Research output per year

If you made any changes in Pure these will be visible here soon.

Personal profile

Description of research and teaching

I lead the Terrestrial Interactions Research Group, a subgroup of the Environmental Change Research Unit, ECRU. In our group, we are interested in how plants and soil decomposers control each other, how herbivores modify this interaction and how all these interactions together govern nitrogen cycling in terrestrial ecosystems. Currently our main interests also include the responses of tree growth and greenhouse gas emissions to the warming climate in northern ecosystems. Our study systems range from agricultural fields and grasslands to boreal forests and Arctic tundra.

In recent years, we have mostly been working with silver birch, Betula pendula, to understand how plant traits - such as herbivore resistance, litter decomposition rate and competitive ability in nutrient uptake - are interlinked at plant genotype level. This research clarifies the mechanisms that control plant growth and nutrient cycling in forest ecosystems and shows how natural selection can drive ecosystem processes through affecting plant traits. We are also a part of a larger, Academy-funded research consortium that aims at understanding the response of Betula trees and shrubs to climate warming. In a more theoretical framework, we are currently testing the consequences of kin recognition on Betula seedling behaviour and resource allocation in the early phases of seedling growth.

My teaching consists of lectures in soil and ecosystem ecology and demonstrations and training sessions in basic biometry. I also tutor students in a field course, where they learn the basic methods of ecological research. I have supervised the work of three doctoral students, each related to plant-soil interactions in grassland ecosystems. Currently, I guide the work of graduate and doctoral students, whose research interests cover a wider range of soil, plant population and ecosystem ecology.

Curriculum vitae

I have long experience in both research and teaching. Before the current appointment as a university lecturer at the University of Helsinki, I worked as an assistant professor at the University of Jyväskylä, Finland and as a postdoctoral researcher at Landcare Research, New Zealand. I have published 65 refereed articles in international science journals and for years 2009-2016, I was a subject editor in Plant and Soil. My research projects have been funded by the Academy of Finland and the EU, the total received funding being around 1.3 million euros.


Short CV / November 2018

CONTACT INFORMATION  /  Faculty of Biological and Environmental Sciences, Ecosystems and Environment Research Programme, University of Helsinki, Niemenkatu 73, 15140 Lahti, Finland / +358-40-8284884 / juha.mikola@helsinki.fi

EDUCATION  /  2016, UniLead 3, UH Official Leadership Program completed, University of Helsinki / 2003, Adjunct Professor (Dosentti) in Community and Ecosystem Ecology, University of Jyväskylä, Finland / 1998, Doctor of Philosophy, Ecology and Environmental Management, University of Jyväskylä / 1993, Master of Science, Ecology and Animal Systematics, University of Turku, Finland

MAIN PROFESSIONAL APPOINTMENTS  /  2006 onwards, University Lecturer, University of Helsinki / 2005-2006, Assistant Professor, University of Jyväskylä / 2001-2005, Postdoctoral Researcher, appointed by the Academy of Finland / 1998-1999, Postdoctoral Researcher, Landcare Research, New Zealand

RESEARCH FUNDING  /  Total sum of acquired external funding 1.3 million EUR / Academy of Finland 2015-2018, “Towards more efficient Arctic research using dominant Betula species, spectromics and genomics” 290 312 EUR / Academy of Finland 2008-2012, “Genetic basis of nitrogen cycling in birch forest” 398 880 € / EU Research Training Network 2004-2008, “Biotic interactions in the rhizosphere as structuring forces for plant communities” 189 211 EUR / EU Thematic Network 2003-2007, “Conservation of soil organism diversity under global change” 39 540 EUR / Academy of Finland 2001-2005, “Linking belowground food webs, plants and aboveground herbivores in grassland” 346 400 EUR

RESEARCH PERFORMANCE  /  h-index 21 in Web of Science, 30 in Google Scholar / 65 peer-reviewed articles in international science journals and book compilations / Principal Investigator at the University of Helsinki / Head of the Terrestrial Interactions Research Group in the Environmental Change Research Unit ECRU

SUPERVISED DOCTORAL THESES  /  Sinikka Robinson, ongoing, University of Helsinki / Louise Sørensen, 2009, University of Oulu / Stéphane Saj, 2008, University of Helsinki / Katja Ilmarinen, 2006, University of Jyväskylä

DUTIES AS SCIENTIFIC EXPERT  /  Subject editor in Plant and Soil, 2008-2015 / Member of the expert committee, Maj and Tor Nessling Foundation, Finland, 2014-2016 / Opponent or external reviewer for 6 PhD theses, 2007-2018 / Reviews for 28 scientific journals, including American Naturalist, Ecological Monographs, Ecology, Ecology Letters and Trends in Ecology and Evolution

TEACHING EXPERIENCE  /  Occupied in a teaching position from 2005 onwards / Supervisor for 19 Master's theses / Teaching competence rated as “excellent” for a University Lecturer position in Ecology, University of Turku, 2013, and for a University Lecturer position in Plant Biology, University of Helsinki, 2012

ADMINISTRATION ACTIVIES  /  Director of DENVI, Doctoral Programme in Interdisciplinary Environmental Sciences, 2018-2022 / Member of board in YEB, Doctoral School in Environmental, Food and Biological Sciences 2018-2022

Fields of Science

  • 1172 Environmental sciences
  • Arctic
  • Betula
  • Boreal forests
  • Climate warming
  • Ecosystem ecology
  • Genetic variation
  • Herbivory
  • Nutrient cycling
  • Plant-soil interactions
  • Tree line

International and National Collaboration Publications and projects within past five years.


