Projects and Expeditions


Current projects

CONcepts for conventional MArine Munition Remediation in the German North and Baltic Sea (CONMAR)

Funding period 2021-2024
I. Kröncke, A. Vedenin

Coastal waters worldwide are contaminated by munitions from the two world wars (World War I and World War II); in the German part of the North Sea and Baltic Sea alone, there are about 1.6 million tons of munitions. The distribution and condition of the munitions in German waters are not sufficiently known. In addition to the explosion and safety risk, these munitions contain cytotoxic, genotoxic and carcinogenic chemicals in combination with conventional explosives, chemical warfare agents and munitions components. There is increasing interest in the study and removal of underwater munitions due to environmental and health risks and the hazards associated with dredging and increased development of offshore infrastructure related to aquaculture, wind farms, cables, and oil or gas pipelines, as well as increased vessel traffic in general. The goal of CONMAR is to integrate existing and new datasets on historic marine munitions, to combine the expertise and knowledge of German marine science organizations, government agencies, and the private sector to advance our scientific understanding of the role, fate, and effects of munitions in the marine environment, and to provide policy solutions for monitoring and remediation activities in coordination with stakeholders. CONMAR will provide detailed information on the distribution and status of munitions in German waters (specifically for the Baltic Sea) and provide a mechanistic and quantitative understanding of the release, dispersal, dilution/degradation, and transfer of munitions compounds in the food chain, including assessment of their ecological and toxicological impacts. CONMAR will use the results to conduct assessments of remediation approaches based on ecological and socioeconomic considerations. CONMAR will initiate a process of transdisciplinary collaboration among stakeholders and researchers. This should lead to follow-up actions, processes and initiatives that can securely plan and implement remediation of heavily polluted areas in the Baltic Sea. With the implementation of CONMAR, Germany will be in a position to reliably assess reliable findings on the ecological impact of munitions on the oceans.

Senckenberg am Meer will study the effects of munition contaminants on the biodiversity of in- and epifauna communities in the munition sink areas and reference areas.

Cooperation partners: GEOMAR, AWI, GCF, IOW, Senckenberg, Thünen, UBA, UKSH, URO


Gute Küste Niedersachsen – Good coast Lower Saxony – Field labs for ecosystem supporting coastal protection along the Lower Saxony coast

NWK, VW Vorab
Funding period 2022-2024
I. Kröncke, W. Stamerjohanns

What exactly is a “good coast“, which shelters us from natural hazards and allows us to live responsible and in tune with nature, embedded within an organic and sustainable cultural landscape?

This hypothesis is investigated by a research collaboration between three universities of Lower Saxony at the North Sea coast between the Ems and Weser estuaries. Ecosystem strengthening coastal protection is the focus of the research project. Within the area of conflicting interests between coastal squeeze and naturally formed coasts, coastal protection structures are constructed. At the interface between land and ocean sea dikes protect the hinterlands with their values against impeding storm surges.

Incremental climatic change, partially enhanced by human activities, results in already measurable consequences such as sea level rise, milder winters and prolonged summer droughts. Consequently, coastal protection concepts require a makeover. Current concepts are solely targeted at flood protection and do not consider any additional benefits for the system. For example, the value of a functional habitat for flora and fauna or touristic development are completely neglected.

How maritime landscapes, such as salt marshes or coastal dunes, can be integrated into current protection approaches is the driving question in the project “Gute Küste Niedersachsen”. What functional benefits, such as added coastal protection through wave dampening or independent system adaptation, they offer is of major importance against the background of ubiquitous climate change. To answer these questions, large scale field laboratories are developed at the North Sea coast by the research partners. Within the field labs, yearlong observations of the foreshore with its halophytes will be acquired. In a subsequent step, these data will be used to build surrogate plant models and mimic nature in hydraulic laboratories to investigate system responses towards extremes in more detail. Finally, technical guidance as well as policy recommendations will be derived for a more integrated coastal protection and management concept.

We will study the changes in the in- and epifauna communities since 1998in the field labs Otzumer Balje und Harle in relation to sea level rise and de-eutrophication. We will also compare the communities in both systems in order to study the effect of an embankment in the Harle on the community structure.

