Plant responses to insect outbreaks in the warming Arctic at Biologisk Institut - Københavns Universitet

Plants respond to insect herbivory by releasing gases, known as biogenic volatile organic compounds (BVOCs). This large and diverse group of compounds play a role in deterring insects, attracting insect predators and communicating with other plants. Insect outbreaks in the Subarctic are projected to become more severe as the climate warms. 

BVOCs are highly reactive and can affect the physical and chemical properties of the atmosphere, and have implications for the climate. More data on BVOCs is necessary to improve global climate models. 

The main aim of this project is to study BVOC emissions from a high-latitude, birch forest ecosystem during and after insect herbivory outbreaks. Students have the opportunity to participate in fieldwork in Abisko in Northern Sweden for a minimum of four weeks, ideally starting in June 2023, although it may be possible to start later. Students may choose to focus on collecting gas samples from birch trees, taking measurements from branches and/or trunks, or they may choose to look at forest floor measurements and the interactions between insect herbivory and soil microorganisms. Prospective students should note that fieldwork in the Subarctic can be physically and mentally demanding. 

Students choosing this project will gain practical field work experience in the Subarctic, and receive training in BVOC collection and measurement techniques, such as gas chromatography-mass spectrometry. They will also gain skills using statistical techniques such as multivariate analysis to analyse their data.
For more information, you can contact Riikka Rinnan () or Amy Smart ().

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