Research at the Kevo Subarctic Research Institute

At Kevo we study subarctic nature and the interaction between nature and humans.

Our research institute, founded in 1956, has a long tradition of combining long term environmental monitoring and mapping with modern experimental research focused on revealing causal relationships.

At Kevo we have study designs for investigating the effects of air pollution and reindeer, three arboreta with tree line species, and carry out varied long-term environmental monitoring.

The research station lies near the edge of the forest line in Utsjoki, by lake Kevojärvi (69°45'N, 27°01'E) next to Kevo Strict Nature Reserve. The area has pine forest, mountain birch forest, arctic tundra, swamps, rivers and lakes. The Arctic Ocean is about an hour's drive away. We offer support and services for research and education throughout the year.


Subarctic research

Long-term environmental monitoring

Kevo station has been making observations and monitoring local nature since the beginning of the station in 1958. There are several long term monitoring programs run at the station by our staff and our partners.

The station’s own ongoing monitoring programs:

  • Lepidopteran community and populations (light traps, 1972 -)
  • plant phenology (1977-)
  • small mammal populations (1981-)
  • populations and breeding success of hole nesting passerine bird (1982- )
  • list of all plant, animal and fungi species in Inari Lapland

Kevo acts also as a partner in some other monitoring programs:

  • aerobiological pollen monitoring (Aerobiology Unit, University of Turku, 1976- )
  • pollen deposit monitoring (Anne Bjune, University of Bergen, 1982- )
  • forest line monitoring (Natural Resources Institute Finland, 1983-)
  • population fluctuation of birch eating geometrid moths (Kai Ruohomäki, University of Turku, 1987-) 
  • mapping of riverine environments and modelling of river dynamics (Petteri Alho, University of Turku, 2004- ) Research group website
  • fluvial geomorphology and measuring of winter-time flow characteristics (Eliisa Lotsari, UEF, 2005- ) Research group website
  • permafrost (palsa) monitoring (Jan Hjort, University of Oulu, 2008- )
  • local climate monitoring in complex terrain (Nick Pepin, University of Portsmouth, 2011- )
  • tick population monitoring (Tero Klemola et al, University of Turku, 2015- )
  • bat population monitoring (Ville Vasko et al, University of Turku, 2015- )
Long-term field experiments

Plant herbivore interactions, palsa mires, and human induced environmental change and interaction between nature and humans have been a central focus in the research conducted at Kevo. There are long-term field experiments studying the effects of pollutants (acids and heavy metals) as well as the impacts of reindeer grazing (exclosures) on subarctic ecosystems. There are three treeline arboreta with different origins of arctic treeline species.

  • The impacts of reindeer grazing on subarctic nature has been studied with reindeer exclosures of various ages. the oldest originate from 1960s when Kevo was a study site for International Biological Programme (IBP). More exlcosures were built in 1970 and 2010 in birch forests suffering from outbreak of geometrid moths to study the impact of reindeer on the recovery of birch forest.
  • The three treeline arboreta were established in 1970s to study the growth and survival of different arctic forest line tree species close to the present forest line. There are 12 conifer species of circumpolar origin, and 9 deciduous species. A special focus of Kevo has been research on birch. Thus, there are more than 30 000 birches of circumpolar origin including hybrids between different species.
  • Since 1991 we have run an experimental simulation of aerial pollution in a pine forest. The experiment simulates the emissions from the Russian smelting plants on Kola Peninsula by irrigating the experimental plots with heavy metals (CU and Ni) and sulphuric acid with replicated plots and proper controls. The aim is to study the long term impact of relatively low level of aerial pollution.
Research projects
  • Climate warming effects on Betula dominated northern ecosystems (Juha Mikola, University of Helsinki)
  • Heritability of adaptive fescue traits in changing climate (Kari Saikkonen, University of Turku)
  • INAR RI Ecosystems research infrastructure project for ecosystem research
  • INTERACT – International Network for Terrestrial Research and Monitoring in the Arctic. This network includes EU-funded transnational access program from which there is a possibility to apply funding to conduct research at Kevo station
  • Kevo Tree Line Gardens (MRP) are randomized and replicated experiments originally established in Utsjoki, Inari, Kittilä and Ruissalo in 1970s to study changes in forest line. The trees in the gardens are open-pollinated progenies of single wild trees (origins), mainly birches. There are long term measurements on survival, growth, reproduction and herbivores of early life stages of the presently adult trees. Molecular methods will be used to connect the trees to their progeny in other gardens, and to the herbarium specimens of the juvenile stages and original trees. Research on the trees is focused on their hybridization, evolution and adaptation to global change in northern conditions.
Meteorological and hydrological data since 1962

There are two Finnish Meteorological Institute’s units at the Kevo Subarctic Research Station. Utsjoki Kevo station has been collecting vide variety of meteorological data since 1962 and Utsjoki Kevo Kevojärvi station temperature and humidity data at lakeside since 2010.

Some monthly data since 1962 can be obtained from here (.xls):

Daily values for these and several other meteorological variables are available on request.
All this data belongs to the Finnish Meteorological Institute and when used, must be properly accompanied by information on the original source (= FMI).

Finnish Meteorological Institute has opened major part of its meteorological datasets for public use. FMI open data

Hydrological monitoring at Kevo (Lake Kevojärvi) is operated by the Finnish Environment Institute SYKE.Their data since 1962 can be obtained from their open data (mostly only in Finnish). SYKE open data