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Kjell Danell

Kjell Danell
Professor emeritus in Wildlife Ecology at the Faculty of Forest Sciences, Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences (SLU) in Umeå.


Research discipline: Animal Ecology.

Research topics: Plant-animal interactions; ecology of mammals; invasive mammals; trophic interactions; population dynamics; wetland ecology; macro-ecology; climate change in northern latitudes; management of wildlife populations; conservation of biodiversity in boreal forests; history of wildlife and its management.

Study systems: Herbivores, mainly mammals and insects in boreal forests, tundra and savanna. Ducks in natural and man-made wetlands.

Habitats/biomes: Mostly the boreal forest, but also tundra and savanna.

Methods: Mainly field experiments and analyses of long-term data sets on population fluctuations.

Research over time: My doctoral thesis was on the invasive muskrat in Sweden and its ecology. How rapidly would it spread southwards in Sweden and how might it affect the native vegetation? How might its numbers fluctuate after invasion? My wetland interest then expanded to include the ecology of ducks, and especially their feeding ecology and habitat choice. The main purpose of gathering this basic knowledge was gain insight into how to restore and maintain wetland habitats for breeding birds.

The interactions between plants and animals in terrestrial habitats gradually became my main interest and that passion still continues. Over the years I have mainly worked with ungulates, especially moose, hares, microtine rodents and to some extent with leaf-feeding insects and saproxylic insects.

The main issues have been optimal foraging strategy, the impact of herbivores on plant individuals, tree stands, ecosystem processes and biodiversity. The chemical interplay between the herbivore and it food plants is a fascinating and relatively unexplored issue. With the continued rapid development of new molecular techniques, I am confident that we will have even more fascinating possibilities for deeper insights into the interplay

Some years ago, I got the opportunity to develop and lead a large research program on management of fish and wildlife populations. Within a multidisciplinary framework our highly competent scholars created a scientific foundation for a Swedish model of adaptive management which remains in use today. During this work I became interested in general questions of natural resource management, and especially the driving forces in society which have changed wildlife laws and management.

Now, as a professor emeritus, many of my previous interests have come together as I continue to write books synthesizing our knowledge of certain species, as well as using long-term datasets to explore the history of wildlife and wildlife management, and how society has changed.

Selected publications

Scientific books in English/Swedish (1999– )

14 published, 2 in print. Doctoral thesis: 1.

Scientific referred publications in English/Swedish (1977 – )


Popular scientific publications in English/Swedish (1974 – )

Original papers in Swedish/English: 172.



Danell, K. 2024 (in press). Däggdjurens nykomlingar. Gidlunds, Möklinta. ~ 400 pages.

Fridman, J. and Danell, K. 2023. Sveriges skogar under 100 år: Riksskogstaxeringen 1923‒2023. Gidlunds, Möklinta. 264 pages.

Lyhagen, J., Danell, K. & Gustavsson, B. (eds.) 2022. Den gröna näringen under 200 år. I. Historia och utveckling. Kungl. Skogs- och Lantbruksakademien, Stockholm. 424 pages.

Lyhagen, J., Danell, K. & Gustavsson, B. (eds.) 2022. Den gröna näringen under 200 år. II. Belöningar och minnen. Kungl. Skogs- och Lantbruksakademien, Stockholm. 492 pages.

Gustavsson, B., Danell, K. (2021). Hur beskriver man medaljer och plaketter. [Göteborg]. 48 pages.

Danell, K. 2020. Vilt, jakt och människor i Norrlands skogar. – Kungl. Skytteanska Samfundet/Gidlunds, Umeå/Möklinta. 496 pages.

Danell, K., Bergström, Mattsson, L. and Sörlin, S. (eds.) 2016. Jaktens historia i Sverige: Vilt – samhälle – människa – kultur. – Liber AB, Stockholm. 375 pages.

Bergström, R., Danell, K. and Svanberg I. (eds.) 2014. Lodjuret. – Atlantis, Stockholm. 230 pages.

Danell, K. and Bergström, R. (eds.) 2010. Vilt, människa, samhälle. – Liber AB, Stockholm. 319 pages.

Danell, K., Bergström, R., Duncan, P. and Pastor, J. (eds.). 2006. Large herbivores and ecosystem functioning. – Cambridge University Press, Cambridge. xvi + 506 pages.

