Nils Christian Stenseth

Nils Christain Stenseth


IUBS President 2012-2015

E-mail: n.c.stenseth[at] (Photo credit: Åslaug Brynildsen)

Nils Christian Stenseth is the organizer of the Centenary Year Celebration and 33rd GA of IUBS.

2. "From Charles Darwin till today: the unified biology through more than 150 years"

30th July 13:20-13:40 (Open to all)

The lecture will provide a synoptic view on how biology has evolved from Darwin’s Origin till today. It will focus on how ecology and evolution (and their related sub-disciplines) is in a closed feedback loop. The lecture will close with a synoptic view on how the various biological sub-disciplines links together – into a unified biology.

3. "Past, Present and Future of IUBS” – Panel Dialogue

30th July 18:20-19:00 (Open to all)

Nils Christain Stenseth

I am, since September 2018, a Professor at the The Faculty of Mathematics and Natural Sciences at the University of Oslo. I'm reporting directly to the Dean (with a contract currently extending till 2021).

I will continue doing research within the field of evolutionary biology – with a focus on vector-borne diseases (such as plague) with a wildlife reservoir, integrating ecology and evolution (including coevolution in multispecies communities) and marine biology.

Besides this, I will be an advisor to the Dean regarding developing top-level research units within the The Faculty: in this part of my work I will particularly help young talented people further develop their careers (including making them believe in themselves as scientists and in their ideas).

As a result of this I am no longer serving as Chair of CEES – a job I've enjoyed a lot and look back at with great pleasure. (See "Norwegian evolutionary biologists pushed the frontiers in international science" in

Research interests

Population biology (ecology and genetic structuring); large-scale ecological and evolutionary patterns; effects (ecology and evolution) of climate variation; terrestrial, marine and freshwater systems, including vector-borne infectious diseases with an environmental reservoir. Above all I am, in various settings, working on merging ecological and evolutionary thinking as well as better understanding the feedback-loop between ecology and evolution: ecology causes evolution through ecologically-based selective pressure, and when evolution occurs, the ecological interactions within the ecosystem may change - potentially leading to a modified ecologically-based selective pressure.


I am a Core Member, Research Professor and the former Chair of CEES at the University of Oslo. In addition, I am Professor II at both the University of Agder and the Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU).

My research interests span a broad spectrum of ecological and evolutionary topics, most of which are rooted in population biology. Before the early 1990s, much of my work was purely theoretical. Later, I adopted the research strategy of 'asking' available data what the underlying ecological or evolutionary process might most likely be - all within a theoretical perspective. I strongly favour comparative studies - by comparing similar features between different (but comparable) systems, we typically learn more than we otherwise would have done. Variations in population densities in time and space - and the underlying demographic processes - have been a main interest of mine over the years. An important example is the interdependent relationship between density-dependent and density-independent processes, where the ecological effect of climate is an important example of the latter.

Most of my work relates to basic issues. (I have never claimed that my research is of any immediate use, although I do hope it will be in the long run.) However, I find great pleasure in working on more applied issues as well; I have never been ashamed of my research being of practical use here and now. These applied interests have brought me into work on pest control (e.g., rodents in Africa), harvesting (marine and terrestrial), bio-economics (e.g., the ecological dynamics of dry-land pastoral systems) and epidemiology (Plague).

I am convinced that it is helpful to try to understand what has happened in the past, in preparing for what might happen in the future, e.g., ecological and evolutionary effects of climate change. For this reason, I value the existence of long-term time series - and the analysis of them.

I love interacting with colleagues, and find great pleasure in building and maintaining teams. I am an ISI highly cited researcher.

Besides being an active scientist I am also a public advocate for science, actively participating in the discussions on how best to structure and strengthen the scientific community. I am an elected member of The Norwegian Academy of Science and Letters (DNVA); I was the vice-president/president of that Academy 2009-2014. I am also an elected member/fellow of several other academies, including the National Academy of Sciences (Washington, US), French Académie des Sciences, the Russian Academy of Sciences, Finnish Society of Sciences and Letters, Academia Europaea, The World Academy of Sciences (TWAS), the Royal Norwegian Society of Science and Letters, and Agder Academy of Science and Letters. I have been awarded honorary doctorates (Doctor Honoris Causa) at the University of Antwerpen (Belgium, 2001), the École Normale Supéreure, Lyon (France, 2011), and the Åbo Akademi University (Finland, 2018). I am honorary Professor at Addis Ababa University (Ethiopia, 2013), Tsinghua University (China, 2018) and Beijing Normal University(China, 2018). I am also a Chevalier (Knight) in the French National Order of the Legion of Honour.

During the period 2012 to 2015 I served as the President of the International Biological Union (IUBS). I am a former member of the Scientific Council of the European Research Council (ERC) as well as the Editor-in-Chief of Climate Research and Editorial Board Member of the Proceedings of National Academy of Sciences, Washington.

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