Heikki Hirvonen


    Research areas

  • 1181 Ecology, evolutionary biology - Behavioural ecology, Conservation biology, Predator-prey interactions, Aquatic animal ecology, Higher education in Ecology

Description of research and teaching


I am mainly interested in animal behavior: why animals behave the way they do? I examine how evolutionary and environmental factors influence behavioural decisions of individuals, and what are the consequences of individuals’ behavioural decisions on ecological phenomena on population and community levels.

For some reason, my research is often focused on behavioural mechanisms of predator-prey interactions. Much of my research integrates behavioural approaches with genetics and physiology in order to reveal underlying mechanisms of behaviour.

I am also interested in applying behavioural approaches to conservation biology and animal welfare, e.g. by developing behaviour-based solutions to practical conservation and welfare. As model species I mainly use aquatic animals, currently main target taxa include salmonid fishes and crayfish, but also production animals.

Besides research on animals, I am involved in international research projects aimed at developing teaching and learning of ecology in higher education.

I am leading the research group Ecology and Evolution Team (BEET) currently consisting of one post-doc researcher, three PhD-students and four MSc-students. BEET belongs to Integrative Ecology Unit I am leading together with Prof. Veijo kaitala and Prof. Jouni Laakso.


Teaching: I am leading the following courses:

  • Principles of Behavioural Ecology 2 ECT (Käyttäytymisekologian perusteet 2 op)
  • Ecology Field Course 8 ECT (Ekologian kenttäkurssin tutkimusjakso 8 op)
  • Introduction to Zoology - Structure, Function and Evolution 2*3 ECT (Johdatus eläintieteeseen – rakenne, toiminta ja evoluutio 2*3 op)
  • Animals: Life History and Identification 2*3 ECT (Eläintuntemus 2*3 op)
  • Advanced Field Course in Behavioural Ecology 8 ECT (Käyttäytymisekologian syventävä kenttäkurssi 8 op)
  • Behavioural Ecology of Mammals 3 ECT (Nisäkkäiden käyttäytymisekologia 3 op)
Further information on the affiliationDepartment of Biosciences, Principal Investigator / Behaviour, Ecology and Evolution Team / Integrative Ecology Unit

Latest publications

  1. Resource availability and predation risk influence contest behavior and dominance hierarchies in crayfish

    Gruber, C., Tulonen, J., Kortet, R. & Hirvonen, H. Aug 2016 In : Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology. 70, 8, p. 1305-1317 13 p.

    Research output: Scientific - peer-reviewArticle

  2. Variation in resistance to the invasive crayfish plague and immune defence in the native noble crayfish

    Gruber, C., Kortet, R., Vainikka, A., Hyvarinen, P., Rantala, M. J., Pikkarainen, A., Jussila, J., Makkonen, J., Kokko, H. & Hirvonen, H. 29 Aug 2014 In : Annales Zoologici Fennici. 51, 4, p. 371-389 19 p.

    Research output: Scientific - peer-reviewArticle

  3. Chewable materials before weaning reduce tail biting in growing pigs

    Telkänranta, H., Swan, K., Hirvonen, H. & Valros, A. 2014 In : Applied Animal Behaviour Science. 157, p. 14-22 9 p.

    Research output: Scientific - peer-reviewArticle

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Latest activities

  1. Department of Biosciences (Organisational unit)

    Hirvonen, H. (Board member)

    Activity: MembershipMembership or other role in national/international committee, council, board

  2. Faculty of Biological and Environmental Sciences (Organisational unit)

    Hirvonen, H. (Board member)

    Activity: MembershipMembership or other role in national/international committee, council, board

  3. Member of doctoral thesis advisory committee

    Hirvonen, H. (Member of thesis committee / follow-up group)

    Activity: ExaminationMember of doctoral thesis committee / follow-up group

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Latest prizes

  1. Olli's Prize

    Heikki Hirvonen (Recipient), 1993

    Prize: Prizes and awards

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Highlighted projects

  1. QNHE: Quality of Norwegian Higher Education: Pathways, Practices and Performances

    Hovdhaugen, E., VabØ, A., Stensaker, B., Maassen, P., Nerland, M., PrØitz, T., De Lange, T., Lindblom, S., Hyytinen, H., Haarala-Muhonen, A., Virtanen, V. & Hirvonen, H.

    Research Council of Norway


    Project: Research project

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