Master projects – University of Copenhagen

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UK IGN > Research > Forest, Nature and Biomass > Master projects

Master projects

Below are ideas to projects and a selection of finalised theses from 2015-2016. You can go for one of these projects or use the list for inspiration to develop your own project!


The list is ordered alphabetically according
to project title.

Afforestation and deforestation, where and how?

Skovrejsning og skovrydning i Danmark – hvor og hvordan? Baseret på satellit & lidar kortlægning samt feltdata fra skovstatistikken. Fokus enten på habitater eller på placering i landskabet.
Kontakt Vivian Kvist Johannsen

Biological diversity in managed and unmanaged forests 

Contact Inger Kappel Schmidt

Biological effects of aquaeous extracts from barks

Rain water washes down along tree branches and trunks (stemflow), and in the process extracts ions and  organic compounds from the bark. The aim of this project is to find out, whether aquaeous extracts affect the growth of lichens; i.e., whether bark chemistry is responsible for differences among Danish tree species in epiphytic lichen biodiversity, that we have recorded. The study will use pure cultures of the lichen fungi, and exploit sterile cultivation on extract amended agar as a model for quantifying mycelial growth.
Contact Hanne Nina Rasmussen

Biomass investment in standing bark in Danish trees

Bark is a largely overlooked by-product of wood production and has received little interest from research. The investment made by the tree into its bark (as reflected in bark biomass) is rarely considered, and its impact on overall wood productively is largely unknown. Different strategies appear to be employed by temperate tree species in respect to amount and anatomy of bark, suggesting different functioning in the living tree. The aim of this project is to calculate and model the standing mass and volume of bark from tree base to stem top, absolute and in relation to wood, based on existing data sets from Common Garden Experiments. The expected results will show differences relating to species, growing site and tree growth rate.
Contact Thomas Nord-Larsen

Cattle grazing in beech forest

affiliated to an ongoing study of long-term effects of woodland grazing; a) browse at beech in relation to stem density, b) the role of cattle dung pads as sites for germination of tree seedlings and herbs.
Contact Rita M. Buttenschøn

Chlorophyll in bark

When light penetrates tree bark, chlorophyll-containing cells photosynthesize, by re-assimilation of respiratory CO2. Bark photosynthesis is thought not only to produce local carbohydrates, but also to ameliorate the low oxygen and high CO2 levels inherent in compact plant tissues. It is not known, how trees differ with respect to amount and importance of this assimilation, the barks differing greatly in structure from top to tree base as well as among tree species. In this project it is suggested to analyse for chlorophyll contents and composition in fresh barks and measure light penetrability in excised bark.
Contact Hanne Nina Rasmussen

Climate change impact on shrubland ecosystems

Climate change is hypothesized to impact the early phases in species life cycles the most. However, most experiments are done on mature ecosystems. We seek students to study regeneration and growth of plants or insects in large scale climate change experiments.
Contact Inger Kappel Schmidt

Control of Wood small – reed

(Calamagrostis epigejos). The grass is invading dry sand grasslands and other open habitats outcompeting the more light-demanding and divers vegetation.
Contact Rita M. Buttenschøn

Current season needle necrosis

– a costly disorder of unknown origin in Abies Christmas trees . Yearly, an economic loss is realized in Danish Christmas tree production due to reddening of current season needles occurring in mid-summer and followed by needle loss. Trees are either down-graded or unsaleable causing severe economic losses – estimated up to 50 mio. kr. a year. The disorder is related to warm climate and climatic factors, and several hypotheses have been suggested including genetics, fungus and nutrition. The project goal is to summarize existing knowledge based on literature of trees and other species, and can also be supplemented with field data from own observations/field work or data in file.
Contact Ulrik Braüner Nielsen, Iben Margrete Thomsen

Dead wood

is an important habitat for biodiversity as host for many species. We have good knowledge on amount of dead wood from a number of managed and unmanaged forests but are all types of dead wood suitable habitats for fungi or insects? The project aims on studying the effect of tree species, the position of the dead wood as e.g. sun exposed, soaked in water or attached to live trees for biodiversity in forests.
Contact Inger Kappel Schmidt

Development of structures and understory vegetation in un-managed/selectively harvested stands

after 60 years. Udvikling af strukturer og flora i en stort set urørt bevoksning over 60 år (bevoksningen tidligere drevet som plukhugst men stort set ikke rørt i 30 år).
Contact Vivian Kvist Johannsen

Do we have the right provenances of beech for the future climate?

