Elina Kaarlejärvi

Vrije Universiteit Brussel

Pleinlaan 2
1050 Brussel

Our life on Earth is based on well-functioning ecosystems and services they provide. To guarantee for example our food production in a globally changing environment, we need a better understanding of drivers of ecosystem functioning. Environmental changes can affect ecosystem functions in two ways; directly, and indirectly by affecting biodiversity.

In this project I compare the strengths of direct and biodiversity-mediated effects of environmental changes on several simultaneous ecosystem functions, so called multifunctionality of ecosystems. Since diversity of functional traits within communities is likely to affect ecosystem functioning more than species richness, I use diversity of functional traits as a measure of biodiversity and investigate how climate warming, herbivory and soil fertility influence multifunctionality. I use long-term field experiments in Finland and Greenland to study this in real ecosystems and mesocosm experiments in Belgium to test mechanisms driving the observed patterns in nature.

Funding: Swedish Research Council


Eskelinen A., Kaarlejärvi E. & Olofsson J. 2016: Herbivory and nutrient limitation protect warming tundra from lowland species' invasion and diversity loss. Global Change Biology, in press, doi: 10.1111/gcb.13397.

Uboni A, Horstkotte T, Kaarlejärvi E, Sévêque A, Stammler F, Olofsson J, Forbes B & Moen J. 2016: Long-Term Trends and Role of Climate in the Population Dynamics of Eurasian Reindeer. PLoS ONE 11(6): e0158359. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0158359.

Kaarlejärvi E., Hoset KS. & Olofsson J. 2015: Mammalian herbivores confer resilience of Arctic shrub-dominated ecosystems to changing climate. Global Change Biology, 21: 3379-3388.

Kaarlejärvi E. & Olofsson J. 2014: Concurrent biotic interactions influence plant performance at their altitudinal distribution margins. Oikos, 123: 943–952.

Väisänen M., Ylänne H., Kaarlejärvi E., Sjögersten S., Olofsson J., Crout N. & Stark S. 2014: Consequences of warming on tundra carbon balance determined by reindeer grazing history. Nature Climate Change 4: 384-388.

Kaarlejärvi E., Eskelinen A. & Olofsson J. 2013: Herbivory prevents lowland plants benefiting from warmer and more fertile conditions at high altitudes. Functional Ecology, 27: 1244–1253.