Entomology in Finland

Entomology and entomological Societies
in Finland

Finland has a long tradition in entomological research extending over 200 years. The Finnish insect fauna is remarkably well-known due to research pursued by both university researchers as well as a large and active amateur community. The important aspect of the current high knowledge level of Finnish entomology is that it has been achieved by the active participation of both academics and amateurs, both groups being members of the entomological societies. Since decades they provide species occurrence information for mapping species distributions and participate actively in compiling species red-lists.

The first Finnish academic society, which promoted research in entomology was Societas pro Fauna et Flora Fennica, established already in year 1821. The first president was the well-known entomologist Carl Reinhold Sahlberg.

The first purely entomological society, Societas Entomologica Helsingforsiensis, was established in 1919, and the society published the journal Notulae Entomologicae 1921- 1989. Another entomological society was established in 1935, the Finnish Entomological Society (Suomen Hyönteistieteellinen Seura), publishing the journal Annales Entomologici Fennici and the monographic series Acta Entomologica Fennica.

Both entomological societies regularly continue with well attended meetings in Helsinki. Their programs include scientific presentations and short notes presented by the members or by invited speakers at each meeting. Additionally every year longer and shorter insect collecting excursions in Finland are arranged. The societies annually provide stipends and grants to cover travel or other research costs particularly for students. The entomological publishing activity was reformed in late 1980ies, and since 1990 both entomological journals were merged to form the current journal Entomologica Fennica.

Lepidoptera are the most popular insect group with amateurs, and the Lepidopterological Society of Finland was established in 1955. The Lepidopterological Society currently has the highest number of members (>1100), publishes the journal Baptria, and annually hosts a weekend meeting for members as well as other entomologists with presentations and workshops on faunistics and taxonomy of all insect groups. Several other entomological clubs have been established in other Finnish cities.

The University of Helsinki has a strong tradition in ecological and evolutionary research on insects, and currently hosts two national Centers of Excellence in this field. One of these centers was initiated and lead by the late professor Ilkka Hanski, the founder of metapopulation research. His work is now continued and expanded by several of his former students, such as professors Ovaskainen and Laine, and ERC-grantee Dr. Saastamoinen. Prof. Liselotte Sundström leads the Helsinki branch of the second Centre of Excellence, partnered with the University of Jyväskylä. The University of Helsinki also hosts the Finnish Natural History museum, with extensive collections of specimens, and vibrant research especially in taxonomy and systematics.

The University of Helsinki is, however, by no means the only university with vibrant entomological research in Finland. There is a strong tradition in evolutionary ecology with professor Johanna Mappes at the University of Jyväskylä as a world leader in the study of aposematism in insects, and professor Arja Kaitala at the University of Oulu - a world leader in sexual selection in butterflies, deer ked, and more recently glow worms. The Universities of Turku and Eastern Finland both host several smaller research groups with focus on both basic and applied aspects of entomological research.

Additionally Finland hosts two major national research institutes (the Natural Resources Institute and the Finnish Environment Institute), both of with have intensive collaboration with the universities, and conduct research in applied entomology (agricultural, forest entomology). These institutes also hold long-term monitoring databases, which are extensively used at the universities both for basic and applied research.

Finnish entomologists collectively support the hosting of the International Congress of Entomology in 2020 in Helsinki, and offer their help for example in arranging pre- and post-congress tours to attractive entomological and nature locations in the country.