Cooperation partners: Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz University Hannover, Carl von Ossietzky University Oldenburg – Institute for Chemistry and Biology of the Marine Environment, Technical University Carolo-Wilhelmina Braunschweig


BioWeb: Response of biodiversity change in North Sea food webs mediated by environmental drivers and human activities

Funding period 2020-2023
I. Kröncke, A. Singer

The North Sea, as many other marine ecosystems worldwide, is changing rapidly, i.a. driven by changes in human activities and effects of climate change. Decreasing fishing pressure, de-eutrophication due to decreasing riverine nutrient loads from the big rivers, and increasing water temperatures are the most striking changes altering the southern North Sea as a habitat for various species.

Therefore, shifts in the food web can occur through stronger top-down controlled processes (predatory fish) and weaker bottom-up effects (primary production), which have the potential to severely change ecosystem services and the usability of biological resources.

For a better understanding of the consequences of ongoing biodiversity changes for food webs, we will jointly analyse existing long-term datasets of 5 different taxonomic groups (marine mammals, fish, benthos, zoo- and phytoplankton). In addition, we will identify dominant functional characteristics („traits“) and their changes, which will then be implemented as functional groups in a food web model of the Ecopath family, thereby improving the parametrization of the model.

The scenarios for biodiversity changes as well as their effects on food webs and the use of biological resources will be discussed with local and regional stakeholders in the North Sea coastal zone, such as local fisheries, aquaculture companies, and local authorities responsible for tourism and other economic activities. To fulfill these objectives, we will form focus groups and execute case studies. Proposed solutions for ecologically, economically and socially sustainable future use and adaption strategies will be jointly developed.

Cooperation partners: AWI, TI Sea Fisheries, TiHo


DAM – Pilot project: Exclusion of mobile ground fisheries in marine protected areas in the German North Sea EEZ – Baseline study for sediments, bentho-pelagic habitats and communities (MGF-Nordsee)

Funding period 2020-2023
I. Kröncke, J. Meyer, A. Brandt, M. Sonnewald, J. Lehnhoff, A. Bartholomä

The German EEZ NATURA 2000 areas Sylter Außenriff-Östliche Deutsche Bucht (SylÖDB), Borkum Riffgrund (BRg) and Doggerbank (Dgb) have been established to protect Red lists and other species and their habitats regarding EU law (Fauna-Flora-Habitat-Directive (FFH-RL 92/43/EWG) und Birds Directive (RL 2009/147/EG)). Fisheries impact in these areas is planned to be excluded in order to achieve the Good ecological status (GES) in these areas.

The project will provide a baseline study fort he three NATURA 2000 areas. The results will enable us to assess the effects of future exclusion of mobile ground fishereis on the communities and their biotops using the BACI approach (Before-After-Control-Impact). We will establish small scale spatial study areas in the NATURA 2000 areas SylÖDB, BRg and  Dgb, where we will study the effects of fisheries exclusion and the recovery and succession of benthic communities after the disturbance will stop. Our studies follow a new, holistic-ecosytsem based approach, which includes benthic ecology, plankton ecology, sedimentology, hydroacoustics, microbiology and food web studies.

Cooperation partners: AWI, HZG, HIFMB, TI Sea Fisheries, ICBM

Changes in infauna communities in North Sea fish habitats

LKN.SH/TI Sea Fisheries
Funding period 2020-2021
Ingrid Kröncke, Vanessa Fromme, Wiebke Stamerjohanns

The aim of this project is to study long-term changes in North Sea fish habitats. This information is needed for the MSRL Assessment.

We will study the benthic food availability for demersal fish in different habitats of the south-eastern and northern North Sea with different environmental conditions. Infauna samples, which were sampled during the „German Small-scale Bottom Trawl Survey“ (GSBTS) since 1998 will be analysed by taxonomical identification of species. We plan to correlate changes in long-term variability of benthic infauna abundance and biomass with those of demersal fish stock.

Cooperation partner: A. Sell, Thünen Institute Sea Fisheries, Bremerhaven

GEANS – Genetic tools for Ecosystem health Assessment in the North Sea region

Funding period: 2019-2021
Pedro Martinez Arbizu, Ingrid Kröncke, Magdalini Christodoulou

Several EU directives and OSPAR guidelines require transnational sustainable management of marine resources. Benthic organisms are key components in environmental impact assessments and the Marine Strategy Framework Directive. Currently, indicators are mainly
based on morphological species identification, being time-consuming, labor-intensive and skills reliant. DNA-based tools promise cheaper, faster and more accurate methods, yet, different approaches between countries are used which hamper standard routine application.

