Visit Your Local PBS Station PBS Home PBS Home Programs A-Z TV Schedules Watch Video Donate Shop PBS Search PBS
SAF Archives  search ask the scientists in the classroom cool science
scientists from previous shows
cool careers in science
ask the scientists

Island Life - Sigurdur H. Magnusson

Sigurdur Magnusson is a plant ecologist working at the Icelandic Institute of Natural History in Reykjavik, Iceland. In recent years he has been involved in research on plant colonization and establishment on new and eroded land. These include studies on the ecology of native plant species used for restoration of eroded sites, effects of grazing on plant succession and effects of mycorrhizal infection on the establishment of birch seedlings.

Magnusson became a plant ecologist because of his interest in reclamation and restoration of eroded land. In Iceland, soil erosion has been a serious environmental problem for centuries and has resulted in destruction of the vegetation cover over very large areas.

In 1989 he was invited to participate in studies of plant succession on Surtsey and since then has visited the island almost every year. A long-term study has been established on the island. "I am sure that the results will give us important information about succession and species interactions on the island itself," says Magnusson, "and it will also be of great value for those who are dealing with factors affecting plant succession in eroded areas."

Magnusson received a B.Sc. in biology from the University of Iceland and Ph.D. in plant ecology from the University of Lund in Sweden. Before beginning graduate studies, he was a high school teacher for several years. From 1987 to 1997 he was a plant ecologist and research scientist at the Agricultural Research Institute in Reykjavik.

See Borgthor Magnusson's answers to Ask the Scientists questions.


Scientific American Frontiers
Fall 1990 to Spring 2000
Sponsored by GTE Corporation,
now a part of Verizon Communications Inc.