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Terrestrial Ecology

We conduct research, teach and consult on the interaction between plants and animals and the surrounding environment. In the process of understanding the challenges facing society, we investigate connections between causes and effects with the aim of finding solutions to these challenges. One of the basic conditions of our research is that our knowledge is constantly improving. This is why in Terrestrial Ecology, we work in a quantitative manner so that both results and the uncertainty surrounding them can be disseminated to society.

Link to Facebook group (Danish)

Research areas in brief

Photo: Lise Lauridsen ©
Trial simulating drift from pesticides to hedges, followed by measurements of the effects of various doses on leaves, flowers and fruits.
Photo: Lise Lauridsen ©

Biological control

Illustration / Photo: Morten Strandberg ©
Anthill from the wood ant in Nordskoven in Silkeborg. The wood ant is one of the species we use in biological control experiments, where we exploit the ants’ predator traits to fight pests in fruit orchards.

Biological control explores how beneficial species can contribute to reducing the effects of harmful organisms. We investigate how to increase the natural number of beneficial organisms through cultivation methods and how to actively transfer these from nature e.g. to organic cultivation systems.



Hans Joachim Offenberg, Senior Researcher, Department of Bioscience - Terrestrial Ecology


Illustration / Photo: Morten Strandberg ©
The marmalade hoverfly is one of the most common hover flies. Hover flies pollinate a variety of plants. Here, it has been photographed on the rare plant species marsh gentian.

Insects are the most species-rich group of organisms in terrestrial ecosystems. They are important as food for other organisms and for the decomposition of organic material. Some of them interact with other species that cannot survive without their host, and thus they change the ecosystem to becoming even more rich on species. Our research examines the dependence of insects on their ecosystem, but also how some species, through their activity, affect the ecosystems in which they are found. This includes, for example, the interaction between pollinators and plants, predators and prey, and the significance of anthills on the presence and well-being of other species.


Christian Kjær, Senior Researcher, Department of Bioscience - Terrestrial Ecology

Invasive species

Illustration / Photo: Morten Strandberg ©
Orange jewelweed / Photo: Morten Strandberg ©

Invasive species are species that have not entered Denmark naturally and are deemed to be problematic when they are dispersed into Danish nature. Based on data from the nature monitoring programme, we also study whether selected invasive species change their prevalence in Danish nature. In addition, we provide consultancy services to the Danish Environmental Protection Agency on animals and plants that are invasive or are likely to potentially become invasive in Denmark.


Beate Strandberg, Senior Researcher, Department of Bioscience - Terrestrial Ecology

Soil Fauna and Ecotoxicology

Illustration / Photo: Paul Henning Krogh ©
Photo of earth worm manure, the size of which is approximately 10 cm. , on a woodland path. They have gathered pixie pears on the manure.

Soil fauna research addresses the impact of soil organisms and the important roles of soil organisms, both in agricultural ecosystems and in natural ecosystems. We investigate how species are affected by stress from climate change, chemicals, nanomaterials and mechanical disturbance alone and in combination. We also examine the importance of soil organisms on the decomposition of organic matter in the ecosystems and their interaction with micro-organisms, plants and animals.

Read more about our Climatic Stress Lab


Martin Holmstrup, Professor, Department of Bioscience - Terrestrial Ecology

Farmland and its surrounding areas

Illustration/Photo: Morten Strandberg ©
A hedgerow consists of the hedge itself and the undisturbed nature growing under the hedge. By applying fertilizers and pesticides in the adjacent field, nature in the hedge is affected.

Our research investigates how the use of nutrients and pesticides affects biodiversity in farmland and nature surrounding the farmland, e.g. hedges and ditches. In the case of dispersive loss of pesticides and nutrients to the surroundings, this affects plants and animals that live near farmland. Our research assesses both direct effects, effects on food sources and effects caused by the accumulation of toxins in food chains.


Marianne Bruus, Senior Researcher, Department of Bioscience - Terrestrial Ecology

Natural ecosystems

Illustration / Photo: Morten Strandberg ©
Sundew / Foto: Morten Strandberg ©

Natural ecosystems include terrestrial ecosystems, with the greatest focus on nutrient-poor ecosystems. We conduct research on how climate change and the fallout of nutrients affect the interaction between the stability, species and soil processes of the ecosystem. We also examine how different types of management stabilise the ecosystem and affect the interaction between the species and their frequency and variability. This research also includes how management can be decisive for whether or not key organisms thrive.


Jesper Leth Bak, Senior Advisor, Department of Bioscience - Terrestrial Ecology
Christian Frølund Damgaard, Professor, Department of Bioscience - Terrestrial Ecology
Morten Tune Strandberg, Senior Advisor, Department of Bioscience - Terrestrial Ecology

Risk assessment

Illustration / Photo: Morten Strandberg ©
A honey bee on a field scabious. When many honey bees are released into nature, they may compete with wild bees for food. This may put local wild bees at risk, e.g. Andrena hattorfiana, whose offspring depend on them being able to collect sufficient amounts of pollen.

Our research includes assessing adverse effects and the probability of the effects occurring, developing quantitative risk assessment and scenario-based modelling of risk. Our research forms the basis for consultancy in a variety of fields, such as: effects of nanomaterials, genetically modified organisms and competition between honey bees and wild pollinators in nature.


Peter Borgen Sørensen, Senior Researcher, Department of Bioscience - Terrestrial Ecology

Developing countries

Illustration / Photo: Anne Mette Lykke ©
Women in Senegal plant beneficial indigenous trees that also form the basis for calculating and certifying carbon uptake in the research project Undesert (EU FP7).
Illustration / Photo: Anne Mette Lykke ©
The fruit from Carapa procera is used to produce local oils and soap in Burkina Faso. Here, the fruit has been collected for analyzing oil characteristics in the research project QualiTree (Danida).

We conduct research on nature conservation, biodiversity, sustainability, biological pest control and impacts on the environment in developing countries, especially in West Africa. Our research has an applied focus, for example by 1) planting trees to fight degradation, improving food and income security and mitigating climate change, 2) investigating the local population's insights and preferences in relation to changes in the natural environment, based on their experiences, 3) oil production from native fruit trees for use in food and cosmetics, 4) biological control of pests in mango and cashew plantations using weaver ants and 5) persistent organic contamination and pollution from heavy metals in connection with mining and handling of electronic waste products. The research projects are carried out in close collaboration with African universities and local communities living in the study areas.


Anne Mette Lykke, Senior Researcher, Department of Bioscience - Terrestrial Ecology