GEANS aims to harmonize and consolidate existing genetic tools and methods. Transnational co-operation will create synergies and assure comparability. An open library, linking DNA sequences to species functioning, will guarantee continuity of traditional assessment series. Real time pilot studies, in close cooperation with managers, policymakers and involved stakeholders, will deliver proof of concept on the added value of genetic approaches in environmental health management. A decision support framework will include a fit for purpose choice of genetic tools and protocols, helping to translate genetic results into simple indicators. GEANS will mainstream implementation of fast, accurate, cost-effective DNA-based assessments, enabling national authorities to adapt management measures in a transnational coherent way, resulting in improved management of human activities and protection of the marine environment across the North Sea Region.

Kooperationspartner: ILVO, B; VLIZ, B; Nord University, N; CEFAS, UK; SeAnalytics AB, SE; Aarhus Universitet, DK; Wageningen University, Department of Animal Sciences, NL; Naturalis Biodiversity Center, NL

SENSI 3 – Aktuelle Sensitivitätskartierung der Makrofauna-gemeinschaften des ostfriesischen Wattenmeeres incl. EMs dollart ästuar

Lower Saxony Wadden Sea Foundation, Bingo Environment Foundation
Förderperiode: 2019-2021
Anja Singer, Ingrid Kröncke

Das Inkrafttreten der Flora-Fauna-Habitat (FFH)- und Wasserrahmenrichtlinie (WRRL) zur Erhaltung der natürlichen Lebensräume sowie deren wildlebenden Tiere und Pflanzen fordert, den ökologische Zustand des Wattenmeeres und der Ästuare mittels biologischer Indikatoren, wie u.a. Makrozoobenthos, zu bewerten. Grundvoraussetzung für die richtige ökologische Bewertung eines Wattgebietes ist die Ausweisung eines Referenzdatensatzes. Im Sinne der FFH- und WRRL sollte dieser als Grundlage zur Beschreibung eines Referenzzustandes eine möglichst vollständige Erfassung des lebensraumtypischen Arteninventars (Makrofauna, Avifauna) und der lebensraumtypischen Habitatstrukturen (Sandwatt, Mischwatt, Schlickwatt, Seegrasbestände, Miesmuschelbank) aufweisen (Krause et al. 2008). Anhand der Arten, Abundanzen und ggf. Biomassedaten aktueller Untersuchungen kann dieser Referenzdatensatz als Basis für eine Zustandsbeschreibung und Beurteilung naturnaher Wattflächen im Hinblick auf zukünftige klimatische, anthropogene und natürliche Veränderungen verwendet werden.

Kooperationspartner: NIOZ, Texel, NL; Nationalparverwaltung Nieders. Wattenmeer, Wilhelmshaven

Spatial community ecology in highly dynamic landscapes: from island biogeography to metaecosystems (DynaCom)

DFG Research group
Funding period: 2019-2021
Jana Dewenter, Ingrid Kröncke

Die Motivation für die Forschergruppe DynaCOm ergibt sich vor allem aus dem Fehlen einer trait‐basierten Nahrungsnetzperspektive im räumlichen Kontext. Es bedarf der Information zu mehreren Trait‐Achsen, um für trophisch interagierende Organismen Ausbreitung, Ressourcennutzung und Toleranz bei rapiden Umweltveränderungen vorherzusagen. Diese Information soll in ein räumlich strukturiertes Nahrungsnetz (Meta‐Nahrungsnetz) integriert werden, geleitet von allometrischen (größenabhängigen) und stöchiometrischen (ressourcennutzungsabhängigen) Konzepten (Ziel 1). Die Teilprojekte decken dabei marine und terrestrische Nahrungsnetzkomponenten (Primärproduzenten, Primärkonsumenten, Prädatoren) ab, um eine hohes Maß der Generalisierung über verschiedene Organismentypen zu erlauben.

Daher wurden bereits experimentelle und beobachtende Infrastrukturen im Wattenmeer etabliert, da in dieser Küstenzone terrestrische und marine Nahrungsnetze koexistieren. Außerdem ist das Wattenmeer ein sehr dynamischer Lebensraum, der die Betrachtung existierender Modellvorstellungen außerhalb von Gleichgewichtsbedingugen erlaubt (Ziel 2).

