Opportunities for Student Projects in Biodiversity and Ecosystem Dynamics, from Basic Science to Rewilding, Reforestation & Urban Green Spaces

I am inviting proposals for MSc and BSc thesis projects, along with other project work focusing on biodiversity and ecosystem dynamics in relation to past, present, and future global changes. Projects may focus on Denmark or be international in scope.

Topics span from pure basic science (e.g., species coexistence) to action-related, with special interest in trophic rewilding, reforestation & vegetation restoration, climate change adaptation & mitigation, alien species management, and urban green spaces. Projects may be field-based – e.g., linked up to our study sites in Denmark (Aarhus, Mols, Langeland etc.), South Africa, Kenya, and Argentina – and/or computer-based, e.g., based on species distribution modelling, macroecological analyses (including based on occurrence data, functional traits and/or vegetation plots), and meta-analyses. In some cases, there may also be lab components. I’m also interested in projects at the interface to other fields, e.g., archaeology, paleoecology, human geography, and epidemiology. Although my primary focus is on plants, vegetation, mammals, and humans, I am open to supervising projects on other organisms as well.

My approach is one of co-development, where I actively engage with students who are in the lead of their projects. I generally recommend having dual supervision to enhance the learning and research dynamic.

For a deeper insight into my research interests, please visit the ECONOVO website (https://econovo.au.dk/), as I’m deeply interested in all themes covered by the center. The recent papers listed below, many of which are outcomes of student projects, can also serve as inspiration.

Interested students are encouraged to get in touch to discuss potential projects or propose their own ideas.


Jens-Christian Svenning, professor & director for ECONOVO, Section for Ecoinformatics & Biodiversity, Department of Biology (svenning@bio.au.dk)


Svenning, J.-C., Buitenwerf, R. & Le Roux, E. 2024. Trophic rewilding as a restoration approach under emerging novel biosphere conditions. Current Biology, https://doi.org:10.1016/j.cub.2024.02.044.
Svenning, J.-C., McGeoch, M.A., Normand, S., Ordonez, A. & Riede, F. 2024. Navigating ecological novelty towards panetary stewardship: challenges and opportunities in biodiversity dynamics in a transforming biosphere. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences 379:20230008.
Ahmed, A.S., Chala, D., et al. (incl. Svenning, J.-C.) 2023. Potential changes in the extent of suitable habitats for geladas (Theropithecus gelada) in the Anthropocene. BMC Ecology and Evolution 23:65.
Atkinson, J., Gallagher, R.V., Czyzewski, S., Kerr, M.R., Trepel, J., Buitenwerf, R. & Svenning, J.-C. Accepted. Integrating functional traits into trophic rewilding science. Journal of Ecology.
Aznarez, C., et al. (incl. Svenning, J.-C.) 2022. Wildness and habitat quality drive spatial patterns of urban biodiversity. Landscape and Urban Planning 228:104570.
Bergin, M.D., Jensen, M. & Svenning, J.-C. 2024. Mapping rewilding potential – a systematic approach to prioritise areas for rewilding in human-dominated regions. Journal for Nature Conservation 77:126536.
Bonavent, C., et al., Svenning, J.-C. & Bruun, H.H. 2023. Grazing by semi-feral cattle and horses supports plant species richness and uniqueness in grasslands. Applied Vegetation Science 26:e12718.
Fehr, V., et al. (incl. Svenning, J.-C.) 2024. The alien Chinese windmill palm (Trachycarpus fortunei) impacts forest vegetation and regeneration on the southern slope of the European Alps. Applied Vegetation Science 27:e12765.
Herrik, A., Mogensen, N., Svenning, J.-C. & Buitenwerf, R. 2023. Rotational grazing with cattle-free zones supports the coexistence of cattle and wild herbivores in African rangelands. Journal of Applied Ecology 60:2154–2166.
Pearce, E.A., et al. & Svenning, J.-C. (2023). Substantial light woodland and open vegetation characterized the temperate forest biome before Homo sapiens. Science Advances 9:eadi9135.

The project proposal has been submitted 15.05.2023