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Department of Evolutionary Biology and Environmental Studies

Ecology and Evolution of Species Interactions

Ecology and Evolution of Species Interactions

The interactions that link species to one another are the building blocks of biodiversity. I’m broadly interested in the eco-evolutionary feedback loops that drive species interactions. To uncover these, in our work we combine experimental, and molecular approaches with field surveys and mathematical modelling. These complementary approaches allow us to link underlying mechanisms with realized population dynamics, and to understand the processes by which natural communities are structured.

Head of group: Prof. Dr. Anna-Liisa Laine

Research themes

  • Intraspecific variation in host-parasite interactions
    Understanding how diversity is maintained in host and parasite populations is one of the core challenges in disease biology. Using long-term population dynamic data combined with genomics and experimentation, we address this question in a natural plant-pathogen interaction. This work brings us one step closer to answering questions of how risks of virulence and pathogen occurrence evolve – important questions from both basic and applied points of view
  • Pathogen communities
    Across biological systems it is becoming increasingly clear that a single host individual is typically exploited by diverse pathogen communities. In our work we aim to understand the spatio-temporal determinants of this diversity, and what the eco-evolutionary implications are for both hosts and pathogens.
  • Biodiversity and disease risk
    Disease systems consist of communities of hosts, pathogens and potentially their vectors that interact with each other in a complex manner. To better understand the impact of biodiversity on disease epidemics, the interaction between hosts and pathogens needs to be considered at the community level.
  • Long-term ecology
    Long-term nature observation series are indispensable records of how individual populations and species are responding to environmental change. In the Research Centre for Ecological Change ( we are systematically collecting long-term ecological data for an unprecedented syntheses of how communities of organisms are responding to change.
  • Global Plant Demography
    As part of PlantPopNet (, we are driving a co-ordinated global effort combining data and theory to understand abiotic and biotic drivers of population persistence and distribution.
  • Biological diversity and sustainable food production
    Humans have intensified and mechanized agricultural processes in an effort to boost efficiency, productivity and profits. As a result, global food systems are increasingly generating severe social, environmental, economic and climate costs. We are investigating how mechanisms that promote stability in natural ecosystems could be utilized to develop sustainable and climate smart food production systems.


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