog and rainfall intermittancy. Geophysical Research Letters 45(19).

Siljander, M., Kuronen, T., Johansson, T., Munayo, M.N., Pellikka, P.K.E. (2020). Primates on the farm – spatial patterns of human–wildlife conflict in forest-agricultural landscape mosaic in Taita Hills, Kenya. Appl. Geogr. 117 (102185)

Siljander, M., Adero, N., Gitau, F., Nyambu, E. (2020). Land use/land cover classification for the iron mining site of Kishushe, Kenya: A feasibility study of traditional and machine learning algorithms. African Journal of Mining, Entrepreneurship and Natural Resource Management 1(2), 115–124.

Suija, A., Kaasalainen, U.S., Kirika, P. and J.K. Rikkinen (2018). Taitaia, a novel lichenicolous fungus in tropical montane forests in Kenya (East Africa). Lichenologist 50 (2), 173–184.

Stam, Å. C. S., Anttila, J., Pellikka, P. K. E., Rikkinen, J. K. (2020). Sensitivity of tropical pendant bryophytes: results from a translocation experiment along an elevation gradient. Annales Botanici Fennici 57(1-3), 71–81.

Tang, Z., Adhikari, H., Pellikka, P., Heiskanen, J. (2021). A method for predicting large-area missing observations in Landsat time series using spectral-temporal metrics. International Journal of Applied Earth Observation and Geoinformation 99.

Teucher, M. C., Schmitt, B., Wiese, A., Apfelbeck, B., Maghenda, M., Pellikka, P., Lens, L., Habel, C.C. (2020). Behind the fog: Forest degradation despite logging bans in an East Africa cloud forest. Global Ecology and Conservation 22, e01024.

Tuure, J., Räsänen, M., Hautala, M., Pellikka, P., Mäkelä, P., Alakukku, L. (2021). Plant residue mulch increases measured and modelled soil moisture content in the effective root zone of maize in semi-arid Kenya. Soil & Tillage Research 209, 104945.

Tuure, J., Korpela, A., Hautala, M., Rautkoski, H., Hakojarvi, M., Mikkola, H., Duplissy, J., Pellikka, P., Petaja, T., Kulmala, M., Alakukku, L. (2020). Comparing plastic foils for dew collection: Preparatory laboratory-scale method and field experiment in Kenya. Biosystems Engineering 196, 145–158.

Tuure, J., Korpela, A., Hautala, M., Hakojärvi, M., Mikkola, H., Räsänen, M., Duplissy, J., Pellikka, P., Petäjä, T., Kulmala, M., Alakukku, L. (2019). Comparison of surface foil materials and dew collectors location in an arid area: a one-year field experiment in Kenya. Agricultural and Forest Meteorology, 276–277, 107613.

Uusitalo, R. J., Siljander, M., Culverwell, C. L., Mutai, N., Forbes, K. M., Vapalahti, O., & Pellikka, P. K. E. (2019). Predictive mapping of mosquito distribution based on environmental and anthropogenic factors in Taita Hills, Kenya. International Journal of Applied Earth Observation and Geoinformation, 76, 84-92.

Vesala, R., Arppe, L. & Rikkinen, J. (2019). Caste-specific nutritional differences define carbon and nitrogen fluxes within symbiotic food webs in African termite mounds. Sci Rep 9, 16698.

Vuorinne, I.E., Heiskanen, J., Pellikka, P. (2021). Assessing Leaf Biomass of Agave sisalana Using Sentinel-2 Vegetation Indices. Remote Sensing 13(2), 233.

Wachiye, S. A., Merbold, L., Vesala, T., Rinne, J., Leitner, S., Räsänen, M., Vuorinne, I., Heiskanen, J., Pellikka, P. (2021). Soil greenhouse gas emissions from a sisal chronosequence in Kenya. Agricultural and Forest Meteorology 307, 108465.

Wachiye, S., Merbold, L., Vesala, T., Rinne, J., Rasanen, M., Leitner, S., Pellikka, P. (2020). Soil greenhouse gas emissions under different land-use types in savanna ecosystems of Kenya. Biogeosciences 17(7), 2149–2167.

Zhu, Y., Merbold, L., Leitner, S., Pelster, D. E., Okoma, S. A., Ngetich, F., Onyango, A. A., Pellikka, P., Butterbach-Bahl, K. (2020). The effects of climate on decomposition of cattle, sheep and goat manure in Kenyan tropical pastures. Plant and Soil 451(1-2), 325–343.