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Lena Gustafsson

Lena Gustafsson


I am professor emeritus at Department of Ecology, SLU, Uppsala, since 2017. My research is applied and directed towards biodiversity and conservation in forests, especially evaluation and development of knowledge on effects and efficiency of conservation actions, and how such can be combined with forest management. I am interested in processes and structures that drive species dynamics in natural as well as managed forests, and how such insights can be used in conservation strategies. A strong motivation for my research is to relate to topical questions in forest and conservation practice and policy, and to do this in a wide international context. I am a plant ecologist and often use bryophytes and lichens as model organisms.



Currently a main focus for my research is key habitats, i.e. forest areas of large importance to flora and fauna. In a replicated landscape study in NW Sweden I investigate if the biodiversity value of key habitats is linked to landscape composition (share of old forest).

One of my main research directions during the last decade has been retention forestry, i.e. the deliberate retention of trees and tree groups at logging to benefit biodiversity; an integrated conservation approach. 

In the large fire area in Västmanland (14,000 ha burned in 2014) I follow the vegetation development, in a time-series planned to run over a 10-year period.



I have a large interest in research communication and interaction with stakeholders. During the last years, I have made several large knowledge compilations directed towards forestry and conservation.

Examples of research communication with stakeholders the last  years:

KSLA, Climate Forum, French-Swedish forest week, Debate article in Dagens Nyheter, UR (Swedish Educational Broadcasting Company) conference, RIU forest planning conference, conservation personnel Sveaskog, Bird Life Sweden, Bird Life Närke, Swedish parliament, P1 Science Radio (Vetenskapsradion), Radio Sweden. P3 “Nyheter med Karlsten”, P4 Västmanland, P1 Science Radio “Klotet”, Dagens Nyheter, SVT “Vetenskapens värld.



I was faculty professor in conservation biology and leader of the Conservation Biology Unit at the Department of Ecology until I retired in 2017. I now work part-time at the department.

Professor and chair in conservation biology at SLU (2001)

Conservation ecologist at the Forestry Research Institute of Sweden (Skogforsk) (1994-2001)

Docent i skogsekologi vid Sveriges lantbruksuniversitet (1994)

PhD in forest ecology SLU (1986)

Member of The Royal Swedish Academy of Agriculture and Forestry (2000)



Main supervisor (PhD): Jörgen Rudolphi 2007, Karin Perhans 2008, Nicole Schneider 2012, Johanna Lundström 2013, Åsa Ranlund 2017.

Assistant supervisor (PhD): Olle Kellner 1993, Sanna Black-Samuelsson 1997, Per Hazell 1999, Alexandro Caruso 2008, Katja Fedrowitz 2011, Victor Johansson 2012, Alejandro Ruete 2012, Samuel Johnson 2014, Maria Nord 2015, Per Westerfelt 2015, Malin Gustafsson 2016, Per Simonsson 2016.

Mentorship of post-doctoral fellows: Sofie Wikberg 2004-2008 (50%), Silvia Aranda Aug 2015 – July 2016, Alex Leverkus 2015, 2017


Selected publications

Gustafsson, L., Franzén, M., Sunde, J., Johansson, V. 2023. The non-native Quercus rubra does not substitute the native Quercus robur and Q. petraea as substrate for epiphytic lichens and bryophytes. Accepted.

Jönsson, M., Weslien, J. O., & Gustafsson, L. 2023. Coarse woody debris legacies and their dynamics in retained forest patches. Forest Ecology and Management, 541, 121063.

Jönsson, M., Perhans, K., Appelgren, L., Gustafsson, L. 2022. Bryophytes of conservation concern decline and traits change in retention patches during two decades following forest harvest. Biological Conservation. 273: 109647.

Larsen, J.B., Angelstam, P., Bauhus, J.,
Carvalho, J.F., Diaci, J., Dobrowolska, D., Gazda, A., Gustafsson,
L., Krumm, F., Knoke, T., Konczal, A., Kuuluvainen, T., Mason, B.,
Motta, R., Pötzelsberger, E., Rigling, A., Schuck, A., 2022. Closer-to-
Nature Forest Management. From Science to Policy 12. European
Forest Institute.

Lehtonen, E., Gustafsson, L., Lõhmus, A., & von Stedingk, H. 2021. What does FSC forest certification contribute to biodiversity conservation in relation to national legislation?. Journal of Environmental Management, 299, 113606. 

Gustafsson, L., Johansson, V., Leverkus, A. B., Strengbom, J., Wikberg, S., & Granath, G. 2021. Disturbance interval modulates the starting point for vegetation succession. Ecology 102(9), e03439.

