ECOLAB - Group Coastal Ecology

Group Coastal Ecosystems
Context-dependent life-history decisions along an environmental gradient

Generally, our research interests lie in the field of evolutionary and behavioural ecology. Functional aspects are the core foundation of our research interests. We are intrigued by interactions among individuals, between sexes, competitors, or coexisting species. The relations of such behaviour to its social and environmental context, resulting in adaptations or plastic responses, and ultimately its population level consequences, are the main focus of our research group. Hereby, we are using mainly field-based and experimental approaches and consider the research questions per se as more important than the specific species chosen to test our hypotheses.

We are specifically interested in interactions of sexual and natural selection in natural environments and under changing environmental conditions or anthropogenically altered environments. Within this framework, we are particular keen on studying life history adaptations to ecological, environmental, and demographic challenges. We aim to shed light on the links between individual behaviour, population, and community ecology and address interactions between mate choice and competition, parasites and hosts, native and newly arrived species, and study phenotypic plasticity and eco-evolutionary processes within and across populations in coastal and estuarine systems with its intriguing natural environmental gradients and diverging ecological contexts.


ECOLAB Group Coastal Ecosystems, Head Dr. Karl Hesse (until 2017)

Group Coastal Ecosystems
Water discoloration due to algal blooming            Slacking a CTD probe
(Phaeocystis, Noctiluca) North Sea                      © Dr. K.-J. Hesse, FTZ Westküste                                                   

The research activities of the working group coastal ecosystems deal with the fluxes of matter, ecological structures and functions of the transitional zone between land and the sea as well as on the conception of mitigation strategies in the field of marine pollution. A focus is on studies of coastal nutrient dynamics and eutrophication, on transformation processes in the water column, on shifts in the primary levels of the marine food web and on the exchange of matter between land, sea and sediment. Results form a basis for the development of monitoring concepts, environmental indicators and strategies for a sustainable use of coastal waters. Within this context special attention is given to the need for action in threshold countries facing environmental problems.