Linda Petersson

PhD Project: Managing disturbance to promote natural regeneration of oak in forests valued for conservation


Oak-dominated forest ecosystems (Quercus spp.) are common throughout Eurasia and the Americas where they are of outmost importance for biodiversity and provide important ecosystem services. Failure to regenerate oak forests is a recognized problem throughout the oaks natural range and is resulting in a decrease of oak dominance. In both Europe and North America, historical dominance by oak has been linked to various anthropogenic factors resulting in forest disturbance, such as land-use systems that include extensive forest harvesting (release of advance regeneration and stump sprouts), grazing animals (oak regeneration occurring in patches of thorny shrubs), and frequent use of fire in forests (oaks are more tolerant to fires than competitors and thus favored). In the absence of disturbance late-successional species will dominate the forest and replacement of oak has been reported both in regenerating and old-growth forests throughout the oaks natural range.

The main aim with my research is to identify disturbance factors and ecological processes that drive the natural regeneration of oak. I have set up a field experiment at five locations in southern Sweden with treatments including different light levels, protection against browsers (mainly roe deer and moose), and prescribed burnings. This research will give insight into the role and combined effects of different canopy and understory disturbances on the survival, growth, and ecophysiology of oak seedlings. It is of interest for both conservation purposes and forestry as we hope to contribute with new practical management recommendations for oak dominated forests.

Supervisors: Magnus Löf, Daniel Dey, Annika Felton, Emile Gardiner, Frank Götmark, Anna Jensen


I have a background in ecology, and studied at Uppsala University for both my bachelor in Biology and master degree in Ecology and Conservation. My master thesis focused on pollination biology of a tropical Vanilla orchid in Madagascar and included three months field work in Madagascar. During my studies I also worked as a research assistant at the Department of Ecology and Genetics (Uppsala University) in several plant ecological field experiments at Uppsala, Öland, and Norway.