Wadden Sea Station Sylt - Coastal Ecology
Coastal seas are subject to intense interactions between the sea, the land and the people. Due to increasing conflicting interests in this densely populated area, questions of coastal ecology and biology are a focal point of interest.
The Wadden Sea Station Sylt was founded in 1924 as a laboratory of the "Biologische Anstalt Helgoland" for the study of the European oyster (Ostrea edulis). At that time oyster stocks decreased dramatically for unknown reasons and measures against this trend were urgently needed. However, the exploitation of the oyster beds resulted in a regional extinction. Hereon the field station started to address a broad array of research issues relevant for coastal areas and especially the Wadden Sea.
In 1972 the present building of the Station was built. About 40 employees are working here as scientists, ship's crew, technicians or in the administration. A large number of graduate and doctoral students in addition to visiting scientists are joining the team. Traditionally about 20 courses from different universities are visiting the Wadden Sea Station each year, and generations of biologists made their first excursions to tidal flats around the island of Sylt.
In 1998 the Station became part of the Alfred Wegener Institute for Polar and Marine Research in the frame of the unification of the Biologische Anstalt Helgoland (BAH) and AWI. The Station is home of the section Coastal Ecology of the department of Biosciences. Since national as well as the international tasks of coastal research are growing, a new building will be set up in 2004. Hence the facilities provided not only for the AWI staff but especially for visiting scientists, courses and workshops will be improved. The research of the Wadden Sea Station still focuses on current topics of coastal ecology and geology.