Hedwall, P-O., Uria-Diez, J., Brunet J., Gustafsson, L., Axelsson A-L., Strengbom J., 2021. Interactions between local and global drivers determine long-term trends in boreal forest understory vegetation. Global Ecology and Biodiversity 30:1765–1780. 

Leverkus AB, Thorn S, Gustafsson L, Noss R, Müller J, Pausas J, Lindemayer D. 2021. Environmental policies to cope with novel disturbance regimes –steps to address a world scientists’ warning to humanity. Environmental Research Letters 16. 

Bergman, P., Gustafsson, L. 2020. Ecoparks – Forest landscapes in Sweden with
emphasis on biodiversity conservation and recreation. Pages 369-378. In: Krumm, F.; Schuck, A.; Rigling, A. (eds), 2020: How to balance forestry and biodiversity conservation – A view across Europe. European Forest Institute (EFI); Swiss Federal Institute for Forest, Snow and Landscape Research (WSL), Birmendorf. 644 p.

Bollmann, K., Kraus, D., Paillet, Y., Jonsson, BG., Gustafsson, L., Mergner, U., Krumm, F. A unifying framework for the conservation of biodiversity in multi-functional European forests. Pages 27-45. In: Krumm, F.; Schuck, A.; Rigling, A. (eds), 2020: How to balance forestry and biodiversity conservation – A view across Europe. European Forest Institute (EFI); Swiss Federal Institute for Forest, Snow and Landscape Research (WSL), Birmendorf. 644 p.

Leverkus, A.B., Polo, I. Baudoux, C., Thorn, S., Gustafsson, L., Rubio de Casas, R. 2020. Resilience impacts of a secondary disturbance: Meta-analysis of salvage logging effects on tree regeneration. Journal of Ecology.

Gustafsson, L., Granath, G., Nohrstedt, H-Ö., Leverkus, A., & Johansson, V. 2020. Burn severity and soil chemistry are weak drivers of early vegetation succession following a boreal mega-fire in a production forest landscape. Journal of Vegetation Science 32(1), e12966.

Leverkus, A. B., Gustafsson, L., Lindenmayer, D. B., Castro, J., Benayas, J. M., R., Ranius, T., Thorn, S., 2020. Salvage logging effects on regulating ecosystem services and fuel loads. Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment.

Johansson V, Gustafsson L, Andersson P, Hylander K. 2020. Fewer butterflies and a different composition of bees, wasps and hoverflies on recently burned compared to unburned clear-cuts, regardless of burn severity. Forest Ecology and Management.

Gustafsson L, Hannerz M, Koivula M, Shorohova E, Vanha-Majamaa I, Weslien J. 2020. Research on retention forestry in Northern Europe. Ecological Processes 9:3. doi:10.1186/s13717-019-0208-2

Felton A, Löfroth T, Angelstam P, Gustafsson, L, Hjältén J, Felton AM, Simonsson P, Dahlberg A, Lindbladh M, Svensson J, Nilsson U, Lodin I, Hedwall PO, Sténs A, Lämås T, Brunet J, Kalén C, Kriström B, Gemmel P, Ranius T. 2019. Keeping pace with forestry: Multi-scale conservation in a changing production forest matrix. Ambio

Gustafsson, L., Bauhus, J., Asbeck, T. Augustynczik, A.L.D., Basile, M., Frey, J., Gutzat, F., Hanewinkel,  M., Helbach, J., Jonker, M., Knuff, A., Messier, C. Penner, J., Pyttel, P. Reif, A., Storch, F., Winiger, N., Winkel, G., Yousefpour, R., Storch, I., Retention as an integrated biodiversity conservation approach for continuous-cover forestry in Europe. AMBIO 49: 85-97. DOI 10.1007/s13280-019-01190-1.

Gustafsson L, Berglind M, Granström A, Grelle A, Isacsson G, Kjellander P, Larsson S, Lindh M, Pettersson LB, Strengbom J, Stridh B, Sävström T, Thor G, Wikars LO, Mikusiński G. 2019. Rapid ecological response and intensified knowledge accumulation following a north European mega-fire. Scandinavian Journal of Forest Research 34: 234–253.

Hedwall, P-O., Gustafsson L. Brunet J., Lindbladh M., Axelsson A-L., Strengbom J. 2019. Half a century of multiple anthropogenic stressors has altered northern forest understory plant communities. Ecological Applications. In press. 10.1002/eap.1874.

Nord, M., Ranlund, Å., Gustafsson, L., Johansson, V., Pärt, T., & Forslund, P. 2019. The effectiveness of area protection to capture coastal bird richness and occurrence in the Swedish archipelago. Global Ecology and Conservation, e00528.

