Scientific Research

– Current projects –

The Danish Ant Picnic – Myrejagten

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Ants are found all over the world, except Antarctica and are extensively studied. In Denmark we have about 60-70 species. Ants are among the first organisms that children become fascinated with. Most people are scarcely aware of the important ecosystem services ants provide and the effect a change in these systems may have.

Through the first citizen science project in Denmark, directly aimed at children, we hope to increase the appreciation of nature in the public. Furthermore, ants are considered highly sensitive to temperature changes. By studying ants in urban and natural habitats, we may be able to infer patterns of local adaptation and gain insight into the future diversity and distribution of ants under climate change.

 


Niche differences between native and invasive ranges

rosa-rugosa-7_helene-nyegaard-hvid

A holy grail mission of invasion biologists is to be able to predict which species will become invasive and to what extent. One of the tools that have been attempted employed with this aim, is species distribution modelling (SDM). For my master’s, I looked at the ability of reciprocal distribution modelling to predict the known range of the Japanese Rose (Rosa rugosa) across three continents.

Results showed great discrepancies between predicted distribution and actual known distribution. The species, while invasive in Europe and increasingly problematic in North America, is considered endangered in some areas of its’ native range. Our models identified areas of concern regarding future expansion of the species in its’ exotic ranges, but also areas in its native range, which were predicted suitable, but unoccupied, and may therefore pose possible areas of conservation introduction.


Behaviour of the raccoon dog in Denmark

Native to Russia and China, the raccoon dog (Nyctereutes procyonoides) was first observed RaccoonDogin Denmark in 1980. However, it was not considered established until around 2010. That year, Denmark joined with Sweden and Finland in an ambitious project to erradicate a breeding population of raccoon dogs.

One method used was the Judas Technique, where radio-collared and neutralised raccoon dogs were used to track down other raccoon dogs. I used the data from the GPS-collars to determine the behaviour of raccoon dogs in Denmark regarding habitat preference, nocturnal activity and hibernation.  The aim was to determine the possible threat raccoon dogs might pose to native wildlife, and to optimize erradication efforts by locating “raccoon dog-friendly” areas.


Other collaborative projects

The Showerhead Microbiome Project (with Rob Dunn Lab, NCSU)