Kooperationspartner: ICBM und IBU Universität Oldenburg, Universität Göttingen, iDiv

Macrofauna long-term study of Norderney

SGN since 1978
Ingrid Kröncke, Kerstin Thaler, Marie E. Kaufmann

Since 1978 we study the seasonal variability of macrofaunal species number, abundance and biomass in the subtidal off the island of Norderney. Our data set is one of only few North Sea benthos long-term studies and almost unique due to its methodological constancy.
The statistical data analysis revealed that the increase in macrofaunal species number, abundance and biomass since 1988 is correlated with positive North Atlantic Oscillation Indices (NAOI). Positive NAOIs are related with mild winters, westerly winds and higher storm frequency. Thus, changes in the macrofauna communities are influenced by changes in the hydroclimate of the North Sea, at least in mixed water columns.
Macrofauna long-term study along Transect German Bight-Dogger Bank

SGN since 1990
Julia Meyer, Ingrid Kröncke, Kerstin Thaler

We study the short- and long-term variability of macrofaunal communities along a transect from the inner German Bight towards the Dogger Bank.
At 7 stations samples were taken in 1990 and since 1995 at 4 stations each year in May. Additionally, 3 stations were sampled on a monthly scale from autumn 2000 to spring 2002 to investigate the seasonal variability of species number, abundance and biomass of macro- and epifauna in relation to environmental parameters and food availability.
The results show that seasonal variability is mainly influenced by recruitment in spring. Long-term variability at the study sites was mainly affected by the extreme cold winter 1995/96. Highest intraannual variability was generally found in coastal communities due to higher variability in environmental parameters such as temperature, stratification and food availability in this region. Climatic induced changes in the community structure are evident since 2000.
Macrofauna long-term comparison Dogger Bank

SGN since 1985
Ingrid Kröncke

The macrofauna communities on Dogger Bank from the 1920s, the 1950s and the 1980s to the 2000s were compared. Five communities with similar spatial distribution throughout the 20th century were identified. The abundance of dominant species in the five communities varied with time. Most obvious in the 1950s was the loss of the extensive Spisula and Mactra patches, which covered most of the shallow parts of the Bank in the 1920s. Since the 1980s, they have been found as juveniles only. The biological regime shift in the late 1980s caused an increase in macrofauna abundance, species numbers, diversity and southern species in most of the communities. The climate regime shift in 2001 had opposite effects, abundance, species numbers, diversity and southern species decreased in most of the communities. The increase in interface feeding species and the decrease in sand licking amphipods in the 2000s especially in the shallow Bank Community give evidence for climate driven changes in water masses, currents, storms, turbidity and food availability via planktonic or benthic primary production. Both, fishing impact and climate change are reasonable to explain the changes in the Dogger Bank macrofauna communities.
Epifauna long-term study in the Jade

SGN since 1970
Julia Meyer, Ingrid Kröncke, Kerstin Thaler

Since 1970, Senckenberg am Meer is sampling epifauna at several stations in the Jade and the Jade Bay. In the 1970s and 1980s, samples were taken monthly, since 1992 twice per year in spring and autumn. Catches include epifauna and fish.
Epi- and infauna long-term study in the North Sea

SGN since 1998
Ingrid Kröncke, Julia Meyer

Epifauna are invertebrates living at the sediment surface, infauna ist living in the sediment . The organisms are major prey for e.g. cod, haddock, plaice and sole. They are also good indicators for environmental change due to pollution, fishing effort or climate change. Within this long-term study the epiand infauna of different areas of the North Sea from the German Bight towards the Norwegian Sea and the British coast has been studied since 1998 in summer. Sampling has been carried out in cooperation with the Thünen Institute for Sea Fisheries in Bremerhaven during the International Bottom Trawl Survey (IBTS) respectively the German Small-scale Bottom Trawl Survey (GSBTS).

Finished Projects

Long-term variability of functional diversity of in- and epifauna communities at the North Sea

Funding period: 2015-2017  
Julia Meyer, Ingrid Kröncke

Since the 1970ies the community structure of the North Sea ecosystem, including the costal zones and the subtidal areas of the Wadden Sea underlay several long- and short-term changes, including plankton, benthic species and fish. The spatial and temporal variability of community structures of benthic ecosystems is mainly influenced by anthropogenic, natural and climatic factors, primary affecting the benthic species or primary affecting the benthic environment and as a consequence the benthic species. Most of the changes arose from anthropogenic impacts like fisheries or dumping and dredging activities and climatic impacts like climate warming or changes in the North Atlantic Oscillation index (NAOI). In connection with the changes in community structure that mainly concerning abundance, species number and species distribution, first of all the functional diversity of an ecosystem is influenced, that includes the structure of food webs and biological interactions. The processes that influence the long-term variability of functional diversity of in- and epifauna communities at the North Sea are only partly investigated so far.