Growth ring analyses are useful to study the climate response of species and provenance to climate. The ring analyses can be supplemented with analysis of wood anatomical characteristics as vessel density and sizes to test the variation with climate and among provenances. Based on ring analysis, this project idea aims at testing the growth response of beech and beech provenances to climate variations, and to test if responses among provenances are explained by the originate climate of the provenances and their phenology.  Alternatively, it is possible to test to what degree vessel density and size is varying with climate and among provenances.
Contact Jon Kehlet Hansen

Genetic variation in resistance against powdery mildew in Quercus.

Powdery mildew (Erysiphe alphitoides sensu lato) originates from Asia, but is now widespread in Europe. The fungus is mainly infecting young leaves and especially leaves of lamma (second) shoots of oak are infected. The infections reduce growth and make infected shoots susceptible to frost in the autumn. This project is aiming at quantifying the genetic variation in mildew susceptibility at lamma shoots and in lamma shoots formation and quantifying the importance of mildew susceptibility for growth, external stem quality and survival in Quercus petraea or Quercus robur.
Contact Jon Kehlet Hansen

Genetic variation in spiral grain in Sitka spruce and Norway spruce

Spiral grain is the main cause for twist in timber of Sitka spruce and Norway spruce. A genetic variation in spiral grain in the inner rings of Sitka spruce and Norway spruce has been shown in previous studies and without a genetic correlation with growth. This project can investigated if genetic variation is still present in older rings and how it is related to growth. In Norway spruce, it will be possible to use the results as input for selective thinnings in a seed orchard.
Contact Jon Kehlet Hansen

Genetic variation in tolerance to late winter frost in Coastal douglas-fir

A major drawback for the cultivation of Coastal Douglas-fir (Pseudotsuga menziesii var. menziesii (Mirb.) Franco) is the sensitivity to frost, and especially the phenomenon that may occur in late winter/early spring with frozen soils, frost in the night and clear sky in the day.  This study is aiming at testing the hypothesis that this phenomenon is due to photo inhibition.
Contact Jon Kehlet Hansen

Hardy cattle and horses in restoration of woodlands for biodiversity

There is a growing interest for the use of year round grazing with “wild horses” in combination with cattle to restore more natural and biodiverse woodlands, but documentation of the effects of year round grazing on vegetation composition and structure, seed dispersal and forest regeneration etc. is very limited.
Contact Rita M. Buttenschøn

Mating type and breeding of pathogenic and non-pathogenic H. fraxineus strains

(the fungus responsible for the ash dieback of European ash. Our latest results showed variation in pathogenicity of Danish H. fraxineus strains, ranging from very aggressive to non-pathogenic when inoculated onto seedlings of Common ash. This project will identify the mating types of virulent and non-virulent strains of H. fraxineus and conduct crossing experiments of the different types in the lab.
Contact Lene Rostgaard Nielsen

Molecular detection of airborne pathogens

Many fungal pathogens disperse by wind, but how far do the fungal spores drift and potentially infect new hosts. Danish forestry have within the last decade see an epidemic of an apparently new and aggressive pathogen Neonectria neomacrospora which in severe cases can kill even mature firs. By setting up a field experiment, collecting air samples, extracting DNA and quantifying spore loads by qPCR the aim is to assess dispersal distances and their by qualify sanitary decisions within the forestry. 
Contact Ole Kim Hansen

Nature management – the impact on nutrient stoichiometry

Does increased N deposition change the composition of nutrients in soil and plant tissue and does it affect herbivorous insects.
Contact Inger Kappel Schmidt

New forests on agricultural soil

Denmark is going to double the forested area within the coming century. This will mainly take plave on former agricultural soil - how can we promote diversity of flora and fauna in a former agricultural landscape? Can and shall we use assisted dispersal?
Contact Inger Kappel Schmidt

Non-destructive age determination of trees

Traditionally, age determination of standing trees is made by growth ring counts on wood cores, this being a rather large interference to the tree, and potentially inaccurate as the cores can easily miss the centre of the stem. In many tree species, growth layers are also seen in the phloem. Since the bark is mainly live tissue, the wound of a short core into the bark is easily repaired. To test this potential age determination method, this project employs our collection of tree slices providing xylem growth ring counts, and corresponding preserved bark samples for microscopic inspection. The project may address which tree species are suitable for this method, its accuracy. and the age span to which it is applicable.
Contact Hanne N Rasmussen