Leaf N resorption efficiency and litter N mineralization rate have a genotypic tradeoff in a silver birch population

Mikola, J., Silfver, T., Paaso, U., Possen, B. J. M. H. & Rousi, M., May 2018, In : Ecology. 99, 5, p. 1227-1235 9 p.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

Open Access

Temperature and soil fertility as regulators of tree line Scots pine growth and survival—implications for the acclimation capacity of northern populations

Rousi, M., Possen, B., Ruotsalainen, S., Silfver, T. H. & Mikola, J. T., Feb 2018, In : Global Change Biology. 24, 2, p. E545-E559 15 p.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

Spatial variation and linkages of soil and vegetation in the Siberian Arctic tundra - coupling field observations with remote sensing data

Mikola, J., Virtanen, T., Linkosalmi, M., Vähä, E., Nyman, J., Postanogova, O., Räsänen, A., Kotze, D. J., Laurila, T., Juutinen, S., Kondratyev, V. & Aurela, M., 9 May 2018, In : Biogeosciences. 15, 9, p. 2781–2801 21 p.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

Open Access

Genome sequencing and population genomic analyses provide insights into the adaptive landscape of silver birch

Salojärvi, J., Smolander, O-P., Nieminen, K., Rajaraman, S., Safronov, O., Safdari, P., Lamminmäki, A., Immanen, J., Lan, T., Tanskanen, J., Rastas, P., Amiryousefi, A., Jayaprakash, B., Kammonen, J. I., Hagqvist, R., Eswaran, G., Ahonen, V. H., Serra, J. A., Asiegbu, F. O., Barajas-Lopez, J. D. D. & 65 others, Blande, D., Blokhina, O., Blomster, T., Broholm, S., Brosche, M., Cui, F., Dardick, C., Ehonen, S. E., Elomaa, P., Escamez, S., Fagerstedt, K. V., Fujii, H., Gauthier, A., Gollan, P. J., Halimaa, P., Heino, P. I., Himanen, K., Hollender, C., Kangasjarvi, S., Kauppinen, L., Kelleher, C. T., Kontunen-Soppela, S., Koskinen, J. P., Kovalchuk, A., Karenlampi, S. O., Kärkönen, A. K., Lim, K-J., Leppälä, J., Macpherson, L., Mikola, J., Mouhu, K., Mähönen, A. P., Niinemets, U., Oksanen, E., Overmyer, K., Palva, E. T., Pazouki, L., Pennanen, V., Puhakainen, T., Poczai, P., Possen, B. J. H. M., Punkkinen, M., Rahikainen, M. M., Rousi, M., Ruonala, R., van der Schoot, C., Shapiguzov, A., Sierla, M., Sipilä, T. P., Sutela, S., Teeri, T. H., Tervahauta, A. I., Vaattovaara, A., Vahala, J., Vetchinnikova, L., Welling, A., Wrzaczek, M., Xu, E., Paulin, L. G., Schulman, A. H., Lascoux, M., Albert, V. A., Auvinen, P., Helariutta, Y. & Kangasjarvi, J., 8 May 2017, In : Nature Genetics. 49, 6, p. 904-912 12 p.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

Open Access

Intrapopulation Genotypic Variation of Foliar Secondary Chemistry during Leaf Senescence and Litter Decomposition in Silver Birch (Betula pendula)

Paaso, U., Keski-Saari, S., Keinänen, M., Karvinen, H., Silfver, T., Rousi, M. & Mikola, J., 26 Jun 2017, In : Frontiers in plant science. 8, 14 p., 1074.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

Open Access



CATENA (Journal)

Juha Mikola (Reviewer)
15 Feb 2020

Activity: Publication peer-review and editorial work typesPeer review of manuscripts

Ecological Monographs (Journal)

Juha Mikola (Reviewer)
28 Mar 2020

Activity: Publication peer-review and editorial work typesPeer review of manuscripts

Journal of Ecology (Journal)

Juha Mikola (Reviewer)
13 Apr 2019

Activity: Publication peer-review and editorial work typesPeer review of manuscripts

Opponent in a public defense of a doctoral thesis by Louise Mortensen

Juha Mikola (Supervisor)
20 Jun 2019

Activity: Examination typesOpponent of doctoral dissertation

Applied Soil Ecology (Journal)

Juha Mikola (Reviewer)
10 Dec 2019

Activity: Publication peer-review and editorial work typesPeer review of manuscripts

Press / Media

Column writing in Etelä-Suomen Sanomat

Juha Mikola


1 Media contribution

Press/Media: Press / Media

YLE interview

Juha Mikola


1 item of Media coverage

Press/Media: Press / Media