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Tiia Kärkkäinen

Tiia Kärkkäinen

Investigadora postdoctoral (MNCN,CSIC)

Temas de investigación

I am an ecologist by training, but as a student I quickly realized that physiology is needed to get more profound understanding of how ecological processes affect individuals and even of why individuals behave as they do. Early on I was interested in animal behaviour and studied the effects of early-life immune challenge on personality development, but later I got fascinated by aging. My main interests today lie broadly in aging and stress biology that I like to put in an ecological framework. In my PhD work I used telomeres, the protective caps of chromosomes that are linked to aging and survival, as biomarkers for studying how different lifestyles and environments affect the survival trajectories of individuals or populations, using the pied flycatcher as a model species. In my first post-doctoral project I combined my old interest in behavior with the present interest in aging by investigating the link between reproductive behavior and telomeres. In my current post-doctoral project, I aim to delve deeper into the relationships between early-life conditions, reproductive success, and various aspects of telomere biology, this time using the spotless starling as a model species. I am also developing a growing interest in mitochondrial traits, a promising venue in the aging research, and how physiological markers could be used in conservation biology.


Curriculum Vitae

I studied for my Master’s degree at the University of Turku in Finland, during which time I worked as research assistant in various projects, and completed the degree in 2014. In 2017, also at the University of Turku, I started my PhD project that was supervised by Prof. Toni Laaksonen and Dr. Antoine Stier. I carried out my PhD with personal working grants from various foundations that hold competitive grant schemes (e.g. Finnish Cultural Foundation). I completed my doctoral degree in April 2021. For the academic year 2021-22 I was granted a postdoctoral grant by Ella and Georg Ehrnrooth Foundation, which I split into two periods as during spring 2022 I was contracted by the University of Turku and worked as a postdoctoral researcher. During the years 2023 and 2024 I will work on my second postdoctoral project at the National Museum of Natural Sciences in Madrid, Spain, with a personal grant from Emil Aaltonen Foundation.




Wheatcroft D., Bliard L., El Harouchi M., López-Idiáquez D., Kärkkäinen T., Kraft F-L., Muriel J., Rajan S., Tuvillo T., Burgess M.D., Cantarero A., Laaksonen T., Martínez-Padilla J., Visser M.E., Qvarnström A. (2022) Species-specific song responses emerge as a by-product of tuning to the local dialect. Current Biology. Published online October 25, 2022

(doi: 10.1016/j.cub.2022.09.063)


Kärkkäinen T., Laaksonen T., Burgess M., Cantarero A., Martínez-Padilla J., Potti J., Moreno J., Thomson RL., Tilgar V., Stier A. (2022) Population differences in the length and early-life dynamics of telomeres among European pied flycatchers. Molecular Ecology, 31, 5966–5978 (doi: 10.1111/mec.16312) 


Kärkkäinen T., Briga M., Laaksonen T., Stier A. (2022) Within-individual repeatability in telomere length: a meta-analysis in non-mammalian vertebrates. Molecular Ecology, 31, 6339–6359. (doi: 10.1111/mec.16155) 


Kärkkäinen T., Teerikorpi P., Schuett W., Stier A., Laaksonen T. (2021). Interplays between pre- and post-natal environments affect early-life mortality, body mass and telomere dynamics in the wild. Journal of Experimental Biology, 224:1. (doi:10.1242/jeb.231290)


Kärkkäinen, T., Bize, P. and Stier, A. (2020). Correlation in telomere lengths between feathers and blood cells in pied flycatchers. Journal of Avian Biology, 51:. (doi:10.1111/jav.02300)


Kärkkäinen T., Teerikorpi P., Panda B., Helle S., Stier A., Laaksonen T. (2019) Impact of continuous predator threat on telomere dynamics in parent and nestling pied flycatchers. Oecologia, 191: 757–766. (doi:10.1007/s00442-019-04529-3)


Prokkola J., Roff D., Kärkkäinen T., Krams I., Rantala MJ. (2013) Genetic and phenotypic relationships between immune defense, melanism and life-history traits at different temperatures and sexes in Tenebrio molitor. Heredity 111, 89–96. (doi:10.1038/hdy.2013.20)