Ranlund, Å., Hylander, K., Johansson, V., Jonsson, F., Nordin, U., Gustafsson, L. 2019. Epiphytic lichen responses to environmental change due to clearcutting differ among tree taxa. Journal of Vegetation Science. DOI: 10.1111/jvs.12684.

Leverkus, A., Lindenmayer, D.B., Thorn, S., Gustafsson, L. 2018. Salvage logging in the world’s forests: interactions between natural disturbance and logging need recognition. Global Ecology and Biogeography 27: 1140-1154.

Leverkus, A., Benayas, J.M.R., Castro, J., Boucher, D., Brewer, S., Collins, B.M, Donato, D., Fraver, S., 7, Kishchuk, B.E., Lee, E-J., Lindenmayer, D.B., Lingua, E., Macdonald, E., Marzano, R., Rhoades, C.C., Royo, A., Thorn, S., Wagenbrenner, J.W., Waldron, K., Wohlgemuth, T., Gustafsson, L. 2018. Salvage logging effects on regulating and supporting ecosystem services – A systematic map. Canadian Journal of Forest Research 48: 983–1000.

Mori, A. S., Lertzman, K. P., & Gustafsson, L. 2017. Biodiversity and ecosystem services in forest ecosystems: a research agenda for applied forest ecology. Journal of Applied Ecology 54. 12–27.

Mori, A., Tatsumi, S., Gustafsson, L. 2017. Landscape properties affect biodiversity response to retention approaches in forestry. Journal of Applied Ecology. 54: 1627-1637.

Felton, A., Gustafsson, L., Roberge, J.-M., Ranius, T., Hjältén, J., Rudolphi, J., Lindbladh, M., Weslien, J., Rist, L., Brunet, J., Felton, A.M. 2016. How climate change mitigation and adaptation strategies can threaten or enhance the biodiversity of production forests: Insights from Sweden. Biological Conservation 194: 11-20.

Schmalholz, M., Gustafsson, L. 2016. Weak response of bryophyte assemblages to second commercial thinning in boreal spruce forest of south-central Sweden. Scandinavian Journal of Forest Research 31: 19-28.

Gustafsson, M., Gustafsson, L., Alloysius, D., Falck, J., Yap, S., Karlsson, A., Ilstedt, U. 2016. Life history traits predict the response to increased light among 33 tropical rainforest tree species. Forest Ecology and Management 362: 20-28.

Gustafsson, M., Gustafsson, L., Alloysius, D., Falck, J., Yap, S., Karlsson, A., Ilstedt, U. 2016. Tree traits and canopy closure data from an experiment with 34 planted species native to Sabah, Borneo Data in Brief 6: 466-470.

Lundström, J., Öhman, K., Rönnqvist, M., & Gustafsson, L. 2016. Considering Future Potential Regarding Structural Diversity in Selection of Forest Reserves. PloS one, 11(2), e0148960.

Baker, S.C., Halpern, C.B., Wardlaw, T.J., Kern, C., Edgar, G.J., Thomson, R.J., Bigley, R.E., Franklin, J.F., Gandhi, K.J., Gustafsson, L. and Johnson, S., 2016. A cross‐continental comparison of plant and beetle responses to retention of forest patches during timber harvest. Ecological Applications, 26: 2493-2504.

Gren I-M., Campos, M., Gustafsson, L. 2016. Economic development, institutions, and biodiversity loss at the global scale. Regional Environmental Change 16: 445-457.

Simonsson, P., Östlund, L., Gustafsson, L. 2016. Conservation values of certified-driven voluntary forest set-asides. Forest Ecology and Management 375: 249–258.

Gustafsson, L., Felton, A., Felton, A.M., Brunet, J., Caruso, A., Hjältén, J., Lindbladh, M., Ranius, T., Roberge, J-M., Weslien, J. 2015. Natural versus national boundaries: the importance of considering biogeographical patterns in forest conservation policy. Conservation Letters 8: 50-57.

Lämås., T., Sandström, E., Jonzén, J., Olsson, H., Gustafsson, L. 2015. Tree retention practices in boreal forests: what kind of future landscapes are we creating? Scandinavian Journal of Forest Research 30: 526-537.

Westerfelt, P., Widenfalk, O., Lindelöw, Å., Gustafsson, L., Weslien, J. 2015. Nesting of solitary wasps and bees in natural and artificial holes in dead wood in young boreal forest stands. Insect Conservation and Diversity 8: 493-504.

Frisch, A., Rudolphi, J., Sheil, D., Caruso, A., Thor, G., Gustafsson, L. 2015. Tree Species Composition Predicts Epiphytic Lichen Communities in an African Montane Rainforest. Biotropica 47: 542-549.