Cooperation partners: NOAH-Project

Biodiversity – Ecosystem Functioning across marine and terrestrial ecosystems

Nieders. MWK 
Funding period: 2014-2017
Gesine Lange, Ingrid Kröncke

The current rate of change in biodiversity is orders of magnitudes higher than in the fossil record, reflecting human domination and alteration of the Earth’s ecosystems. The aim of reducing the rate of global biodiversity loss as part of the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) has not been achieved, due in large part to the major pressures on biodiversity still increasing. For instance, human actions often facilitate the transport of new species into habitats, homogenizing floras and faunas and – if exotic species turn invasive – pressuring native biodiversity further. Consequently, research on biodiversity-ecosystem function (BEF) relationships has become a major facet of ecology in just two decades and, more recently, of evolutionary biology as well. Several fundamental questions for functional biodiversity research remain unanswered. Which processes lead to the observed patterns in biodiversity? How will biodiversity respond locally, regionally and globally to environmental change including human impact? What are the consequences of these changes for ecosystem functions and ecosystem services?

Cooperation partner: Universität Oldenburg: ICBM, IBU; Universität Göttingen


North Sea – Observation and Assessment of Habitats (NOAH)

Funding period: 2013-2019
Hermann Neumann, Ulrike Schückel, Ingrid Kröncke

Human pressures on sea floors of the North Sea are mounting and require a thorough inventory of status and functions of this important ecosystem component. The NOAH project has gathered multidisciplinary expertise to construct a comprehensive habitat atlas that assesses sea floor state and functions, and establishes baselines against which environmental changes can be determined.
NOAH will develop a comprehensive geo-referenced inventory of seafloor properties in the German Bight of the North Sea by:

  1. analysing and processing existing sedimentological, biogeochemical, biological and human impact data to derive statistically distinct sediment provinces.
  2. raising new data on temporal and spatial variability during field campaigns in typical sediment provinces to better constrain their characteristic physical, sedimentological, chemical and biological properties.
  3. employing numerical models and statistical techniques to assess habitat properties (diagenetic flux rates, bed forms, biological diversity, pollutant concentrations), and to exptrapolate results to similar sediment provinces for a comprehensive data base of seafloor properties in the German Bight.
  4. exploiting the “habitat atlas” and model data to describe the status of seafloor ecosystems, derive and test indicators for good environmental status, and to estimate thresholds and risks to this important ecosystem component.

The habitat atlas and related data will be publicised in the form of an interactive WebGIS. The NOAH project is one of five collaborating R&D-projects that are committed to the “Coastal Research Agenda for the North Sea and Baltic Sea”. The 3 year project started in April 2013, has 8 national partners and is coordinated by the Helmholtz Zentrum Geesthacht.

Cooperation partners: HZG, AWI, MARUM, THÜNEN, UHH, CEN, Hochschule f. Angwandte Wiss. HH, BSH


Integrated coastal zone and shelf-sea research (intercoast)     

Funding period: 2009-2018
Lydia Kohlmorgen, Anja Singer, Ruth Gutperlet, Ingrid Kröncke

The International Research Training Group INTERCOAST – ‘Integrated Coastal Zone and Shelf-Sea Research’ is a collaboration between the Universities of Bremen (Germany) and Waikato (New Zealand). Interdisciplinary research themes dealing with global and climate change which have strong impacts in coastal and shelf-sea areas and are of biological, geoscientific, socio-economic, and legal interest.

In the 1st project phase, at the Senckenberg institute marine biologists work together with sedimentologists in order to investigate the dynamics of benthic habitats in response to the construction of the Jade Weser Port. This deepwater harbour is situated in the German Bight of the southern North Sea. The combined approach of hydroacoustic and macrofaunal studies will gain insight into the consequences of changes in hydrodynamics and sediment structure on benthic dynamics due to harbour construction as well as dredge activities. This cooperation will be continued at Tauranga Port in New Zealand.

In the 2nd project phase 2012-2015 we will model the macrofauna species distribution in the Jade Bay in relation to environmental variables and harbour effects.

