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Research Areas

The department’s academic flagships are areas of strength derived from existing strong academic environments in which we conduct world-class research. They comprise the following:

We work with understanding the structure and function of marine ecosystems across different systems, from the coastal zone to the open marine areas, from the Arctic through temperate to tropical systems. We have special focus on distinguishing between changes caused by natural variations and changes caused by human activity. In order to do this, we develop tools and methods to assess the state of the marine environment and to determine and analyse the factors that affect the dynamics and health of the ocean.

This includes monitoring, experimental work, development of indicators, statistical, spatial, agent-based and dynamic models, habitat mapping and area planning, and the development and use of new innovative and automated measurement methods, data loggers, satellite telemetry, remote sensing, etc. In addition, we work on understanding how sustainable nature-based solutions can contribute to promoting carbon retention, biodiversity, etc. through the protection, restoration and sustainable use of marine ecosystems.

Terrestrial ecology

Our research contributes to developing strategies for green transition and sustainable production in agriculture and forestry, including focusing on nature-based solutions. We develop tools for effective and cost-efficient nature conservation and works with methods for solving conflicts between nature and disturbances, e.g. from hunting and outdoor recreation. We are home to the topic centre ‘Dry nature and species ‘ under the national monitoring programme NOVANA, and we are responsible for methodological development, analysis of data and annual reporting on the state of nature.

We will develop new concepts and methods to describe and monitor nature and its species and work in a process-oriented manner with the factors that affect it. This knowledge will be used to develop methods for nature management with a focus on preserving or increasing the biodiversity of natural ecosystems. We will also develop methods for cost-effective planning and development of sustainable solutions for species management in collaboration with the public sector, citizens and research institutions.

Freshwater ecology

We have a unique research environment at the highest international level within aquatic freshwater biology and ecology, which covers streams, lakes, ponds and surrounding rural areas (catchments) that direct water to the freshwater areas – including both natural and constructed wetlands. An important element of the research is the unique long time series retrieved through field studies and from the department’s test facilities in Lemming with constructed mini-ecosystems in which pelagic abiotic and biotic dynamics can be studied under controlled and manipulated conditions.

We study and measure biological and chemical processes in freshwater ecosystems as well as the interplay between nutrients, environmentally hazardous substances and biological structure. The research covers topics such as lake and stream restoration, nutrient dynamics, greenhouse gases, biodiversity and the interplay between catchment and freshwater areas. In addition, we focus on developing and using empirical and dynamic modelling tools to calculate, among other things, the leaching of nitrogen and phosphorus from fields and the transportation to streams and further on to the marine environment.

The Arctic

For decades, we have had an internationally leading role in Arctic research, monitoring and consultancy, with a focus on studies of Arctic nature and the environment in general in the Arctic and, especially, in Greenland, where we contribute knowledge transfer through collaboration and consultancy to Greenland’s self-government, including the Greenland Institute of Natural Resources. With this geographical focus, the Arctic area of strength spans widely academically across the trophic levels, from microbes to plants to animals and birds, and from individual to population and ecosystem level in marine, fresh and terrestrial ecosystems.

We provide consultancy to the Greenlandic (and Danish) authorities on environmental issues related to raw materials activities (in particular mining operations) as well as on both terrestrial and marine nature protection, e.g. on the strain and effects of environmentally harmful substances in relation to ecosystem health (OneHealth), with particular focus on the health of marine mammals and humans. Another key research area is the effects of climate change on Arctic ecosystems and their environment, among other things through the use of biodiversity mapping, bio logging, demography, movement ecology, energy flows and their link to the population level. We run the interdisciplinary and internationally recognised research station Zackenberg and manages several of the central research and monitoring programmes in Greenland and the Arctic (e.g. GEM, CBMP, AMAP and PAME).