Leverkus, A., Gustafsson, L., Benayas, J.M.R., Castro, J. 2015. Does post-disturbance salvage logging affect the provision of ecosystem services? A systematic review protocol. Environmental Evidence 4: 16. DOI 10.1186/s13750-015-0042-7.

Mori, AS., Shiono, T., Haraguchi, TF., Ota, AT., Koide, D., Ohgue, T., Kitagawa, R., Maeshiro, R., Aung, TT., Nakamori, T., Hagiwara, Y., Matsuoka, S., Ikeda, A., Hishi, T., Hobara, S., Mizumachi, E., Frisch, F., Thor, G., Fujii, S., Osono, T., Gustafsson, L. 2015. Functional redundancy of multiple forest taxa along an elevational gradient: predicting the consequences of non-random species loss. Journal of Biogeography 8: 1383-1396.

Sverdrup-Thygeson, A., Gustafsson, L., Kouki, J. 2014. Spatial and temporal scales relevant for conservation of dead-wood associated species: current status and perspectives. Biodiversity and Conservation 23: 513-535.

Lundström, J., Öhman, K., Rönnqvist, M., Gustafsson, L. 2014. How reserve selection is affected by preferences in Swedish boreal forests. Forest Policy and Economics 41: 40–50.

Perhans, K., Haight, R., Gustafsson, L. 2014. The value of information in conservation planning: Selecting retention trees for lichen conservation. For Ecol Manage 318: 175–182.

Rudolphi, J., Jönsson, M., Gustafsson, L. 2014. Biological legacies buffer local species extinction after logging. Journal of Applied Ecology 51: 53-62.

Fedrowitz, K., Koricheva, J., Baker, S.C., Lindenmayer, D.B., Palik, B. Rosenvald, R., Beese, W., Franklin, J.F., Kouki, J., Macdonald, E., Messier, C., Sverdrup-Thygeson, A., Gustafsson, L. 2014. Can retention forestry help conserve biodiversity? A meta-analysis. Journal of Applied Ecology. 51: 1669–1679.

Simonsson, P., Gustafsson, L., Östlund, L. 2014. Retention forestry in Sweden : driving forces, debate and implementation 1968-2003. Scandinavian Journal of Forest Research 30: 154-173.

Gustafsson, L., Fedrowitz, K., Hazell, P. 2013. Survival and vitality of a macrolichen 14 years after transplantation on aspen trees retained at clearcutting. For Ecol Manage 291: 436-441.

Lundström, J., Jonsson, F, Perhans, K., Gustafsson, L. 2013. Lichen species richness on retained aspens increases with time since clear-cutting. For Ecol Manage 293: 49-56.

Kruys, N., Fridman, J., Götmark, F., Simonsson, P, Gustafsson, L. 2013. Retaining trees for conservation at clearcutting has increased structural diversity in young Swedish production forests. For Ecol and Manage 304: 312-321.

Gustafsson, L, Baker, SC, Bauhus, J, Beese, WJ, Brodie, A., Kouki, J, Lindenmayer, DB., Lõhmus, A, Martínez Pastur, G, Messier, C, Neyland, M, Palik, B, Sverdrup-Thygeson, A, Volney, JA, Wayne, A, & Franklin, JF. 2012. Retention Forestry to Maintain Multifunctional Forests: A World Perspective. BioScience 62: 633-645.

Lindenmayer, DB, Franklin, JF, Lõhmus, A., Baker, SC, Bauhus,J, Beese, W, Brodie, A, Kiehl, B, Kouki, J, Martínez Pastur, G, Messier, C, Neyland, M,. Palik, B, Sverdrup-Thygeson, A, Volney, J, Wayne, A & Gustafsson, L. 2012. A major shift to the retention approach for forestry can help resolve some global forest sustainability issues. Conservation Letters 5:421-431.

Fedrowitz, K. & Gustafsson, L. 2012. Does the amount of trees retained at clearfelling of temperate and boreal forests influence biodiversity response? Envir Evid 1:5.

Gamfeldt, L, Snäll, T., Bagchi, R., Jonsson, M., Gustafsson, L, Kjellander, P., Ruiz-Jaen, M., Fröberg, M., Stendahl, J., Philipson, C.D., Mikusinski, G., Andersson, E., Westerlund, B., Andrén, H., Moberg. F., Moen, J., Bengtsson, J. 2013. Higher levels of multiple ecosystem services are found in forests with more tree species. Nature Comm 4:1340 (DOI: 10.1038/ncomms2328).



Non employee at the Department of Ecology; Department of Ecology (S Faculty)
Telephone: +4618672747, +46703022747