Cooperation partners: University of Bremen, Marum, University of Waikato (New Zealand)


The impact of biological invasions on the food web of the Wadden Sea (Infoweb)

Funding period: 2012-2016  
Ulrike Schückel, Ingrid Kröncke 

In recent years the data on biotic and abiotic components have been synthesized for the Sylt-Rømø Bight, Northern Wadden Sea, resulting in a food web model based on network analysis for the total bay as well as for the dominant intertidal communities (Baird, Asmus, Asmus 2004, 2007, 2008, 2011). This food web describes carbon flow as well as nitrogen and phosphorus cycling within a larger geographic unit based on the data material of the mid nineties representing a snapshot of this tidal basin before the major alterations occurred due to the invasion of neophytic and neozoic species.

We therefore plan an update of the model including new communities such as Pacific oyster beds, Sargassum muticum– forests, and American razor clam beds. We also have to include new species such as Mnemiopsis leydii and Caprella mutica and investigate their probable place in the food web and their role as predators and prey. For the established communities we have to consider alterations in species composition and in energy flow rates due to altered seasonal temperatures.

We would like to initiate an adaptation of this idea to the Trilateral strategy of the Wadden Sea, by installing two additional areas for research, as in the Central Wadden Sea the Jade Bay that is more directly influenced by the large estuaries of the rivers Elbe, Weser and Ems and the Balgzand area in the Southern Wadden Sea in order to cover the whole area.

Cooperation partners: AWI-Sylt, NIOZ, FTZ Büsum, University of Groningen                                

Scientific monitoring concepts for the german bight (WIMO)

Funding period 2009-2015
Hermann Neumann, Edith Markert, Ingrid Kröncke

Scientists of the Marine Biology and the Marine Sedimentology of the Senckenberg Institute, Wilhemshaven are collaborating in this project to study macrofauna communities with hydroacoustic methods and to apply habitat models. Due to the development of high-resolution hydroacoustic systems (e.g. Site Scan Sonar, Multibeam) and improved technologies in signal processing, an area-wide mapping of the sea floor and partly the macrofauna communities is possible. The aim is to analyse the small and large scale variability of the macrofauna communities in different areas of the southern North Sea. The recording of the hydroacoustic signals of the sea bed and the structuring benthic organisms is carried out in parallel to the macrofauna sampling. Furthermore, habitat maps will be generated by using the macrofauna and hydroacoustic data for Habitat Suitability Modeling. Both the detection of benthic species with hydroacoustic methods, and the modelling of benthos communities with habitat models is a new and innovative method to better understand benthic ecosystems.

Cooperation partners: see official web site

Benthic species distribution modeling in BiK-F

Funding period: 2011-2016
Michael Weinert, Hermann Neumann, Ingrid Kröncke

Species distribution models (SDMs) have generally been under-utilized in the marine realm relative to terrestrial applications. SDMs are numerical tools that combine observations of species occurrence or abundance with environmental estimates. They commonly utilize these associations to identify environmental conditions within which populations can be maintained, and to then identify where suitable environments are distributed in space. Compared to the terrestrial environment, accessing and monitoring marine benthic species is particularly difficult and SDMs can help to predict species distribution on large scales for different regions or time periods.

Cooperation partners: Prof. Dr. H. Reiss, University in Nordland, Bodo, Norway and BiK-F

Climate induced changes in the epifauna communities of the North Sea

LOEWE Research Centre BiK-F 
Funding period: 2008-2014
Hermann Neumann, Ingrid Kröncke, Michael Weinert

Epifauna are invertebrates living at the sediment surface. The organisms are major prey for e.g. cod, haddock, plaice and sole. The epifauna is also a good indicator for environmental change due to pollution, fishing effort or climate change. Long-term variability in North Sea phyto- and zooplankton, benthic infauna and fish stocks is severely effected by hydroclimate change.
However, little is known about the long-term variability of North Sea epifauna. The temporal variability has primarily been studied in the German Bight on seasonal scale.
Within this long-term study the epifauna of different areas of the North Sea from the German Bight towards the Norwegian Sea and the British coast has been studied since 1998 twice a year in summer and winter. The data analysis is in progress. Sampling was possible in cooperation with S. Ehrich from the Federal Fisheries Center in Hamburg during the International Bottom Trawl Survey (IBTS) respectively the German Small-scale Bottom Trawl Survey (GSBTS). 

Within the Hessen Centre of Excellence for Biodiversity and Climate (BiK-F) we will analyse the spatial and temporal variablity of epifaunal species in the North Sea in relation to hydroclimate change.

