University of Oulu

Tukiainen, Helena (2019). Multi-scale relationship between geodiversity and biodiversity across high-latitude environments : implications for nature conservation. Nordia geographical publications 48(1), 1-54. Retrieved from

Multi-scale relationship between geodiversity and biodiversity across high-latitude environments : implications for nature conservation

Saved in:
Author: Tukiainen, Helena1
Organizations: 1University of Oulu, Faculty of Science, Geography, Geography (Geography)
Format: ebook
Version: published version
Access: open
Online Access: PDF Full Text (PDF, 28.6 MB)
Persistent link:
Language: English
Published: Geographical Society of Northern Finland, 2019
Publish Date: 2019-04-26
Thesis type: Doctoral Dissertation
Defence Note: Academic Dissertation to be presented With the permission of the Doctoral Training Committee for Technology and Natural Sciences of the University of Oulu Graduate School (UniOGS), for public discussion in the lecture hall TAlOS, on the 3rd of May, 2019, at 12 noon.
Tutor: Professor Jan Hjort
Senior Research Fellow Janne Alahuhta
Professor Risto Kalliola
Reviewer: Professor Heather Viles
Doctor Mark G. Anderson
Opponent: Professor Ole Reidar Vetaas
Kustos: Professor Jan Hjort


The natural diversity of Earth consists of two main elements: the diversity of biotic nature (biodiversity) and the diversity of abiotic nature (geodiversity). Their relationship is theoretically strong but insufficiently studied. A conservation principle called Conserving Nature’s Stage (CNS) states that geodiversity (e.g. data on geological, geomorphological and hydrological richness) could be used as a coarse filter strategy for conserving biodiversity in changing environmental conditions. It is based on an idea that areas where geodiversity is high are capable of supporting high biodiversity, because organisms depend on the abiotic “stage” on which they exist. The capability of present conservation actions to protect and sustain biodiversity in the face of global change is under debate, and CNS is proposed as one complementary solution to this issue. There is an urgent need for studies that examine the relationship between geo— and biodiversity to assess the possibilities of CNS for nature conservation.

In this thesis, I explored the potentiality of how geodiversity information can be used in assessing biodiversity by examining their relationship in different areas, at different spatial scales and with different measures. This thesis consists of three studies: (1) a study where the importance of geodiversity, topographical and climatic variables to threatened species diversity and rarity was analysed, (2) a study where geodiversity and vascular plant species richness were examined at different land-use intensity (hemeroby) levels, and (3) a study where landforms were evaluated based on their vascular plant diversity. My most important goal was to determine how landforms and landscape-scale geodiversity (i.e. variables for which the geological, geomorphological and hydrological feature richness are accounted) are related to biodiversity (i.e. the species diversity and rarity of vascular plants and other taxa).

The results highlighted the overall positive relationships between geo- and biodiversity in high-latitude environments. Geodiversity variables had consistent positive effects on threatened species richness, especially for threatened vascular plants. Of geodiversity variables, geomorphological richness was the most important predictor for most taxa, indicating that the landscape-scale variability of landforms plays an important role in determining threatened species richness patterns. Independent geodiversity contributions for vascular plant species richness were highest in pristine environments throughout Finland, and geodiversity land-use intensity relationships were mainly negative. Landforms were, in general, more diverse than control sites and there was notable variation in plant species diversity between different landforms. Gullies and river shores were the most diverse landforms at alpha and gamma diversity levels, whereas aapa mires were taxonomically the most unique (i.e. they had the highest beta diversity).

To conclude, geodiversity added explanatory power for biodiversity models and accounted uniquely for richness patterns for both common and threatened species. Geodiversity variables that take into account the variation in soil, rock, geomorphology and hydrology have importance for biological communities at high latitudes and should be incorporated into conservation management and planning. This reinforces recent arguments that CNS is an important and valid principle in conservation. More knowledge on the relationship between geodiversity and biodiversity is still needed, encompassing different biomes and geographical extents to inform appropriate ways of conserving nature, especially in the context of ongoing global change.

see all

Osajulkaisut / Original papers

Osajulkaisut eivät sisälly väitöskirjan elektroniseen versioon / Original papers are not included in the electronic version of the dissertation.

  1. Tukiainen, H., Bailey, J. J., Field, R., Kangas, K., & Hjort, J. (2016). Combining geodiversity with climate and topography to account for threatened species richness. Conservation Biology, 31(2), 364–375.

    Rinnakkaistallennettu versio / Self-archived version

  2. Tukiainen, H., Alahuhta, J., Field, R., Ala-Hulkko, T., Lampinen, R., & Hjort, J. (2017). Spatial relationship between biodiversity and geodiversity across a gradient of land-use intensity in high-latitude landscapes. Landscape Ecology, 32(5), 1049–1063.

    Rinnakkaistallennettu versio / Self-archived version

  3. Tukiainen, H., Kiuttu, M., Kalliola, R., Alahuhta, J., & Hjort, J. (2019). Landforms contribute to plant biodiversity at alpha, beta and gamma levels. Journal of Biogeography. Accepted for publicaton.

    Rinnakkaistallennettu versio / Self-archived version

see all

Series: Nordia geographical publications
ISSN: 1238-2086
ISSN-E: 2736-9722
ISSN-L: 1238-2086
ISBN: 978-952-62-2230-1
Volume: 48
Issue: 1
Pages: 1 - 54
Type of Publication: G5 Doctoral dissertation (articles)
Field of Science: 1171 Geosciences
1181 Ecology, evolutionary biology
1172 Environmental sciences
Copyright information: © 2019 Helena Tukiainen. Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 License (CC BY-NC-ND 4.0)