My research is centered around landscape level stability and change of freshwater ecosystems. I study contemporary changes in landform types, ecological communities, and species adaptations to the local environment. My goal is to document why landscapes are changing in response to human pressures, how this affect local biodiversity, and support land use policies as well as conservation efforts.
Most of my research is conducted through interdisciplinary collaborations. Using my background in freshwater ecology and experience with spatial hierarchical models I work with a wide range of scientist on contemporary questions in environmental science. So far much of my work has focused on the future of freshwater ecosystems and how the Artic landscape is responding to climate change.
Landscape change in rivers
Rivers and their floodplains are home to ~35% of the world’s population. They are economically vital, highly biodiverse, and influence global biogeochemical cycles. However, a number of anthropogenic stressors, including large-scale damming, climate change, pollution, and sediment mining, challenge their integrity and future, as never before. Together with a diverse group of scientists, spanning from physical geographers to conservation scientists, I explore contemporary landscape patterns in river systems across the globe. The work includes landscape scale mapping of changes of deltas in the Arctic as a response to climate change, predicting sand mining across urban growth in Africa, and modelling human pressures on biodiversity across threats in the world’s big rivers.
Freshwater science has a history of research targeting ecosystem stability and links between biodiversity and environmental states. Several general concepts, such alternative stable states and the river continuum concepts, originates from the extensive literature on site specific freshwater biology. Recent advances are advocating for an extension of site-specific approaches incorporating landscape level dynamics into the equitation. I am especially interested in the downscaling effect of landscape level factors on local species community – environment relationships. This includes questions such as: How does local environmental selection change across connectivity and stability gradients? and how can we use novel disequilibrium models to advance existing freshwater monitoring programs?
Functional adaptations to life in freshwater
What constraints does the environment have on functional traits in freshwater organism and how does freshwater trait-space compare to terrestrial counterparts? I explore aspects of functional ecology and biogeography of species adapted to freshwater habitats. Documenting unique adaptations to the freshwater environment is essential if we are to understand current and future ecosystem functions in lakes and rivers. It also allows us to predict to what extent freshwater organisms follow terrestrial responses to human pressures, such as climate change, contra pathways unique for the freshwater environment.