Baskin, L.M. and Danell, K. 2003. Ecology of ungulates: a handbook of species in eastern Europe and northern and central Asia. - Springer Verlag, Heidelberg. 434 pages.

Larsson, S. and Danell, K. (eds.). 2001. Science and the management of boreal forest diversity. - Scandinavian Journal of Forest Research. Supplement 3. 123 pages.

Hofgaard, A., Ball, J.P., Danell, K. and Callaghan, T.V. (eds.) 1999. Animal responses to global change in the north. – Ecological Bulletins 47. 187 pages.

Scientific papers, selected

Natural resource management
Folke, C., Jansson, Å., Rockström, J., Olsson, P., Carpenter, S.R., Chapin, F.S.III, Crépin, A.-S., Daily, G., Danell, K., Ebbesson, J., Elmqvist, T., Galaz, V., Moberg, F., Nilsson, M., Österblom, H., Ostrom, E., Persson, Å., Peterson, G., Polasky, S., Steffen, W., Walker, B. and Westly, F. 2011. Reconnecting to the Biosphere. – Ambio 40:719-738.

Chapin, F.S.III., Danell, K., Elmqvist, T., Folke, C. and N. Fresco. 2007. Managing climate change impacts to enhance the resilience and sustainability of Fennoscandian forests. – Ambio 36:528-533. 

Chapin, F.S. III, Berman, M., Callaghan, T.V., Convey, P., Crepin, A.-S., Danell, K., Ducklow, H., Forbes, B., Kofinas, G., McGuire, A. D., Nuttall, M., Ross, V., Young, O. and S.A. Zimov.  2006. Polar systems. Pages 717-743 - In: Ecosystems and Human Well-being: Current State and Trends, Volume 1. Millennium Assessment (eds. R. Hassan, R. Scholes and N. Ash). Island Press, Washington. 

Chapin, F.S. III, Hoel, M., Carpenter, S.R., Lubchenco, J., Walker, B., Callaghan, T.V., Folke, C., Levin, S.A., Mäler, C.-G., Nilsson, C., Barret, S., Berkes, F., Crépin, A.-S., Danell, K., Rosswall, T., Starrett, D., Xepapadeas, A. and S.A. Zimov. 2006. Building resilience and adaptation to manage arctic change. – Ambio 35:198-202. 

Klein, D.R.,  Baskin, L.M., Bogoslovskaya, L.S., Danell, K., Gunn, A., Irons, D.B. ,Kofinas, G.P.,  Kovacs, K.M., Magomedova, M., Mehan, R.H., Russell, D.E. and P. Valkenburg. 2005. Management and conservation of wildlife in a changing arctic environment. – Pages 597-648 in Arctic Climate Impact Assessment. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, U.K. 

Forbes, B.C., Fresco, N., Shvidenko, A., Danell, K. and F.S. Chapin III. 2004. Geographic variations in anthropogenic drivers that influence the vulnerability and resilience of social-ecological systems. – Ambio 33:377-382. 

Chapin, F.S. III., Peterson, G., Berkes, F., Callaghan, T.V., Angelstam, P., Apps, M., Beier, C., Bergeron, Y., Crépin, A.-S., Danell, K., Elmqvist, T., Folke, C., Forbes, B., Fresco, N., Juday, G., Niemelä, J., Shvidenko, A. and G. Whiteman. 2004. Resilience and vulnerabiltity of northern regions to social and environmental change. – Ambio 33:344-349.

Folke, C., Carpenter, S., Elmqvist, T., Gunderson, L., Holling, C.S., Walker, B., Bengtsson, J.,  Berkes, F., Colding, J., Danell, K., Falkenmark, M., Gordon, L., Kasperson, R., Kautsky, N., Kinzig, A., Levin, S., Mäler, K.-G., Moberg, F., Ohlsson, L., Olsson, P., Ostrom, E., Reid, W., Rockström, J., Savenije, H. & Svedin, U. 2002. Resilience and sustainable development: building capacity in a world of transformations. – International Council for Science. Series on Science for Sustainable Development 3:1-36. 

Plant – animal interactions: boreal forests and tundra
Persson, I.-L., Nilsson, M.B., Pastor, J., Eriksson, T., Bergström, R. & Danell, K. 2009. Depression of belowground respiration rates at simulated high moose population densities in boreal forests. Ecology 90:2724-2733. 

