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Focus of our research in section Marine Invertebrates I is the phylum Porifera (sponges). Furthermore, the taxa Cnidaria (corals in particular), Tunicata (ascidians and salps) and Ctenophora (warty comb jellies) are part of our research collections.
Sponges play an important ecological role as active filter feeders contributing to the nutrient flow in the pelago-benthic coupling. Furthermore, sponges are important in structuring the sea floor where they act hosts creating habitats for other organisms.
The main research objectives under M. Graßhoff were the taxonomy of octocorals, the evolution of coelenterates, and general aspects of evolution and phylogeny.