Senckenberg am Meer Wilhelmshaven


Studying modern environments to understand the fossil record

Actuopalaeontology is a modern discipline in geosciences. Having in mind that physical processes (e.g. hydrodynamics, sediment transport, climate, .....) as well as biologic and ecologic processes (e.g. inter- and intraspecific interaction, metabolism, behaviour, .....) in the past must have been similar to those occuring in recent environment the actualistic approach is an essential field of research in the geosciences. The results of  actualistic studies allow detailed but critical reconstructions in palaeoecology, palaeogeography and of the palaeoenvironment.

The actuopalaeontology considers the overall palaeontologic features characterizing the facies of recent marine habitats and depositional environments. Such characteristics are mainly shells and skeletal remains, traces (lebensspuren) of epi- and endobenthic organisms but also superimposed biogeneic structures like biostromes, reefs, etc. Aims and methods of the investigations arise from the respective sedimentologic and biologic processes in the distinct marine environments. Here it is of high relevance to detect how the quality and quantity of information on environmental and ecologic parameters is transfered to the sedimentary record and to the time-scale of earth history. The results of actuopalaeontological research activities can also be applied in the facies analysis of  ancient sedimentary sequences. In this way actuopalaeontology is of essential importance in the understanding of biosedimentary systems for the research field of 'System Earth - Life' established in the FIS.


Biosedimentary Systems of shallow marine environments

  • Sedimentology
  • Ecology 
  • Bioinvasion
  • Biofacies
  • Taphonomy
  • Bioturbation
  • Ecosystem Engineering


Spatial and temporal patterns in bioclastic influenced sedimentary sequences



  • Development of Devonian Reefs and associated sediments
  • Holostratigraphic studies in the Devonian of the Rhenish Massif 
  • IGCP 499 "Devonian land-sea interaction: Evolution of ecosystems and climate (DEVEC)"
  • DEVEC-TR   "Comparison of Laurasia-Gondwana coastal sequences"


Non-Tropical Carbonates

Facies analysis
Production rates  




With our research we contribute to the following SENCKENBERG research fields: 

Biodiversity and Earthsystem-Dynamics
Biodiversity and Ecosystems
Biodiversity and Climate