Stolter, C., Niemelä, P., Ball, J.P., Julkunen-Tiitto, R., Vanhatalo, A., Danell, K., Varvikko, T. & Ganzhorn, J.U. 2009. Comparison of plant secondary metabolites and digestibility ofthree different boreal coniferous trees. – Basic and Applied Ecology 10:19-26.

Persson, I.-L. , Danell, K. and R. Bergström. 2005. Different moose densities and accompanied  changes in tree morphology and browse production. – Ecological Applications 15:1296-1305. 

Persson, I.-L., Pastor, J., Danell and R. Bergström. 2005. Impact of moose population density and composition of litter in boreal forests. – Oikos 108:297-306. 

Danell, K., Bergström, R., Edenius, L. and Ericsson, G. 2003. Ungulates as drivers of tree population dynamics. – Forest Ecology and Management 181:67-76. 

Danell, K., Berteaux, D. and K. A. Bråthen. 2002. Effect of muskox carcasses on nitrogen concentration in tundra vegetation.  – Arctic 55:389-392. 

Niemelä, P., Chapin, F.S.III, Danell, K. and J. P. Bryant 2001. Herbivory-mediated responses of selected boreal forests to climate change. - Climate Change 48:427-440.

Ball, J. P., Danell, K. and P. Sunesson. 2000. Response of a herbivore community to increased food quality and quantity: An experiment with nitrogen fertiliser in the boreal forest. - Journal of Applied Ecology 37:247-255. 

Shipley, L. A., Illius, A. W., Danell, K., T. Hobbs, N. and D. E. Spalinger. 1999. Predicting bite size selection of mammalian herbivores: a test of a general model of diet optimization. - Oikos 84:55-68. 

Suominen, O., Danell, K. and R. Bergström. 1999. Moose, trees, and ground-living invertebrates: indirect interactions in Swedish pine forests. - Oikos 84:215-226. 

Danell, K., Bergström, R. and L. Edenius. 1994. Effects of large mammalian browsers on woody plant architecture, biomass and nutrients. - Journal of Mammalogy 75: 833-844. 

Hjältén, J., Danell, K. and P. Lundberg. 1993. Herbivore avoidance by association: vole and hare utilization of woody plants. - Oikos 68:125-131. 

Hjältén, J., Danell, K. and L. Ericson. 1993. Effects of simulated herbivory and in-traspecific competition on the compensatory ability of juvenile birches. – Ecology 74:1136- 1142. 

Danell, K., Niemelä, P., Varvikko, T. and T. Vuorisalo.1991. Moose browsing on Scots pine along a gradient of plant productivity. - Ecology 72:1624-1633. 

Danell, K., Edenius, L. and P. Lundberg. 1991. Herbivory and tree stand composition: moose patch use in winter. - Ecology 72:1350-1357. 

Danell, K. and L. Ericson. 1990. Dynamic relations between the antler moth and meadow vegetation. - Ecology 71: 1068-1077. 

Åström, M., Lundberg, P. and K. Danell. 1990. Partial prey consumption by browsers: trees as patches. - Journal of Animal Ecology 59: 287-300.

Elmqvist, T., Ericson, L., Danell, K. and A. Salomonson.1988.  Latitudinal sex ratio variation in willows (Salix spp.) and gradients in vole herbivory. - Oikos 51: 259-266.

Bergström, R. and K. Danell. 1987. Effects of simulated moose winter browsing on morphology and biomass of two birch species. - Journal of Ecology 75: 533-544. 

Danell, K., Huss-Danell, K. and R. Bergström. 1985. Interactions between browsing moose and two species of  birch in Sweden. - Ecology 66:1867-1878. 

Danell, K. and K. Huss-Danell. 1985. Feeding by insects and hares on birches earlier affected by moose browsing. - Oikos 44:75-81. 

Plant – animal interactions: savanna
Skarpe, C., Bergström, R., Makhabu, S., Rooke, T., Hytteborn, H. and Danell, K. 2014. Plant – herbivore interactions. - Pages 189-206 in Elephants and savanna woodland ecosystems: a study from Chobe National Park, Botswana. (eds. C. Skarpe, J. du Toit and S. R. Moen). Wiley Blackwell, Chichester, West Sussex, UK. 

Rooke, T., Danell, K., Bergström, R., Skarpe, C. and J. Hjältén. 2004. Defence traits of savanna trees – the role of shoot exposure to browsers. – Oikos 107:161-171.  

