ECOLAB - Group Marine Animal Ecology

Group Marine Animal Ecology
© S. Garthe, FTZ Westküste

The main research goal of the working group “Marine Animal Ecology” is the investigation of the mode of lifes of seabirds. A focus is set on both seabirds of the offshore zones of the North and Baltic Seas as well as on birds of the coastal Wadden Sea. In 2013, the research focus was extended to the telemetry of marine mammals (e.g. Grey Seals, Harbour Seals) and terrestrial mammals which may act as predators on bird populations (e.g. Red Foxes).

  • The working group is conducting ship-based and aerial surveys to monitor the populations of seabirds as well as their temporal and spatial patterns.
  • Telemetry allows to study individual migrations, movements and distribution patterns of top predators as well as interactions between birds and terrestrial predators.
  • The nutrition of different bird species is one further important research topic.
  • To understand the relationships between seabirds and their prey species, the working group also addresses questions concerning the ecology of fish and invertebrates in the coastal zone.
  • Analyses of habitats contribute to understanding the distribution of marine species in the coastal zone. Therefore, distributional data of marine animals are linked with environmental parameters such as sediment composition and hydrodynamic regime. Statistical modelling methods allow to predict the occurrence of particularly suitable areas for different marine organisms. To accomplish this, scientists of various disciplines are working together, both within the FTZ as well as among different research facilities.
  • The main focus of the applied research is on the distribution and movement patterns of top predators (seabirds, marine mammals) against the background of marine spatial planning, particularly with respect to the establishment of offshore wind farms. Within this context, the working group “Ecology of Marine Animals” is advising policy makers, ministries and agencies of the federal and provincial governments.