Research

Environments around the world are changing rapidly because of human activities. We investigate how organisms respond to these changes, and the consequences the responses have for populations, communities and ecosystems.

We have three main lines of research: one line that focusses on current responses of organisms to environmental change, such as eutrophication, climate change and light pollution, a second line that is centred on revealing past responses and their causes and consequences, as we need to understand the past to predict the future, and a third line of research that synthesises the research field through reviews and the building of conceptual frameworks.

Our topics

Responses to current environmental changes

How do organisms respond to human-induced disturbances such as climate change, eutrophication and light pollution? Are the responses adaptive and promote population growth, or do they increase the risk of decline and possible extinction? How do the responses influence in turn species interactions and thereby the composition of the species community?

These questions are investigated using a range of organisms, such as the responses of sticklebacks to poor visibility in eutrophied habitats, and the ability of glow-worm females to attract males when light pollution reduces the visibility of their light signals.

Projects

  • Effects of climate change and eutrophication on the species community of shallow coastal waters
  • Effects of light pollution on reproduction in glow-worms
  • Effects of light pollution on the composition of terrestrial insect communities

Responses to past environmental changes

Using long-term datasets, we can investigate how organisms have responded to past changes in the environment, both natural changes and those caused by human activities. We use different approaches depending on our questions: we analyse the sediment archives of the Baltic Sea to determine how the plankton community has changed during the past centuries; satellite data to determine how light pollution has increased during the last decades, and databases and museum collections of insects to determine how insect communities have developed while light pollution has increased. In addition, we have ourselves collected data on changes in threespine stickleback populations in the Baltic Sea during the last 25 years.

Projects

  • Effects of eutrophication and climate change on population dynamics of mesopredators in the Baltic Sea
  • Effects of eutrophication and climate change on the plankton community of the Baltic Sea
  • Light pollution – a cause of insect decline?

Synthesising the research field

The amount of data on effects of human activities on organisms is rapidly growing, making it possible to search for trends, evaluate possible mechanisms behind the trends, and infer likely consequences of the responses for populations, communities and ecosystems. Thus, an important component of our research is to synthesise the available information and use it to develop conceptual frameworks, identify future avenues for research, and provide information useful for decision makers in policy and management.

Projects

  • Impact of light pollution on the behaviour of animals
  • Consequences of altered reproductive behaviours on populations, communities, and ecosystems.