Skarpe, C., Bergström, R., Bråten, A. L. and K. Danell. 2000. Browsing in a heterogeneous savanna. – Ecography 23:632-640. 

Bergström, R., Skarpe, C. and K. Danell. 2000. Plant responses and herbivory following simulated browsing and stem cutting of Combretum apiculatum. – Journal of Vegetation Science 11:409-411. 

Community ecology: insects
Stenbacka, F., Hjältén, J., Hilszczáski, J., Ball, J.P., Gibb, H., Johansson, T., Pettersson, R.B. and Danell, K. 2010. Saproxylic parasitoid (Hymenoptera, Ichneumonoidea) communities in managed boreal forest landscapes. – Insect Conservation and Diversity 3:114-123.

Gibb, H., Hilszscanski, J., Hjältén, J., Danell, K., Ball, J.P., Pettersson, R. and Alinvi, O. 2008. Responses of parasitoids to saproxylic hosts and habitat: a multi-scale study using experimental logs. – Oecologia 155: 63-74.

Johansson, T., Hjältén, G., Gibb, H., Hilszcznski, J., Ball, J.P., Pettersson, R.B., Alinvi, O., Stenlid, J. and Danell, K. 2007. Variable response of different functional groups of saproxylic beetles to substrate manipulations and forest management: Implications for conservation strategies. - Forest Ecology and Management 242:496-510.

Hjältén, J., Johansson, T., Alinvi, O., Danell, K., Ball, J.P., Pettersson, R., Gibb, H. and J. Hilszcan´ski. 2007. The importance of substrate type, shading and scorcing for the attractiveness of dead wood to saproxylic beetles. – Basic and Applied Ecology 8:364-376. 

Gibb, H., Pettersson, R.B., Hjältén, J., Hilszczanski, J., Ball, J.P., Johansson, T., Atlegrim, O.and  K. Danell. 2006. Conservation-oriented forestry and early successional saproxylic beetles: responses of functional groups to manipulated dead wood substrates. – Biological Conservation 129:437-450. 

Community ecology: mammals
Danell, K. and B. Aava-Olsson. 2002. Endemic mammalian genera: Are they really unique?  -Journal of Biogeograpy 29:457-464. 

Danell, K. 1999. Ecological characteristics of mammals in the biomes of Europe. – Ecological Bulletin 47:22-29. 

Danell, K., Lundberg, P. and Niemelä, P. 1996. Species richness in mammalian her­bivores: patterns in the boreal zone. - Ecography 19:404-409.

Population ecology
Krebs, C.J., Kenney, A.J., Gillbert, S., Danell, K., Angerbjörn, A., Erlinge, S., Bromley, R.G.,Shank, C. & Carriere, S. 2002. Synchrony in lemming and vole populations in the Canadian Arctic. – Canadian Journal of Zoology 80:1323-1333. 

Erlinge, S., Danell, K., Frodin, P., Hasselquist, D., Nilsson, P., Olofsson, E.-B. and Svensson, M. 1999. Asynchronous population dynamics of Siberian lemmings across the Palaearctic tundra. - Oecologia 119:493-500. 

Danell, K. and B. Hörnfeldt. 1987. Numerical responses by populations of red fox and mountain hare during an outbreak of sarcoptic mange among foxes. - Oecologia (Berlin) 73:533-536. 

Danell, K. 1978. Population dynamics of the muskrat in a shallow Swedish lake. - Journal of Animal Ecology 47: 697-709. 

Wetland ecology
Danell, K. and K. Sjöberg. 1982. Seasonal and diel changes in the feeding behaviour of some dabbling duck species on a breeding lake in northern Sweden. – Ornis Scandinavica 134:129-134. 

Danell, K. and K. Sjöberg. 1982. Successional patterns of plants, invertebrates and ducks in a man-made lake. - Journal of Applied Ecology 19:395-409. 

Danell, K. and K. Sjöberg. 1979. Decomposition of Carex and Equisetum in a northern Swedish lake: dry weight loss and colonization by macro-invertebrates. - Journal of Ecology 67:191-200. 

Danell, K. 1979. Reduction of aquatic vegetation following the colonization of a northern Swedish lake by the muskrat, Ondatra zibethica. - Oecologia (Berl.) 38:101-106. 

Danell, K. 1977. Short-term plant successions following  the colonization of a north¬ern Swedish l ake by the muskrat, Ondatra zibethica. - Journal of Applied Ecology 14:933-948.