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Forest Vegetation Ecology

The forest vegetation ecology unit is focused on understanding how plants interact with their biotic and abiotic environments, and the consequences of these interactions for key ecosystem properties such as biodiversity, productivity, and ecosystem functioning. 

Field Research
Clydecia field work
Mountain birch

The overarching goal of forest vegetation ecology research is to improve the understanding of forest plants' interaction with each other, and with the other biotic and abiotic components of forested ecosystems. Central to this work are topics such as:

  • Biodiversity-ecosystem function relationships
  • Climate change
  • Disturbance factors, including wildfire
  • Forest regeneration
  • Nutrient and carbon cycling
  • Plant-plant competition
  • Plant-soil feedbacks
  • Plant-fungal interactions
  • Plant nutrient limitation and efficiency
  • Plant functional traits
  • Sustainable management

Our research aims to integrate these themes as much as possible, to provide an understanding of how forest community structure interacts with ecosystem processes.  We aim for our research to contribute to solving issues important to society, including preservation of biodiversity and ecosystem functioning, forest resilience in response to climate change, and sustainable use of forest resources.   

The unit also has a strong focus on the analysis of ecological gradients across time and space, such as forest chronosequences or elevational gradients, but also utilizes gradients that emerge following natural or anthropogenic disturbances such as wild-fire, fertilization, and forest management intervention. We also utilize controlled greenhouse experiments and laboratory incubations as primary research tools. 

The majority of the work done by the unit is focused on the Swedish boreal forest and sub-arctic landscapes, but also includes research activities across the world, including other locations in Europe, North America, South America, Asia, and Australasia.

The unit strives for a diverse and inclusive research environment that produces high impacting research at regional and global scales.  

Published: 21 April 2023 - Page editor: tejshree.tiwari@slu.se

For more information contact

Michael Gundale, Professor
Department of Forest Ecology and Management, Department of Forest Ecology and Management, joint staff


Postal address:
Skogens ekologi och skötsel
901 83 Umeå

Visiting address: Skogsmarksgränd 17, Umeå