Niklas Wahlberg

Section of Biodiversity
Department of Biology
Lund University
223 62 Lund

photo by Phil DeVries

Niklas in New Orleans, photo by Phil DeVries

I am currently a Professor at the Department of Biology, Lund University. My main area of research is the systematics and evolution of the butterfly family Nymphalidae. Projects I am involved in:

Evolutionary history of Nymphalidae

I have been working on the evolutionary history of Nymphalidae since 1998, and this butterfly family continues to hold my fascination. We are uncovering interesting patterns of diversification and are finding plausible reasons behind the differences in diversity of the various groups within Nymphalidae. This work is very reliant on a large number of collaborators.

Factors affecting diversification in Lepidoptera

Our results on the family Nymphalidae suggest that major climatic changes over geological time scales have had a major impact on the diversification of these butterflies. This begs the question of whether such effects can be seen in other groups of Lepidoptera. I have expanded my research to include other groups of Lepidoptera, such as Noctuoidea (with Reza Zahiri) and Geometridae (with Toomas Tammaru). In addition, in collaboration with Tommi Nyman, we have received funding from the Kone Foundation to look at factors affecting diversification rates over millions of years in Lepidoptera and Hymenoptera (sawflies in particular).

BIG4: Biosystematics, informatics and genomics of the big 4 insect groups

In collaboration with 10 institutions around Europe, we are looking into the systematics and diversification of the big four orders of insects, Lepidoptera, Coleoptera, Hymenoptera and Diptera. The consortium is funding 15 PhD projects of which two are taking place in the NSG. One of these projects will be developing protocols to advance the field of museomics (i.e. the genomics of museum specimens) and the other project will investigate diversification dynamics of several families of Lepidoptera. These projects are taking place at the Department of Biology, Lund University.

Using biological methods to study the evolution of the Finno-Ugric language group

In addition to my work on Lepidoptera, I am involved in a project using biological methods to study the evolution of languages, in particular the Finno-Ugric languages. Our project, BEDLAN, is a multidiscipline, multiuniversity collaboration aiming to bring novel interpretations of the evolution and development of our fascinating language, which is so different to the majority of the European languages. At the University of Turku, I am working with Outi Vesakoski on this project and we are supervising the PhD studies of Terhi Honkola together.

Brief CV

  • 2016-present Professor in Biological Systematics, Lund University
  • 2014-2015 Professor in Genetics, University of Turku
  • 2011-2013 University Researcher, University of Turku
  • 2006-2011 Academy Research Fellow (funded by Academy of Finland), University of Turku
  • 2003-2006 Forskarassistent (Research Fellow, funded by Vetenskapsrådet), Stockholm University
  • 2001-2002 Postdoc Stockholm University (funded by Academy of Finland), working with Sören Nylin
  • 1996-2000 PhD University of Helsinki, supervised by Ilkka Hanski, The ecology and evolution of melitaeine butterflies.
  • 1991-1996 MSc studies at the University of Helsinki


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