The Lab Group

circa. 2016

Index

Johanna Mappes

Principal Investigator
Professor of Ecology
Academy Professor

I have always been curious about how things work in nature, and I really enjoy problem-solving and experimental design. 

My main research focus is to understand how prey traits are shaped by their predators, especially with regards to colour.

I often use colourful animals as models of adaptation because colour is deeply connected with biotic and abiotic interactions. Colour mediates so much of communication, from attracting mates to deterring hungry predators. But colour is also a physical property involved with thermoregulation, immunity, and environmental shielding. 

Because colours interact with the environment in predictable and specific ways, they provide an excellent opportunity to relate environmental changes with organisms and their capacity to adapt in a variable world.

Contacts
email
Google Scholar
ResearchGate
tel. +358405372263

Organismal and Evolutionary Biology Research Programme,
Faculty of Biological 
and Environmental Sciences.
Viikki Biocenter 3 
PO Box 65
FIN-00014 Helsinki University
Finland

Social Media

Melanie Brien

Research Scientist

I am interested in the evolution and genetic basis of colour pattern traits in Lepidoptera. 

Here, I study the mechanisms producing colour polymorphism in the wood tiger moth. Specifically, I aim to determine the genes involved in controlling colour patterns, and investigate the differences in regulatory networks between different morphs.

Caroline Francescutti

Doctoral Student

I am interested in how colour patterns have evolved over time and their genetic basis.

My research revolves around discerning the genetics of colour variation in the Wood Tiger Moth and how this is driven by fitness trade-offs related to aposematism.

Juan Galarza

Senior Researcher

I am interested in elucidating the molecular bases of colour polymorphisms and evolutionary novelties. 

I also study how microbial symbionts can induce alternative modes of evolution in their host species.

Jimi Kirvesoja

Technician

Jimi is an institution unto himself. He is the glue that holds everyone together. Outside of the lab he is a world-class e-sport champion and poker player (but he’ll never tell you).

Jenna Lommi

Master’s Student

I study how variation in colour, smell, and taste interact to influence the survival of the wood tiger moth during predation.

Liam Murphy

Doctoral Student

My main research revolves around the interactions between invertebrates and their endosymbiotic bacterial communities.

With my supervisors, Juan Galarza & Johanna Mappes, I am trying to understand the role bacteria play in the efficacy of defence fluids, alongside the natural variation of these bacterial communities.

Aside from the moths’ interactions with bacterial communities, I am also interested in their physiological and behavioural immune functions as they resist the effects of pathogens.

Contacts
email

Marjut Mähönen

Master’s Student

I study the costs and fitness trade-offs of pyrrolizidine alkaloid sequestration in a generalist herbivore, the wood tiger moth.

Ossi Nokelainen

Academy of Finland Research Scientist

My research probes how colours relate to visual perception, and how this may escalate fitness trade-offs in colouration, polymorphism and predator-prey interactions. 

I use multispectral imaging, vision modelling and experimental approaches in the wood tiger moth system.

Contacts
email
Google Scholar
ResearchGate

Social Media

Alma Oksanen

Laboratory Coordinator

I started working as a Laboratory Coordinator in the Ecology & Evolution of Interactions Group in December 2020 at Viikki.

I’m passionate about larval rearing and keeping good care of the moth stock is my top priority. Entering the world of Arctia plantaginis moths has been a fantastic step in my technician career!

Contacts
email

Cristina Ottocento

Doctoral Student

I am interested in understanding the mechanisms that drive speciation.

My PhD project considers the role of chemical communication in the ongoing divergence between wood tiger moth populations.

Chiara De Pasqual

Doctoral Student

My main interest lies in polymorphic colouration, animal behaviour and chemical communication.

My PhD work concerns sexual selection and chemical communication in the wood tiger moth, focusing on the potential differences in genotypes and pheromones in the Finnish population.

Contacts
email
Google Scholar
ResearchGate

Social Media

Eetu Selenius

Master’s Student

I study the genetic underpinnings of sex pheromones in wood tiger moth females, searching for a link between genotype and attractiveness.

This may help us better understand the potential role of sexual selection in maintaining two aposematic colour morphs.

Contacts
email

Kaisa Suisto

Technician
Moth Whisperer

Sari Viinikainen

Technician

Matleena Hänninen & Liisa Kartano

Undergraduates

We are studying mechanisms of sexual selection to find whether higher female attractiveness translates into faster mating.

Nina Immonen & Tuisku Siirilä

Undergraduates

One risk of global climate change for animals living in the northern hemisphere are unseasonable cold snaps in spring and early summer, which can be catastrophic for species incapable of adapting to change.

We use the wood tiger moth as a model for high latitude lepidoptera responding to extreme weather events. Together, we are testing the resilience of larvae to different durations of sub-zero temperatures.