Disputation: Jan Sulavik

Doctoral Candidate Jan Sulavik at the Natural History Museum will be defending the dissertation "Learning from the past, assessing the present, discerning the future: a comprehensive evaluation of restoration success in alpine environment using ecosystem-, community-, and population-level studies", for the degree of Philosophiae Doctor.

Jan Sulavik

Photo: Høgskulen på Vestlandet

The PhD defence will be streamed directly with Zoom. The host of the session will moderate the technicalities while the chair of the defence will moderate the disputation. 

Ex auditorio questions: the chair of the defence will invite the audience to ask ex auditorio questions either written or oral. 

"Fixing" the nature - but how?

Have you ever wondered after seeing yet another piece of nature destroyed if there is a way to “fix” this? There is one, ecological restoration! But how “fixed” is good enough?

This thesis explored several aspects of “fixed” – or recovered – ecosystems by studying alpine spoil heaps, surplus rock mounds from hydropower facilities. What are good indicators of recovery? What about roles of different organism groups and different ecological levels (ecosystem, community, population)? Can we predict the time to recovery?

For prediction, we discarded crystal balls and instead developed a method using abundances of vascular plants, mosses, and lichens at multiple time-points to uncover increasing similarity to unspoiled surroundings, our reference. Natural variation in the surroundings defined the conditions for recovery, and we predicted how long it will take by modelling the trajectory of changes. We studied abiotic factors and functional traits of species in a similar way to broaden the perspective. By studying population dynamics of crowberry, we identified factors contributing to the successful establishment of this foundation species at the spoil heaps.

Our results, a comprehensive evaluation of restoration success, will hopefully be useful for restoration practitioners in their important job of “fixing” the nature – for us all.

Image may contain: Cloud, Sky, Mountain, Water, Natural landscape.
An alpine spoil heap at Fossane, Aurland, Western Norway (bottom right part of the figure) at approximately 1300 m.a.s.l., covering approximately 41000 m2 – about six standard football pitches. There are dozens – or hundreds? – of such spoil heaps scattered around hydropower facilities in the Norwegian mountains. This thesis studied four of them, including Fossane.

Contact: Elisabeth Aronsen 

Published Jan. 7, 2022 7:56 AM - Last modified Jan. 7, 2022 11:46 AM