Organic grown Christmas trees – the aphid problem

There is an increasing interest in organic grown Christmas trees, but our main species Nordmann fir has a notorious problem of getting infected by aphids, or more correct called adelgids. The project goal is to find out possibilities to overcome this problem. Previous research has included genetic resistance, alternative chemicals, and biocontrol. It is suggested to develop a method for testing adelgid susceptibility by use of detached branches, a method to be tested by own choice on different genetic material (provenances or species) and/or applications.
Contact Ulrik Braüner Nielsen, Hans Peter Ravn, Ole Kim Hansen

Dalbergia trees in Indochina

Indochina, the mainland part of Southeast Asia, is recognized as part of one of the world’s biodiversity hotspots with a high overall biodiversity and very high levels of endemism for both plant and animal species. The region has a complex geological and biographical history, with frequent and large historical changes in sea level and land areas, as well as in vegetation types and distribution.  This project will use phylogeography, the study of the geographic distribution of genetic lineages within species, to study how these historical events has affected the demography and distribution of two endemic timber tree species in the area, Dalbergia cochinchinensis and Dalbergia oliveri. Several hypotheses can be evaluated, e.g. what is the origin of the two species? Is there evidence of restriction to refugial forest areas in mountainous areas during earlier glacial periods? What is the effect of the Mekong River, which transects the region, on distribution and diversification of the species? The specific contents of the project can be subject to change depending on interests.
Contact Ida Hartvig

Post-harvest quality of Nordmann fir Christmas trees

Post-harvest needle retention is a critical consumer characteristic of a Christmas tree, and a character under strong genetic influence. Recent higher frequency of warm autumns has boosted the issues and problems of late autumn growth related to Christmas tree quality of harvested trees, indoor display and logistics. Project goal – evaluate new Danish seed orchards and compare to direct imports for traits of importance for consumer satisfaction – specially focusing on needle loss during display indoors, and/or to evaluate climate/season impact on quality. Own field and lab-trials can be performed as part of the project.
Contact Ulrik Braüner Nielsen

Prescribed burning in management of open habitats and woodlands – effects on vegetation

Experimental burnings are planned to take place in different habitats and places in Denmark as part of a project about burning as a sustainable management method of forest and open semi-natural habitats.
Contact Rita M. Buttenschøn

Remote sensing methods in monitoring effects of nature management

Contact Rita M. Buttenschøn, Vivian Kvist Johannsen

Sampling and analysis of flora in long-term field experiment in forests through 100 years

Samling og analyse af floraundersøgelser i langsigtede feltforsøg i skove gennem 100 år. Contact Vivian Kvist Johannsen

Structures of bacterial/fungal root microbiomes of selected Fraxinus species in relation to ash dieback

Some species of Fraxinus are explicitly less susceptible to ash dieback caused by the pathogen H. fraxinues than other species. Since root microbiomes are known to contribute disease resistance in many plants, this project aims to investigate bacterial/fungal communities in rhizospheres of the Fraxinus species using state-of-the-art next generation sequencing.
Contact Lene Rostgaard Nielsen

Unmanaged forests – what characterize the forested areas , which are named un-managed

- De ’forladte’ skove – hvad karakteriserer de skovarealer, der i skovstatistikken er noteret som urørte?
Contact Vivian Kvist Johannsen

Urban biodiversity

We work with students pursuing BSc/MSc projects which seek to understand numerous aspects of urban biodiversity. Approaches take many forms ranging from actual case-studies, monitoring of species and environmental conditions and experimental methods. Projects are usually inter-disciplinary, conducted in close collaboration with landscape architects, environmental consultants and researchers from the Section for Landscape architecture and Planning.
Contact Andrew Gordon Howe

Use of e-DNA for vegetation studies with focus on Orchids

Use of DNA extracted from environmental samples has provided useful in different applications, and it is therefore interesting to study how meta-barcoding based on DNA extracted from soil can be applied to predict the presence of rare species that cannot be observed all year round.
Contact Ida Hartvig

What happened to Norway spruce in the 90´ties – and what will happen in the future climate?

