STopP - from sediment to top-predator - influence of sea floor properties on benthos and benthivorous birds

The joint research project "STopP“  is one of five projects that are funded in the framework of the call “Coastal Sea Research in the North and Baltic Sea.”  The call is part the program FONA (Forschung für nachhaltige Entwicklung”  of the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research.)  STopP is coordinated by the national park administration of the state of Schleswig-Holstein.

STopP Titelbild

Surface sediment sample with shells of Atlantic jackknife clams and cockles © H. Vollmer, FTZ

Duration: 2013 - 2016

In STopP new data on the distribution patterns of sediments macrozoobenthos and birds are acquired as well as older time series data are made available. The influence of sediment characteristics and hydrological forcing on species composition and distribution is investigated. An evaluation is completed through a combination with statistical habitat models, ecological network analyses and hydrodynamic models and those abiotic factors lead to certain habitats and specific species communities.
The joint research project aims to describe for the first time for the German North Sea coast, those sceneries ecosystems that play a key role in the system sediment - benthos -top-predator. In this way an essential precondition for the overall assessment the ecological status of marine ecosystems is  accomplished as well as for the implementation of national and international marine protection policies. It is planned to develop and to evaluate describing parameters  for descriptors "sea floor integrity ", "wood webs" , and "biodiversity" of the European Marine Strategy Framework Directive.
In its sub-project the GEOLAB group carries out sediment and habitat mappings based on side scan sonar and multibeam echo sounder techniques. Focus areas are the tidal basins of Norder- and Suederaue as well as the adjacent shelf areas down to a water depth of approximately 10 m.  Additionally currents, wave and water parameters are measured in area of recognized habitats. This abiotic data in combination with results of hydrodynamic models (KÜNO project MOSCO) and benthos distribution data are used for wood web analyses or to set up habitat models.


Research division:


  • Dr. K. Ricklefs


  • Dr. K. Ricklefs
  • M.Sc. M. Stage
  • Jens Pauksztat
  • Uwe Becker
  • Burkhard Meier
  • Daniela Koch