Cooperation partners: Prof. Dr. H. Reiss, University in Nordland, Bodo, Norway

see web page BiK-F

Epifauna long-term study in the Jade

Lower Saxony Wadden Sea Foundation
Funding period: 2012-2013
Ulrike Schückel, Julia Meyer, Ingrid Kröncke     

Since 1970, Senckenberg am Meer is sampling epifauna at severla stations in the Jade and the Jade Bay. In the 1970s and 1980s, samples were taken monthly, since 1992 twice per year in spring and autumn. Catches include epifauna and fish.

Aims of this study are: the storage of all data in one data base, the statistical analyses of data, the correlation of epifauna and fish data with environmental data, the analysis of climate or anthropogenic driven effects on the communties, the role of neobiota in the study area. 

Monitoring and Evaluation of Spatially Managed Areas (MESMA)

Funding period: 2009-2012
Sandra Vöge, Henning Reiss, Ingrid Kröncke

The increasing pressures upon the marine realm call for a well planned approach of further spatial development of this area. The EU FP7 project MESMA focuses on marine spatial planning and aims to produce integrated management tools (concepts, models and guidelines) for Monitoring, Evaluation and implementation of Spatially Managed marine Areas, based on European collaboration.
MESMA is expected to supply innovative methods and integrated strategies for governments, local authorities, stakeholders, and other managerial bodies for planning and decision making at different local, national, and European scales, for sustainable development of European seas.

Cooperation partners: see official web site

Der Jadebusen von der Eiszeit bis heute – Untersuchung der Veränderungen in den Makrofaunagemeinschaften des Jadebusens seit 1930

Niedersächsisches MWK, Volkswagenstiftung
Funding period: 2008 – 2011
Ulrike Schückel, Ingrid Kröncke

The “Jade Bay” project is a background study in the coastal region of the Jade Bay aiming to collect basic data of natural sciences and cultural studies for a coastal database of Lower Saxony.

The sub-project “Benthosecology” focused on the comparison between recent data on the structure and function of macrofaunal communities with former investigations. Historical data based on intertidal and subtidal investigations carried out by LINKE (1939) in the 1930s, DÖRJES et al. (1969; 1970) in the 1960s and MICHAELIS (1986) in the 1970s will be linked to recent data to detect changes in the species composition as well as in the spatial distribution of species and communities due to natural or anthropogenic impacts.

Predator Prey interactions between Benthos and demersale Fish

Deutsche Bundesstiftung Umwelt
Funding period: 2008 – 2011
Sabine Schückel, Ingrid Kröncke, Henning Reiss

The objectives of this study are to investigate the prey composition of demersal fish species in relation to benthic prey availability in the field. Abundance, diversity and community structure of benthic communities and the diet of demersal fish will be compared among different areas in the North Sea. We focus on the commercial valuable fish species, such as haddock, plaice and dab as well as on the  understudied non-commercial fish species (solenette, scaldfish, goby and common dragonet), which have steadily increased in abundance in the North Sea due to fisheries impact and eutrophication. The knowledge about the feeding strategy of non-commercial fish species in relation to benthic prey availability in the field is essential to understand food web structures and predator-prey interactions. This, in turn provides useful information in terms of environment- and nature conservation. 

Cooperation partners: Johan Heinrich von Thünen Institut
Web: Food webs



Each year, we carry out several cruises for sampling of our benthic long-term studies in the North Sea.

LTER North Sea Benthos Observatory

  • Epifauna Jade since 1972 in the 2nd and 3rd quarters with RV “Senckenberg”
  • Infauna off Norderney since 1978 in the 1st, 2nd and 3rd quarters with RV “Senckenberg”
  • Infauna Transect from German Bight to Dogger Bank since 1990 in May with RV “Senckenberg”
  • In- and Epifauna in 6 Boxes from German Bigth to northern North Sea since 1998 in July/August with FRV “Walther Herwig III”
  • In- and Epifauna south-eastern North Sea since 1998 in July/August with FRV “Walther Herwig III”
  • Infauna Dogger Bank, per Decade, 1920s, 1950s, 1980s, 1990s, 2000s with RV “Senckenberg”
  • Infauna Jade Bay, per Decade, 1930s, 1970s, 2009 with RV “Senckenberg”

In additon, we took part in several “Heincke” cruises in the North Sea

and “Meteor” and “Sonne” expeditions

  • around Iceland
  • in the Mediterranean
  • in the South Atlantic
  • in the Pacific