The health in Norway spruce stands was generally poor in the end of the 1980ies and beginning of the 1990ies, but with genetic differences in health at provenance- and individual-tree level.  A single factor triggering the decline in health was never found. The study can test if genetic differences in health observed in the 1990ies are reflected in genetic differences in the response to climate. Also, it can be investigated if the genetic differences in health reflect differences in wood anatomy. For the study, ii will be possible to sample wood cores among genotypes of Norway spruce that showed different degrees of health decline in the 1990ies.
Contact Jon Kehlet Hansen

Wild boars – a possible tool in conservation management

Should wild boars be reintroduced in Denmark to promote biodiversity? How do they affect vegetation composition and structure.
Contact Rita M. Buttenschøn

Finalised theses from 2015-2016

  • Adaptive Management Planning and Implementation in Ecological Restoration: A Case Study Analysis of the San Francisco Bay-Delta Watershed.
  • Andreas Christof MSc: Pit dimensions in xylem.
  • Assessing biodiversity in formal and informal green spaces of Copenhagen.,
  • Assessing forest resources in Denmark using wall-to-wall remote sensing data, Ph.D. Thesis.
  • Assessment of the Canada goose.
  • Biodiversitet i byen, B.Sc.,
  • Crane flies in managed and unmanaged forests.
  • Dækrodsplanter - udvikling af rodsymmetri og enkelttræstability.
  • Dead wood accumulation across nutrient gradient.
  • Development of the soil and understory vegetation in oak and beech forests on sandy and moraine soils.
  • Dispersal ecology of the climate adapted urban landscape.,
  • Drought effects on fire recovery in the native California grass, purple needlegrass (Stipa pulchra).
  • Effects of severe weather events on regeneration of vegetation and soil properties in a heathland.
  • Elena Diago Blay MSc: The next periurban forest in Copenhagen? A land fill restoration story.
  • Evaluation of the effects of the LIFE project REMAB on the breeding potential of the meadow birds Baltic dunlin (Calidris alpina schinzii), Ruff (Philomachus pugnax) and Black-tailed godwit (Limosa limosa) at Nyord and Vestamager. rmb@ign.ku
  • Evolution of a barrier island, vegetation cover and climate change. A case study from Stokken.
  • Facilitating Temperate Forest Garden Development. Creating Tools through Participatory Action Research.
  • Flora og billefauna på Langholmen, Utterslev Mose.,
  • Food preferences of red deer in Høstemark, Lille Vildmose.
  • Fra hedebonde til hedepleje.
  • Ground beetles in managed and unmanaged forests on Zealand.
  • Growth ring features of Picea abies in relation to climate change.,
  • Heathland management: effects of management regimes on nutrient pools and biodiversity.
  • How does bioenergy harvesting impact on a Danish heathland as compared to traditional burning.
  • Identifying the role of the management approach and the project manager on landowner participation in river restoration: Two case studies of Skjern River and Tullstorp Stream.
  • Improving the forest floor: Success assessment of turf transplant in birch woodland restoration.
  • Interaction of epiphytic orchid seeds with bark surfaces.
  • Landscape laboratory and biodiversity Århus.,
  • Lea Brinkjær Andersen MSc: A  valuation of two Danish Systems for assessing conservation status of specific forest nature types.,
  • Løbebillefaunaens vilkår i fragmenteret bynatur B.Sc.,
  • Management of invasive Spartina at Læsø.
  • Management of military heathlands in Denmark,
  • Meta-barcoding reveals high contribution of shrubs and trees in the European Bison diet on Bornholm.,,
  • Microhabitats for Cavity-nesting Bees and Selection of Plant Species to the Green Climate Screen.
  • Nature Quality of wooded meadows, Gisselfeldt.
  • Nature2000 forest habitat types. A comparison of approaches used in Denmark, Germany, and the UK for assessing conservation status under the EU Habitat Directive article,
  • Naturnær skovdrift, evaluering af skovejendom
  • Naturpleje/naturplejestrategi for fortidsminder i Lejre Kommune
  • Planlægning af naturområderne omkring Skamlingsbanken   
  • Plejeplan for Bjergene, Odsherred Kommune
  • Plejeplan for Eskebjerg Vesterlyng  
  • Potentials for increasing biomass production in regeneration of beech by use of nurse crops.
  • Short-term response of terrestrial vegetation to five restoration treatments in the riparian area of the Øle Å.
  • Spatial heterogeneity of two Danish heathlands under different human management practices.
  • The concept of ecosystem services in heathland management.
  • The impact of flooding of Quercus robur and Quercus rubra caused by increased precipitation.
  • The impact of flooding of Quercus robur and Quercus rubra caused by increased precipitation.
  • Woodland grazing and its effects at forest structure and vegetation composition in Grib Skov.