Anniina L. K. Mattila, PhD

  • PL 7 (Unioninkatu 44)



  • Viikinkaari 1, Biocentre 3

    00790 Helsinki



Research activity per year

Personal profile

Description of research and teaching

I am an evolutionary biologist with broad interests in the origins of diversity in nature and how (and if) organisms adapt to a changing environment. One of my foremost aims is to do research applicable in the conservation of species and biodiversity in this era in which we are facing a biodiversity and climate crisis.

I am an ecology and evolutionary biology graduate of the University of Helsinki (UH). In my PhD, I studied flight and dispersal, as well as the consequences of loss of connectivity between small and isolated populations, in Glanville fritillary butterflies inhabiting a metapopulation on the Åland islands in Finland (a long-term study system of metapopulation dynamics initiated by Prof. Ilkka Hanski in the 1990s). Following the completion of my PhD, I received an independent postdoctoral research grant from the Academy of Finland to work on a research project focusing on the ecology and evolution of chemical defenses in Heliconius butterflies, another butterfly model system in evolutionary biology. In this project, I collaborated with Prof. Marjo Saastamoinen (UH) and Heliconius researchers from the University of Cambridge and the Smithsonian Tropical Research institute, collecting butterflies from tropical forests of Panama and undertaking butterfly common garden experiments to investigate the extent and origins of chemical defense variation, which could be a major contributor to the incredible diversity found in aposematic and mimetic systems.

As of autumn 2020, I am working as a postdoctoral researcher at the Finnish Museum of Natural History (LUOMUS) to try and answer the question “can adaptive plasticity and evolvability help plants survive climate change?” Together with the AD-EVO team, we are utilizing seeds of European plant species stored at seed banks around Europe to quantify variation in trait plasticity and evolvability of widespread versus narrowly distributed plant species, in their range centres and edge populations. The ability to track changes in the environment by exhibiting or evolving different phenotypes can be key for persistence under environmental change. We combine reciprocal transplant and greenhouse experiments for a selection of species with their leading range edge in Finland. We measure phenotypic variation both between species and within species and their populations, and their evolutionary potential, to estimate their ability to adapt to changing conditions. The outcome of the project will help predict the effects of climate change on plants, and is thus relevant to the management of populations and conservation of Finnish and European flora.

Education/Academic qualification

Ecology and Evolutionary biology, PhD

Fields of Science

  • 1181 Ecology, evolutionary biology
  • life-history evolution
  • evolutionary potential
  • quantitative genetics
  • climate change adaptation
  • thermal adaptation
  • conservation biology
  • butterfly biology
  • small isolated populations
  • chemical ecology
  • aposematism and mimicry
  • dispersal evolution
  • insect flight
  • population genetics
  • volutionary genetics/genomics

International and National Collaboration

Publications and projects within past five years.