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Kaisa Torppa

Kaisa Torppa
The well-being of agricultural soils is the basis of food production on earth, and a large part of this well-being is taken care of by the tiny creatures inhabiting the soils. Regarding this, and the world-wide degradation of soils by intensive agricultural practices, surprisingly little is known about the dynamics and relationships of these creatures, and how they are affected by agriculture.


In my PhD project I aim to improve our understanding of food webs in agricultural soils. More specifically, the aim is to explore how agricultural management practices like tillage and different crop rotations affect soil food webs and how this knowledge can be used to support these webs and the ecosystem services they provide.

I am especially interested in the interactions between different taxonomic and functional groups of soil organisms, and if the effects of management practices on one group can cascade to the rest of the food web through these interactions. The work is supervised by Dr. Astrid Taylor in collaboration with Prof. Jan Bengtsson, Prof. Tomas Roslin and Dr. Maria Viketoft.

The project is part of SOILMAN, a collaboration project of six European countries funded by BiodivERsA, which explores links between soil management, soil biodiversity and ecosystem services. More information can be found on the project website.


I obtained both my Bachelor and Master’s degrees at the University of Helsinki, Department of Biosciences. I specialized on landscape ecology, insects and environmental sciences, and I wrote my Master’s thesis about dung beetle communities in degraded rainforests in Madagascar. In addition to Malagasy dung beetles, I have worked with e.g. the Glanville Fritillary and the Falseheath Fritillary butterflies and Podospera plantaginis powdery mildew. In 2010 and 2012 I organized plant surveys in a project searching for connections between prevalence of inflammatory diseases, microbial diversity on human skin and plant species diversity.


Selected publications

Torppa, K., Wirta, H. & Hanski, I. 2020. Unexpectedly diverse forest dung beetle communities in degraded rain forest landscapes in Madagascar. — Biotropica 52: 351–365.

Hanski, I., von Hertzen, L., Fyhrquist, N., Koskinen, K., Torppa, K., Laatikainen, T., Karisola, P., Auvinen, P., Paulin, L., Mäkelä, M., Vartiainen, E., Kosunen, T., Alenius, H. & Haahtela, T. 2012. Environmental biodiversity, human microbiota, and allergy are interrelated. — PNAS 109: 8334-8339.


Doctoral Student at the Department of Ecology; NJ, Ecology and environmental research unit
Telephone: 018-673401
Postal address:
Inst för Ekologi, Box 7044
750 07 UPPSALA
Visiting address: Ulls väg 16, Uppsala