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Robert G. Björk

Associate Professor

Phone: 46 (0)31-786 2835
Cell phone: 46 (0)704 54 65 41
E mail: robert.bjork@gu.se
Fax: 46 (0)31-786 1986
Mail address: Department of Earth Sciences
University of Gothenburg
P.O. Box 460
SE-405 30 Gothenburg
Delivery address: Guldhedsgatan 5A, SE-413 20 Gothenburg, Sweden


My research interests span from plant community dynamics to greenhouse gas fluxes, and particularly on the plant-soil(-snow) interactions and linkages in the rhizosphere between ecosystem structure (including plants, mycorrhizal fungi and soil microbes) and functioning. A main objective of my work is to increase our understanding of how terrestrial ecosystems (mostly boreal and tundra) will respond to, and affect, climate change.

I defended my PhD thesis ‘Snowbed Biocomplexity: a journey from community to landscape’ in May 2007. The thesis focussed on snowbed plant communities, a plant community type which are particularly sensitive to Global Change and are likely to diminish in area and develop a more scattered distribution in the tundra landscape. The snowbed specialists will suffer from any lengthening of the growing season and increased airborne N deposition and this will inevitably have a substantial impact on the alpine landscape since snowbeds provide ecosystem services to the landscape by affecting biodiversity, higher trophic levels and the diversity of animal guilds. In the thesis I also highlighted the importance of links between soil biota and plant community structure in determining N turnover in tundra ecosystems, and the role of the dominant mycorrhizal associations in facilitating N capture, to plant community structure. My postdoctoral studies (2008–2009) were accomplished at Örebro Isotope Laboratory, Örebro University, with the research group for ecosystem ecology lead by Prof. Alf Ekblad. In Örebro, I started to study the production and turnover of fine roots and extrametrical mycorrhizal mycelia in forest soils and how it influenced the turnover of carbon, which today still is of interest to me.

Mini-rhizotron measurements at Skogaryd Research Site in southwest of Sweden (58°23′N, 12°09′E) using a CI-600 root scanner (CID Bio-Science, Inc.). Photo Robert G. Björk





I am currently running in three projects "Ecosystem responses to herbivory and climate change along the Swedish mountains", "The sensitivity of carbon in Arctic permafrost soils to climate change", and "Disentangling the role of mycorrhiza for ecosystem processes", which also are linked to BECC (Biodiversity and Ecosystem services in a Changing Climate). BECC is a new strategic research area, in collaboration between Lund University and University of Gothenburg, which strives for a better understanding of the impacts of climate change and land use decisions on terrestrial ecosystems and biodiversity, addressing the consequences of ecosystem changes for human beings and socio-economic systems.

I also participate in several international networks. For instance, NCoE DEFROST is a newly funded Nordic Centre of Excellence (NCoE) with the goal of understanding how changes in the cryosphere caused by climate change influence the ecosystem/geosphere processes which directly affect climate. I am also Swedish National Delegate in the Managing Committee for the COST Action (FP0803) ‘Belowground carbon turnover in European forests’, and I am also active within the International Tundra Experiment (ITEX) which is a global scientific network of experiments focusing on the impact of climate change on tundra and alpine ecosystems.


Some of the experimental settings at Latnjajaure Field Station in northern Sweden (68°20′N, 18°30′E, 980 m a.s.l.). Open-top chambers (OTCs) for passive warming of the air temperature (1-2°C), and grazing exclusions for studying the impact of herbivory on alpine ecosystems. Photo Robert G. Björk


I mainly teach in the courses "Field course in the subarctic – Physical Geography and Ecology" (NG0210), "Earth Sciences for Biologist" (GVR010), and "Methods and projects within environmental science" (ES1203).

Page Manager: Henrik Thelin|Last update: 6/22/2015

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